I bought a ticket to get into the Muir Woods Park (which as it turns out I didn't even have to do as NOBODY collects them at the entrance) and was inside among the giant redwoods by around 2 o'clock that day (I wasn't kidding about getting slowed down on Lucas Valley, getting lost at the Muir exit, and then looking for a parking space for almost an hour). I was kind of impressed, but like I said before, "Wow... Big trees." They had plaques and educational posters by some of the trees explaining how long they've been here, how long it takes to grow that tall, how fires are necessary to keep the tree population thriving (that's right, you tree-hugging hippie fucks! Forest fires are necessary for the redwood way of life! Suck on my hairy balls). But all in all it was kind of like paying to be bored to sleep by a high school science class slide show. Soon I came across a fork in the path through the park -- there was a sign with two arrows; one arrow pointed to the left and said "Official Muir Woods Boring Trail," and the other pointed up and said "Long-Ass Mountain Top Ocean-View Trail! This Shit Is Awesome!" As you know, I'm not a fat and lazy motherfucker who hates walking and climbing and who's named Harry Knowles, so I took the path that went UP.
Man did it ever go up. There were maybe 2 or 3 areas of the entire path (ten feet long at most) that were anything close to horizontal. A lot of the time the trail slanted at a 45 degree angle. But the walk felt good. I was moving (and not sitting in a tiny, cramped car), and I wasn't getting bored.
After about 15 minutes of zig-zagging up the side of the mountain I began to wonder just how long the trail to the top was. Stone Mountain, back in Georgia, only takes me 16 minutes to hustle my way up it's mile or so incline. I figured this path couldn't possibly be any larger than that. Then the trail began moving in a more straight line, further and further from the Muir Park and my parked car. I was starting to get a bit nervous, but knew I had to see this through to the end. It's like with those insane fuckers who climb Everest. They do it because they're there and it's there, and if they quit they'd be so laughed at: "Yeah, I almost made it up the mountain... But it was tall, bitch!"
After a full 30 minutes of walking/jogging, I heard something strange. Something that I knew all too well thanks to my knowledge of the great "Weird Al" Yankovic's musical endeavors, but something that made no fucking sense for where I was (which was about a mile away from any civilization, in the middle of a California forest of giant fucking trees). I heard the faint sound of polka music coming from above me. Oompah-pah, oompah-pah, oompah oompah oompah-pah! It was so bizarre. So insanely surreal. Somebody was blasting a stereo or an iPod full of German polka music. I kept marching, and after a few minutes it faded away behind me. Soon though the path zigged up and back again -- back towards the music, and again it faintly came into focus.
The polka was catchy, but strange. It was like going to a romantic, 4-star, expensive restaurant and having them play Tupac as ambiance music (and I use the term "music" as loosely as possible when referring to rap). If somebody was going to be cranking a stereo up a mountain in the middle of the woods I'd expect some kind of banjo, or maybe some make-out music for two horny hikers... Then I could hide in the bushes and watch... Ooooh yeah, that's it, baby. Let him touch your titty... Oooooooh momma! Wrap those hiking booted legs around him and hump hump HUMP!... Anyway, I just kept going, hoping to figure out what it was all about.
After a full 45 minutes of hiking I finally came across somebody coming down the mountain (I did pass a few winded and lazy fucks who were sweating and panting their way, ever so slowly, up the trail too, but this was the first group actually coming down the path). I asked one irritated "woman" (and I use that term loosely too, as she looked like a male Bea Arthur [redundant?]), "Hey, how much further to the top?" He/she/it responded, "We don't fucking know! We gave up about 20 minutes further up..." I think I then said something like "FUCK!" but I didn't really let her news get me down. I kept going. Then I saw the warning sign that said "Beware of Mountain Lions on Path." I did end up letting that get me down. By "down" I mean "shit my pants."
A few minutes later I ran across another group of hikers descending the mountain, but there was something funny about them (funny "ha-ha" and funny "strange"). The leader of the group was dressed in lederhosen and one of those gay little green, almost Peter Pan-like hats. I stopped them, pointed to the growing ever-louder polka sound, and asked, "What, is there some sort of Oktoberfest going on up there?" The chick in the hosen nodded matter of factly and responded "Yeah. Quite a big one too." This blew my fucking mind for a second, then reality started to figure back in to my logic senses. "Oh," I thought, "She's just screwing with me. It's probably just a couple of this chick's friends blasting that music and doing paganistic, German, orgy shit in the woods." But honestly, I think that thought got me moving faster than ever!
For a while I was booking it up that wooded mountain like I had a group of gay LARPers on my tail. I was a man on a mission. German orgies were the BEST kind! Sweet! Though my steam started to run out after passing a few more weary travelers and looking at my watch to see that an hour and a fucking half had elapsed since I began climbing. The path had kept going in one direction (away from the parking lot) for about 20 minutes now, and the polka music was long gone. But soon after the trees started to clear, and I found that I finally made it to the top of the goddamn mountain. But now what the fuck was I supposed to do?
Thank God I came across yet another group of hikers who were walking a trail that followed the crest of the mountain horizontally, and they confirmed that there was indeed an Oktoberfest raging somewhere up there, and they were heading towards it too. These guys were cool. They took a picture of me screaming obscenities to the redwoods from a boulder on top of the hill (see page 5), and then they led the way to the fabled beerfest in the sky.
