Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Trip

Vermont looked beautiful as we pulled away from the Connecticut river. Sunlight glanced off the shallows headed for the comforting shade of the pine tree steeped banks. I felt strangely self aware. I considered, "I have to drive 4,000 miles." And I thought, "This means nothing to me, but it will." I was right, but as the trip progressed, I lost the self reflective streak. Moments themselves seemed more important than what would, or wouldn't, or had already. Succumbing to a traveling trance was easy, delightful, and as I embraced it, I felt closer to the country, the road, and myself.

The Buffalo wings in Buffalo were really good, but not nearly as spicy as they claimed ("mild is spicy, medium is hot, hot is REALLY hot"). The 2 a.m. 90mph burn across Ohio was all it could be, boring. Still, as we neared the windy city, I made a regrettable choice. Jon proffered,

"Do you want to listen to a book on tape?"


"Ok. All I have is Blood Meridian, and some Edgar Allen Poe short stories."

Jon pressed play. A few minutes in, he fell asleep soundly, exhausted from his previous full week of traveling. During the rest of the terrifying reading of The Pit and the Pendulum, pushing sunrise, white knuckled, I began a sympathetic relationship with the narrator. I felt the pendulum moving ever closer, symbolic of my now torturous attempts to stay awake and sane. I was aghast with the knowledge that my heretical speeds could engender punishment at any moment. Yet the inquisitors in blue outfits, I never encountered. A captor of the Subaru, not the Spanish, I pressed onward. When the story came to a crashing finale I was mentally drained, but, still, hours remained until Evanston.

5:30 a.m. EDT we arrived. The car had been muttering at me for a few miles and occasionally jumping in crotchety anger to my behest. We decided to deal with that when we awoke. The basement of the Freitas residence was a jumble of x-box controllers and pillows. I never quite put my finger on that smell.

The car, it seemed, had been running on five cylinders. Ahmed the Persian shop owner was comically disgusted with the state of our car. He chuckled at our use of Regular gasoline, our nerve to drive a car more than 4 hours at a time without a cool down nap, and fastidiously explained how obnoxious it was that Subaru had placed the spark plugs down the sides of the engine rendering power tools useless. He assured us they had never been cleaned let alone changed. They had been.

Lake Michigan was cool in the heavy 90 degree sun while I waited to hear from Meineke. The skyline of THE mid-western city rose from the water fifteen miles away and the shores of the mitten were just noticeable through the afternoon haze. The shop was to close at 4:30 since it was a Saturday, but I had already advanced a bribe to get us on the road that day. The men worked heroically, staying far too late, and returning us with a refurbished car and inarguable proof that some people are just plain nice.

The following day we ran around the city, sweating next to the reflective bean, basking in the cool air within the Hancock building, guffawing at the 5$ per hr. parking meter, gawking at the architecture, and finally slamming the best hot dogs we'd ever eaten. The ends were slit into quadrants and pressed down on the griddle, leaving a baconish crispiness. The poppyseed buns were supple yet withstood the onslaught of toppings. The relish and mustard were homestyled, and it was finished with a slice of tomato, two green chiles, and a full pickle spear.

Trying to take a picture of the skyline one last time in the rearview mirror, I had no fear of dropping my phone. Mostly because we were in bumper to bumper due to the colossus that is O'Hare, but also because I was downright happy. Being a tourist has never been my thing. I prefer to feel like I know what I'm doing, where I'm going, and not like I'm getting ripped off or missing highlights. In Chicago, I had let this go, I had asked dumbly for directions, used a bathroom in a Best-Buy, wandered around holding a map, and probably missed out on an embarrassing amount of the coolest secret spots. But it was all-good. In fact it was great. Next time too, there’ll be Wrigley. As an aside, I was particularly struck by Chicago's cleanliness. It occurred to me that like a forest self-regulates through periodic burns, the underbrush and disorganization of the city could also have been reformed in this fashion. The 1871 disaster is indeed cited as a large reason for the ensuing success of Chicago, which seems so well designed because the city planners had a bonafide second try.

