Original post: 2005-05-28: Return from Mojave, Day 5
Photos: Mojave to Illinois, May 2005
Hey—I'll tell you another thing I hate about getting older: you're expected to shower. If you stay in campsites in desert Nevada and California, it's not an option. There's no water—not enough to waste on washing yourself, at least. It's the kind of dry where you wash your camp dishes with a tortilla instead of water.
So, Day 4 of the trip was Day 1 of staying under a roof—Day 1 of having a shower. It's not a milestone-level of shower-free life, it's just that it's a weird normal from a different era. Live in the suburbs for a while and you lose a bit of that nerve—every day is shower day, and every other day is gross.
For the rest of the trip there would be relatively little camping. On that fifth night I stayed with some friends up at the University of Washington in Seattle. The details escape me—I met them in person at MIT the previous fall, or I knew them online. Either way, they were in a different chapter of the same student group I was in at Illinois: Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS).
Here's my favorite caveat to the pleasures of solo travel: whenever possible I try to tie it in with meeting up with other people that I know. And, along the way, I often meet and talk to other people who I don't know. When I started typing this paragraph I thought I was going to deconstruct the contradictions between traveling alone and meeting together. Now that this paragraph is nearing its end I don't feel anything to say about it. Traveling alone isn't about being alone, it's just easier to convince one and only one person that it's time to go here, time to go there, time to eat this, time to do that, and so on. So we're really comparing two different things here: convenience and community.
Solo: on the way up to Seattle, I took a detour to Mt. St. Helens. Mt. St. Helens is a myth. It blew up a few months before I was born (i.e., I didn't do it) yet I have a jar somewhere (I hope) of Mt. St. Helens ash that fell at my Aunt Sandy's house in Missoula. I didn't have time to give the place much more than a drive by, and a quick walk on the Hummocks Trail. It was surprising how much evidence remained of the eruption 25 years later—the remains of trees sheared off at the base, lengths of tree trunk jammed upside down into the dirt, and the enormous house-sized chunks of mountain called hummocks that were left out of place where they were deposited in 1980.
Community: I went with the UW kids (we were all kids then, eh?) to watch Star Wars Episode III at the theater.