So long, farewell... part II
Trip Start Jun 24, 2012
75Trip End Sep 21, 2012
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Graeme had bought everyone breakfast sandwiches (and thoughtfully had one made without cheese for me) and we nibbled on these as we waited for everyone to get together. Graeme explained that we would be having a leisurely drive into California and to LA, with only stops to get gas and lunch.
We drove through the desert, and even though it was the last day, Graeme still provided us with interesting facts about the landscape around us; we drove for a while through fields of Joshua trees, which are squat trees that you can apparently use to get water out of if you're lost and thirsty in the desert...you just dig down a couple of feet below them and they store their water in a small chamber-like root, so you can drink that
Just before our first gas stop, Laura started complaining of feeling ill with cramps, and when we'd stopped at the station, I had to practically drag her out of the bathroom..she'd gone a horrid shade of white tinged with blue and her eyes weren't focusing on anything, as she was in so much pain. I was terrified...she looked like someone who'd just died, it was awful. Rose, who had been sitting in the front seat, kindly let me put Laura in there as we set off again, so that she could have some space and the air conditioner on her. As I was sat at the back, I just had to leave Laura in the front with some sugary drinks and painkillers and hope that she started to feel better quickly. Everyone was worried about her, as they hadn't seen anyone go that colour before, and I was worried sick...I even had a little cry.
Thankfully, by the time we pulled into a service station for some lunch, Laura was feeling a bit more human, and had some colour back in her, which made me feel better. She even managed to have an ice cream after her lunch, so I knew she was feeling better! We had stopped at a place called Tom's Diner in Barstow, California, just off the I5 and the girls who were in there were lovely, saying they liked our accents and that we sounded like we were in Harry Potter, which made us laugh.
We got back into the van after lunch and carried on through to LA with only one more gas station stop, and pulled into the Hacienda Hotel at around 5pm. As we were finishing the drive, Graeme had everyone guess how many miles we had driven in the four weeks we had been on the trek..the others were just pulling random numbers out of the air, but Laura sat with a look of deep concentration on her face as she tried to work it out. Her guess was 5000 miles, and she was the closest with 5361! It's unreal to think that that's how far we've come in such a short space of time. Everyone was starting to feel a little sad by this point; Charlie was in floods of tears as we were hugging bye to Alex and Christina, who were being met by a friend and going to the airport respectively. Graeme managed to convince a harangued mum of 5 toddlers outside of the hotel to take a couple of group photos for us, and then the rest of us were arranging to meet later for dinner and checking into our rooms.
After a couple of hours in which Laura rested some more to get over the morning, we got dressed and headed back down to the lobby to meet the others for a final dinner. Graeme brought along a friend of his - possibly a trek leader, but this wasn't very clear- called Kyle and the lot of us grabbed cabs to a tavern a couple of miles away.
We all ate really good bar food (pulled pork sandwiches for Laura and I) and had a couple of drinks before Nanette had to leave to catch her flight to Chicago. We decided to go with her, as Laura was feeling rough still, and Julia and Charlie decided to come back with us too.
It was really sad as we said our goodbyes to them all; although we managed to avoid the scene we caused in Seattle with the last group, with all the tears and snot and stuff, it was still hard to leave them all. Charlie was in floods again, as was Julia. Laura, however, was ecstatic as Viv presented her with her personal Swiss-Army knife all the way from actual Switzerland, which is bigger than Laura's...she was chuffed to bits!
It was really hard to say goodbye to Graeme; he's been an amazing trek leader and is just such a lovely person, I think we'll both miss him. He thanked us for everything too, and said he'd loved having us on the trek, and that we had to go visit him in Columbia too, which was awesome.
After many hugs and promises to keep in touch, our cabs back to the hotel arrived and we all piled into them, Nanette and Julia in the first one, and Charlie and us two in the second.We couldn't find Nanette or Julia when we arrived back at the Hacienda, so just had to say goodbye to Charlie (still crying!) and head back to the room. However, ten minutes later, I had a call from the front desk...it was Julia, asking if she could come to our room to say goodbye.
I met her in the hallway (Laura was in the bath) and we said goodbye...she was in tears too, bless her, but I wished her luck on her university course and we promised to keep in touch via Facebook before she left.
After Julia had gone and Laura was out of the bath we had to sort out our stuff for the next day, as we've got to get up at the crack of dawn to get the train to San Diego...the next part of our adventure begins!