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California trip misadventures

A woman looks at Mist Falls

With Instagram and Facebook showing us all the amazing times other people are having on vacation, sometimes it’s hard to remember that we are only seeing the highlight reel. You know, the best parts of the trip. But with social media giving everyone FOMO (fear of missing out), I have always strived to be real and show all sides of travel with this blog. For example, I have talked about loneliness and not feeling adequate enough to fit in.

I have been writing all fall about my recent trip to California. Don’t get me wrong, it was an awesome trip. But it wasn’t all sunshine and roses. So for the sake of transparency and my attempt to show you that my travel is most definitely not perfect, here are my misadventures from that tip.


I have to preface the wildfires with the fact that I did get really lucky on my trip. On my trip to Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and Yosemite National Parks, I hit it about the week in between two large fires. The smoke had cleared some from the first large fires. But more fires began about the day I left causing campers to be evacuated by helicopters and parks and campsites to close.

smoke is shown at kings canyon national park
Smoke fills Kings Canyon National Park

So in comparison, my misadventure with the wildfires was not bad. But with that said, the week I visited the parks, the smoke was still thick! I got pretty much no sweeping vistas of the Sierra Nevadas. And that was something I was very much looking forward to. The smoke also messed with my allergies, and I had to take two to three decongestants a day.

Creepy guys

Probably my biggest misadventure was having to abandon my reserved campsite and bail for a motel.

When I pulled up to my campsite, I was out of water and super thirsty. I was beginning to think eating a big burger and fries was a mistake when I didn’t have any water. I found the spot marked with my name and got out to double-check.

A man about 50ish said, “Heeeey!” I said hello and immediately said, “Where is the water?” He had a questionable look in his eye, but maybe I was being judgmental. He told me where the water spigot was and double-checked his answer with his companion – who was dirty and clearly drunk.

Cali misadventures
At least I got a shower with my motel stay

I walked over to fill up my water with a bad feeling in my stomach, and it wasn’t from dehydration. As I walked back to my campsite I heard, “Miss?” I ignored it. “Miss?” I ignored it again. “Hey, Miss?” I looked up at the man. “Are you camping here?” he asked. I nodded. “Are you alone?” he pushed. I simply looked at him and his companion.

I got a good look at the men and their vehicles and hightailed it out of there. It was a full campground, but there was no ranger or camp host. I didn’t plan on staying in a motel, but sometimes you have to follow your gut.

A flat tire

As much as I’m on the road, it’s no surprise I’d have road trouble. With only about three hours left on a 27-hour road trip, I hit something on the road. My low tire pressure light came on, and I pulled off the highway. As I walked around to inspect the tires, I heard the dreaded “pshhhhhh” coming from one of them.

I put the spare on and drove only 50 miles-per-hour down the interstate to the nearest Walmart. Fortunately, they were able to patch the tire, and I made it home safely. But unfortunately, there was unknown damage to my sidewall. I didn’t discover the damage until about a month later. And of course, I had to buy all new tires because I have all-wheel drive.

Hiking 5 feet from a bear

Although someone like me would technically call this a bonus adventure instead of a misadventure, the outcome could have been very bad. As I was hiking alone to Mist Falls at Kings Canyon National Park, I came upon three men grouped up and peaking through the bushes down the trail.

My first thought was, “Ooo, it’s a bear!” And it was, but he was on the trail stopping traffic in both directions. The three men were hollering toward a man and woman on the other side of the bear about what to do. Going around the bear was not possible. There was a cliff on one side and a roaring river on the other. And the bear was comfy and not going anywhere.

Kings Canyon trail is shown

As the four of us made our introductions and discussed what to do, the couple emerged around a bend on the trail. They gave us a report that the bear had moved off the trail and of how they passed him. They made themselves well known and then proceeded to hike past the bear, who was uninterested in them.

The four of us decided to group up, banged rocks, and yell “Hey bear! We’re coming over there!” as we inched ourselves in its direction. Once past we dropped our rocks and continued hiking together the rest of the way out.

But there is a bonus. I got to meet some cool guys from the San Francisco area. And sorry, there are no pictures. I didn’t want the last picture I ever took to be a bear running at me!

Is that poison ivy?

On my last day of travel, I noticed some blistery spots around my underarm. Not the best place to have itchy blisters. My only guess is that I put my backpack in some poison ivy, and it got on me when I put the pack back on.

Whoops! I didn’t check to see if California even had poison ivy. Next time I will!

Road construction

Another downside to my California trip was that Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks were undergoing major road construction. Because of this, driving to trailheads and to explore took a long time. And I mean a long time. At some points, I had to sit and wait an hour for my lane to open up. But I read about this when I planned my trip so I was prepared with a good book.

A near miss wreck

About an hour west of Albuquerque an SUV about three vehicles in front of me wrecked pretty badly. I had to slam on my breaks to keep from slamming into the truck in front of me, as did the cars behind me. But fortunately, it was only a one-vehicle wreck.

A wreck is shown on I-40

Almost being in a wreck shook me up quite a bit. I sat there with my hand shaking and thought to myself, “Should I go help? I’ll just be in the way. There’s nothing I can do.”

And then I thought, “No, dummy, you’re a trained first responder.” So I got out to help. Fortunately, the couple in the SUV only had scrapes and bruises. And I was able to clean and bandage them up until the ambulance got there.

No trip is perfect

I was fortunate that my misadventures were only minor inconveniences. And some of them, I was able to find the “adventure” in misadventure.

3 thoughts on “California trip misadventures”

  1. I can not tell you how much I appreciate your posts. I only hope we can hike together one day. Sorry that sounded creepy but you sound like the kind of person I’d like to hike with. Not a lot of talking about how great you are and silence with nature. Thank you again. Maybe we could do Petit Jean ? BTW , the bridge is out at Cedar Falls till late Spring / early Summer.

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