The road is long, but the time it takes to gain employment is even longer!

Here we are, still in sunny southern California. It’s spring now, and I’ll be honest, I’d hoped to have more news, or at least be too busy to post. But alas, since posting my op-ed on trailer parks last month, Lola and I haven’t moved an inch. We’ve been staying at a small trailer park in the desert, paying month to month rent, replying to job ads like mad and dashing over the hills for interviews. (Or rather, I’ve been applying to jobs and the dogs have lounged lazily in the trailer, waiting for their daily desert hike.)

Los Angeles is supposed to be our new home, but wouldn’t you know it, there aren’t a ton of trailer parks in the city, and the ones that DO exist cater to high-end luxury travel (i.e. are so expensive I might as well stay in a hotel). So, in order to save a little cash while we wait for the word on a job, we’re waaaaaaay out here in the desert, about 45 minutes from town.

You wouldn’t think that being 45 minutes outside an enormous city like LA would merit using the words “a trip into town” but truly, we are in the boondocks!

There is literally a mountain between us and our goal…

When not interviewing, there is little to do. We get almost no cell phone reception. I make all of my calls from a parking lot a short walk from where Lola sits. We take lots of naps. My main hobbies include writing furiously, making art and walking the dogs up the hill.

It’s a BIG hill.

And it has been DRY. SO DRY.

California is experiencing the worst drought in decades, having had lower than average rainfall three years in a row. In the city, you can hardly tell, but the further you go into the hills, the more obvious it is that something is terribly wrong. When I first arrived in February, EVERYTHING was brown. True, the trees had not yet budded out, but even the evergreens were dead. The only plants poking out of the dirt were the tall, spiky yuccas, and even those were beginning to look sad.

The DUST is unimaginable. It gets into everything! My socks literally accumulate enough grit that my feet turn brown. When I do laundry, I have to shake out my clothes and sweep away the pile of dirt that has accumulated on the laundry room floor. When I get back from taking the dogs on their daily hike, my teeth feel like I’ve been making out with the inside of a Handy-Vac. Lola is a mess, and I’m constantly sweeping sand out the door. When I spoke to two girls staying here, who were from Bakersfield, they said everyone they knew had “valley fever.” When I asked what that was, they shrugged. I assumed it was like hay fever. Apparently, a fungus that lives in the dirt goes airborne when the soil erodes into the air. Inhale it, and yep, valley fever.

Having lived here for two months, I’ve definitely inhaled my fair share of dust. My lungs feel heavy, my nose is constantly full of boogers, and my sinuses are congested. I have not yet developed a cough or a ‘fever’, but many permanent residents here at the park have one, so I figure it’s only a matter of time.

After the first few weeks of sucking in the desert floor, we finally had rain. A TON of rain, almost four day straight of downpour. At the very least, that greened-up the trees and allowed for a few flowers to bloom. The air is slightly less dusty now. It was a welcome relief, and make our hikes much more pleasant.

Some days, their are a few clouds, a light breeze and the area becomes a little more picturesque. The park is nestled into the Los Angeles National Forest (which lacks any forest what-so-ever). Our hike takes us through part of the Pacific Crest Trail, which snakes along the hillsides, clearly visible from afar. I feel somewhat like a mountain goat, trekking along tiny, dirt trails, over rocks and sometimes at an angle. It’s pretty steep and a little remote. For instance, this totally upside down, rusted out car obviously met its end here. (Sidenote: it was in such a deep recess that I didn’t even notice it was there until almost six weeks in.)

But by time I get to the top of the hill, my atrophied muscles from sitting in the trailer all day thank me for the exertion, and I’m usually rewarded with a beautiful sunset. You can see the whole canyon from up there, including the trailer park where I’m staying, and the somewhat creepier abandoned park next door.

I really don’t mean to sound like some Depression Era cautionary tale (where ya’at Rose a Sharon?). Just like anybody else who’s job hunting, we’re cutting back for the moment and “enjoying the simple life.”

I’d say it’s nice. But then, I’d kinda be lying.

To Be Continued