So there is a word for it…
(Source: icanread, via shewhofearsfailure)
So I tried to make a break through the weather last night and failed badly. I got absolutely soaked. Most of my stuff was in plastic bags inside my backpack, so most of what was packed is actually dry, but everything I was wearing is drenched.
I was worried when it started to pour, but there wasn’t much to be done about it. I thought, “Hey I’m in the desert, it’ll dry quickly, and I’ll continue on my merry way.”
After the monsoon stopped, it got cold. This was what got me. I started to shake and I couldn’t get dry or warm. So eventually after deciding it wasn’t going to just pass I hit the emergency button on the GPS beacon I have.
And I waited.
Eventually, I thought no one was ever coming and actually laid down to sleep by the side of the road. It started to sprinkle again, just a fine mist so I jumped up, started putting gear back on the bike (packing is kind of thing, when you’re carrying a load the way I am) as fast as I could. Just as I am getting ready to strap everythng back together an ambulance pulls up.
By this time the sun is up, I’ve changed my jacket, changed my shirt twice, I’m finally dry from the waist up, I’ve taken a half hour nap and I am halfway back to normal, and the paramedic is now asking me what’s wrong. So, embarrassed, I explain that I was in a bad way a few hours ago, and was getting ready to leave because I thought no one was going to come.
They were actually cool about it and canceled the call (meaning no incident report or bill) and gave me a ride back to town (which is way better than 30 miles from anywhere and soaking wet).
So, it actually IS cooler at night. This is not always the genius solution it sounds like. You can hear the rattlesnakes (and cicadas) from the road, but I count myself fortunate not to have seen any. You can use a flask of scotch and a handkerchief to disinfect wounds, but cover them immediately to avoid attracting bugs because even insects know that scotch smells awesome. Domestic dogs are kind of the scariest animals around; rural folks don’t care much for leash laws. Just because the flash flood warning is lifted doesn’t mean the weather is clear. Emergency responders don’t show up in 8 minutes or less when you are 30 miles from the nearest anything. Always change into dry clothes as soon as the rain stops (had I realized this was probably viable I wouldn’t have been bordering on hypothermia). Last, it’s hard to make smart decisions when you’re exhausted.
The larger problem is, what now? I would have been asking the same thing had I made it all the way to Parker, but instead I find myself asking it in 29 Palms. I never had much of a plan, a calling maybe, a direction, but no route or timetable. Looking east from here is like looking over the edge of an abyss, one horizon is the same as the next really. While the hills do look lovely in the moonlight, and it’s hilarious how the scrub seems to line itself up like properly farmed rows (if you’ve seen late June corn in the Midwest you know what I’m talking about). The simple fact is I’m not sure this is viable, even if I make this leg, the next will likely be harder. 20 or 30 miles is not really a difficult ride, but to cross the US I would need to be hitting 100 with similar ease (I have yet to hit half that in one day).
If this is what God wants of me, I’m not sure HOW he intends me to accomplish it. How being the more immediate question, but why is also on my mind. I’ve sometimes tried to accept that He wants what He wants, and I’ll understand in the course of time but this seems such a larger thing than any other task I’ve undertaken. This isn’t my first rodeo. I’ve been displaced on His behalf before and ended up actually serving God in ways I haven’t been privileged to before or since. It was fun, I saw people’s lives change (some of them deeply and with long-lasting effect, others I only crossed briefly), and it was fruitful. I saw a part of His kingdom that few ever will. Walking away from a few worthless baubles to do the Lord’s work is a joy and a privilege…yet after all this I find myself confused, afraid, and doubting more now than I did then. I left L.A. thinking I was a veteran in this war of ours, and find myself a trembling observer instead. Pack light, but bring your humility, lest you find a fresh supply.
Weirdly through this time I’ve actually been much better at keeping up with daily bible readings. It still seems a bit extreme just for bible study but the one crowning measurable achievement of my last “adventure” was that I read the Bible, cover-to-cover, for the first time in my life. After many attempts, and getting distracted, sidetracked, bored, bogged down in lineages (seriously, skim those unless you’re looking for something) and generally procrastinating I finally found myself devoting time with breakfast and dinner each day to actually study. It really was a whole different understanding of God, and changed my outlook on many things dramatically.
Since I feel I am now the unofficial determinant of the quality of the establishments I pass, the McD’s in 29 Palms is pretty nice. The library sets their lawn sprinklers to waste a LOT of water. (Pet peeve).
This link seems to work better -
The original link I posted has given some people some issues checking the map function of where I am and where I’m going. This link seems to work better.
