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Kidnapping My Mother

Well, it didn’t begin as a kidnapping. I was visiting Mom (8-12 November) and she asked what I wanted to do. The only thing that I really wanted to do was drive up to the Cabin, which has been in the family since 1932 (well, to be honest, the property has been in the family since 1932 but a disastrous fire in 1966 destroyed the original Cabin, which was rebuilt in 1967).

Since Mom wanted to inspect the newly restored deck, she acquiesced.

In retrospect, that might have been a bad idea … depending upon who’s telling the story.

Since I’m telling the story, I don’t think so….

Here goes:

Friday (9 November), we had rain and (gasp!) hail in the Tulare/Visalia area. Saturday dawned clear and crisp … in Tulare. We took our time (such a lovely notion!) and finally departed for the mountains around 11:30 A.M.

As I may or may not have mentioned, I have a Subaru Outback. I trust it to meet and vanquish most if not all road conditions.

And most importantly, Mom is one of the least faint-hearted people I have ever known. I’m a coward, next to her. She is—and always be—completely amazing.

The first part of the trip was easy; we enjoyed the ruler-straight San Joaquin Valley roads and this time I didn’t miss the proper turn (as I did last time, don’t ask!). It’s a lovely drive at this time of year, with the harvest mostly in and the fields and orchards shifting subtly towards their winter rest.  We watched the mountains grow and enjoyed the beauty of the clouds draped across the Sierra Nevada crests.

The trouble—if that’s what you want to call it—began several miles after we passed the “Sno-Line Lodge” on Highway 180 East. This is where the lowland trees (mostly oak) give way to the conifers … pine, cedar and eventually redwood. As children we embraced it as the place where the gaspingly hot San Joaquin Valley summer heat was finally mitigated by (so we believed, thanks to our grandmother, Mom’s Mom) the pine trees, but as we eventually discovered, the altitude.

Snow began to show up at the edges of the road; first in the shady protection of the north side, then—as we climbed—on both sides. About five miles from the Park Entrance (I guess I also forgot to mention that the Cabin is in a private tract of land called Wilsonia, created prior to the Park … Kings Canyon National Park) we saw a sign that said “CHAINS REQUIRED”.

Now, I ask you, how ridiculous is it for one to put on chains and crash one’s way up a road with NO SNOW? Seriously! It’s absolutely dire on one’s tires, never mind that I didn’t have said chains.

So I kept going, ignoring both the sign and the people at the side of the road attempting to fit chains to their tires.

After a bit, Mom said, “I’m feeling worried.”

“About the ‘chains required’ sign?” I inquired.

“Yes.”

“Do you want me to turn around?”

“I think it’s a good idea.”

“Okay, I’ll turn around at the next turnout.”

The next turnout, however (fortunately?), had a foot of unploughed snow.  So I kept going, since Mom didn’t like the idea of turning around there either.

Just before reaching the Park entrance station for Kings Canyon National Park, I pulled over to let the snowplow by and as he hooted thanks, Mom said, “if they stop us for not having chains, will you turn around?”

“Heck, yes!” And I would have done, no matter how determined I was to get up to the Cabin.

We drove up to the entry station, and I told the ranger on duty that we were on our way to check our property in Wilsonia. We had a great chat, she waved me through, and I kept on.

There are two ways to get to the Cabin, and I told Mom that I wouldn’t go the back way but the “main” one. She accepted this with gracious relief.

I turned into the “main way” and drove up to the first hill.

Mom said, “I don’t think it’s a good idea to keep going.”

I said, “I’ll turn around as soon as I can.”

We got up the first hill and there was nowhere to turn around. And honestly, at that point we were almost to the Cabin, never mind that others had driven the road; I wasn’t forging through pristine snow but following other tire tracks.

“Mom,” I said, “I’m sorry, but we’re almost there, so can I keep going?”

Since she is an utterly amazing Mom, she agreed.

So we reached the Cabin, with its unblemished driveway and surrounding trees garnished in white. I pulled in, left the car running and jumped out to take photos (Mom, smarter than her daughter, chose to stay in where it was warm).

Afterwards, we drove out and back to the main road. We had lunch at Grant Grove Village, ran into a Wilsonia neighbor who’d seen us go by earlier and told us she kept an eye on the Cabin for us.

It was wonderful.

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