113ºF In Joshua Tree

Don’t take a nap inside a tent - regardless of the fly being left off - when it is 113ºF out.  There is still no airflow and all the stagnant, hot air will give you heat exhaustion.  Isn’t that ironic? Waking up from a nap only to be made sleepy and lethargic.

The afternoons will stretch long, and your shadows longer still on the granite rock faces.  Summer in the deserts are never forgiving.  You’ll be made to feel helpless, useless even; so you’ll seek shelter anywhere, even if it is a moral-less corporate giant.  You’ll give thanks quickly, under your breath, and spend the rest of your afternoons wandering the aisles and eating too many Fudgsicle bars. ThankyouWalmartforexistinginthisdeserttown.


Sun sets and we’re looking to get high: bigger boulders, higher ground, better sunsets.  And desert sunsets are magnanimous.  Everyone claps for them, I might have cried.  It was too beautiful and we are so lucky to have had this experience.  

Sun sets and we’re looking for places to hide: from the scorpions and tarantulas we see.  Our campground runs along their path of migration.  Everyone screams, I might have screamed loudest.  We are so lucky to not have been stung or bitten.

Night time in the desert is dark.  And so loud.  We fall asleep to the sounds of coyotes singing and snakes slithering about.  There might have been owls, but I was already deep asleep.


Summertime In Mendocino

Mendocino is very north and much greener than the metropolitan Bay Area.  It is an enchantment of a place: mighty ancient redwood forests, long stretches of coastline, remote rivers and beaches, and an overall aura of mystery and mystique.

We camped with family and friends over the summer.  The weather was a comfortably enjoyable high 80-degrees all weekend.  We went fishing, hiking, and swimming and had nothing to worry for the entire time.  This is what nature is for me: an escape from social media and the internet, a mental getaway from all stressors, and a means to recharge and be entirely happy and carefree.

There is also an untouched aspect to Mendocino.  You will find disheveled and abandoned homes or farmlands, vintage cars, expansive overgrowth off the side of the road, and a feeling that there is no rush to clean up or catch up.  Nothing is off and everything is as it should be.  That is the Mendocino way, so go and visit some time.


To Oakland, With Love

This is what Oakland sounds like:

Punjabi-Chinese-Vietnamese-Eritrean-Spanish-English conversations wafting through living room windows all on one street of many neighborhoods.  It is Lil Rob’s “Summer Nights” blasting out of someone’s clunky Impala lowrider, broken up by the woo woo whistle-tip muffler.  It’s catcalls from the boys hanging out at the liquor stores on the corner.  It’s loud and bustling like Saturday mornings in Chinatown when the Grandmas and Grandpas are haggling the prices for a pound of ginseng root.  It also sounds like the mixtape you just picked up from the dude outside the Lucky’s on East 18th remixed with powwows of 20 different Native American tribes.  It is vibrant and vivid, boisterous and sometimes cacophonous, even when it’s 1am on a Wednesday.  Oakland sounds like it is alive, always, and a little like your uncle when he drinks too many Mickey’s.  Oakland sounds like the Town that never quits hustling, never lets you forget it’s rough but also rich in diversity and culture, and Oakland sounds too much like something you can’t tune out, even with noise-cancelling headphones.

This is what Oakland tastes like:

Grit and sweat and blood and dirt and bubblegum.  It tastes like gentrified Asian-American fusion and reverent Jamaican jerk chicken.  It sometimes tastes like heavily salted air mixed with fumes from smog given off by chop-shops; while other times, it tastes like distilled water with a hint of iron, or blood.  It is days of rich, fatty broth cooked over low heat and seasoned with aromatic herbs.  Oakland tastes like the skunkiest of Indicas and the most savory of umami enriched bone marrow.  Oakland is a taste you won’t forget: something that sticks to your teeth and clings between your bicuspids and canines.  It is an undistinguishable complexity of sweet, sour, bitter, savory that your mouth will water for.  Oakland tastes original, and will forever provoke insatiable hunger.

Oakland is the Town, it is my Town, and I love it for all its grime and glamour, the vibrancy and coldness, and all the other disparities between good and bad.  I love it for all that it has given and all that its taken away; and I especially love it for all its eclectic micro-cultures that exist throughout.  I am forever tied to Oakland by the heartstrings, so I will always be loyal.

With so much love,

HP

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