THE ART OF PRICE GOUGING
You are all aware, I’m sure, of the meaning of price gouging. If you have gone to any tourist site, or town, you have experienced it firsthand. Do you really think a Disneyland hotdog is worth double simply because it is shaped like a mouse? I jest, of course, but you know of which I speak.
Price gouging is a real thing, for sure, in PCT resupply towns, especially the smaller towns which are miles away from civilization and other possible resupply. It is not unheard of, at all, to pay 50% more for food items in a resupply town. It is not unheard of, at all, to pay $175 for a one room hotel room in a resupply town. And it is not unheard of, at all, to pay ridiculous prices for laundry, a shower, or gasoline in a resupply town.
A week ago I paid $5.89 per gallon for gasoline in a resupply town. Two days later, and fifty miles away, in a city not on the trail, I paid $4.69.
Now listen, I have degrees in Marketing and Economics, so I know a thing, or two, about the Laws of Supply and Demand. I know how it works, and I understand the need for small towns to make it while they can. I also understand a thing called morality. I understand that simply because you can charge an exorbitant price does not mean you should.
And I also find it interesting that so many hikers on the PCT complain about the price gouging. It is a well-known practice, handed down for years, and there is no secret along the trail that you are going to pay extra in resupply towns. It should come as no shock to any hiker, and yet the Facebook feeds are littered with hikers complaining about the prices.
I understand both sides of the argument, and that drives me crazy.
Enough about that. I just needed to get it off of my chest.
A WEIRD PERSPECTIVE
I’m not sure if I will be able to explain this properly.
There is a weird distortion of reality when you are thru hiking.
A case in point.
I have spent the last couple days in the Green Valley/Lake Elizabeth/Lake Hughes area, waiting for Bev and tramily to hike from Hiker Town to Green Valley. For those on the trail, that section is about thirty miles of trail, about 90% what most people would call wilderness, no sign of civilization at all. But for me, literally, it is about a ten-mile drive, maybe fifteen, and it seems very inhabited.
And it’s that way for most of this particular area. I shuttled some hikers from Lake Hughes to Palmdale today, a total of maybe twenty, twenty-five miles, but that section of the trail, again, seems uninhabited and will take the hikers four or five days to hike.
It’s a weird distortion that I find hard to articulate.
We left Hiker Town about four days ago, maybe five, and it seems like it was a far, far distant place we left long ago, but in reality Hiker Town is just over a few hills I am looking at as I type this, again no more than maybe twenty miles by car.
I don’t know that I’m making sense, nor do I feel there is any real point to this; it’s just strange, and the reality does not match the impression when you are here. And maybe that’s as it should be, a distorted reality, because what these hikers are doing defies reality, in my humble opinion.
It’s strange to think that thousands of years ago, the hunter-gatherers walked thousands of miles each year, for survival, and that’s just the way it was. Today, thru hikers, like those attempting the PCT, are the rarity in a civilized world, and people hear of their quest and look at them in awe, or in a way which suggests perhaps mental evaluations would not be a bad idea.
It’s all just fascinating to me, and I’m so happy that I’m a part of it.
Still no roadrunner sightings!
THE END OF A LIFESTYLE
I’m not sure how many people could actually embrace this kind of lifestyle. It truly is saying goodbye to the old and embracing the new, in almost every facet of life.
Imagine going through a day not having to make phone calls to the mortgage company or the dry cleaners or the utility company. Imagine not receiving mail on a daily basis. Imagine not really knowing where you will be sleeping at night. Imagine your only real concerns are those which have to do with your health and your survival . . . where to resupply your food, where a water source will be, where you will park your bus, or set up your tent, to sleep.
Imagine your only real priorities are your health and well-being, and the health and well-being of your partner(s).
Imagine no more vacuuming, no more dusting, no more painting, staining, rewinding, or repairing broken household items. Imagine no more traffic, no more traffic jams, no more planning alternate routes because of traffic jams.
I get up in the morning, practice a little hygiene, walk the dogs, eat a meal or two, figure out where my group will be, take a few videos, write a few articles, sit and contemplate the good life I am blessed with, and go to sleep.
Bev puts one foot in front of the other, repeats repeatedly, eats ravenously, looks at otherworldly vistas and scenery, and contemplates what it is like to finally live her dream.
I have not watched network television since February 2nd. I have not watched or listened to the news since that time. I have not been bombarded by advertisements, door-to-door solicitors, or the Jehovah Witness crusaders. I have not been indoctrinated by any political party, I have not been cute-dipped by the Girl Scouts, and I have not experienced any real angst in that time.
Pinch me, please. I think I’m dreaming.