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California Dreamin'

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If you're a steady reader of the site you've probably noticed a drop-off in the number of posts recently. Unfortunately, the working world has finally stepped up to the plate and thrown me a job that actually requires me to do the things I was pretending to do before. Until I move away from Los Angeles to a self-contained, farmland commune where my monthly Google Ads check of $41.93 will sustain me, it's just the way of the world and I'll do my best to balance real-world concerns with the selfish need to make fun of Greg Robinson.

And so it was a perfect time for a vacation and it came in the form of a weekend at Yosemite Forest. Somehow, even though I was leaving the civilized world, and this blog, behind, it was still a weekend full of Syracuse-related goodness (and badness).

I had booked a cabin in the middle of Yosemite in a rather hasty decision at the beginning of the week. It was a hybrid holiday/Valentine's/Anniversary vacation and I was getting shut out at most of my choices. It was only after the fact that I realized I had booked a cabin in the middle of the mountains five hours away during the winter. While I drive a very dependable Isuzu Rodeo, I was told by the Internet that I was required to bring snow chains with me. Snow chains, that I came to learn, would cost me $100. For two chains. That I might not even need.

Good start.

We made our way up the California Highway system, farther and farther away from the cushy land of Los Angeles. For those who have never been and think that the whole of California is a playground for the Hollywood elite, I direct you to Highway 99. 99 connects Southern Cal from Northern Cal and runs up the middle of the state, far away from the classic ocean views and the breathtaking desert vistas. What's in the middle?

Cow shit.

Lots of it.

People love to give New Jersey a hard time for the smell on the Turnpike, but that's a stretch of highway that lasts about five miles. Imagine driving through a dung smell so throat-closingly pungent for a solid hour that you'd welcome the idea of being hotboxed by the Syracuse defensive line as an alternative. It's not a road trip, it's an endurance test.

Before I get ahead of myself, I have to mention that along Highway 99 is Bakersfield, CA. That's the home of the Bakersfield Jam, former employer of Latvia's newest favorite son, Gerry McNamara. I didn't stop in Bakersfield. I didn't look around in Bakersfield. I merely spied the trucking-related industry that seemed to sprout out from its edges and decided that it was probably for the best that young Gerald moved on. I also began to wonder how a blue collar town like this could approve of a sporting team called the Jam, but that's probably a problem better suited for NBDL marketing executives.

About the time I got off 99 and made my way closer to Yosemite, the Syracuse-Georgetown game began. The good news is that I have Sirius, so I could listen to the game. The bad news is that I wasn't along in the car. My wife is fantastic (natch) but if there is an area she is lacking it is in the delirious sports fanatic department. She would rather hang out on Highway 99 all day than listen to a radio broadcast of a basketball game. The lukewarm news is that Sirius provides a scoreboard that shows up no matter what channel you're on so I could at least watch the game develop. Sorta like having gamecast in my car. Which is...okay.

Speaking of Sirius, if you aren't familiar with the satelite radio, there are positives and there are negatives. The positives?
  • No commercials (which is a positive for the most part)
  • The Howard Stern Show - There are a few things funnier than Artie Lange's impression of Jeff the Drunk. But not many.
  • Lithium, the 90's Alternative channel - Hooray, teenage musical taste comes back to life. The Breeder's "Cannonball" never sounded so good.
The negatives? There's really one and it's a strange one. In a weird way, some of the music channels NEED commercials. If for no other reason than to break up the songs. You know how often your local radio station replays "The Way I Are?" Well imagine how much more often they'd replay it if there weren't commercials? Cause it's not like they add more songs to compliment the free time. They just shrink the rotation.

Anyway, Sirius does a decent job with the updates and I was a little swervy at times keeping a close eye on the game. When Syracuse's lead would drop to four, I was a certifiable menace on the roadway. When they grew their lead back out towards double-digits, I was rocking along to Miley Cyrus all the way through Fresno.

The Orange clinched the win just outside Yosemite and it was the perfect start to the weekend. I left the civilized world that was in perfect harmony. The Orange were back on the bubble with their first noteworthy win of the season and they had erased the South Florida loss from our memories. I had no doubt that we stormed the court after the win (and I'm fine with that...) and I knew when I returned to civilization all would be right with the world and the Big East.

Arriving at our cabin, which was correctly-named Hilltop Cabins, I learned just how worthwhile my snow chain investment was. If you learn anything from this tale, learn than 4-wheel drive is a farce created by the car companies and the CIA to trick you into believing you can climb a small hill covered in snow.

Eventually, I made it. And the rest of the weekend was a great experience full of long hikes, tall mountains and snowy paths. And let the record show that I did it all in Syracuse gear (note my SU hat and snowpants. But why am I crouching?). I have to be honest, I kept hoping that I would run across a Georgetown fan but the closest I came was a couple UC-Santa Cruz students. Those Banana Slugs never did nothin' to me.

The weekend went by too quickly. One of those weekends where you disappear from society and have absolutely no sense of what's going on. The world could have been rocked by the arrival of space aliens who claimed to come in peace only to destroy Washington D.C. and assume power of the United States and I would have never known. I was ready for anything when we got in the car to drive home.

To my shock, the basketball scoreboard was back on my radio. Had I been so out of it that I didn't even realize Syracuse had a game? Apparently so. For shame...

This time, the trip wasn't going as well. The Orange were playing catch-up and didn't seem to be getting any closer. It wasn't until the Orange were down four that I convinced the better half to let me listen to the final two minutes of the game. Thanks to iPod Solitaire, I was able to distract enough to agree. Naturally, as soon as I turned on the radio Louisville went on a 5-0 run with less than a minute left, sealing the game.

I had quite literally returned to reality. The Orange lost and the smell of cow dung wasn't quite as sweet this time around. Even as I passed through Gorman, CA and wondered what Matt Gorman would have looked like in full McDonald's regalia at the roadstop restaurant, I couldn't help but feel like I needed one more day in the wilderness.

I returned home to a world of contrast. A world where Syracuse could beat their nationally-ranked rival yet find themselves no closer to a tournament bid than they were beforehand. A world where we all know Donte Greene is leaving, and then again we don't know that at all. A world where the feeling around Syracuse football is optimism and the feeling around Syracuse basketball is bi-polar at best.

If I learned anything this weekend, it's that ignorance really is bliss.

Oh, and wolves will get pretty damn close to you sometimes if you let them.