Our second hike in Joshua Tree was through Skull Rock.
“Lets go climb it,” said number on. So we climp, meandering through the rocks on the moon like surface, between crevices, a misdirection here, a rockpile there. Each step reminds us to pay attention. Take it slow. The rocks look like Georgia O'Keeffe’s orchids, full of curves and power, foreboding and invitation.
“You ok?” I ask number one.
“Yea, that was a rattle snake, she notes, breathing hard.
We look into the distance, amazed at the vastness of it all.
The raw beauty of the reminds us it can lull and decimate, we are very small.
Still we hike, navigating between rocks and stones, crevices, wandering this way and that. Its hard to leave Joshua Tree. We could stay all day long. We could have stayed another day, but i have to get my flight to Hong Kong.
We drop by Las Palmas, a Mexican restaurant on the way out of 29 Palms, and grab a tamales and nachos. It feels like one of the places I used to eat when I was a kid in Texas.
The GPS says it’s a four hour drive to Venice Beach, if we leave pronto.
So we drive and listen to music, taking in the scenes along the way, saying goodbye to the dessert, joining the highway ten, passing Ontario, Pomona and Claremont, where I first get to know Southern California in three decades ago. Past Mount Baldy we drive. There’s a purple dinosaur in the distance. I’m not sure what is doing there.
We could not stand the driving when we were here. And this time is no different.
But the music on the radio is great. It has to be as people spend ages in their cars here.
Finally, we make our way past downtown and into Venice, where we rented a garage room in a loopy garage unit with art and a walk to the beach.
You’ll see, Venice is pretty cool Caroline advises the kids, who seem skeptical. They ‘ve planned to hit the thrift stores and ride bikes all week before the big roller derby tournament.
The mythology of the space lures and intrigues, as do the bodies and bikers, the skaters and surfers.
We walk to the beach, where everyone’s’ opinions are beginning to change.
People are skateboarding and riding bikes. People are working out at muscle beach. Number one thought the beach was names for fish. A man dubbed ‘the green doctor’ reminds us ganga is legal. All you have to be is 18 to buy it. It brings in tons of revenue for the state. People are skating in the skate part and number two says she could come back to LA. So could I.
Travel has a powerful way of disabusing us of our biases.
Walking I think of Californication, the old TV show, centered in Venice Beach. The myths of LA are many. So are the dreams. Its about simple pleasures.
We horse around on the beach. Number one does summer saults. And we all play. I dip my feet in the water, thinking of all the times I came here before.
Why did I want to leave so badly?
We used to just bring the kids to get away from long beach, playing for hours here. Now they are older, teenagers. We’re no longer kids either.
The sun starts to descend. And we walk down the boardwalk, feeling part of a dream, looking at the loopy homes and plants, the people and waves, street art and ideas.
I could move back here.
This is all part of our history here. We’ve been here before and we’ll probably be back again soon.