Next to us sits a couple from England. She, shaped like a pear that's sat on the counter a week too long. He wears the hues of cheap English outdoors outfitters: a fuzzy crimson vest, earthy pants. His turtleneck is the color of the trees.
When the waitress asks him if he wants fried rice or white rice, he says, "Is the rice cooked?" The waitress, a diminutive and smiley Thai says, "Well, you can choose either white rice or fried."
The Englishman thinks about this for a second, and is weary traveler's frown tightens. He raised his voice up and spits out, "I JUST WANT TO KNOW IF THE BLOODY RICE IS COOKED!"
The waitress says calmly, "You mean steamed? The white rice is steamed, yes."
She takes his order and grabs us a bottle of Charles Shaw while the English man and his wife glare at her.
I ignore the event and try to focus on the maps with my wife. We're going to Kings Canyon National Park, for a stroll in the woods. Kings Canyon sits only half a day's drive between some of America's largest cities. It is a giant National Park, but yet a fraction of the park is accessible by car - just a single road travels through the park, as if the park service forgot about it or never completed it. It is almost entirely a backcountry wilderness park.
Add to that the fact that Kings Canyon contains almost no readily available monuments: there are few things to see. It is simply a road through a gigantic canyon. Sure, the Sierra Crest in the background reaches fourteen thousand feet. Sure, Kings Canyon is deeper than the Grand Canyon and contains some of the largest trees in the world.
But it has no particular attractions, and this is the conversation Jane and I are having in anticipation of tomorrows drive south.