The drive north from Chicago snaked past Madison, rambled over the two biggest American rivers that both start with Miss, and landed us in Wall, SD after another grueling 15 hours. The heat in Wisconsin was stifling and we confronted our doubts about the car making it the whole way. It held strong. We ate our first fast food of the trip, depth charging our systems with Quiznotic submarines near La Crosse, the birthplace of flow and Sunday spoons. Outside of Albert Lea we ran full force into an unapologetically violent mid-western storm. The lightning was flaring sideways, and the rain crashed down in sheets. We slowed down and I treated Jon to a small disquisition on Faraday cages. The idea that an electric field (like lightning) cannot penetrate a conductive shell (like our car) was soothing (like an oatmeal bath).

The primary sights aside from the great rivers were the stands of wind turbines, abiding proudly and affrontive to the Quixotes amongst us. The great plains of the American northwest are known for flatness and windiness, and because there are fewer people to complain about unsightliness, the area is pretty much asking to get pumped full of these rotating behemoths. They did indeed spin (i.e. were working), a testament to our country's attempts at alternative energy. Also just seeing them prompted conversation about environmental issues, a productive side effect that should be considered in locations where their actual power output might not be impressive.

The old fashioned billboards representing Wall Drug were in Jon's words "not so much advertising, as begging". We did not stop or make eye contact. Earlier we had also started the Cormac McCarthy book Blood Meridian, and for the rest of the trip every once in a while we would put it back on because we forgot how oppressively pessimistic and nauseating it was. It was well after midnight as I snatched some wifi from the parking lot of a Best Western to get directions to the free campsite – no 3G here. As we neared, two bright lights on the road startled me and I slammed on the breaks. The eyes of a bison gleamed stupidly in the crystalline night air. It shuffled off with a snort. Overtired and excited, I jumped out of the car to try to take a picture. Jon admonished me for my folly -- the beast did have some horns, and its head was as big as a refrigerator. Plus, the pictures didn't come out because it was pitch black. Go figure. We set up much too loudly in the campsite and passed out. The thrashing wind woke us 4 or 5 hours later, and we groggily rose to explore this desolate and gorgeous National Park.

Pullouts dotted the 30-mile loop road around the park. We stopped at a few to go on various walks (looking at some fossils ensconced in glass boxes so they wouldn’t be stolen), scrambling to the top of a butte to feel the rushing air currents that pumped out of somewhere even more desolate, like Alberta. The land was bad. As in, try to walk around without twisting ankles. As in, try growing anything there, or better yet building any kind of shelter that would survive winters so bitter you’d rather drink burnt instant Folgers, which come to think of it we did every morning, for whatever that’s worth. The landscape was once eviscerated by primordial forces of water and wind, flat buttes and plateaus carved out leaving swathes of jagged, sandy pyramids. We walked and drove through cliff bands where the sedimentary layers continued from tower to tower, moving through the air, creating a macroscale depiction of rainbows quantum tunneling.

I think it's somewhat understood amongst people who have visited New Zealand. We have seen some Nature. Capital N Nature. The ancient misty Fjordlands, the mountains diving into the sea at Kaikoura, the blobs of rock that seem to have fallen from the sky into Arthur's Pass to make a C.S. Lewis set, jungles and limestone cliffs in Golden Bay, frightfully alpine Aoraki. So it was a surprise to me when others who had traveled with me there said that the Badlands were the only thing America had to compare in terms of otherworldly landscapes. The scene was sere, surely stunning, although personally, I'd go back to Nzed.

After a lunch of peanut butter slopped onto bananas and bread, during which nicely dressed tourists chuckled approvingly, we left the Badlands. Custer St. Park seemed like a good next stop. The terrain here was beautiful. Pine trees and spires of rock that looked rounded from afar but with texture that grew and grew as we approached, pebbly yet fine grained. We had stormed up and down the hillside trying to find the beginning to the route for almost an hour, crossing the paths of the same hikers multiple times. Eventually I was staring at nacreous specs suspended in dark coffee colored sand-paper pudding, halfway up a 300ft spire, belaying Jon and shivering. I focused all my energy on the cause for this stone; primordial fluctuations of temperature and fortuitous gravitationally accreted mineral placement. Sure. Topping out the spire into the sun, I had an unapologetically demonstrative moment. I stood on the car sized block teetering on the top of the narrow rock column that I never could have reached without the years of climbing, Jon, or the free schedule of graduate school. I spread my tired arms and yelled out to the wild country.  I really was into it now, 3/4 of the way across America, standing half naked on top of an ancient gaian monument, addressing the abyss with free spirited wonder. Vere homo erectus.

