Day 22- Zero in Big Bear Lake!

I sleep in and wake up around 8. I go down the creaky stairs and Donny makes eggs and potatoes, and we play with the dogs. I miss my dogs. Bella, the puppy, is afraid of me and won’t come near me. Donny goes to work, and I drive around with Rachel to do errands. We go to the sporting goods store to pick up a new fuel canister. I realize I left my wallet behind, so we run back to get it and then back to the sporting goods store to pay for the fuel. There are rows of colorful fishing rods and neatly displayed hiking shoes.

Rachel and Donny started picking up hikers from the side of the road a while back, and would let them stay at their house. It’s just this year that they’ve given their number to Sarge at the Big Bear Hostel and started taking in more hikers. Rachel wants to hike someday, but her back is injured. I say she should get a pack llama.

Then we go to the Big Bear Lake post office to renew Rachel’s PO box, and I send back my microspikes and extra evernew bladder. Then the store, where I wander around and pull things from shelves in a daze. The amount of food is overwhelming, and I don’t know what I have in the box my parents sent me, so I just get a few things, balancing them in my arms. We go to the dollar tree to look for wolf treats, too.

We go back to the house to drop the groceries we bought off, and then I get a ride with Rachel to the gas station where she works. I sit around for an hour eating carrots, waiting for Donny to drive me to the other post office in Big Bear City to pick up my package. I kick myself for not sending it to the Big Bear Lake post office, which is just across the street.

Donny blasts country music with the windows down on the drive there, letting out a yee-haw every now and then that makes me laugh. He seems kind of tough and unapproachable but he’s actually super friendly and awesome. I go inside to pick up my package- the post office here is only open from 1-2 on Saturdays, just like Idyllwild, and only to pick up packages. Helen and Hal are here, and I say hi before heading back outside.

Donny drops me back off at the gas station and I walk up through a touristy area to find the Thai food restaurant. I get Tom Kha soup and some yellow curry and Thai Iced Tea. It’s okay, but not the best (hard to find Thai food that compares to Tom Kiang in SF). I get a to-go box because I get really full, and wander through the upscale trinket shops, all of the LA tourists dressed in designer clothes probably looking at me funny in my glorified-trash bag Frogg Toggs rain jacket. I try to find a public restroom but there aren’t any, and I finally have to ask. I get a card for Rachel and Donny with a dog on it. I run into Caddy and Hobo in one of the shops.

I wander around town. Rawhide, Mixed Bag, Mousetrap and Tarantino see me walking by as they’re checking into a hotel room and say hi, which makes me feel less lonely. I walk on, no idea where I’m going. Francois and another hiker are trying to find the coffee shop but are going in completely the wrong direction, which I realize after looking at a map. I decide to go there and hang out and write. Colleen texts me and offers a ride to the store, since her dad is in town with a car. I say yes, and hurry down to the gas station where they’ll meet me. It’s so good to see her again, and we wander around the grocery aisles and get a bunch of food. It’s both overwhelming and awesome to be in a full-sized grocery store. The lighting is very dim and it feels like night-time inside.

After a few more errands, Colleen and her dad drop me off in town again. I sit on a nice flat rock and look at my phone for a while, until I join Rawhide, Tarantino, Mousetrap, and Mixed Bag to get dinner. We go to a super hipster burger joint, where I get a veggie burger.

Then I walk back with them to their hotel room and talk with them for a while as Tarantino talks to his wife on the phone outside. Mixed Bag says my trail name should be Out-of-the-loop (says the guy who mixes skittles and m&ms in the same bag). I think not having TV and being younger has really screwed with my ability to swing with pop-culture references? Like, how do people expect me to watch all of these movies? Do they watch them on TV stations? Who has the time to watch that much stuff? I feel hurt but manage to laugh it off.

I let them get ready to sleep and head across the street to the gas station, where I’ll get a ride with Rachel back to their house in an hour, after she locks up. Rachel gives me her keys and lets me sit in her car to wait. I call my friend Parker and we talk for a long time about the PCT and plans for going to Thailand.

The chihuahuas and wolves go crazy when we get to the house, happy that Rachel is home. I say goodnight and head upstairs since we’re both pretty tired. It blows my mind that anyone would just let a random person into their home and drive them around and take care of them like Rachel and Donny have done for me, and I’m so grateful. I definitely don’t deserve it. Words can’t explain how crazy and wonderful the trail is.

I spread all of my food out and it seems like way too much. I try to repackage some of it and sort it but it’s late and confusing so I go to sleep.