A TIRED RV RESORT
The word “resort” is a bit bothersome, for me, when talking about the LA RV Resort I just stayed at. The word “resort” has a rather plush connotation, does it not? And yet there was nothing plush about this particular place, and it bothered me in a way I would not have suspected.
You see, the infrastructure was there. They had a swimming pool (empty), dozens of picnic tables, nice shade trees, a lovely setting on the Santa Clara River, the makings of an outdoor bar or café, other outbuildings which, at one time, were meant for other special events, a lovely gazebo, games galore . . . but the whole place was run down. In fact, and I’m not exaggerating, other than the hikers coming through to tent for a night, I was the only new RV to stop by that place in two days.
Oh, there were RVs there, but they were full-timers, year-round live-ins, and that element is a kiss of death in an RV park. No, I’m not being snobby, and I suspect you know it. But when you offer a parking place for an RV, with electricity and water, plus showers and laundry, and you offer it at about $1000 per month, you are going to cater to a certain income level, and that’s what happened to the once Acton KOA, sold to a new owner, and allowed to sink into a sullen state of disrepair.
I’m not sure why it bothered me. I guess it’s the fact that there was once a huge, holy cow idea with that place, a dream just waiting to come true, and instead it became an eyesore in a lovely natural setting. It’s like someone buying ten acres of beautiful pasture land, only to come across tough times, and five years later the front yard is littered with rusty automobiles no longer serviceable, and the beautiful pasture land looks like a salvage yard gone to seed.
LA RV Resort . . . don’t go there if you’re ever in Acton, California.
WILL THEY OR WON’T THEY?
There is an undercurrent of murmuring happening regarding this trail on this particular bizarre weather year. More and more I hear people talking about possibly skipping part of the trail this year, too dangerous, too much of a risk, can’t afford to keep flip-flopping to avoid the dangers, that sort of thing.
I heard it from two twins from New Mexico a few days ago, heard it again twice today, and even heard it from my wife during a phone conversation about an hour ago. And Bev’s point, and the point the twins brought up, is exactly what I would have said were I hiking this hike this year: whether you hike 500 miles, 1000 miles, 1500 miles, 2000 miles, or 2650 miles to completion, you are in some pretty rarified air in the world we live in, and whatever you do you should be proud of and celebrate that accomplishment.
This is a bitch of a year, and there is no easy way to avoid the problems now, and the problems coming in the future. As I explained earlier, there is a very small window of opportunity regarding the weather and the snow and the snow melt, and that window is closing for those who started in March, especially for those starting in March who are 62 like Bev.
Bev, and many like her, are about 400 miles into this hike. They still have 300 miles to go to reach the Sierra Mtns, which just happen to be buried under a record snowfall. Now, there are two ways to look at this fact: you can either hope for a lot of snow melt in the next month, in which case the rivers will be raging and incredibly dangerous, or you can hope the snow doesn’t melt quickly, in which case you are going to traverse 350 miles of the tallest peaks in the U.S., all the while fighting the footing and the postholing and the slip-and-slide hillsides.
And if you don’t get the Sierras done by, say, the end of July, you risk the possibility of being trapped in a Fall snowstorm in Northern Washington State. Oh, and by the way, Oregon has received a record snowfall in their own section of the Cascade Mountains, and you have to fight your way through that as well.
So yes, the murmuring is happening, and it is increasing in volume.
I TALKED TO A FRIEND TODAY
It seems strange to write that, a friend, since I’ve never actually met her in person. She is the daughter of a friend I know, also someone I have never met in person, and he was, at one time, worried about his adult daughter, thought maybe I could give her some support, be a mentor for her, even though we live 3,200 miles away. And so I have done that, through correspondence, for probably a year-and-a-half, but today was the first time we spoke to each other over the phone.
What a joy she is. The happiness she is now experiencing shines in her voice. She is putting in the work she needs to put in, for personal growth, and damn if she isn’t just a pure pleasure to speak to.
I told her I was proud of her. I told her I was happy for her.
And I am, on both counts, a person I have never met, a person I have formed a bond with, traversing the many miles, two human beings making an important connection, and feeding each other the sustenance of love.
HERE’S SOMETHING TO PONDER
During a slow point in the day, this being a laundry, rest up, resupply kind of day (yay, I cleaned the interior of the bus), I was watching some hikers talking about the trail, conditions, and the like, and it dawned on me, and I want you to internalize this for a moment . . . I have not met a rude person on this entire journey.
We are almost at the three-month mark, and not once has a fellow human being talked down to me, been sarcastic with me, treated me with anything less than respect and kindness.
Having said that, I should qualify that statement by saying that the vast majority of people I have talked to during that three months timespan have been hikers.
We joke, and we reverently call thru hikers “hiker trash,” but my experience has been this: hikers, almost to a person, are polite, appreciative, friendly, helpful, caring human beings. They are free to share their thoughts. They are willing to listen to someone else. They will take food from their backpacks for someone hungry. They will drop what they are doing, immediately, and come to the aid of someone. They are people I call friends, even though I barely know them, because they have proven to be what I admire most: compassionate and empathetic.
Which leads me, obviously to this question: why is that? Why has this group of people, and I’ve probably met two hundred of them now, possibly more, but why are they all so similar? And if they can be what I just described, why can’t other large groups plucked from sections of our nation?
I’m not saying for a second that it isn’t possible in Missouri or Minnesota or Wyoming; I’m simply asking the question. Is there something special about this group of hikers that is missing in the broad spectrum of America, or could I find similar kindness and compassion anywhere I went in this country?
I aim to find out, and that is the impetus behind my mantra “Meeting America one handshake at a time.” I want to know the inner workings of this nation, up close and personal.
I have a theory about this hiker group and yes, I will share it with you.
I think at least a portion of the reason for this group lovefest is because of the common bond they share . . . attempting to conquer The Trail. But that leads me to this question: don’t we all have a common bond? And why isn’t that common bond strong enough to unite a fractured nation?
I said from the very beginning of this blog/journal that I refuse to talk about politics or religion with anyone during this trip, and I have stayed true to that. I do not believe our politics or our religion or any other affiliation should define who we are. We are all humans. That’s about as basic as it gets, my friends. We are all humans. If you can agree with me on that, and you can agree to treat each other with respect, then I think we have a pretty solid foundation upon which to form a friendship.
What do you say? Are you game?