Day 15: Sunday, May 19

Still at Ziggy and Bear's house (PCT mi 210.8), a zero day

Woke up this morning only knowing that Kristin had the address to the house and she might be here at 8 or sometime after. Not much cell service here to help fine-tune that plan. She made it here no trouble at 8:45ish. Took Juma/Bill/whatever his name was 10 miles down the freeway to Banning, where he hoped to catch a bus that may or may not exist on Sundays. Then we drove to Joshua Tree NP, followed that up by going to Palm Springs and eating delicious Mexican food at a joint called La Perlita that we found on Yelp. The manager talked to us and after I explained the PCT thing to him, he comped our meals for us because he said "I like what you're doing."

That brings the free-meals total to 3 after 200 miles of this trip, compared to zero on 1800 miles of the AT in 2011. That's not mentioning substantial discounts on pizza and my haircut in Idyllwild. Why so much unasked-for generosity to PCT hikers compared to AT? First I have to qualify that by saying there's _plenty_ of generosity toward hikers on the AT, it just never showed itself in this form. Kristin (a West Coaster herself) thinks that out West, people are more likely to see a long hike as a noble pursuit, that captures the imagination and is worthy of support, as opposed to back East where you're viewed as having something closer to vagrant/bum status. I don't know about that. I think it's more that every town I've been in on the PCT so far doesn't need hikers to survive economically; they get by just fine on tourism from L.A. and San Diego. Hiker dollars are just a drop in the bucket for Julian, Idyllwild, etc. But for Hot Springs, NC or Damascus, VA on the AT? Those places would be just another Appalachian ghetto without a few thousand new hikers coming through and dropping cash each year. You can't afford to be giving out free meals left and right if you run a restaurant in one of those towns. But in these SoCal towns, we hikers are apparently still seen as novel, infrequent and economically inconsequential.

Anyway, after lunch we saw The Great Gatsby, which I loved. I've heard critics are hating on it. I don't really get why. Personally, I'm rejoicing thinking that high school English classes of the future have a much more entertaining Gatsby movie to look forward to now than that piece of garbage with Robert Redford and that alien-looking lady with the ninny little voice who played Daisy. I've had to watch that one twice for classes by now. It got worse the second time.

Ate some good Thai food for dinner, still in Palm Springs, then I was dropped off back here. This was goodbye for real real not for play play with Kristin; I might not see her for a few months now. But I got this same feeling after seeing her in the middle of my AT hike: as soon as the goodbye is over, the hard part is done, and the future is so easy to comprehend it floods me with confidence. I know exactly what I need to do and how to do it ... Just walk. I've done it before and I know I like it. Just keep doing it.