I drove from Banning to Joshua Tree, but I didn't have a plan. As much as I was interested in continuing my fancy and free hotel phase, I was feeling better and my budget was... is shrinking. The one Wal-Mart for miles happened to be in Yucca Valley - the town over from Joshua Tree (about 15 miles from the park entrance) so I stopped there for the night. This was my camp for the evening, after a stop at the local Dollar Tree and 99 Cent stores. Also, I popped into the Marshall's across from the Wal-Mart after I'd picked out my spot (it was only about 6p, so sitting in my car already for the next 15 hours would be ridiculous) - I was looking to see if they had any cute tea infusers for cheap (I had seen some adorable ones in Idyllwile that were more than $10; over my budget) and stumbled across a nice pair of black heels on clearance. Before leaving for my trip, I had written into my mental plan to purchase a pair of black work pumps for interviews - of course the chick who left behind 200 pairs f shoes to travel the states would write buying a pair of shoes into her plan. (To be fair, all of my black heels had died out before I left; so I chucked them and set aside $40 for new ones once interview time came because I didn't have the space in my car for a pair of shoes that was superfluous and unnecessary until the very end of the journey.) As soon as I slipped them on and looked in the mirror, it occurred to me just how much I have missed wearing heels. And what a strange, unexpected thing to miss.
After that, it was around 8pm and I decided to try to get some "work" done at the Starbucks. This meant tending to my blog and trying, again, to apply for Medicaid. Oddly, the thing that is pressing a deadline for me to stop traveling isn't money, as I had expected, but running out of short term health insurance. And applying for Medicaid in either DC (my recent address) or PA (my 'permanent' address) proves to be impossible.
In case you didn't know, Applesbee's offers $2 well drinks for happy hour. You're welcome.
I borrowed wifi, sucked up a couple of drinks and made "friends" with locals. Yucca Valley is the kind of fancy place where not many people are not white and having not showered in 30 hours makes you fit right in. That's not a judgement, it's just a description. After talking some really manly blue collar men into some mudslides - mostly because I couldn't afford my own but was willing to ogle - they left after a bit and an older gentleman - who interjected into my interjections into the mudslide crew's convos - slide over, slide over and bought me a drink. He was 60 something, nice and looked just like John Cleese. John Cleese asked if I wanted a scotch; he asked what I was doing, we chatted and traded digits as he was a bored local and soon after the bar was closing and we parted ways.
The following morning, after a quick bath in the back restrooms of WalMart, I took a call from Nah and was on my way around noon. I wasn't in much of a hurry since I planned to have a few days in JTNP, so I stopped at the visitor's center and a store called Cactus Central Store (I think) across the street about 8 miles outside of the park. I noticed that the store had pay showers for $4. This is good information to know; it has been about 27 hours since my last shower (and car sleeping - for whatever reason.- makes me feel particularly greasy).
I headed up to the park, took my -now regular - park sign selfies, then proceeded to the gate where I was informed that the toilet I was staring at was the last facility with running water in the park. This was going to be interesting. I planned to camp at the first site "Hidden Valley" but it was full. So I headed to the second site, Camp Ryan, and settled into a site that was unoccupied and facing the sunsets. After setting up, I headed back out to use the Wifi at the local Applebees in YuccaValley.