Still Life with Casa de Luna

There is a little house in a place called Green Valley with a simple crescent moon sign dangling above a large metal mailbox, next to a modest line of four portapotties. Green Valley is a place where most homes have at least two dogs in their sprawling yards and many also have horses milling about the properties, silent and brooding. Driveways are stock piled with campers, fifth wheels, Airstreams, Burning Man art cars, trailers, ATVs, boats: all the toys. Creative and quirky mailboxes, metal Beetlejuice-like welded sculptures and open air galleries, tiny mini-marts and gas stations with good Ben & Jerry selections. All the houses are different styles, a mismatched quilt of a neighborhood.
But the little house with the crescent moon is perhaps the most curious place in Green Valley. For this home belongs to Joe and Terrie Anderson, "Casa de Luna." It is here that the Andersons have been welcoming dirty and disheveled PCT hikers into their home for the past 16 years. "It's their pleasure."
They host taco salad dinner each night and serve hot coffee and flapjacks every morning for about two months each year as the hikers file "thru" on their way from Agua Dulce down to Mojave.
The Anderson's front yard is a jumble of easy-ups and sagging couches, futons, and camp chairs beneath an umbrella whose points are muffled with clown noses. They have an outdoor kitchen area adorned with a glowing Mr. & Mrs. Claus figurine and framed by a long rack of Hawaiin shirts for hikers to wear while there. There's a picnic table covered in acrylic paints and brushes to paint rock slabs to further decorate their ornamented property. And that is all just in the front of the house.
Around the back there is a wide side yard where bowling pins and a ball are set up in front of a hammock and a couch swing. There are disc golf baskets scattered into the massive backyard amongst the trees, mangled mannequin parts, hot pink horse shoes and rusty farming equipment. There is a janky outdoor shower that requires jamming a screwdriver into a removable shower head to achieve hot water and a dresser full of clean towels next to it.
The back patio has the "420 table," complete with a bong and various glass pipes and ashtrays (and some random Q-tips) and is surrounded by mismatched chairs. A crooked sign reads "If you're not barefoot, you're overdressed." There is a garden that wraps around the other side of the house where an old white Volkswagon Beetle appears to be serving a time-out sentence in the corner.
Past the "420 table" you enter through an arched gate adorned with greenery into the enchanted Manzanita grove. The trails that lead through the grove are endless and winding, leading to campsites all throughout. The Manzanita tree's smooth bark and arching branches envelope the maze of trails, punctuated by painted rocks to designate sites, "The High Road," "The Honeymoon Suite," etc. 
The Andersons couldn't care less if you stayed for a day or two or ten. What's theirs is yours. Terrie gives hugs and spankings, while Joe distributes official PCT Class of 2015 bandanas, flips pancakes and tells stories while the Allman Brothers play softly in the background. Joe's bright blue eyes flash when he gets excited and Terrie moons the crowds as their photos are taken in front of the bedsheet that the hikers autograph with a Sharpie before leaving. Terrie smokes cigarettes and shuttles hikers about in their beat up minivan that had a "Hikertrash" bumper sticker. 
The Andersons have a fierce sense of humor. They're unbelievably welcoming. And totally down to earth.

"That place is a vortex," the neighbors warned as we approached. And if we weren't on a mission to get to Canada, we may have never left.

(Highlight: I found a basket of nail polish under a table and gave myself a metallic silver mani/pedi.)

Hikertrash Musings

When you're walking each and every day--the old up-down, up-down-- you become desensitized to the utter beauty that surrounds you. The breathtaking views from high above the clouds, the panoramic sights from the ridge walks, the steep switchbacks, the fresh air: it all becomes the norm. The nature that you crave while you're working doubles or stuck in traffic or spiraling down a technology vortex to the end of the internet, it just becomes your life. 

You measure this life by miles. Always with the miles. The date, the day of the week, even the time becomes relatively useless to you (unless you need to pick up something at the post office). But the miles count. And you count them.

We met a hiker named "Gush the Lush" who hikes wearing a tie. He loosens and removes it during breaks and then tightens it up when he's ready to get back on the trail. "Back to work."
Instead of measuring your life with bookend weekends, approaching concerts, auto pay bills and post dated rent checks, it's the miles. How many til the next water? How many can we get in before noon? How many more to go? How many can we do before sunset? How many will we hitchhike to town? 

There is also the dreaded elevation profile of the miles. Up and down. Down and up. Too da loo. When's the next burger joint?
And weather. There is always weather to consider. The constant costume changes from the cold and dewy mornings to the stifling afternoons back into the chilly evenings and the even cooler nights ("hiker midnight" is about 9pm) are infuriating. Toss the pack, lose a layer, gloves back on. Cinch the hip belt, good to go. Wait, then you've gotta pee. 

We've hardly used our headlamps at all, since we're bundled and in bed long before dark.
The days are long. The nights seem short. The miles fly by. The shoes and socks are full of holes. The packs are heavy when they're pregnant with food, so we snack. And snack. Then they are light again. And we dillydally along.