We made a pit stop at Mt. Rushmore, the most blatant testament to out our cultures’ self-centered ego stroking belief that we are cosmically important -- or at least on par with the Egyptians. Although the park tried its best to charge us to simply gaze upon this ‘wonder of all wonders’ we declined sardonically and sniped a picture from the turnaround loop at the gate. It actually looked really cool, but I couldn’t fully appreciate it. It is undoubtedly in poor taste to like carve your map permanently into a naturally beautiful landscape, but moreover, it’s celebrating an American vision for which the original landowners were removed violently and remain without retribution.

The Lakota tribe had inhabited in the Black Hills since 1776 and had not met a white man until Lewis and Clark visited to notify them their land had been sold by a man named “Loowee”. The religious significance of this region is central to their culture and the mountains are the oldest in the country. With surprising respect for this, the Fort Laramie Treaty was signed in 1868, forbidding white settlements in the Black Hills, get this, for EVER. But, as soon as gold was discovered, we rushed that place like it was an Eli Manning shotgun play, and of course, sacked the shit out of it. The US government promptly “re-assigned” the Lakota to “better” reservations in far west SD. When the gold ran out, so did the white man, leaving a trashed landscape and a long lasting legal battle. In 1980, the Supreme Court ruled it would recompense the natives with a cold 100 mil. The natives however felt that monetary restitution was insultingly inadequate. Plus, somehow, lawyers were appointed for them who (the lawyers) took 10% of this money that wasn’t asked for in the first place. The battle rages on and Obama actually has recognized it on several occasions, proving it doesn’t quite matter the color of your skin if you want to make false promises to Native Americans, although I’d say this is the exception, not the rule.

Driving west into the setting sun sure seems romantic when John Wayne does it. We on the other hand were sunburned and miserable, hiding out under shirts tied to the sunshades, and pulling our hats as low as possible. This continued for a few hours (meanwhile another attempted listen to the drawling horrors of Blood Meridian) as we passed into North-Eastern Wyoming, triumphantly ditching I-90 for good. We had taken it for 1800 mi.

That night we were afraid for the car on mountain passes dappled with gates that are likely closed many months a year. We smartly (thinking back to our Persian car doctor) took a “free” campsite, ate some beans, and nodded off serenely. The early morning dewy chill brought moose within 50 feet of us, and I hissed at Jon until he woke to come see. Prairie dogs too, snooped around. It reminded me that to an untrained animal eye, cherubic pink apes like us look pretty damn puny and harmless. Snowcapped mountains in Bighorn Nat’l forest presiding calmly in the north, we took stock of our provisions. We had thankfully bought more propane in Albert Lea (is that two names? or a use of lea -- as in meadow -- in something other than a Wednesday NYT puzzle?). The last Chobani, I consumed the previous night, and had been really suspect, like had a bulbous lid and fizzed when I opened it suspect, but I was hanging in. Satisfied and reorganized and recharged and wall-eyed from gritty Folgers with honey in it, we psyched ourselves into oblivion and floored it for Tensleep.

Wyoming is beautiful. Wild. Like wild, wild, bronco buckin’ license plate and all. And seemingly no real resident (at least upstate) drives under 60mph, ever, or sports anything but a 10-gallon hat polka dotted with bullet holes. Tensleep, WY, is named after some archaic unit of distance the local natives used. It has some shops, a gas station, a bar with a drive through that’s really just someone waiting by a door, and by some accounts the best limestone pocket climbing in America. Cliff bands extend for miles up the canyon slightly north of town. There are lifetimes of routes to climb, some hundreds of feet tall. Because we couldn’t buy a guidebook because the only shop in town that “had” them didn’t, we drove up to a parking lot that had some climber type cars in it and hoped for the best. The first guy we talked to was a fished wish. He showed us the book, talked up a storm about all his favorite places and climbs, pointing up to the cliffband and using figurative language like a craggy Fitzgerald. “See that swooping underbelly up there?” “Ok, look three slots left of that gorgeous water streak.” “The tumbling prominent arĂȘte is marvelous.” etc. Brain and ifeez exploding with information, we ambled through the cattle gate, and began the trudge upward. The trail never broke angle, and hardly ever switchbacked. I get it, the west is tough. Fortunately, I always enjoy a little ‘stroll’. The next two days were truly unforgettable; meeting the men and women who developed the stunning climbs and climbing as many of them as we could, camping for free literally adjacent to a pay site where the septuagenarian owner offered us water and discourse on wild roses, the climbing itself, the pepperoni and broccoli pasta, the sound of the stream, donating a pan to the stream, scratching the ears of a uncharacteristically nervous chocolate Labrador retriever, oh, and the rock climbing – from gently overhanging routes with explicit sequences of smallish but quality holds separated by smooth and blank blueish yellow rock, to near vertical balance challenges with grips approximately the size of a big toe or two fingers, to massively overhanging routes requiring mental and physical endurance and often resulting in loud, 15-20ft, swinging, scary-but-safe falls.

