March 5, 1998
Costa Mesa, California, USA

Yesterday, Diane, Riley, and I went to the planetarium at Griffith Park(in Los Angeles), and then I spent the night at Riley’s apartment in Hollywood. This afternoon, Riley and I went climbing at Stoney Point, then went for a short hike in Topanga State Park. Ten minutes into the hike, I decided to take off my fleece jacket and leave it beside the trail, to pick up on my way back. It was late in the afternoon, and there were only two other cars in the parking lot. I figured that anyone hiking along that trail, wouldn’t be the type of person who would steal my jacket.

When I came back, the jacket was gone. My wallet and address book were in the jacket. I immediately began searching for the culprit. The only people in the park that I could see, were standing in a field a quarter mile away. I ran toward them like the wind. They were two young guys around my age. I asked them if they had seen my jacket, or anyone else who could have taken it. "A jogger passed us a half-hour ago, but she wasn’t carrying anything.", one of the guys responded. They had a back pack. There was something in it about the size of my jacket. I felt like a schmuck, but I had to ask. "Do you mind if I look in your bag?" One of the guys said "No!", the other said "Yes.". As he began to open the bag, I told him "Don’t worry about it. I’m sorry that I had to ask you that". I knew that since he was willing to open it, he had nothing to hide. If I didn’t ask, and my jacket was never returned, I would have wondered if it was in that pack for the rest of my life.

I could find no one else in the entire park, and there wasn’t a note at the ranger station saying that someone had found the jacket. As we drove away from the park, I began to feel sick to my stomach. The jacket was more than just a piece of clothing. I felt like I had just lost a piece of me. It made me upset to think about all the extra work I would need to do to get a new driver’s license, Medicare card, scuba certification, and credit card. The thought of losing my address book was especially heart wrenching. I could never get all those addresses back. It was like a bunch of my friends had all just died, because I would never see them again. There was nothing left I could do but pray about it.

At 7:45pm, Riley and I met Diane at the Getty center, an enormous new art museum on a hill over-looking Los Angeles. The only way up there is by tram. The museum cost close to a billion dollars to construct, and was built to display the personal art collection of the late J. Paul Getty, who made a vast fortune in the oil industry. The project was entirely funded by Mr. Getty himself, and admission to the museum was free. It closed at 9pm, so we only had time to quickly view two of the four buildings. The place is incredible. We could have spent half of a day there.

We just got back here to Diane’s apartment a half-hour ago. I checked my email as soon as we arrived. I love getting email no matter who it is from, but no email has ever made me as happy as this one did:

My name is Harlan. I found your jacket and wallet today while I was mountain-biking around Topanga State Park. So far I’ve been unable to find a telephone # for you, but I found the # of a guy named Len in your organizer and he gave me this address as your email. I’d like to return your stuff.

OK. Hope to hear from ya.

All the best...