It's Wednesday 24th September, ..... I think, but what I do know for certain is that I'm in 'Fresno' California. Fresno sits slightly to the West on the journey between Yosemite and Kings Canyon National Parks, I didn't need to come here, I don't particularly enjoy cities, ..... but there was something about the name. I've seen it in movies, I've probably heard it mentioned in songs, and when the road junction gave me three choices, .... the name 'Fresno' drew me in.
On the way down from Yosemite, I stopped for breakfast in the small town of Midpines, ... or was it Mariposa? In the car park of the diner, I began talking with a retired couple from Florida, .. their names I have unfortunately forgotten. They had seen me at Lake Tahoe and then again on my first night in Yosemite. They've sold their home and are now travelling around this huge country in an RV, .... sadly for me, this means that I'm now moving no faster through America than a small house on wheels. We talked for several minutes, more people joined the conversation, a small crowd formed around us, .... it reminded me of the 'coffee stops' that we'd enjoyed whilst travelling across Russia. The couple moved on, ... the small gathering dwindled and eventually, ... I moved on too.
In the town of Oakhurst, I stopped for fuel and was approached by Michael, a retired US Marine who'd heard part of the conversation back at the Diner. We shared coffee and talked about travelling, ...... I listened as he talked about Korea and Vietnam, we talked together about Kuwait and Iraq, .....we talked about conflict. Michael's travelling days were over, he's been to many places, he's seen many amazing and frightening things, .... we talked for over an hour. At the end of that conversation he'd decided that it was time to revisit parts of the world that he'd not seen for a very long time, that he hadn't seen in an environment of peace, .... time to rekindle friendships that had lapsed over the years, ..... to return to the Far East and to see just how things had changed, to go there this time with his camera and not his M16.
As we were about to part company, Michael went to the glove compartment of his car, .... he returned with a slip of paper and a $50 bill. The slip of paper was a 'Discount Coupon' for an independent motel in Fresno, .... the $50 bill was for the tariff, including tax. I haven't stayed at a campground with showers since leaving Boonville, ... 5 days, 6 days? ...... I honestly can't remember. To Michael, I say 'Thank You', and 'Happy Travelling'. Until I'd arrived and settled into the small Motel just on the right side of the tracks here in Fresno, I hadn't realised just how tired and dirty I was.