Blasted tired by noon on Wednesday, day 5, we tucked Tensleep into our favorite folder for fond memories and drove to Salt Lake City. We arrived at dinner after a fairly rough drive through bumble-F Wyoming. We saw moose on the way, and worried about them. Jon’s friends concoted a stir fry and administered sweet relief in showerish form. The next day we toured the city. The actual downtown SLC is a small place dominated by Mormons. Impressively, latter day saints have an incredibly complete and detailed genealogical record stored in a very large building in paper form. They seem to like short-sleeve collared shirts, with ties. The temple on Temple sq. is truly a sight to behold. Its building required almost half a century, and it shows. Strangely, in the park nearby, I saw 25 bags of white powder out on a picnic table. Perhaps I was too road weary to concoct a legitimate explanation, but the mystery remains.

Aside from the delicious very thin crust pizza in the graffiti’d underbelly of the city, Thursday afternoon was pretty uneventful until we got into western Nevada. The road was so long and flat, and the scenery so big, that even balling the jack at 90mph it seemed like we were going nowhere. Oh and I got flipped off by a lady with I think one tooth. We stopped to get groceries for our upcoming camping trip and had arguments about food quality v. amount v. price. This is typical for Jon and I. Our parents sometimes describe us as the one who eats to live, and the other who lives to eat. That was Tonopah, NV. Jon ate some BK and I pretended I didn’t want any. We laughed about the menu listings, mostly the bacon sundae. In the evening, approaching Cali finally, the fear was riding high. It was terrifically hot and the car would stutter every once in a while just to adjust my priorities. Cormac McCarthy did nothing to airate the dense tension, just the same dusty tragedy, phrase after phrase, mile after mile. Soon the roads got twisty, and hilly. Passing under the shadow of Boundary Mtn., the sky darkened severely, and the jagged snowy peaks bleated “get out, seriously, gtf out”. Apparently not many people who drive to Yosemite come from this direction. Actually, like nobody. Pulling up at Echo lake was such a sigh of relief that I relieved myself balanced against a big, red barked tree staring at the alpenglow, calm in the pine needles barefoot.

Tioga pass, to the poachable camping area, where our good friend David B. had advised us to take shelter. But first, cars parked everywhere. Could the pass be closed in summer? A concert. Masses of mountain hippies drinking dank beers, dancing in circles. Jangly bluegrass, on green grass. “Sittin’ on a rotten log, drinking my wine…” – an original no doubt. Good thing to be dirty and wearing a trucker hat. Searching for Tommy Caldwell, only my friend Diana from Dartmouth. Still a huge surprise. The joy. But too soon, again the fear. The car was steaming, or smoking? when we pulled in next to the 9000ft sign signaling the sneaky spot. Ignore that. Eat cheese and salami drowned in Sriracha and quickly sleep.

