Day 42: 500 Miles of Groceries

I woke this morning in a dusty little campsite with Rainbow Dash’s tent beside me. A great big tree was shielding us from the sun, and we slept in until 8am! What glory!
After getting a ride with a trail angel back into town, we set upon the post office, gathering packages, eating snacks, trying on new shoes. New shoes! I wish I could describe to you the joy of getting new shoes, shoes that still have the tread on them, shoes without huge rips in the padding around the hard plastic heel, shoes meant to protect your feet from the ground. I put them on, proudly walking here and there in the post office as older gentleman, on their way to their own mail, were excited for us or simply shook their heads at girls on the road.

Next order of business: high tailing it over to the donut place for a donut, Gatorade, and massive cup of iced coffee that was sweeter than anything alive. We sat there, enjoying the normalcy and cleanliness, in our filthy clothes, greasy wild hair, and dirt powdered right into our pores. I have never been so dirty in my life — seven days without a shower, and seven days of dust and desert and gallons of sweat. 

 And then, as the normal, clean, well dressed people of Mojave trickled in, we figured it was time to move on. We headed up the road to the grocery store, and I dreaded it all the way.

A train hopping hobo called us over, surprised we were still in town. He didn’t have anything to say, so we kept on walking.

Two separate nice women in pretty cars with polished fingernails and lipstick on stopped us to ask if we needed a ride. We kept on walking, happily surprised with the sweetness rampant in the rundown town.

Finally we made it to Stater Bros., the grocery store. It was spotless and had every imaginable flavor of the same few kinds of food — luckily, that food is what Ant and I eat out here. 

 I needed 36 days of food for two people. That ended up being 65 dinners, 65 lunches, and 325 snacks. My heart sunk, but Dash pushed another cart and didn’t mind as I hemmed and hawed over Top Ramen flavors or tried to tally how many snacks were in a bag of trail mix. “Would I have enough?” I asked myself again and again.

We were finally done, and when it was over I had spent $420 on groceries and had three carts of food. I was amazed! I fed two people for more than a month on less than 500 dollars. Better yet, I was excited about the food, and it only took an hour and a half to do it.

We pushed the carts outside in a comic cart gang, and settled in the shade in front of the abandoned library that happened to be the next “store” in the grocery’s shopping complex. We had three hours to kill. 

 I scrolled and scrolled through Facebook, filling myself up with the outside world, being angry about injustice and happy about animal bellies needing pets. I hoped that I could temper my internet addiction in civilization, when I get back to it.

People walked up to talk to the strange people sitting on concrete near the grocery store. Finally a dirty man with a filth-caked button down and dirt streaked jeans came up to us, holding a gallon of water and Twinkies in his thin grocery bag.

“What are you doing?” He asked, planting himself near us.

We talked to him for a while, and he knew that we were his people, and he reminisced about all the animals at this late grandmother’s farm. I was both repelled by the lack of social norms and attracted by his sweet love for mammals — “maybe we are the same people,” I thought to myself. I am tramping around this summer by choice, and perhaps so is he.

Finally, wishing to leave, another jolly hiker with a big round belly and fluffy white beard appeared, trying to help us separate from the man (or at least assess the situation). We hikers tend to look out for each other. As he talked to us, our ride came to the rescue. 

 Teresa and Laurie had invited us back! Teresa made the 45 minute drive (although we walked the same distance in seven days!!!), to grab us up and take us back to her fluffy beds and showers, and this time pool. We clambered in, filling her truck bed with the groceries, and were whisked off to happiness.

It was jolly! A cookout filled with laugher, questions about the more indelicate side of backpacking (hygiene) that led to more laughter, and enough veggies to feed an army. They had a little external charger for Dash’s phone, loaner Crocks for Ant’s feet, and pancake mix and real Canadian syrup for me. 

 After all the merriment, we unpacked and repacked our groceries until we were too tired to think. Then, sinking into the high bed, I collapsed into happy dreams, grateful for the rest.