Wednesday 19th April – Bye Dan, See You When I See You

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Jon managed to sleep most of the way through the night, but he was awake when I crept into the bathroom at around 7am. We both went back to bed for another hour or so then properly woke up. I had a shower, but then we all decided to go down to the heated pool. It was a brilliant idea and made us all feel wonderful. The water was just the right temperature and we had the whole pool to ourselves. We floated around but also did a couple of races, both underwater and above water. I creamed the boys every round, except when Dan flagged Jon and I off in a race and I lost due to a fit of laughter.

We probably hung out in the water for about an hour before getting hungry for breakfast. We showered and dressed then drove down the road to find a café (can’t walk anywhere in LA). At the Rusty Pot Café, we sat ourselves outside right across the road from the Church of Scientology. I almost felt like a third wheel, Jon and Dan were getting on so well so I was happy. Jon and I got very traditional breakfasts of egg scrambles while Dan went for chicken waffles, which was three pieces of fried chicken sitting atop a waffle served with syrup. ‘Murica!

Nearing our check-out time of noon, we drove back to the hotel to sort our shit out. After packing all our crap, we were out of there a few minutes before noon. I’d say we made the most of that hotel stay! We braved the traffic on our way to the Griffith Observatory with a stop at Space X on the way. We could see Space X from miles away because of the Falcon 9 rocket standing to attention right out the front of the building. It hadn’t been there last time Jon had visited and I’d never seen one so close before. We parked around the corner and strained our necks to look up at the first rocket that had successfully landed after launch. Dan was pretty impressed too having never seen anything like it up close. Wow. We saw the Space X’ers come and go in their casual gear, much like the Tesla folk I’d been used to hanging out with.

Onwards, we drove on highways for an hour until we started climbing up a big hill to the Observatory. On Jon’s advice, we drove right to the top where we found a free park as close to the place as you could get. Winning! Dan had tried to take a faster way but had lost, so was still about ten minutes away. He ended up parking another kilometre down the hill. Fighting fatigue, Jon and I wandered up the hill towards the famous building that Jon had visited before but I’d never seen, despite the multitude of movies it has apparently featured in.

We saw the Focault’s pendulum which knocks a little pin over every seven minutes and was the first proof that the earth rotates on its axis. A strange concept back in the day I’m sure. We met Dan around the back of the observatory at a lookout over all of LA. Him and Cleo had been kicked off the roof, mostly because of Cleo. The view out over the concrete sprawl made me cringe, the dead straight road leading out of the city even more so.

We retreated back inside the observatory and wandered through the different exhibits, completely nerding out on space stuff and making a lot of sex jokes like teenagers. No one minded Cleo being inside since she was so well behaved. All spaced out, we were off again back outside. When I noticed the door to one of the telescope towers was open, Jon and I went up to the roof while Dan went off to find Cleo some water. The telescope was at least fifty years old and looked absolutely gorgeous. All that old technology still working in harmony to provide a close look at the sky.

We met up with Dan and Cleo by the bathrooms then walked back down the road to our cars. We were all feeling very lethargic, so made a plan to drive down the hill and find a patch of grass for a picnic. We found just that and I made us all wraps which we sat and ate on the grass. I got my Atlas out and had a look on freecampsites.net for a potential camp for the night. Jon and I had pretty much no plan so we made a vague one to head to Joshua Tree National Park, getting maybe halfway there today since we weren’t in the mood for much driving, especially in LA traffic.

Once we had our plan, there was nothing left to do but carry it out! Jon gave us a minute as me and Dan said our goodbyes. We didn’t know when/if we’d meet again so it was a hard one. I met Dan about a month ago and in that time, we’d got to know each other, laughed a LOT and had some sweet adventures. I will definitely miss him and the gorgeous Cleo. I was sad to see Air Force One drive away from us.

Jon and I got in the Astro and started our adventure. We endured the traffic to get out of the city, which seemed to take forever and I struggled to stay awake as Jon fell into a nap in the passenger seat. At least he had jetlag as an excuse, I seemed to be tired for no reason! I tried listening to a podcast in an attempt to peak my focus and keep me awake, which semi-worked, but I was still in struggle town until an hour and a half later, we drove into a Walmart not far from the highway. I was determined to get rid of the canopy that was taking up so much room in the car!

Jon carried it in for me and at the customer service desk, we had absolutely no issues. I explained that there was nothing wrong with it, that it had just been a little too big for what I wanted and after a quick inspection of the contents, my $50 was handed to me. Thanks for the free rental Walmart! Since we were there, I went on another hunt to find a replacement water container and was stoked to finally find one. I also got some more propane and Jon got some hay fever meds to kerb the sneezing fits he’d been having.

Jon had another quick nap once we got on the road again, but it was only a short one because we were soon driving through the mountains and wind farms that I’d driven through only days before when we left Coachella. I didn’t mind seeing them a second time. As the sun set, the view was shrouded in beautiful colour. We were aiming for a Casino parking lot that freecampsites.net had reported. The huge Morongo tower wasn’t hard to miss with its impressive light show at the tip and the expansive carpark all around. We drove around the lots looking for other RVs but finding only “No RV parking” signs, which wasn’t encouraging. We stopped to ask a man walking through the lot who looked like he worked there. He explained that since we weren’t an RV we would be fine, but he didn’t really seem to know what he was talking about and ended with “I hope you don’t have any trouble” which gave me zero confidence in his advice. We kept driving around the multiple carparks until eventually we saw some RVs parked right at the corner of the place behind the bowling alley. Perfect! It was by no means crowded so we found ourselves a spot that we were happy with.

On the way in, Jon had noticed an In N Out Burger and was immediately set on having it for dinner. I wasn’t really in the mood, but I came around when he got me thinking about it. We left the Astro and wandered across the carpark to the diner where Jon could have his first In N Out fix since leaving America a few years ago. The diner was just as he remembered it but the food he thought wasn’t as amazing as he recalled. We both felt pretty dirty afterwards, vowing to eat healthy the next few days.

The walk back to the car was windy but not too cold. I was happy to tidy up the van a bit when we got back, stowing away the tent I hadn’t put away yet and getting rid of the tarps that I didn’t need anymore. For the first time in a long time, the bed was free of clutter! Jon chose the door side to sleep on for easy access outside if he needed it. We both sat up for a bit writing, him in his journal, me on my laptop, but neither of us lasted long, my eyes started closing after one paragraph so I gave in.

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