John Muir Trail: My Town Visit

Early the next morning, I slowly woke and remembered I was on the side of the road. I took down my tent before anyone noticed. I need to start a list of all the strange places I've slept, I thought.

It only took a half hour to get a ride to Bishop. The woman who picked me up gave me a quick tour of the town. They had everything a backpacker needs: laundromat with showers, fast food, grocery stores, four outfitters, and most importantly, a place simply called, Donuts and Ice Cream. A business name I'm going to steal if I ever open an outfitter by a long-distance trail.

I ate, resupplied, and roamed around town all day. By night, I still had nowhere to sleep.

Until... "Where you going tonight?" a very friendly round-faced African-American man asked in my third fast food joint of the day, but I'll come back to that.

I met him and his friend in my first fast food joint when they saw me searching for an outlet to recharge my cell phone. Apparently, they have the same food cravings I have.

"No outlet here, man," he said. "I already looked. My laptop battery is dead."

At dinner, I saw them again. This time they sat by me to talk. They were from Indiana too, and were in California to deliver a brown mail truck to UPS. Their topics of conversation jumped back and forth between Indiana, the military, politics, his slow laptop, 9/11 being an inside job (a strange position that irritated me to no end), and his love of Avril Lavigne (which was also a bit strange, but not that irritating).

"Where you going tonight?" he asked.

"Not sure yet," I said. "I thought about hanging out in that 24x7 diner up the road, then after the town goes to sleep, crashing in the dugout by the baseball field for the night."

"Nah, man. You don't have to do that. You can stay with us if you want," he said, and then sang, "Why you gotta go and make things so complicated?" which was not the first or last time he inserted Avril Lavigne's lyrics into conversation where appropriate.

"Really, you wouldn't mind?" I said.

"Nah, not at all," he said. "And hey, maybe you could fix my slow laptop.

Sometimes I feel like when people know I worked in IT, our conversation is just pretext to asking me to fix their computer. I don't think that was the case tonight, but it didn't matter. I had a legal place to sleep and a free shower.
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A Backpacker's Life List by Ryan Grayson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.