My favorite moments with Kyle have almost all happened spontaneously. The morning after my first Halloween in Santa Barbara, I called Kyle. Want to drive to Vegas and see if we can get tickets to night two of the Phish Halloween run? The thing is—I’m a huge Phish phan, and most of my friends are not. Only a true friend will withstand 3+ hours of improvised “jams” when Phish isn’t really your thing. It kind of has to be your thing; you have to get IT. To the untrained ear, Phish can sound a little chaotic, excruciatingly unfocused and ramble-y. There’s a lot going on.
But we make the drive from LA to Vegas, and end up at the MGM grand 30 minutes before the sold out show. We had backup plans if we didn’t make it in, but we find face value tickets in the lot, just as the show was starting. The show was incredible. One of the best I’ve seen. (I’ll avoid too much Phish talk, but the highlight was def FYF. They played the song for some guys in the front row with a biiig sign, who went on to absolutely lose it when Mike began it.) We spend the rest of the night running around the city, and met 3 guys who flew out from Michigan for the run. They told us that by far the best purchase they’ve made in Vegas were these motorized scooters. We end up racing them down the hallways of the 15th floor of the MGM Grand. These are the types of situations we tend to find ourselves in.
But we’ve also spent a fair bit of time exploring national parks in Southern California. I grew up backpacking in the Sierras, the mountains–Yosemite, Teton, Inyo NP. But I realized that I might be more of a desert person during my first trips to Death Valley and Joshua Tree. Crazy things happen out in the middle of the desert. Lizard Lee keeps and maintains a commune surrounding a series of hot springs in the dead center of Death Valley. The U.S. and foreign militaries test jets and train pilots in the same gorge. Lots of cows too. I love the strangeness of it all. Anything can happen.
Kyle brought me to Eureka Dunes for my first time, where we had one of those weird desert moments. It took us a couple of hours to get into the park, and another three just to get to the top of the 3-mile long dune. And at the top of this dune, in the middle of the valley, we managed to run into a father and his two daughters. You could tell just by the look of them that they were true desert children, and young too—maybe 4 and 6 years old? They came equipped with a ski sled to do some dune-sledding. They were well-versed enough to know the sand is best for sledding a few days after the rain. It was strange. Death Valley and Jtree aren’t like the popular National Parks. Other desert goers are few and far between. You are pretty much left to your own devices. We were all thinking, the same but Kyle said it: this isn’t an easy place to get to? How strange to run into someone out in the middle of this giant dune…