Upon arrival, Jared picked me up at LAX as planned. We decided to camp out at the Malibu RV Park while I searched for a more permanent residence. We kept all of our stuff inside Jared's car, which became a tight fit. It was around $25/night, which was actually pretty reasonable for the area. It had a bathroom and showers as well, so it worked out. The view from our tent spots was very beautiful, and Jared captured a number of Malibu sunrises and sunsets:
During the daytime, we spent a lot of time in the Pasadena and Santa Monica libraries, where I was able to get internet access and look for accomodation on craigslist. I had tried for a few weeks before coming out, but was having no success. The same story applied when I was in LA. Although I looked at a few places, in person, none of them were what I was hoping for, but because I was desperate, I always said I was interested. Unfortunately, I never was chosen.
Because I was getting so frustrated with my search, we decided to head out to Joshua Tree National Park to see what it was like. The drive to Joshua tree was only about 2.5 hours, directly East of LA. Neither Jared nor I knew why the park was called Joshua Tree, but it soon became obvious that it was named after an interesting piece of fauna that grew there:
The High desert was stunningly beautiful, and very different from any landscape I had ever seen. Fortunately, a road snaked through the entire park, so I was able to see a great deal, despite my injury. There were many mountains and canyons full of Joshua Trees:
Additionally, there were a ton of large mounds of rocks that had formed from years of natural erosion. These made me ache to feel better so that I could get back into Rock Climbing:
There was a great variety of desert plants in the park, including many varieties of cactus, and these Yuccas:
We found a place to camp at a group of sites called Jumbo Rocks. It was at 4400 feet elevation. We set up camp and spent some time walking on the rocks. Jared snapped this picture of the sunset before it got too dark:
Since it was pretty warm during the day, we didn't even think that the nighttime temperature in the high desert might get cold. Of course, it did, and we found ourselves scrambling for something to burn in our fire pit. Despite the signs prohibiting it, we scavenged some yucca stumps and lit them up. They burned freely and provided us a lot of heat while we stayed awake and talked.
Eventually, we retired to the tent. The temperature continued to drop throughout the night, and it eventually got below freezing. This made it a very difficult night as a result. Since I already couldn't sleep on my left (broken leg) or my right (torn shoulder) sides, it was pretty miserable for me. When I awoke for good, around 6:30am, there was frost on the outside of our tent.
The next day, we continued our drive south through a patch of cactuses:
We spent some more time exploring the park and camped the second night in Cottonwood Spring, at the south end. We were better prepared for this night, and it didn't reach such frigid temperatures since it wasn't as high in the mountains.
John Wunderlin was planning on flying into LA the next day, and since I didn't have a place yet, he was going to have to live out of Jared's car along with us. Since the car was already at capacity, this required some ingenuity to make enough space for him to sit down. When our work was complete, we had a John-sized space in the rear-right side for him to nest in :)
Because John was visiting, I couldn't just spend my days in libraries, so we decided to take another trip and check out Death Valley. Death Valley is about 3 hours NorthEast of Los Angeles and we left for the park as soon as we picked John up at the airport. John's flight arrived in the afternoon, and by the time we made it to the rim of Death Valley, it was nighttime. We made the spooky descent into the valley while listening to Brian Eno, which was perfectly complementary. We camped at the first available campground. The wind made it very difficult to setup the tents.
In the morning, Jared snapped this shot of the sun rising:
Much like Joshua Tree, Death Valley has a road that snakes through it. However, some can't-miss landmarks require a small hike. One example was these sand Dunes:
I had a lot of trouble crutching in them, since my crutches would sink in quite a ways.
At one point, the world turned all crazy and I died of dehydration:
Since dying of dehydration is nothing compared to getting hit by a car, I recovered in no time.
The mountain ridges around the sides of the valley had a lot of layers of various colors:
As we travelled further south, the landscape continued to look less and less like Earth. At first, it appeared to be a great expanse of cracked mud:
However, the mud soon turned into plains of salt crystals:
The cracking patterns of the crystals became very regular in certain places:
Eventually, the landscape became completely alien. Here are some pictures of the salt structures up close:
The area where these crystals were was called Devil's Golf Course. You might have trouble playing other sports there too:
Devil's Soccer Field:
Devil's Beach Volleyball Court:
Devil's Swimming Pool:
Oddly enough, the crystals have the same chemical composition as crack cocaine, and it wasn't uncommon to see herds of martians getting cracked out at any given time.
We also visited the lowest point in the United States at Badwater Basin:
I frequently have menaltic euphorisms, which is the experience of orgasm at low elevations.
After this trip to Death Valley, we spent a few days bumming around LA before John had to leave and Jared and I returned to the spot in Malibu. That night, I finally found a short term place to live in West Hollywood. This was just in time, since Jared had to leave the following morning.
This first week in California was one I will never forget. After having spent so much downtime in Rochester, having the ability to experience so much in such a short time, despite my injury, was a beautiful thing. Jared had done such a wondrous thing for me, and it was hard to see him go. I cried a bit after dropping him off at the airport.
Forward to Settling Into Pasadena 2007
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