"I was, in fact, homesick for wildness, and when I found it I knew how intimately - how resonantly - I belonged there. We are charged with this - all of us. For the human spirit has a primal allegiance to wildness, to really live, to snatch the fruit and suck it, to spill the juice." - Jay Griffiths, Wild: an Elemental Journey

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Moab travelers

Since the universe decided to plop me in Moab spontaneously (the full story), I didn't have time to secure a couchsurfing host.  So I figured it was time for a change of pace.  Thus far, I have been staying with locals and seeing towns from their perspective.  In Moab, I would return to my old days of hosteling, and get to know some fellow travelers instead.

I booked a room at The Lazy Lizard for two nights at only $10 per night.  (The cheapest hostel I have ever stayed at.)  When I rolled up, there was a dude slack lining between two trees on the side of the parking lot, another dude hanging upside down by his knees in one of the trees, and a smattering of french girls smoking and laughing around the picnic table.  This would be exactly what I needed.

My first full day in town, I drove and hiked through Arches National Park by myself.  That evening, I joined the crowd in the hostel common room and made some friends.  Two of those friends ended up being my hiking partners the next day.  Zach, from Whitehall, PA (in the same county where I grew up), and Brian, from Florida.  Both are living out of their cars just like me.  Both are wandering around the west, only making plans one town at a time, just like me.

We spent the next day hiking all over Moab together.  It wasn't just a fun day, but a much-needed connection.  We laughed and joked, but we also got into some pretty deep life stuff.  At one point, we stopped in a beautiful, cool canyon bottom to tell stories for almost two hours.  We barely made it out by sunset.

Brian, me, and Zach at Corona Arch
I've gotten to know these two guys the best, but I've also met lots of other fascinating people over the past few days.  Last night, two guys in their forties from Alberta, Canada, invited Zach and I to play cards with them while we were waiting for our potatoes to bake for dinner.  Turns out, these two had been staying in the cabins out back of the hostel, which are much "nicer" and for the people with real jobs who can pay more than $10.  But the Canadian mountain-bikers liked the friendly vibe in our "peasants quarters" better, so they began to join us instead - which was fine because they bought the beer. :)

I met two guys from the French Alps who are here mountain biking every trail they can.  One of them is on a round-the-world trip.  Next, he will visit California, New Zealand, Indonesia, and a few others places before returning home to France in seven months.

In my dorm room, there is a Dutch girl who looks like a supermodel, who came to Moab to work on a farm and then quit when the farmer turned out to be a sleaze ball.  There is also a German girl who is here to work and was able to give me some great tips about what to do in Durango, Colorado (my next stop).  And finally, an Israeli woman with a strangely New York accent because her parents grew up in Brooklyn - she just came from Alaska and is planning to drive across the whole country on her visit.

Last night, I overheard a conversation between the Dutch supermodel girl and a young, zealous Mormon boy.  He was explaining earnestly to her why Mormonism is the best faith.  At one point, she asked him what would happen if he left the church.  He replied, "My parents would disown me, but not because they're mean, because they love me and would need to show me that I'm not making a wise choice."

This has been an excellent watering hole for me to meet like-minded souls who are on similar journeys.  I've picked up great tips on possible outdoor jobs, and most importantly, made some friends that I think will last a long time.

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