“You’re all set honey! You’ll be in San Diego in a few hours.”
The train conductor’s warm smile and fatherly reassurance slowed my heart rate a little, but not a whole lot.
He’s right, though: I am all set. In LA I was able to sort out the last few bits and pieces (I think??). I’ve got my ziplock bags, natural soap/detergent/shampoo (according to the bottle there are 18 uses?!), gloves for the colder nights, sunscreen for the desert days, ibuprofen for all the aches I’m guessing I’ll have. When I get to San Diego I’ll grab a fuel canister for my little stove, my first load of food and a stuff sack for my sleeping bag so that I can actually fit the food in there.
I got a new pack, too. I was graciously loaned one back in Australia – and it is a beautiful pack! – but I just felt like I should invest in my own over here. The team at the local REI store were hands down amazing and so patient with me and my hundred questions. I may or may not have spent three hours in there… We found a pack that fits me a whole lot better, has different compartments so I can easily organise stuff instead of just shoving it all in together, and they have a 100% satisfaction guarantee for a YEAR. So even if I use it and then halfway along the track decide, “Naa, I don’t like this anymore”, I can get a refund on the pack and find myself a flight back home sooner 😉
But let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.
Los Angeles was great. I didn’t see Disneyland this time around, but I did get to go to Hillsong’s Colour Conference, which was more what my heart needed.
I’m glad I went to the conference, and not just for the amazing speakers and free Krispy Kremes.
Saturday we had a long lunch break, and although I had packed enough fruit and snacks to get me through the day, I didn’t particularly want to eat alone.
I followed my feet outside and scanned around the crowd of women spilling out of the theatre onto LA’s South Broadway, looking for another lone wolf. I spotted one, and she looked at me like I was a stalker when I approached her, poor thing.
People don’t tend to talk much to strangers in cities. That is, unless they’re trying to sell you something, or ask for loose change.
And maybe asking her first off if she was alone was not my smartest move, but I was trying to sift through the mass of women for someone to eat with and didn’t realise at the time how creepy that might sound. Lucky I don’t look too creepy! Or dirty (yet).
She decided to trust me, we found a cafe together a few blocks down and ended up having a lovely lunch. As I laughed with Gina and we shared our stories, I was reminded – I guess I’d forgotten – that the people I think I need might just need me too.
She shared that she used to love backpacking and travelling, until her last trip to Australia. Her experience going through the customs checkpoint was a pretty traumatic one for her, and she hasn’t travelled since. That was in 2014. She couldn’t believe that I’d come here to walk solo for six months across the country and as we talked, she seemed to slowly come to the realisation that one bad experience shouldn’t keep her from a future full of amazing ones! It was a nice feeling, being able to talk someone out of their fear and into their dreams. And a surprising one: I didn’t imagine I’d be her inspiration when I was searching for company.
Before I go further, I have to give a very big thank you to Lanna Marie, the woman who opened up her home to me as a base for LA. You went above and beyond in your hospitality and caring for me while I was with you! Thank you ❤️ and thank you to Julia, for hooking us up. And thank you to Fia for getting me on to Julia! Connections around the world are priceless 😊
So I hopped on the train bound for San Diego this morning and had an hour wait at the station for Scout and Frodo to pick me up. They are the couple who host hikers before they start (connections!). They are also trail angels (legitimately what people are called along the PCT, who help out hikers). They pick you up from the train/bus/airport when you get in, and have huge gazebos set up in their backyard for hikers to stay in. There’s a ‘packing station’, with boxes and tape if you want to mail things home or to yourself further along the trail, and they shuttle people into town for REI stores or getting food and other supplies. Meals are communal, and Scout has a talk every night on tips and what to expect etc. That’s where I am right now: lying on my mattress typing this out.
But back to my wait at the station…
Now, some of you who have me on Instagram (@naomiijoy) or Facebook might have seen this already…
I was mistaken for being homeless.
Although, I guess, technically there was no mistake: I don’t have an address.
I was happily sitting in the sun, singing to myself and passers by with my ukulele, and a man – a homeless man, himself – walked up and offered me a dollar. Smiling, I shook my head and told him I was just singing because I wanted to, but he insisted I take it. He was such a beautiful, gracious man. He kept nodding that I please take it, as we all have to stick together and he loved listening to me. I wasn’t sure if it was more rude if I kept denying his gift. He already seemed embarrassed to assume I was expecting money and kept insisting, so I offered him my banana as a trade. He said had was happy just with my songs and wanted to be the first to help me busk ❤️
It was a really sweet moment, as he reached out to me even though I’m sure he needed the money more than I. And it touched me deeply that he wanted to give me something – how many times have I held back from others, worried I mightn’t have enough for myself?
So many lessons on perspective.
I’m curious to see what other lessons I have waiting for me further down the trail, and the people I am yet to meet. Some of them are inside right now – I just have to stop being shy and head in there to introduce myself.
Suddenly that seems scarier than starting the trail in three days time!
All about perspective, hey.