July 29th – Landing in Los Angeles

I woke up with the sunrise, and let out a sigh. This place was beautiful, and though I was excited to move on with the adventure, I was kind of sad to leave so soon. I went to the water container, to start some boiling for oats and coffee, but what I found in the water was quite intriguing. It seems Gianna had left the nozzle on the water jug open, and hundreds of ants had gone in, trying to get the water. Being but simple insects, the ants could not predict the difficulty they would have getting back out of the water jug. Though they weren’t clever enough to get themselves out, what they did instead was equally fascinating. They had clung to each other, forming a floating island of ants. What’s more, they would rotate which ants were submerged on the bottom, allowing all of them to stay alive until we eventually poured them out. If only humans could master this level of cooperation.

We set a new personal record for speed breaking camp, and were on the road at 10am. Once out of the park, we stopped for cheeseburgers and more coffee, and set off down the highway towards LA. In the distance we had driven so far from Vegas, the tire had only sustained a light dotted line of damage around it, and that was on park roads and even a small amount of less-than-paved route through the Mojave Preserve. I had naive hopes that the interstate would be fairly smooth pavement, but oh was I wrong. Southern California, especially the greater Los Angeles area, has the worst roads I’ve ever been on. The pavement undulates beneath my wheels in a relentless assault on my already spent shocks.

As we came closer and closer to the enormity of Los Angeles, traffic grew worse and worse. I’ve never seen traffic like I have here. Cars dashing across 5 lanes to make an ill-timed escape from the madness; bolder riders than I weave through the maelstrom, splitting lanes and cutting off trucks. Fuck that, I say, I want to live. Finally, we were within a mile of Amy’s place, which is of course when traffic came to a complete stop. At this point I did actually consider riding between the cars to get out, but we were so wide and loaded down with crap, I thought it unwise, and waited for traffic to move. For 45 minutes we inched forward slowly, one vehicle length at a time when we got lucky. Bikes less burdened than ours zipped past like none of us were even there. I know this is legal here, but it still freaks me out to see it. I don’t know the stats, but I feel like there must be more bike fatalities here than other places.

I had told Amy we’d be there by 4:20, and at 4:05 we accelerated down the off-ramp, and out of that hellish urban congestion. Through the light, and around the corner and we were there. We were greeted with hugs, and quickly hauled all our stuff off the bike and upstairs into her cozy 1 bedroom apartment. God bless that woman, she had loaded a fresh green bowl for us in her intricate, beautiful bubbler pipe by Austin glass artist Micah(other work available at BC Smoke Shop, and Pipes Plus). My friend Ben has a simpler piece by him, and I’m a fan of that one, too. By the time we had put all of our stuff down and formed a circle around the bubbler, it was exactly 4:20. It’s a stoner miracle.

Like most residences in California, Amy’s apartment did not have an air conditioner. This is because it doesn’t really get hot very often in California, even in LA. Even in the afternoon heat, it was less hot than it had been at night during our weeks through the desert. I was very grateful for our proximity to the cool breezes of the Pacific ocean.

Amy was going to a friend’s party that night, and though we were invited, we were also really exhausted, and decided to just stay in to eat, bathe, and rest. I googled up a nearby grocery store, and we headed out to get some food. Holy fuck, what an expensive place. Though we would later come to discover this store is particularly bad, on both price and selection, food prices in California are in general noticeably higher than other places. Given how much food California produces, this is some serious bullshit for residents of California. I think California organic produce is cheaper in Austin than it is in California.

We arrived back to the apartment, and set about cooking up some food. Though we had left Austin with over an ounce, it had now been 25 days, and we were pretty much out, having only a day or two supply left. Fortunately, this is California, and Amy had plenty of sources, including a friend who lived just 2 doors down in the apartment building.

You really learn to appreciate a 4-burner stove, even an electric one, when all you have to work with is a single burner low-power propane stove. We passed a bowl back and forth as we luxuriated in being able to heat multiple things simultaneously. As you’re probably already picking up, weed is big in California. Not only is the state the single largest producer of ganja in the world, but it accordingly has permeated the culture nearly completely. It’s frequently used in place of alcohol, coffee, and cigarettes, though just as frequently used in conjunction with all those things. Marijuana has been legal for medicinal use since the passing of Proposition 215 in 1996, and as of January 1st, 2011, is also decriminalized for personal recreational use. Though prices in southern California remain similar to those in Austin, it is completely ubiquitous, and people can be seen smoking joints and pipes walking down the street.

While we were fixing dinner, Amy left for her party, leaving us alone in the apartment. She had a roommate, but she was out of town for the next day or so. We took turns enjoying a nice hot shower, and then settled into the massive beanbag, known as a “love sack”, to watch some Futurama on Amy’s laptop. Between the increased smoking, the hot showers, and the full bellies, we quickly became tired, and drifted off to sleep relatively early. It was good to be amongst friends once more. I would set about finding a solution to my suspension problem the next day.

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