“It’s amazing how our bodies know just what to do. I started driving, parked, told my legs to hike, and had an incredible day. Even though I was alone, I didn’t really feel lonely.
I started my van trip by playing “America” by Simon and Garfunkel, followed by the entirety of the Into the Wild soundtrack. I finally graduated into audiobooks, starting Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath. It’s been a great kickstarter for emboldening my often fragile nerves on this trip.”
“The sunset was spectacular. What a way to start the trip. There were delicate cirrus clouds parading across the entire sky, and after the sun fell behind the western mountains, they lit up in a radical, neon pink glow. The sky was made of rainbow sherbet, and I waltzed my way back to the van, scrambling up a small mountain, saying hello to several bunny rabbits, and taking a zillion photos in the process.”
“After a cold night full of the wild clatter of yipping coyotes, I woke to 28 degree weather, even though the forecasts all said 35. In the frigid pitch black, I piled on extra layers, defrosted my windshield, and set off for the Cholla Cactus Garden. As I drove through dark, ghostly groves of Joshua Trees, an electric orange stripe pierced the sky, filling it with light. I needed to hurry; I was barely going to make it.
When I arrived at the cholla garden, everything was awash in rose-colored light. Puckered flower pods protruded here and there from the teddy bear cholla. Forbidden morning snuggles…”
“As I climbed up to Copper Mountain View, I noticed an incoming storm – dozens of dark clouds loomed overhead, and my anxiety started racing. Was this thunder? Am I the highest point? Will my trekking poles form tiny lightening rods and kill me?
A quiet murmur of thunder finally did appear, which sent my nerves to war. I breathed in. I breathed out. I remembered the gathas from the Buddhist retreat, and my anxiety calmed down enough to keep walking. I saw no lightening, no rain, and the clouds appeared to be moving east, away from where I stood.”
“At night, I drove into Pioneertown to visit Pappy and Harriet’s. Best choice of the day. It took a moment to find a barstool, but I finally got the nerve to ask a local if I could use his (he wasn’t sitting on it), and we struck up a conversation. The food was awesome, the beer was cold, and the locals were getting tanked on a Thursday night.
The band struck up – Maesa Pullman – and she was PHENOMENAL. I felt transported into the swinging’ 60s, when you could roll up to a random venue and just see Janis Joplin perform. The crowd was young, hip, and way cleaner than I was. More Joshua Tree hipster locals a la Ingrid Goes West than dirty climbers and hikers from the park. But no matter, everyone was dancing and having a great time.”