We decide a quick stop at the California Welcome Center near Mammoth Lakes is in order for info on the fire and whether or not a campsite chosen by Art would be open to us. The welcome center is chock-full of maps and other fun stuff, including this tiny ranger outfit complete with stuffed chipmunk. (I could tell Art wanted it.)
On the bookshelf, a big cat peers out, reminding me of Good Dog Carl, our favorite neighborhood hound. He does look something like a cat.
So. There we are talking to a welcome center guy, who may have had low blood sugar. He starts off acting mostly uninterested in helping us and a little flip, but we hang in there. Would we take a left-hand turn off 395 to enter the park, we ask? He scrabbles around for a marginal map and says that is likely what we'd do. I ask for a pen so I can mark the route. You'd have thought I was asking for high tea.
Just go, he says: IT'S AN ADVENTURE!
Trying not to roll my eyes, I ask about Tioga Lake Campground and whether it will be open. He makes a call and returns. The fire status, we ask? I couldn't get anyone on the line, says he.
Given the location of the park fire, do you think this camp would be affected, I press? And this guy, who's been working my nerves for 10 minutes already says: Just go! IT'S AN ADVENTURE!
Welcome to California, which, by the way, we have loved most of the time, but not right at that moment. I can take care of my own adventure, thank you, but occasionally one requires reassurance.
Breathe, ponder the words of John Muir, and drive on.