Driving through the desert, Day 2: Welcome to Pissing Rock

(if this is your first glimpse into my roadtrip check out Day 1)

Before I even get started with day 2, I need to talk about what happened before.  About how I ended up with a campsite and more importantly, some new friends.

I was afraid.

During the drive up to Pine Mountain, there was very little traffic…as in one car every 20 minutes or so.  Once I turned on to the winding road up to Reyes Peak, I was almost utterly alone.  I don’t know if you’ve ever been by yourself on a high ridge, but it’s eerie.  The wind blows crisp and cold, and somewhere in your bones you hear a low voice that whispers “You shouldn’t be here!”  I understand why tribes and religions often imagine gods and spirits up in the high places.  You know that, quite easily, the mountain god might take you.

Remember those guys I helped out in the Civic?  They passed me while I was taking pictures on a ridge.  And then they stopped.  A truck with no bumper met and sat beside them, and the drives talked for what seemed like 10 minutes.

lonely road

While this was happening, I thought to myself: “this isn’t your backyard campsite.  You’re alone, out in the West, and there’s no signal.  What if we’re the only ones at the campsite?  What if this is a trap?  What if they attack you in the night?”

Anywhere else these thoughts are paranoid: those college-if-you’re-lucky teenagers were barely able to keep their car on the road, and they were clearly not capable of something sinister.  But it doesn’t matter.  Up on the mountain, anything can happen.

Which brings me to Pissing Rock.  Anything did happen, but only in the best way possible.  I met Gabby and David.

After I had gone to scout a site for galaxy photos, I started looking for a place to camp.  On the left I saw a man and a woman in front of the fire, the guy holding a guitar.  There is nothing more inviting than a campfire and a guitar.  So I did what any sensible, half-terrified solo camper would do: i pulled up and said hello.  I invented a reason to stop and ask a question, but it didn’t matter; i barely had two words out of my mouth before David said; “hey man, would you like to stay for a while?”

All of us together. Didn't take photos during the night, unfortunately. David has a headband, Gabby glasses. Gabriel in front of me, and you can probably figure out the rest.
All of us together. Didn’t take photos during the night, unfortunately. David has a headband, Gabby glasses. Gabriel in front of me, and you can probably figure out the rest.

David and Gabby soon introduced me to their friends, Abraham, Josy, and Gabriel (and Cody, the lab).  They invited me to stay at their campsite for the evening, which I gladly accepted.  They offered me beer, a warm fire, and music.  They were all 20-somethings from Ventura, several just having graduated from college.  They couldn’t have been more stereotypically Californian: they’ve had the attitude, the accents, and they all grew up on the coast.  David just got back from San Francisco State University on his way to South America while Gabby is a graphic designer.  And they were wonderful.

I think from their perspective my arrival was pretty surreal as well.  David said that when this random green car pulled up out of the darkness, it was like something out of a dream.

It was my first night using the car seats as a bed (which they are designed for), but I was almost as comfortable as in my bed back home.  Way better than a tent.

DSC_3946

And when we woke up in the morning, David just happened to have packed honey, which I wanted for my oatmeal breakfast.  They served me coffee, and would have given me more if I had had the time to stay.  As it was, we were content with some knife throwing and early morning harmonica.

Oh yeah, and in case you’re wondering they named it Pissing Rock because there were big rocks behind the campsite that were suitable for both guys and girls to…well you get the idea.

So I left the mountaintop, knowing I was gonna be ok.  Before I left for my trip, it was a little surreal, whether or not it was really going to happen.  But now I was ready.

It was time to head to the desert.

3 thoughts on “Driving through the desert, Day 2: Welcome to Pissing Rock

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