At any rate, although I try to limit this blog to coffee coverage, several monumental things happened for me over spring break this year, and I'd like to share them. To begin with, I turned... older than I was the last time I had a birthday. I then made my first trip out of the Northwest specifically for climbing. I tried instant coffee for what was probably the first time in my life (and hopefully the last). I learned some funny things about the general population of Los Angeles. And I finally found the basis for understanding all those Wile E. Coyote cartoons I grew up watching... which is to say, I traveled to the desert for the first time, and I had an educational encounter with a cactus, taking me back to Saturday morning cartoons, Safeway donuts by the dozen, and wondering what ACME stood for.
As the incidental point, I went to visit one of my transplanted native Northwestern friends in LA while I was near there, and I learned from her the following things: outside of the Northwest, all people don't automatically know what REI and Northface are. This came as a small culture shock. Confronted by that and the information that recycling is not mandatory in all cities, and there are places where people think that walking (instead of driving) a couple of blocks between destinations is abnormal, I realized, again, just how much I like Seattle. Even if it does rain a lot, and dressing for the beach means layering up instead of down.
The most pertinent aspect of this post is that my climbing partner, realizing he had managed to isolate me from easily accessible coffee, woke up the first morning of our camping trip and "brewed" a cup of Via for me. Not only that, but he managed to get facebook up on his iPhone and force me to admit (in front of a lot of witnesses) what I was drinking. The review for that coffee shop (or, picnic table, I guess) went something like "Drinkable. Caffeinated. Tastes nothing like coffee. Barista is rude." Complain. I have one thing left to say on the matter, and that is this: Dear Mark, please pick up the February/March issue of Urban Climber Magazine, and flip over to page 64 for a list of better (alright, some are worse) options for next trip in Justin Roth's article about crag coffee.
Meanwhile, my sister, darling that she is, bailed me out with a thoughtful phone call to a local food shop called Ricochet just outside the park, where she ordered a gift certificate for me in honor of my birthday. Ricochet claims to have the best coffee around, and having poked around the town of Joshua Tree just a bit, I won't even bother questioning their claim. Should you be in Joshua Tree... go to Ricochet for your coffee. It undoubtedly outranks the coffee served at the gas station and saloon. Ricochet is not worth the trip to Joshua Tree, so just keep that in mind. It has really great breakfast food if you want to do some luxury camping, though.
Finally, regarding the trip, here is something I had never seen before, and actually hope not to ever see again (at least not up close):
This creepy looking specimen is a Cholla Cactus, known also by the moniker "teddy bear cactus," or more sinisterly, "leaping cactus." It is called a teddy bear because it looks all soft and cuddly and innocent. I'll leave you to guess why it's also dubbed leaping. Without boring you with details, allow me to skip the story and simply share the punchline.
Since returning home, I have been trying to catch up, figure out where on earth all this camping gear came from so that I can put it back there, get back into the swing of topics writing, and remember how to blog. I visited several coffee shops prior to the Jewel Box, but couldn't find any inspiration to start writing again. Mostly, on account of... well, this just isn't what crema is supposed to look like.