Nearly a month later I finally get a moment, late at night, to finish writing about our experience in LA. When the snow and ice hit a few weeks back, I closed my eyes real tight and thought about the desert. Not just any desert. The Joshua Tree forest was located within a desert I had never experienced before. Here in Washington/Oregon, the deserts are high, cut from glaciers and full of juniper and whistle pigs. The Joshua Tree desert is full of cactus, rattle snakes, sand and million pound rocks that felt like sandpaper and looked as though they had been meticulously placed on top of each other. Awesome.
I love camping and car camping is like going to the spa. No worries about what I couldn't carry, no minimalistic thoughts and no need to shovel a hole to do my business. The ground was extremely hard and the threat of snake bites in the butt loomed, so I was so pleased about the outhouses. We even lucked out of the often rancid olfactory overload in which outhouses produce (even in the chilliest of climates) because some very nice person lit a candle that lasted our whole stay. Both nights were clear and even a little too warm the first night.
Ah the first night. Vali and Gio had all their friends gathered around the fire. We were in happy spirits and ready to let loose when a couple of Navy guys asked if they could share our site. Gio had rented three spots and it ended up that we only needed two, barely. So being of good humor, as a collective we accepted these strangers into our site. Aside from them, the group as a whole did not know each other and connected only by Vali herself but nonetheless these guys were deemed "the strangers". The strangers tried too hard and talked a little too much. They were visiting to do some climbing and given the perfectness of the rocks, I would have even been tempted to scale a few if the opportunity arose. They were from San Diego and were obviously surfers from their sun-smacked skin and bleached hair to the on stranger's super lame lazier gun tattoo on his forearm. They stayed only the one night and were gone when we returned from one of many of our day hikes around the park.
Vali and Gio have a good group of people they surround themselves with and it was a real treat to be within it, if only for a few days. We took the warm atmosphere home to a typical Northwest pre-winter chill and dug right back into life and when I open my eyes to look at the stiff, frozen outside I smile. The trip was needed and leaves my pending winter warmer than usual.