Sunday, September 18, 2011

A suburban diversion

Pitstop in Oakdale California

Our time in Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite was everything we hoped it would be. Even with rain and thunder and lightening, we managed to see most sites on Marc's itinerary and felt we had accomplished what we had expected to accomplish. It would have been really easy to continue on Tioga road to the other side of Yosemite and save the 8 to 10 hours of driving to Bishop from the west side of the park, but we had our priorities straight. We had friends in Oakland and Sacramento to visit. So we retraced our steps to the north western exit of Yosemite and headed first to Oakland California to visit Michael, one of my oldest friends.

Mike and I met in 1971. He was president of his USY (United Synagogue Youth) Chapter in Lincoln Nebraska and I was president of my USY chapter in Winnipeg Manitoba. We both ended up in Sioux City Iowa at a president's council — and the rest is history. Too many details to get into right now, but needless to say, we have been friends for 40 years. We do not see each other often, but when we do, it is as if time has stood still (except for the gray hair, which we both have, even though mine is conveniently covered).

We stopped for lunch in a kitschy cowboy themed cafe for lunch before arriving in Oakland. We both enjoyed our diner style choices and were satiated as we arrived at Mike's late that afternoon.

Marc and I had a great time with Mike and his very handsome son Alex (who has an amazing resemblence to Bob Dylan when he was a young man). Lots of reminiscing and catching up. And aside from the flat tire we had on the way out, I think we can both say it was a perfect visit.

From there we were headed to Sacramento to visit dear friends Sara and Yossi, who we have known since our time on Adamit. These are friends we also do not see very often, but the connection is so deep, that the minute we finish hugging, it is as if we have always been together. We arrived Friday afternoon (a bit later than expected due to the flat tire ...) and had the chance to spend Shabbat with them and their two children, Brenna and Issac. Sara prepared a wonderful dinner, and after Sara blessed the candles, Brenna led us in the Friday night service around the table. Good wine, great food and good friends. Priceless.

Sacramento's Saturday Farmers Market

Saturday morning we set out for the one of Sacramento's farmers Markets and picked out an amazing selection of fresh produce. The market was a real highlight of our visit. Our diet while camping has been less than fresh, so just salivating over the fresh produce made us feel healthy even before we actually ate any of it!

Sara's delicious roasted vegetables, and Yossi's amazing breakfast spread.

Sara and Yossi and their kids, spent three years in India. So our visit was peppered with all sorts of advice and stories about their India experience. Sara is an amazing story teller, and we were in stitches almost the whole time we were there. Needless to say we are better prepared (and a bit terrified ...) for the reality we will be facing come December!

Leaving these guys is always extremely difficult. We decided to stay an extra day, but even then, the final hugs were teary and we spent the first couple of hours of our drive to Mammoth lakes, reliving the visit.

Three days back in the an urban environment with great, and life long friends has been an amazing treat, and a great compliment to the majestic and awe inspiring scenery we have been experiencing in America's National Parks.

On the road again this morning, we have a full agenda ahead of us, and great memories behind us.

Big hugs, much love, and heartfelt thanks to our dear friends for welcoming us into their lives for much too short, but perfect visits.

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