A tribute and apology to Terrie and Joe Anderson of Casa de Luna

Director’s Cut excerpt from:

Journeys North: The Pacific Crest Trail by Barney Scout Mann

Chapter 21

Casa de Luna

Funny bone: “There were two kinds of hikers:

Those who stayed at the Andersons’ and those who wish they had.”

Author’s note: How could I write a Pacific Crest Trail book and not include trail angels Terrie and Joe Anderson? The paragraphs I’d written about Terrie and Joe were axed in an eleventh-hour cut. Authors are told: “Be prepared to kill your darlings.” I didn’t know how much it would hurt. I wore the Andersons’ Hawaiian shirts, ate their taco salad, and slept in their yard. This “Director’s Cut” from Journeys North is my homage and apology to Terrie and Joe. Barney Scout Mann   

Casa de Luna:  It’s 24 trail miles from Agua Dulce to the Andersons’ house in Green Valley, California. It was the strangest trail segment so far for 25-year-old Blazer. She’d heard chatter about the Andersons since the start of the trail.  “Which story is true? Guardian angels or partying hippies? Can it be that wild?” Blazer tried to focus on the day’s end–she’d be nearly 500 miles north of the Mexican border–but random thoughts persisted. “Does Terrie really wear a mumu? Does she wear a halo, too? And what about oil wrestling? Surely, they’re pulling my leg?”

Before the PCT, Blazer’s longest backpack had been two days, but now after a month, she knew heat, she knew dry, she was on a first-name basis with shrubs no higher than her knees. And she knew the callused landscape of her feet as well as the PCT terrain. But Blazer had never slackpacked—hiked without her pack. “Thank you, Andersons,” she thought weaving in and out of scorched canyons like a shuttle on a loom. Most all her gear had already been driven ahead to the Andersons. Terrie would pick up Blazer in a van at the trailhead and her gear would be waiting. “That’s one vote,” Blazer thought, “on the side of guardian angels.”

Joe and Terrie Anderson of Casa De Luna, PCT Trail Angels

Joe and Terrie Anderson, champions of the PCT and chefs of taco salad, as photographed by Tommy “Twerk” Corey.

Early afternoon, Blazer came to a water cache stocked with more toys than refreshments. It felt like a living cave, a green-leaf vault formed of live oak. The Andersons’ “Oasis Cache” pushed Blazer back into thinking “hippies,” not guardian angels. The plastic flamingoes, squirt guns and bleached Halloween skeletons outnumbered the six-packs of lukewarm beer. The collection of beach chairs had certainly seen better days. But Blazer lounged in a cocoon of air at least ten or fifteen degrees cooler than outside. Sipping on a can of suds, Blazer thought, “I love the Andersons.”

Late afternoon at the next paved road, San Francisquito Canyon, Blazer marked the end of 24 miles by piling into Terrie’s van. She joined so many others. That day alone, Angel Hair, Rigatoni, Lost & Found, Basil, Teatree, and maybe two dozen more rode those two miles off-trail.

The Andersons’ home was even more wonderfully provisioned than their water cache. The garage door was covered with a king-size bedsheet spray-painted: “Casa de Luna Lunatic Lounge.” Hikers hollered the Andersons’ catchphrase: “Welcome to hippie daycare!” Blazer was smothered in a big-armed Terrie Anderson hug. The smell of taco salad being prepared hung in the air.

Married twenty years, Joe and Terrie were both cherub-faced; Joe tanned with a trim goatee and Terrie flushed red-cheeked with a snub nose. Grins and chortled laughter flowed off them like a bountiful snow-melt stream. They were larger-than-life throwbacks, whisked straight off the pages of Life magazine, circa 1967’s Summer of Love.

Joe and Terrie Anderson, champions of the PCT and chefs of taco salad, as photographed by Tommy "Twerk" Corey.

Photo by Tommy “Twerk” Corey.

Blazer located her gear and took a Hawaiian shirt from the twenty left on the outdoor rack. Hikers clustered all over the front yard, draped over one-off lawn furniture or sunk deep into couches weathered as if they, too, had come 500 miles. Freshly cleaned bodies were awash with beer and good spirits. Blazer heard about the oil wrestling the night before. She saw the mat, a large blue tarp. She tried to envision Terrie in the thick of it. Off to the side a sweet smell of smoke lingered. It felt languid, benign, an all-enveloping, welcome way station.

Later with bellies full of taco salad and down puffy jackets pulled tight, they gathered around Joe and Terrie and the two told their “story.” Years before, on a day when Joe was making a big pot of vegetable soup, by happenstance he discovered that a PCT hiker migration ran practically right past their doorstep. That’s how they’d first opened their house and the surrounding seven acres of manzanita and oaks to hikers. In no time they’d made it their own cause célèbre.

When Blazer readied to leave the next morning there was one more ritual as requisite as the Hawaiian shirts, a thru-hiker rite of passage. Standing in front of the Casa de Luna banner which by now they all had signed, Joe and Terrie took Blazer’s picture. The instant before Joe snapped the photo, Terrie, fiftyish and large-boned, made an angelic turn, dropped her drawers and mooned the startled hikers.

Hugs. Food. Love. There was no question. The title “Guardian Angels” won out.


Terrie Anderson in her own words: “Please don’t avoid us. It’s peaceful in the campsites out back, far from the house.  Come stay the night. There’s taco salad for dinner and pancakes for breakfast. I’ll take anyone back to the trail if they’re uncomfortable.” In the hallway of their single-level, not-quite-kempt house is a dusty frame set with insignia and badges. It’s from Joe Anderson’s youth.  Joe’s an Eagle Scout.

2021 Author’s Note: Terrie and Joe Andersons’ reign of hosting hikers ended in 2019. Memories of a stay at the Andersons are now the stuff of legends. The two are sorely missed.

Photo by Tommy “Twerk” Corey.

Continue reading Blazer’s story in Scout’s book, Journeys North. Twerk’s website is tommycorey.com.