Friday, December 14, 2007

Green Tortoise- Day One- Going to Death Valley

I woke up with a headache that probably came from driving in the sun, so I got up early and had coffee with Grandma and Grandpa. We took Molly the dog for a walk in the brisk, morning air and then set out to follow Grandma's directions to the bank. A combination of poor directions and bad following took us to parts of Vallejo that we hadn't intended to see. Clarification of the directions led us even further off the path, but we soon spotted the landmark we were looking for from the top of a hill, and completed our errand.
After lunch Grandpa dropped us off at the ferry terminal. We enjoyed the lovely views during the hour ride and disembarked at the San Francisco ferry terminal with plenty of time to see the town before catching our bus.

We paid a small fee to store our packs and tent at Greyhound for the day and walked around the docks and then through Chinatown. We had dinner at You's Dim Sum, where the name was the only English, but the food was both delicious and economical. We took a box of Dim Sum to go and headed for Union Square to see the Christmas lights before going back to the bus station to claim our bags and wait for the Green Tortoise.

A homeless man living in the bus station showed us the back alley where the Tortoise picks up passengers and advised us not to wait there, loudly warning other bus station denizens not to harm us. When we went back outside around 7:30, most of the other passengers were dotting the sidewalk corner with backpacks and sleeping bags. Finally the Green Tortoise pulled up, people paid the balance due, signed risk waivers, and loaded their packs under the bus. Ki'il and I went to the back of the bus, taken up by a large sleeping platform, and settled in. We introduced ourselves to other passengers to facilitate the "Buddy System" and settled in for the long ride. To my left was a Swiss geoscientist who was ending a business trip with the Green Tortoise tour. France, Burma, England, Wales, Holland, Spain, Germany, and Canada were also represented.
Two dinettes and sideways bench seats filled the front half of the bus. At our first stop, they were converted into similar sleeping platforms to the one in the back, and everyone bunked down for the night. We lined the back platform like irregular cordwood; every other person facing the opposite direction, alternating feet and heads. Soon all was silent except the regular breathing of the sleepers.
Day Two - Golden Canyon
Day Three- Ubehebe Crater
Day Four- Mosaic Canyon

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