It took another 45+min to drive to the park entrance from Tuolomne meadows where we stayed. We were so early that we didn’t need to buy a pass. We oohed and ahhed our way through the anticipatory ride. Working again off only the MountainProject app., it took a little bit to find the correct parking area. We put all our food in bear boxes, racked up, and made our way to the bottom of Nutcracker, a supposedly stellar moderate situated on the buttress next to El Cap. The rock in Yosemite is what it’s all about. The physical climbing is superb due to the amazingly high friction granite that is not even too rough on the skin, and it feels safe because the stone is so hard that equipment sticks well in cracks with no chance of failure due to rock breakage. The views and reeling sensation of magnitude you get high in the valley are unlike anything I’ve seen, or felt. Really, it’s nothing like felt. The Nutcracker climb went pretty smoothly, Jon seemed comfortable, and it was well within our limits. There were comfortable ledges throughout to break up the adventure. Sometime in the early afternoon, midway through the climb, we were a little lost, and there was a group coming up behind us. I personally don’t like the idea that other people would be on the same climb, it takes away from the wildness, but in a place as popular as Yosemite, it seems more likely than not that another party will be on the same route. The group was getting a little uneasy with our slow speeds and we thought they were pros. As they got closer however, I spoke to them, and found out that they were basically on our level, but they were worried about the weather. I hadn’t looked at a forecast since the morning and sure enough, doubt instilled, I scrutinized the clouds, and found myself more and more agreeing with them on the general pervasion of grayness. Jon eventually found his way, and we actually both pulled through the hardest part quickly. This left another hundred feet or so of scampering, and as we finished the climb, summit euphoria was tactfully shortlived with regard given to the impressive gathering of cumuli. We high-tailed it down the sketchy trail that led back to the bottom, and it started raining halfway through the descent. It never got too bad, but still we worried for our following group and contemplated calling search and rescue. At worst they would have to wait a little we thought, so when it cleared up soonafter and their car left the parking lot, we were glad to not have done anything hasty. Meanwhile, we exalted in our weariness, chugged water, wolfed cookies. We then went for a short walk to the base of El Capitan, the crown jewel of Yosemite valley. Aeons ago it tried an emergency ejection out of the earth’s crust, thereby pummeling 3000ft of nitrogenous gas for even asking to be there. Really, it’s in a valley and exists thanks to the sculptor Agua, but that’s the image I had. The sheer verticality and material bulk of it is unbelievable, a stark reminder that mankind cannot compete at all with natural macroengineering. Mostly off-white, there are stains and streaks of black and greys, and even some colorful bands. From the ground, we could see a few intrepid groups, laying siege to the Captain, camped out thousands of feet in the air, perhaps in tents hanging from gear hammered into the wall in some perverse faux aerie.

We drove through the rest of the park and saw the scenery, but also saw the people. It’s an odd mixture on display: burly, tattooed, lumberjack climbers; tubby, tee-shirt-visor-fanny-pack sporters; over hyped and geared out wealthy weekend hikers from the San cities; Crocs exploding out of prii, encasing the feet of jabbering children carrying their newly bought moose and bear figurines. We were unable to get a spot in Camp IV, the classic post WWII climber’s hangout, but it might have been for the best. The place was an absolute zoo, and we had to meet up with Dave anyway.

It’s remarkable what feels normal, or perhaps how quickly you forget what normal is after pulling a trip like this. While waiting for Dave we casually parked on the side of the road and began cooking a beastly batch of chili. We had splurged on ground beef from the Yosemite general store, and had plenty of other tasty fixings. A ranger stopped to make sure were weren’t camping there, I don’t know why he believed us. When Dave finally arrived and after hugs and nips of whiskey and steaming grub, we gambled, leaving Jon’s car in a gas station parking lot, and drove back up into Tuolomne to sleep again.

The following day we ascended a longer route up the DAFF dome. En route, we stopped at the general store after listening to a bunch of J. Live. I got called out for bumping the car door next to us. It was weird to get that here and from so dirty a person. I vaguely apologized, and Jon and Dave took turns doing terrible things to the public bathroom. I was unable to follow them due to subsequent mechanical failures. We headed to the base of the climb, stashed our food and bags, and promptly got cut in line by a very fit looking group of women. Shrugging that off, we waited and it turned out the group in front of them was having trouble anyways, so waiting was in the cards for us. The route was underway finally, and Dave led the first pitch in a stellar move of bravery and skill. Jon battled the beginning of the next pitch, impressively getting through a challenging bulge of overhanging rock, while placing safety gear exceptionally well. Above the protrusion though, sound could not reach him, and we lost communication. About this time, another group started up the first section. It was a guy leading the way with a wispy moustache, and ‘Akiko’ on the ground with a shrill voice and some weird pan-Asian accent. They had seemed inexperienced and were unabashedly asking for a lot of help. Against my wishes, he tried to come up and clip in with Dave and I, who were already sharing tight quarters. This guy was incorrigible, and soon demonstrated his earlier anxiety was not about to fade. He put the idea of bad weather into our heads, and again asked us to help him through the next section. This meant leaving some of Jon’s equipment for him, and we stupidly agreed, mostly to shut him up. I was getting really nervous by this point, and I can’t imagine how Jon was feeling, well above the area where he was supposed to have stopped, running out of gear, with no help. He made the right call and stopped in a less than ideal spot so as not to run out of rope. The next section proved to be a real test too. My mental fortitude was failing, my legs chattering, arms giving out, and I was truly terrified. Finally up with him again, we calmed down a bit, and were able to finish the climb safely. The top of the large granite dome was wonderfully worth it. The alpine views were stunning, the weather had held, and applesauce poured on granola bars almost seemed perfect until Dave reached in his bag and whopped out a giant Italian sub. That’s relativity for you. He graciously shared bites while we chased a marmot for pictures. The circumstances leading to that fuzzy groundhog being present with us on top of this steep 600ft dome remain unknown. We rappelled down to the ground, but still had to wait for our needy compatriot to return our gear. It was about this time that the consequences of being third in the bathroom line that morning became dire. I faced the stand of scraggy trees and pine needles and whimpered.

