Family Emergency

It was that simple but it took me all day to figure it out. I finally decided to go to Lancaster tonight after mapping it and seeing that, at the very least, Lancaster put me an hour closer to LAX than Bakersfield did. From downtown Lancaster I could then take a bus to the train station, there I could take the metrolink to LA union station, and from there I could take the shuttle to LAX and finally fly out. The total trip would be about twelve hours and, if I left now I could make it by lunchtime tomorrow. I’d be a little exhausteder, that’s all. I got up from the fast food salad I’d unwittingly bathed in ‘dressing’ – a pseudonym for the white creamy mixture that results from the combination of corn syrup and vegetable oil with a smattering of other less healthy ingredients and which is essential in masking the dry and processed taste of all Burger King’s ‘salads’ – and crossed the parking lot to the bus stop. I’d missed the bus. The kid had told me it always runs late. Come to think of it I hadn’t seen a Kern County bus run late and I’d spent seven of the last 30 hours on them. I’d been in Burger King mapping and searching and coordinating with hosts for the evening and had assumed I’d figure it all out with enough time to go either east to Lancaster or west to Bakersfield. Now I could either camp out here in dry windy and cold Tehachapi, it is rural and doesn’t have too shady a vibe (unlike Bakersfield, my God) and so it wouldn’t be hard to do, or I could ride 90 minutes back to Bakersfield – the fourth time I’d be traversing that winding and hilly section of Highway 58 in 30 hours. That bus, it turned out, was running late, and as I stood on the bench inside the shelter in order to keep the biting wind off my bare legs as it cut underneath the glass walls, I got an idea. An idea that could have occured to me anytime after 8:30 a.m. when I realized I wouldn’t be going to Irvine to have my ears molded in silicone, but that instead took a full 11 hours to surface. A testament to how exhausted I am. I swapped Bakersfield for LAX and got an astounding result: nothing changed; I could just as readily fly out of Bakersfield as out of LAX and avoid five hours of bus and train travel and the associated cost. Wow. Duh. And since I was paying with award miles the plane ticket wouldn’t cost anymore (or any less, $80 and 60 cents to use your free ticket.) I called my couch surfing host and asked for a ride to the airport. One more thing on top of needing a last minute place to stay and to be picked up downtown. She is a mother and I think she knew I was in need without me ever saying it because when I got in the car she basicly immediately asked what was up. And I didn’t hesitate to tell her. I mean I didn’t tell her somebody had died, because that has proven to be a real conversation killer today, but I told her I’d planned to get off the trail and then as soon as I did I got hit with what I’ve resigned to calling a family emergency. Except its not an emergency. Somebody’s not choking, or in need of a lung or kidney or blood, or even lying on their deathbed. Nobody needs taken care of, we’re all nice and healthy. Nobody needs anything but we all know something big is missing. I’m not even going home. I just have to get the hell out of the place where I found out, and it took all day to plan it but now I can sleep a few hours (inside a house nonetheless) and I’ll be gone by 7:00 a.m. If I come back to the PCT it will be difficult to pass through here again.

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