We walked along the top of the mountain for about 15 minutes (and soon found ourselves back in some heavy woods), before the polka music started to filter back through to my lovin'-every-minute-of-it-eardrums. By this time I was getting really excited. I was hungry, thirsty, and ready to fucking dance (the first time in my life I EVER felt that way). A few minutes more and we came upon one of the strangest and most glorious sights I have ever seen in my really pathetic life (seriously, I really do need to get out more or at least meet some more people who lived more fucked up lives than me so that this kind of thing doesn't stun me so much): A multi-tiered, multi-storied, multi-decked, monstrous log cabin perched upon an almost-cliff, deep in the woods at the top of a California mountain, PACKED with hundreds of partiers, a full 25 square-yard dance deck, a 6 piece polka band and beer everywhere. I seriously thought I died and St. Peter missed me as I slipped past him into Heaven. That or I found a German version of Briga-fucking-doon that for some reason chose to only appear in the middle of a redwood forest just outside of San Francisco every hundred years or so... No, I probably died. And yet it was glorious!
Thank the maker I had some cash left on me! I needed it for the ten dollar cover charge and the pay-as-you-go glasses of dark, rich beer. Just thinking back upon it, it was all so surreal. I mean, a full-on, party-till-you're-broke and they-drag-you-away Oktoberfest in the middle of the woods on top of a mountain! At one point I was so overexcited that I started humping the leg of the accordion player and they had to turn a hose on me. And yet I feel no shame. Honestly though, I had the part of my brain that feels disgrace removed a few years ago. Anyway, I drank myself silly, ate 3 and a half brats, danced with the nice frauleins, flapped my arms to that Woody Woodpecker polka like a crazy person, punched a few Nazis in the throat and for my finale I stormed the polka band stage and dove off of it into the crowd only to miss everyone and throw myself off the bottom deck into the trees. It was all I could have hoped for.
After chillin' with the band while they took a break from all the "oompah oompahing", I looked at my watch and saw that I had been up there partying for over 2 hours. It was past 6 and the park that was between me and my car closed at 7... And I had about a 2 hour walk to get to the bottom of the mountain. Maybe if I just hurled myself down the mountain I could make it to the valley below in a just few minutes? Maybe I was meant to stay in the German Brigadoon for the rest of my life -- teleporting all over the globe into remote locations, bringing joy and booze to the underprivileged young adults and alcoholics the world over? As I pondered this out loud some nosey bitch behind me tapped my shoulder and pointed behind the polka stage to a sign pointing down that said "Shortcut to Muir Woods". The stars were definitely aligning themselves for me that day. After beating up two women who said something under their breath about me, my mother, or global warming, and stealing their drinks, I was off -- down the shortcut back to Muir Woods.
Calling the path that I took back down the mountain a "well worn trail" would be a dirty, filthy, stinking puss-filled lie. I had to stop at least a dozen times to try and figure out where it turned (or if it just disappeared). At one point, just about 50-60 yards down the mountain, I stopped to look for any stepped-on foliage or broken twigs, and I turned around to get one last glimpse of the party that I could still hear raging above me... But I couldn't even see any part of the giant cabins and fiesta-decks at all. I took a picture of the scene, which in retrospect makes absolutely no goddamn sense, since it's just a shot of a fucking forest, but it still amazed me. God I was drunk.
It only took me about 30 minutes to hack and slash and slide all the way down the shortcut to the original trail (that I had followed to get to the top) what seemed like a lifetime before. There was some dude smoking a joint on the other side of a giant tree, right where the shortcut met the main trail, and I think I scared the shit out of him when I first appeared. I didn't see him till I walked around the tree, and I must not have made much noise before stumbling into him because he jumped a couple of inches in the air and started screaming "Holy Jesus, man! That was... Whooooa, man! Don't like do that to me! Jesus fuck, man!" I kicked him in the groin, smashed his face into the nearest redwood, then turned to look at the shortcut I had just come down... I couldn't find it. It seemed to blend so perfectly into the forest from any angle other than looking directly down at it from above. It was just like that rock bridge in Last Crusade. It was that fucking cool. It also explained how I didn't see it when I originally climbed up. Sure.
The shortcut let me off pretty close to the end/beginning of the Muir Woods/Ocean View Trail, so I rushed to the Muir Woods Giftshop & Loo and got rid of a half a dozen pints I'd been storing for the past few hours. Then I booked it to my car in the now empty parking lot, and sped away before they could arrest me for the trumped up charge of blowing up an endangered tree(s). Then I got back on the 101. Then I did the lookout thing on the cliff just North of the Golden Gay Bridge. Then I started searching downtown San Fran for a hotel with rooms available for less than $300 a night (well, after I got lost in the Presidio pretending I was Mark Harmon for a while). Then I started to go even further down the 101 looking for the same thing (hotels with vacancies for under $300 a night, not more crappy movie settings). Then I looped all the way back up the 1 looking for the same thing again. Then I bit the bullet and went alllllllllllll the way down to South San Francisco to check out the airport hotels. The Ramada was booked (I was told that all the hotels in the area were full due to some big gay Oracle Gang Bang Ass Fucking Convention in town [why the FUCK does Oracle need to have conventions?! What do they do there? "Here's a new line of code that ALSO allows you to query shit! We are teh AW3SOM3!!" For 3 days?!?! Goddammit!]), but the front desk told me that the Hampton might have something. So faster than you could say "I fucked Mary Kate and Ashley together in the same bed, and one of them gave me herpes and the other likes to cut herself," I raced over there and ran inside to the reception desk, shoving two elderly ladies into the front shrubbery (they were after MY ROOM! Fuck 'em!) along the way.