We were getting eaten alive by mosquitoes, and were exhausted and frazzled from the fear. Craning my neck, I finally got a view of the party behind us beginning their descent. This time, I was happy to see this guy. In a redeeming move, he asked Dave for a picture: ‘I like to remember people who have really helped me’. He returned the equipment, and we drove back to the campsite and made a delicious stir fry and soon were lying in our sleeping bags stargazing and taking lazy pulls of Maker's Mark. The next day I would fly home from Los Angeles.

The morning came, just a few more possible hurdles to overcome. 1) the car cannot be towed. 2) we have to make it to LA on time. 2+) the car has to make it to LA period. The car was there. Check 1. We transferred our stuff back to Jon’s car and I packed up my bags and dressed in some semblance of plane/public-worthy garb. Dave headed north back to San Francisco, and we went south, to the end of the line. The drive toward LA basically sucked. We couldn’t fit in the sequoias given our time constraints, especially considering Jon had to be in Pasadena to move in and go to work the next day. In the evening the car was overheating on the uphills. We pulled over next to three other cars with their hoods agape. The radio squeaked about the heat wave. We drank water and poured some on the engine block and then continued without AC. Soon all was well. A quick stop in Santa-something allowed for time to annihilate some In-N-Out burger. I almost didn’t get fries, but a friend of the cashier’s who was just hanging out there goaded me. “You know you want them…” When I relented, she gave me a high-five, and said “Give my new friend some free fries!” I didn’t have the energy to crack a smile. I think I ended up paying for them and sloughed back to the painfully red chair to eat myself back into civilization, animal style.

Dave has been raving about the ‘stone fruit’ in southern California ever since he lived in Fresno (read his earlier post). As we had driven through this country, we had accordingly set our sights on a Trader Joes next to the Autozone where I had to buy a gas cap because I had left ours on top of the car and driven away somewhere in South Dakota. In the grocery store, we were dismayed to find no basket of ‘stone fruit’. We tried again somewhere off the highway near Death Valley when the thermometer read 115F and air had felt like it was blowing out of a hairdryer. An ancient farmer sauntered out of his back room where he had been abiding next to the TV outside, not sweating.

“Stone fruit?”


“Well, let me tell you something. All this here’s stone fruit. It has a pit, the stone y’see. It’s all grown right in those fields there, watered by me, no pesticides, all natural y’see. It’s 5$ for a crate, 2$ a pound.”

“Can I take a peach and a plum then?”


At this point, his craggy arm extended and he fondled a few perfect specimens before selecting a slightly bruised looking, by-my-eye-overripe peach. He went and washed it under a spout, and used a paper towel to dry it off.

“Uh, thank you. What about the plum?”

“Well I’m not gonna just give my farm away to you.”

We stared at one another blankly. I honestly had no idea what this guy’s deal was. He had given us fruit, but now presumably was cranky about it. I would have had no problem at any moment giving him money, but now it seemed like the only outcome in all of the cosmos was one free peach, and a passive-aggressively chosen one at that. It was delicious. Maybe he knew it was going to be the tastiest and wanted to prove to me that looks can be deceiving. Jon had a green plum and we shared bites. Juice dribbled down my chin and I thought of how the concept of God could have originated when some guy or girl, mostly dead from starvation and dehydration, stumbled onto a stone fruit this good.

The last thing we did was drive to the airport through a dark and smoggy Los Angeles afternoon. I was too early to even check in, which was good because the last thing I could handle was any stress. We hugged and said things like “oh man” and “wow”. I sat in rounded green bench/chair and wrote this all down.

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