I took a long walk today, over the Woolbright bridge, along Route One then back across Ocean Road Bridge. I walked for over an hour with plenty of time to think about what I would write.
This guy passed me on the return bridge:
I passed this guy:
With a light breeze in the air, I actually wished I had a sweatshirt during the first half hour of the walk. My mind wandered to the desert and a trip I took a little over a year ago to Joshua Tree National Park.
It was 105 degrees when we visited, a dry 105. Seriously, I’m not kidding. I didn’t mind it. I’ve experienced more uncomfortable weather on humid days in New Hampshire, New York City, and Florida.
Our first stop was the Information Center. I should have taken it as a warning of things to come.
I found it odd that they protect the tarantulas here, and also frightening because they are apparently so large you can see them on the road while driving.
We were traveling with friends in a rented car listening to U2. “Dream beneath a desert sky/Sad eyes/Crooked crosses.”
We took several hikes past rocks that looked like other things.
Elephants sitting on their butts:
A solemn face:
A talking tree:
My husband and I desperately needed this vacation. It was a couple of months before we sold our house. We had been between a rock and a hard place for such a long time.
But traveling is one of the things we love to do together. We were carefree and jubilant.
A good thing, because as I gazed out over the San Andreas Fault I thought about the fault lines in our marriage, the fissures and cracks that hard times had created. I wanted to avoid the big one.
We took a break for lunch at a little cafe in 29 Palms and ordered burgers and beers. The guys asked the bartender how we could score some medical marijuana. The owner said, “Is that all everyone thinks of Californians? That we all know where to get weed?” Yes, and we wished we lived here too.
After the owner left to attend an HR meeting, (that confused me, the place was very small. They had an HR department?), the bartender went out back to talk to a dishwasher. She returned to tell us that when we were ready to leave we should stop by the lime green Camaro parked out back and check the center console.
After lunch we returned to the park for our last hike of the day in the Cholla Cactus Garden. It was more like a short walk. A dangerous short walk.
These cactus are sometimes referred to as Teddy Bear Cacti. They are nothing like a soft, cuddly teddy bear.
They are vicious, evil, jumping cactus that can attack at any time.
My friend was wearing flip flops. Yes, flip flops! I was wearing socks and sneakers. Suddenly, I felt something strange on my ankle and looked down to find a cactus ball attached to my gym teacher sock. I let out a blood curdling scream. Everyone on the trail froze, a scared look in their eyes.
My husband remained calm, removed my sneaker then gingerly gripped the top of my sock and yanked it off my foot, slightly scraping the bottom of my foot, causing further pain and anguish. It felt like Velcro with sharp needles was being ripped off my skin. Blood gushed everywhere. The pain was intense.
I tried hopping on my good foot while holding onto my husband and one of my friend’s shoulders but the path wasn’t wide enough for the three of us so I hopped on my husband’s back and he carried me off the trail. Fat ass warning ahead. I would like to let you all know, I have lost weight since moving to Florida. It’s all the walking I’m doing. I realize this photo is somewhat embarrassing, but it is all for the sake of my art.
My husband grabbed a water bottle and poured the cool liquid on my burning wound.
With my leg elevated in the back seat, it immediately began to bruise and the fiery pain intensified. Whimpering, my thoughts wandered to amputation or paralysis. Thank God we had the medical marijuana. I took a few hits before we stopped by the ranger station. Mr. Ranger Sir said it happens all the time and gave my husband two handi-wipes with antiseptic cream and some sort of numbing agent.
A month later, back in my cubicle, my ankle was still black and blue. I don’t know what happened to the tiny prickers stuck in my leg. My body absorbed them I guess and I lived to tell the tale.
Joshua Tree is a lovely, beautiful place to spend a day and I highly recommend visiting, but if you do go, take photos of the Cholla cactus from the parking lot.