Very weird. It is noon here and it's only 75 degrees outside. My windows are open and there is a nice breeze blowing and the air conditioner is turned off and while I know it will get warmer as the afternoon goes by, it certainly is unexpectedly pleasant right now. It won't last long, it's supposed to be about 102 by Saturday, but I'll certainly enjoy this nice weather break while it lasts.
We were both really bored on Sunday afternoon, Keith having slept after a night shift for most of the day and me spending the day not feeling like doing much of my usual things that I do when he is sleeping, things that don't make too much noise. I was thinking how nice it would be to just go for a drive and he must have been reading my mind and suggested doing just that.
We drove the back way across town, not really having a destination in mind, then out by the river and the big park there, and then a left turn onto the highway, and up towards the mountains and the highway into Lake Isabella. As we were starting up the narrow canyon road, with rock mountains on one side of the road and a plunge into the rocky river on the other side of the road, a highway patrolman came up and around us with his siren on and lights flashing and we kind of went oh no, an accident or other tragedy up ahead. As you drive into the mouth of the canyon on that very narrow road, there are big signs in both English and Spanish that tell you how many people have died on the Kern River, which is a very rapid river with swift currents, incredibly huge boulders, and lots of rapids and whirlpools. Every summer someone goes into the river and never comes out, and that is what the sheriff was driving towards that day.
We slowly passed a fire engine, ambulance and sheriff cars on the side of the river, the road still being very narrow in that part, seeing people standing on the side of the road looking down into the river, and as we passed by a helicopter was preparing to either land in the road or drop some search and rescue people down into the canyon. We did find out later on the news that yes, another apparent drowning in the river, a 19 year old man who had been spending the day swimming and jumping off the huge boulders into the river went under and never came back up. They searched until dark and again the next day and probably still have not found him. Very sad way for a summer's day to end.
The rest of our ride was not quite so sad, we hadn't been up Hwy 178 in a few years and I had forgotten how pretty but scary the road is until it finally widens once you get out of the canyon. We drove up around the lake, which is so sad looking with the water level being so low. Dead trees were sticking up all over the lake, trees that normally would be under lots of water, there were no boats out on the lake, probably because it's not really safe with all the dead trees sticking up, and only a few campers parked along the banks.
We took the Caliente/Bodfish road back, another road we had been on before but forgotten quite how long it was and how many hairpin turns there are as you are coming down out of the mountains. You pass the little hamlets of Bodfish and Havilah, with signs along the road warning that cows do wander about unfenced. We did startle two young bucks along the road but no cows wandering about. About halfway down the mountains you come out into a huge mountain meadow area called Walker Basin, which was just beautiful, all ranches and high desert type plants with the mountains surrounding it. We saw a few abandoned homes and lots of for sale signs and then we did see some unfenced cows, a little calf and his mama who were on the side of the road, having crossed over from their field where the rest of their herd was to get at some nice green weeds. As we passed out of the basin, we did see a very successful looking ranch, with a big beautiful house on a knoll and fields and fields of grazing cattle below.
After the basin you come down more mountains, more narrow winding roads, and I couldn't wait anymore, I made Keith pull over so I could go down by what is supposed to be a stream on the side of the road but of course no water in it and take an emergency bathroom break. Nothing like watching out for cars while you are trying to pee by the side of the road and also not get any pee on your shoes. There was no way I could wait another 45 minutes or so until we got back to civilization, though. Fortunately I had my pants back up before a car came along.
We didn't get back into town until about 8, not having left our house until 4 or so. A lot longer trip than we had really planned on, but it was so nice to see some greenery and trees and a couple of deer and wandering cows.
We really should start keeping a camera in the car, though, there would have been some nice pictures to go along with this story! Either that or finally get a fancy picture taking cell phone.