Tuesday, 24 June 2014

On the road, Day 6: San Diego -> Joshua Tree National Park

Sunday 1st June
Once again we managed to be slow and sleepy on the morning despite our best attempts to be proactive and leave early.

We took advantage of the free breakfast and ate far too much, and then sneakily shoved more in our Tupperware boxes. I then grabbed a load of common food from the hostel cupboards before heading to the bathroom and wrapping as much toilet paper around my arm as I could possibly manage and shoved it all in our bags.

Carrying our massive backpacks, shopping bags and stolen goods we searched for our baby BLG and created a plan of action on how to leave San Diego.

Unfortunately some people have to be fit and healthy and run stupid marathons leading to half the roads being closed, completely scuppering our plans. Come on America, I thought cars came before exercise?!

Becoming almost claustrophobic as we tried to escape the city we just headed for the nearest freeway and winged it from there.

You stay classy, San Diego... now we're into the wild.

We have started to notice that the expected time for every drive we do seems to be two hours less than the actual time. We hit the road then suddenly, Hey we should get some milk, oo stop here I need the loo, oh do you think they will sell memory cards? hey wait we forgot the milk! Oh I need the toilet too now,,,

But even all these mundane little moments in mediocre places are enjoyable because it reminds us how free and independent we are, stopping whenever we like, even just to take a photo of an amusing sign.

Today we also commented on the fantastical names of towns round here, drive up avocado highway with turnoffs to Rainbow Blvd and even passing through a little town called Kickapoo. As we headed further inland the towns became smaller and more bizarre, everything somehow being related back to Christianity.

Getting closer and closer to Joshua Tree National Park it occurred to us we had no means of making fire so we stopped a couple of times to gather our cavewomen essentials.

At one stop I made a fool of myself by trying to open the bathroom door only to find it locked. I waited far too long and started becoming insanely irate, knocking on the door I started to realllly dislike this faceless person hogging the bathroom for so long. Then over came a member of staff who gently pushed the door open. As well as being embarrassed I felt rather peculiar at finding that all my irritation and dislike had been aimed at no one at all, there was just me and an empty room. Peculiar.

As I came outside, eager for a quick getaway, I found S putting stuff in the boot. She slammed it shut and got in the driver's seat and reached in her pocket for the keys. Her cute German accent started firing out "f*ck, f*ck, f*ck" as she realised she'd locked them in the trunk. At first I panicked and then all I could think was 'balls, I'm going to have to show my face in that gas station again to ask for help and look even more stupid!' - which really was not an option.

Keeping oddly calm so's not to stress Svenja out even more, I clambered around the front of the car and actually felt a little leap of lightness in my heart as I pushed a button and heard that beautiful POP as the boot sprung open. Confessing her complete, undying love for me Svenja grabbed the keys and we fled that dreaded place for good.

FINALLY, reaching Joshua Tree we we were so excited to be immersed in nature again. I read in the exhibition at the Museum of Photographic Arts that every designated State Park is made an official state park because there is something unique about it, no two parks are the same.

Joshua Tree is breathtaking. The vast open planes are just full of these tall, spiky trees, all spread out from one another, like a creepy army of silent limbs, all bent at bizarre angles and covered in spikes. Then the mountains just look like massive man-made piles of stone all piled up together. The stones look loose, like rubble, like a child's pile of rocks next to a big hole they're digging. But then they're so monumental, you feel so small and vulnerable.

There is something spectacularly disturbing about the scenery here. The smooth curved rocks that resembles shapes and animals from your morphed dreams, the antisocial trees that stand disturbingly still and giant rubble piles randomly amassing - everything natural here has a creepy, man-made aurora about it. There's almost too much delineation, or spacing, or something...

But then the fact that these natural wonders can make you feel this way is amazing in itself. The scenery just overcomes you.

The heat here is sweltering and after our laughing and cursing as we put our tents up we suddenly became aware of the dense silence here. We sat still, and I don't think I have ever heard so much nothing in my life, until a bird made a funny warbling noise, which was of course followed by our laughter.

Our camp is a cute new home (for one night) already, walled with large, smooth boulders.

However we both simultaneously became disturbed by a lone, old man, continuously circling past in his car even though we were in the middle of nowhere with no one else around, and he eventually pulled up in the pitch right next to us and simply sat in his car. We both  tried to casually watch him, before deciding not to panic too much and to head to the trails.

We had the best afternoon soaking in the golden hours of sunshine from 3 to 7 that make everything gorgeous and glowy. We set off on trails, but were constantly drawn away by alluring rocks and boulders that just had to be climbed.

Not perhaps wearing the best clothing or being as careful as we should have been, we leapt across, squeezed between, scrambled down, push each other up and even tumbled right down the bumbling piles of boulders, bubbling over each other to create the best adult's playground.

We tried to get a photo of our reenactment of The Lion King (Ahhhhhh Svenja) which ended into Svenja tumbling backwards and rolling down a few rocks as she tried to steady the camera. Once I saw she was conscious we laughed hysterically at her epic, slow motion fall, but when we noticed 'real-life' blood coming out her knee we accepted we need to be more careful.

Just before sunset we walked one more trail, discussing rattlesnakes and religion then the meaning of life and all the possible outcomes of one action and our decisions and when will humanity die out.

We arrived back at our tents and noticed the guy still sat in his car next to our site so S suggested we go over and introduce ourselves before dramatically stating "know your enemy".

A brief conversation neither confirmed nor disproved our speculation that he was not to be trusted. So we are keeping our pocket knives at hand.

We took it in turns to guard the fire (which we made all by ourselves!) and watch the sunset, before creatively constructing cooking pots from tinfoil to heat up our beloved meal of baked beans.

Now I'm all wrapped up in my big ACE hoody and leggings, with a layer of Aloe Vera gel underneath to soak into my many cuts and scrapes.

There are so many stars here, I just asked S if she thinks there are more stars in the sky or rocks in the park and she laughed but we really can't work out the answer.

I stopped writing here, but I did not sleep. This man was terrifying. I was trying not to get too panicky or worked up because we felt there was nothing more we could do. This guy was crazy, he got out his car and placed a potted plant down then kept picking it up and moving it to other places before putting it in the passenger seat next to him, like a companion. We were totally stupid and basically accidentally told him that we are foreigners, no one knows where we are, we have no phone signal, hello want to kill us? retrospectively we should have just got in our car and driven to a different camp site. Live and learn. Which only really works if you do live, so stop being so stupid.

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