If I had thought the competition to get into LA was fierce, the race to get out could easily be an Olympic sport. Leg two day two. John and I load up our gear and weave our way into The 134, The 210, and The 10. Fighting our way through a series of intersecting The’s connecting our way east, John does a nice job of navigating around spontaneous pile-ups and slow-downs. It’s a relief to again have someone in the right seat. We still hit sections of superhighway turned parking lot, but eventually the population density backs off the insane-o-meter and space between cars can be measured in feet not inches.
The sky slowly returns to a light blue as we climb out of LA County. We hit a section of particularly rough grooved pavement and I feel a familiar vibration from the ground up. Is it the drive shaft? The transmission? Another U-Joint? I’m fully paranoid at this point. Any change in behavior or off-tune humming sends me into a panic. John doesn’t notice anything and as we find smoother pavement things return to normal. I relax for a moment and look at the panoramic open space surrounding our roaming orange cube. Signs to Joshua Tree National Park sprout with increasing frequency and we decide to stop for some groceries.
The city of Twenty-Nine Palms is not really a city, but a compilation of small towns interlinked by The 62. You can learn a lot about a community by shopping in the local grocery store. We got an earful of relevant information from a woman waiting by the deli counter. I’m not sure what about John and I inspired a temperance lecture, but we graciously took note as I reached over the counter to grab the roasted chicken we ordered. A few items later we progressed through the check-out isle, the parking lot, The 62, and entered Joshua Tree fully provisioned. Even if I had to cover the beer with a bag of baby carrots.
Joshua Tree National Park is a rock climber’s paradise. I am not a rock climber. The beautiful perfect routes surrounding the entirety of our campsite are completely wasted on me. My daughter Kéa is a rock climber. Kéa has signed on to Leg Four of this journey. Nashville to New Hampshire. I’m sensing that she may have made a mistake. John, on the other hand, has not made any mistakes in the past 28 years. He’s not about to break that streak now, and pulls two half liter craft beer cans from the cooler. The ambient temperature at sunset is a solid 85 F. Sunlight turns to starlight and the black above is awash in celestial brilliance. There is no cell service. Leg two day two in the books.