Sunday, June 18, 2006
I went camping. キャンピングをした。
Last chance to go camping for a long time I thought. So I rushed out of my house on Wednesday morning, exactly one week before I will return to Japan, in my sister’s car with a cooler full of beer, a sack, my radio, and some other crap. While disappointing in many ways, it was nice seeing California.
I chose to head up to a place called Miracle Hot Springs along the, as I learned, deadly Kern river just east of Bakersfield. It looked rather tempting in my guide to California hot springs so I thought it would be worth a try. I began to get concerned when I pulled into the adjoining Hobo campground and found it empty and partially flooded by the high waters on the Kern--due to planned release of water from the dam creating Lake Isabella upstream because of questions about the dam's current state. Then I got rather dismayed talking to the camp host who’s dress hung as loosely to her body as her aged skin. With two packs of USA brand cigarettes on the table of her trailer with her black El Camino out front she explained to me how the “orientals” messed up the whole place, people are naked out there, and how the pool was a few inches deep. She was right about two of those things at least. Sadly I didn’t meet any “orientals” the entire trip--I wanted to practice some Japanese! Anyhow I hiked the 10 minutes or so along the river to the remainder of the spring. The place use to be a hotel and everything back in the day, now all that exists are a few concreted up pools reinforced by plastic bags full of sand and rock. The only exposed pool was truly only a few inches deep. 足湯らしくないよ！
The other pools that I could make out were too inundated by the river water that would typically cool off the water so that I could only tell the hot water got to the pool by the sulfurous smell. If the river level was lowered this could be a better place I guess. Well I got naked--why not--and splashed some of the water over me. It was ok. Downstream there was another hot spring and I decided to check that one out the next morning.
Walking home I almost got sprayed by a skunk! Another great thing about this trip was all the great wildlife I saw. Skunks, lizards, tons of birds, mice, tadpoles, and a wild cat of some type! Yay!
Remington Hot Spring proved at least a bit more appealing as I could soak in it at least. Consisting of an small upper pool of concrete and stone and a lower pool like that at Miracle, I was able to get a soak in the upper pool, although the lower suffered from the same problems as Miracle. But what a wonderful looking place. The people who care for and installed the infrastructure really had a good time with it. There are little stones, dice, and marbles stuck into the concrete binding together the rocks that make the tubs and stairs around the spring. A very pleasant place with cheerful people it seems. At least the hippy couple I saw there seemed cool. If only the river was lower this place would be amazing!
The rest of Thursday I spent driving around Lake Isabella, finding the campgrounds uninviting or closed and upon asking the help at the ranger-station if I could swim in the lake they looked at me like I was a freak said it was cold and advised me to wear a life jacket. Getting tired I pulled into a campground back on the river named Sandy Flat found a decent site and took a nice nap. The rest of the evening was uneventful with me exploring, and listening to a bunch of shortwave radio. The silly ultra-right-wing Radio Liberty on the shortwave radio is glorious and super fun to listen to. Besides the shortwave I always try to catch anything being broadcast locally. The local commercials on the small Lake Isabella AM station were equally enjoyable. I love getting a feel for a town from the low budget advertisements for the local hardware, candy, and roofing shops.
Driving home I was super tired and got back to Laguna at like 11:30, super good timing. I wish I had taken better photos, and my mediocre photos from this trip are up on my flickr for all to see of course! I also should have taken that side trip to see California City, or photo the truck stop city of Mojave again that I was considering. I went up there to take some photos that were to be some of my first that I developed and printed all at my home by myself and thought it would be cool to retake a photo of a house I took maybe 8 years ago. I’ve uploaded the original in my flickr also. I didn’t sleep well in the back of my sister’s car, it’s nothing like the futon I had in my truck. The car did drive like a dream however, all time four wheel drive is really nice on those windy country roads. :D