So yeah, I knew things would be different in the desert, but I keep being surprised. In my old home in Hawaii, 90% humidity was a dry day. Here in the desert, laundry hung on the line is fresh and dry in 20 minutes, as opposed to taking so long to dry at my old place it often had to be rewashed. And there’s the skin situation: mine is so dry, not only are cracks forming on my fingers (even bleeding!) and my sinuses so parched (even bleeding!), I can no longer use my thumbprint to log into my Iphone and Ipad. I mean really – changing finger prints? This was definitely unexpected.
Surprises aside, it has been a very pleasurable first few weeks in my new life. Southern California has so much natural beauty, I fear for my life: the other day I motored over a mountain and nearly drove over the edge a few times so enthralled was I! (I also fear for my life in the unfamiliar arena of freeway driving: 70 mph is considered slow-poking it.) The sunrise in the valley I am in is sublime; sunsets can be spectacular (see above). The desert changes colors by the hour; there are ten billion types of cacti; and the land is loaded with birds – a wonderful surprise.
My search for a vehicle/RV has taken me to many areas of SoCal, and the quality of life is so diverse: from pristinely manicured neighborhoods with roads named after movie stars to rusty, dusty cow towns with their own brand of lowbrow artistry. As I am new to these woods, I have been depending on Google maps to find my way, and, boy have I been sent on weird (if gorgeous) paths. Once I was directed to drive through a gated Indian reservation, where the security guard just said, “Nope” and showed me how to turn around and get myself to the mega mall I was seeking. Google maps also sent me on an “alternate route four minutes longer” that turned out to actually take hours longer and led me up the sides of mountains where camouflaged men with guns, arrows, and huge bushes of beards eyed me with wariness: mine was the only white compact car amongst numerous muscular pickups (driving really fast) on curving, forested roads with “ICY” and “CHAINS REQUIRED” signs, and not one bar on my phone to seek further directions.
Back in Coachella, my friend sent me to a nearby yard sale for items for my new digs, and in my usual nosiness I asked the seller where she was moving; “Back to Hawaii,” she said. Turns out she has property a few miles from my former home. We’re trading places.
On a recent quest to check out RVs for sale, I passed a sign indicating the Pacific Crest Trail, and this sent a thrill through me, although I do not intend to tackle that hike. It’s just so famous and so storied, I was stoked to actually see a trail head. This venture also took me to Oceanside on the night of its night open market, which was much larger than Uncle Robert’s in Kalapana and with a completely different vibe. And although there were several food trucks with Hawaiian themes, I have to report that not one of the workers I questioned was from Hawaii.
After Oceanside, I checked out a vehicle in Pacific Palisades, which happens to be a ridge away from one of the terrible California wildfires. However, in the tony town I had (a fantastic) lunch in, well-dressed patrons sipped their teas and chatted amiably, seemingly without concern for the nearby destruction. But it did affect my plans: the spreading smoke caused me to cancel my trip to Northern California. Here’s how my Bay Area brother described the severity of the smoke: You can look directly at the sun.
Anyway, here are some photos for your enjoyment.
Live all you can; it’s a mistake not to.