He-llo. I am still in Kennedy Meadows. Gonna be leaving tomorrow morning and I just wanted to catch some people - catch everyone up on the flavor of this little place.
It is a small town. It is a small, rural town. It is a small, rural town in the middle of nowhere, where the people proudly refer to themselves as - or, at least, undisparagingly refer to themselves as rednecks.
They got phone service in 2000, which makes - which gives them the distinction of being one of the few places in the country to have Internet service before electricity. And I am told that when they got - first got phone service and got the first phone installed and working, the first call they made was to an answering machine. Hooray for the march of progress.
Kennedy Meadows' phone service is also very interesting in that their thousand-number exchange - y'know, you've got the 850 prefix, and there's the four digits after that - has 131 customers, 131 numbers, and they've actually got - basically, anyone out here has the ability to pick their own number so... I was relayed several colorful tales such as one of the first people to order phone service was also one of the last people to receive it, and out of a sense of frustration or perhaps spite, he picked the number 850-FUCK.
The person who relayed this to me was also gleefully telling some rather racist and homophobic jokes later on. I won't repeat the racist ones, but the homophobic one was funny in its own weird sort of way. "What's the difference between a refrigerator and a gay person? The refrigerator doesn't fart when you take your meat out of it." I'm sorry, that was horrible, yes, but, I mean, now you see the sort of flavor of the conversations that they get around here.
And it is, however, for all its colorful backcountry atmosphere, it is a very charming little place, and the hiker store here is pretty much the, is largely the economic center of town, at least for the few weeks when through-hikers are passing through. I mean, for a town that's in the middle of nowhere, and has 50 local families and a handful of tourists that come up to the mountains, the store was pulling in over $1000 a day in gross receipts during the height of the hiker wave, and that didn't even include the little food stand on the side of it.
And there's also a couple of other restaurants. There's Ireland's, which is run by a irascible pudgy guy named Jerry, and it's quite a trip because it very literally is a one-man operation, so he comes out, y'know, takes your order, runs back to the kitchen, does all the food preparation, comes back out and serves it himself. Except, of course, when a wave of hikers comes through, because he just does not have the resources to handle, y'know, twelve or thirteen people at a time, so a couple of locals will go out and y'know, help him as, y'know, busboys and waiters and y'know, just sort of pitch in with everything except the cooking, which Jerry does himself.
There's also another restaurant out here called the Grumpy Bear which I have not been to, and I don't think any of the hikers have been to, and it's one of those things where due to small-town politics, its owner is a social pariah, and after hearing some of the stories I can kind of understand why because there's an older fella up here, name of Charlie, who, at the age of 75, had a shotgun fight with a bear in his kitchen, but be that as it may, Charlie also made beef jerky, and had an arrangement with Grumpy Bear to sell it, and there was some financial tangles and the owner turned around and screwed Charlie out of a great deal of money, and a bitter legal fight that involved, y'know, Charlie had given him the receipts for all the meat in order for him to, y'know, get some little under-the-table tax advantage while he was, y'know, operating his bar, and then he turned around and screwed Charlie out of all the profits by claiming he'd bought the meat himself and never got paid back, and there was a very ugly fight, and that's the way it goes in small towns. Now Grumpy Bear gets something like maybe twelve visitors in a good week, and heaven knows how he's hanging on. I guess he was of the opinion he could just make his business off the tourists and not need the locals, but that's not quite how it worked out. So... I dunno.
It's a very interesting place. I will be kind of sad to go, but on the other hand, it also means heading back out into the Sierra, so... looking forward to the next leg of my trip. It's going to be an entirely different challenge. I hope everybody enjoyed the song, and I will try and, well, I'm - no, I will not try and keep in touch, because it's going to be a week of hiking before I get back to anything even remotely resembling civilization, and I simply will not have cellphone reception, so I will be completely out of touch. But at least I will be traveling with a larger group of folk. A fella named Curt and I will be leaving at 9 o'clock sharp tomorrow morning and hoping to catch up with some other hikers who left just ahead of us.
So, anyway, hope everybody is doing well and I'm kind of missing the Internet. I will try and check in when I get into Independence, California, over in the area of Bishop, which is Roamin' Rob's favoritest place in the whole wide world. So, hope you're all havin' fun.