The Lazy Lizard Saloon in Ocotillo seemed friendly on Wednesday afternoon, the day after the election. I had just returned from three days of backpacking in Vallecito Valley, not knowing if Clinton or Trump had won. Or if the election had been decided.
Three days of cholla cactus, bighorn, and deer tracks; no TV, radio, or smartphone. There were about a dozen people in the Lazy Lizard, split between the bar and the tables. Everyone seemed in a good mood. I ordered a Pacifico and waited. Ten minutes passed. I heard nothing political. Nothing.
Twenty minutes passed. My beer was getting low. A guy at the end of the bar murmured something about "Trump" in a hushed voice; he only wanted the woman next to him to hear it. I couldn't take it anymore. Turning toward him, I caught his eye, which made him stop talking.
"Who won?" I asked. The bar fell silent. The woman he was talking to turned around to examine me.
"Trump," he said without much reaction.
"Wow," was all I could muster. I ordered another Pacifico. The woman gently offered, "I hope that isn't bad news for you." The next thing I remember saying was, "Were the elections peaceful?" I was told about the shooting in Asuza...otherwise, all was good.
I introduced myself and explained why I was like a man who had just fallen to Earth. The woman left. "John" and I talked about the country, about jobs and immigration. John talked about the biased media and why he didn't own a TV. He put his faith in the internet and Google searches, saying, "It is fair."
He didn't ask who I voted for and wanted to know where I'd camped. I retrieved my tattered topographic maps from the car, opened them on the bar. We traced our fingers along contour lines, seeking out common ground, places with reliable water, features we could both relate to.