Weirdo Looks for the Lorax

OH HI! 

I always do this when I start blogs: I’m really keen on it for like 30 seconds and then forget about it for a year. But here I am again, eager to share some travel tid bits, so thanks to my two loyal fans for sticking with me.

I’ll write a post about why I’ve been away some other time but for now…

Back to travel! I left off on my trip to L.A., surfing with dolphins. The evening after that rousing experience, we all drove out to Joshua Tree National Park to meet up with eight other people for a weekend of camping. We stayed at Black Rock campground which was easy to access but not very far into the park. This requires driving into the park to do major excursions, not that I’m complaining.


The park is home to endless…well, Joshua trees (aka yucca) – these curiously cartoonish plants that make you feel like you’ve strolled right into a delightful Dr. Seuss book. It’s also a Mecca for rock-climbing and bouldering.


We spent two nights eating homemade chilli, shivering our timbers, and having memorable campfire singalongs to, from what I recall, mostly Flight of the Conchords songs. During the day, the Joshua Tree veterans of the group suggested Ryan Mountain, an easy 3 mile hike offering stunning views of the desert on the trek and from the top.


Yes, the sky was that blue.

Anyway, this is pretty much mostly a photography post so enjoy the pics. And get down there; it’s much better in person!

Camping tip – I know it seems obvious but I can’t stress enough – dress warmly – especially at night. I’m Canadian and came in snowboard gear and still thought I was dying of hypothermia by 8pm. For the same reason, bring a good amount of firewood as well.

Next up, I make an impromptu trip to Costa Rica and realize life has taught me absolutely nothing.

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Weirdo Surfs with Dolphins 

Hollywood has never intrigued me. The last time I was in Los Angeles I was somewhere between the ages of 8-12 and the bustling glitz and glamour wasn’t my cup of tea and still isn’t. I’m not a hippie/hipster or anything, I just don’t understand the obsession with famous people nor the necessity of purchasing items of clothing simply for the name. I’m pretty much just self-involved and poor.

Anyway, I made a little weekend trip down to LA on the first weekend in February for several reasons:

  1. Needed sunshine. Raincouver was sucking the soul out of me
  2. There was an open spot to go camping at Joshua Tree National Park (to write and link to in another post)
  3. There was a statutory/bank holiday here in British Columbia (side note: this holiday is called Family Day. This started in BC four years ago because the gap between New Years stat and Good Friday stat holidays were too long so we threw another holiday in there. Canada, eh?)

I originally planned to fly into San Francisco to hang out with my friend Anne Marie before heading to Joshua Tree, but it was Super Bowl weekend and tickets were alarmingly expensive (refer to above reference of me being poor). So I flew into LA to stay with another friend, Lindsey (side note: Anne Marie, Lindsey, and I know each other from six days spent on a tour in Uganda back in October. Another win for travel).

I arrived expecting the smell of judgement from well-dressed passersby with my poncho and backpack with sleeping bag strapped on so that my silhouette was mildly reminiscent of Quasimodo.

Instead, I was greeted in Santa Monica with smiles from people walking to and from the pier, questions about where I’m from and, most excitingly, the glorious glow of sunshine.

  
I spent the evening meeting some of Lindsey’s surf buddies and begging for a board and wet suit to borrow, not heeding the warnings of the water being extremely cold. 

We went to Sunset Beach the next morning with my expectations of ice cold surf but dear God – it was spectacular. Still need a wet suit for “winter” surf here, but I spent my first few years of surfing in the Canadian waters of Tofino so to me, this was summer surfing.

  
Ever since I got caught in an undertow a few years back, I’ve been cautious so I stick to smaller breaks. I was sitting a little further from the majority of surfers, enjoying the feel of water lapping against my legs and wind whipping through my hair when I notice a dark fin rise up about arms length on my left side. I’m petrified. Not five seconds later, another fin rises up at the nose of my board. 

I’m frozen. I start screaming, “Lindsey!” but even I could barely hear myself because my throat has swollen shut from fear.

Another fin appears; they’re circling me. I’m not sure how much time has passed but suddenly I hear a cheery voice: “Well, that’s not something you see every day! You’ve got some luck in ya.” What. WHAT? Who are you and why aren’t you calling for help, I’m about to be consumed by three sharks.

A paddle boarder appears beside me. “Don’t worry! They’re just dolphins. And they seem to really like you!”

A breath I didn’t know I was holding exhales out of my mouth and suddenly I’m giddy with excitement. This is so fucking cool! I see a set coming in that I’m sure I can catch but I’m admittedly too terrified to put any more limbs than necessary into the water at the moment so I sit it out until the dolphins finish inquisitively brushing up against my leg and my board and move on.

I tell Lindsey about this later and she’s stoked: “Oh my gosh – you have dolphin energy! This is going to be a good day.” We’re gab excitedly about it on the way home.

And then, several hours later, she says something that makes me want to simultaneously throw up and strangle her: “Did you know dolphins rape people?”

What.

“Yeah, there are like nine cases a year.** It’s cool though; they’re still really lucky.”

Next up, we camp at Joshua Tree National Park and my Canadian blood doesn’t come through for me.

**Cases of dolphin “rape” are actually attributed to dolphin sexual aggression which you can read about in this short scientific journal summary. Although, I don’t know why you’d want to.