It briskly showered the night before covering my bivy in a film of morning dew. My sleeping pad soaked up every droplet of water from the moist ground making it feel like a 5 pound weight strapped to the top of my pack. I retreated back to the road to avoid being seen near the top of the overpass, throwing my pack over the fence. It made a loud plop as it hit the ground splattering water every which way, leaving a wet imprint on the sidewalk as I lifted it back up, throwing it over my shoulders, immediately loathing the extra weight.
I chased the rain, or it chased me, I was not sure at this point. I thought traveling through a state in a drought promised dry weather, but I spent the majority of my time seeking shelter. As I stood on the on-ramp for 215 North, I held out my thumb in desperation with a sign that read, “Palmdale.” This felt like the only corner free of homebums and junkies and promised a ride out of town to a less abandoned shit-hole. I stood there hopefully wishing each passing car to pull off and stop on the shoulder giving me a lift into the next town. Like Arizona, the heat in Southern California killed my spirits, and I almost succumbed to the shade, but just as the thought of surrendering loomed over me a Subaru pulled off on the shoulder and a window rolled down. Sweat dripped down my face splashing on the ground as I squinted looking in at the driver. I laid eyes upon a 50 year old surf bum decked out in shades and a baseball cap headed for the rural mountains of San Bernardino National Forest about 10 miles from Palmdale. I hopped in eager to get out of there and as we cruised he drove out of his way to drop me off at the nearest McDonald’s in Palmdale. I relaxed beneath a palm tree in a vacant lot by the highway, which was not uncommon for the area as I indulged in more sweet pastries from the morning. As much as I wanted to head north I loathed the heat and standing around hoping for a ride so I searched for a place to sleep and waited for nightfall. Vacant fields, and buildings existed all throughout the city between mall complexes, schools, and housing developments so finding refuge took little effort, but finding a decent ramp to hitch out of town took more walking, time and sweat, which I left for tomorrow.
March 17th 2016 marked the happiest day of my life as I stood there nervously awaiting the moments to say my vows and the words, “I do!” My wife looked absolutely stunning like an Egyptian Goddess. Her eyelids tinted gold with bright red lipstick and luscious lashes made me break out into a smile while Juan did her hair and makeup. I knew my life in that moment would forever change and shortly we would travel the world together by any means. Experiencing the Earth’s most beautiful masterpieces with my soulmate made me look forward to the rest of our adventurous lives together.
I woke up early to hit the ramp to hitch out of Goodyear for Flagstaff. After a few hours of standing on the shadeless shoulder, sweat dripping down my brow and into my eyes, I decided to check the Greyhound. For $20 I found a ride to Flagstaff arriving at 1:15 AM. I gave into the heat, sun and close proximity of home, giving Kelly one last night of me, well at least until bedtime.
She drove me downtown to the Greyhound and for my first time as a married man, I set off for a solo adventure. I felt a tingly sensation of loneliness enter my body as Kelly hugged and pecked me on the lips. My eyes wandered watching her exit the building as her long slender legs slowly strolled out the door, her dress swaying in night breeze.
My legs trembled from lack of potassium and all of my limbs drooped like Jello. I slouched for a few hours before I refilled my 1.5 liter bottle with tap water and stomped along the shoulders of the windy roads, getting closer to Mount Raya. My feet, stiff as boards, finally calloused over in the holey orifices of my socks, along my toes and heels, as I continued hiking. Few vehicles drove these desolate roads and the 2-inch shoulder made hitchhiking nearly impossible, but that did not stop me from finding a ride. A young Malay man pulled off, parking his bike on the white line, signaling me to hop on with his hand. We cruised on the road spiraling around Mount Raya as the view of Langkawi below became a city model with the slow increase in elevation due to the steep grades. Smoke muddled the ozone clouding the air with a misty overlay of grey clouds from burning rubbish. He hugged each bend as we topped out at 20 KPH veering into the opposing lane. As we climbed the mountain the engine puttered like a weed wacker on the verge of an empty tank, but miraculously we made it. I waved as he coasted down Mount Raya in neutral, his smile exposing the pits in his mouth, but his scintillating character following behind him. I approached the hotel reading the small, wooden sign, “Look out tower highest point in Langkawi 900 m (ASL),” as my head tilted towards the sky, intrigued by all the radio towers within close proximity to me at MEASAT Satellite Control Center. A Chinese man scampered down the road as he exited the hotel looking at the construction progress on the abandoned building sitting next to the overpass adjacent D’Coconut Hill Resort. My bladder felt like a balloon waiting to explode as this man, the hotel owner, tried to sell me on purchasing a ticket to view the island from the dinky watchtower in the hotel. But I set my mind on a different tower as I waited for the perfect opportunity and time-frame to come to fruition. I scurried off up the hill trying to gain access to a public restroom, but hotel staff did not let me enter without paying the 10 RMB fee for the watchtower, which I refused. I pissed behind a maintenance building instead.