So Joshua tree is like riding through an oil painting, if the oil painting was the inside of an oven instead of canvas. It’s really pretty, and I’ve seen 2 roadrunners (actual, factual, Road Runners!!), a bunch of lizards, a couple of hummingbirds, and more jackrabbits than I could count.
The empty miles between cities is a little unnerving. It’s like being out in the middle of an ocean of sand, with waves of hills and mountains. The stars are like nothing I’ve ever seen, and I genuinely regret not learning more about how to navigate by them, because for the first time I understand how you really could. It’s not like in the city when you can see Orion if you’re lucky. You can actually see that we’re part of a galaxy.
Turning your eyes toward terra firma is just the opposite. It’s suddenly so obvious that the world was here before us, and we’ve shaped, and molded, and made it what we want it to be. In some places of course we’ve worked wonders, and in others we’ve ruined much. It’s just so strange to see the world we live in for what it is, rather than what we’ve willed it to become.
There is one enduring sign of humanity (besides the asphalt) out in the middle of nowhere. The windmills. Seriously I had never imagined seeing windmills the size of what I see out here. They must be 150 ft tall. and pushed by a 30 mph wind (which you hope is a tailwind, and not a crosswind knocking you over) and there are fields of them that fill entire valleys like so many blades of grass in a meadow.
At some point I hit a rough patch of road and got off to walk (because sometimes that’s the only way to go forward, so that’s what you do). Not stopping to think that my shoes are brilliant for riding, and great for a few steps through rough terrain (I have SPD’s with wicked cleats) but AWFUL for hiking - was not smart. I probably went barely a mile and now have a line of red blisters across my heel.
I ended up getting a ride over one hill that night (woo-hoo for hitchhiking) and slept in a parking lot, and got a ride over the next hill in the morning. Not only did the second guy give me a ride, he gave me a WAY better route that paralleled 62 (the highway I’m taking) but had zero traffic the whole way. I’ve been really blessed getting directions from locals, and people who know the roads.
So eventually I turned off at Indian Cove (Joshua Tree national park), just to get out of the sun. I never actually went past the ranger station and since A. I’m broke and B. there’s no one there to ask anyway - I never found an actual campsite. I just posted up at the picnic table behind the Ranger’s station, and I didn’t really see anyone all weekend. The Monday morning Ranger was coming in as I was packing up this morning.
Also, the “Oh gee, I’ll ride in the morning so I won’t hit the heat” was almost a total fail as it was 90 degrees before I got 5 miles. I have vitamins that are so melted they taste like burnt vegetables. Powdered gatorade, amazingly, seems to withstand the heat pretty well actually.
I had forgotten how during these times, I seem to find it much easier to keep up with reading my Bible.
Laundry is an adventure unto itself on the road. The lucky thing about the heat is you don’t need a dryer, just take a quick nap and when you wake up your stuff is dry and ready to be repacked.
I found a whole new kind of yoga - I call it the “sink shower pose series.” It’s exactly what it sounds like, and I smell substantially more civilized now. If you’re in Palm Springs they have a visitor center that’s surprisingly nice. The McDonald’s kinda sucks though.
I’m also realizing we can fix half of all of Southern California’s problems by outlawing sprinklers. Seriously. A massive water shortage looms, and we have an automated system to waste our water for us, because we’re too lazy to actually waste the water ourselves. Genius.
There are several routes east from here…one hits the Grand Canyon and the Katy trail, one goes right past my parents’ house (which I’ve never seen)…decisions, decisions. I just want the flat easy to pedal route that won’t get me killed. I have no desire to ride a bike through the Rockies. I like the Rockies, I like riding, but mixing the two doesn’t sound fun at all.
I’ve been searching all morning and having a terrible time with Google maps. If you know an easy way to route around all dirt roads….please let me know.
So yesterday there was a weatherman talking about how it was going to be 108 today. So I made sure to get my behind indoors before it got bad out. Naturally it’s 84. My legs need a little break anyway I suppose.
Last night I stopped to eat at the top of a hill and met Michael (and his wife, briefly). I was drinking a can of soup, and they were returning home. Since there’s is the only driveway (and probably only trash can) for about a mile or two in each direction, he came out to say hi. It turns out he knows the roads in Southern California, and has toured most of them on a dirtbike. So he probably knocked ten miles off my trip thus far. If I can dodge the heat and the hills, I’ll pretty much be ok.
I probably won’t be going very far tonight, I need fresh legs when I finally hit the long stretch on 62…that one’s gonna be the roughest.
Bicycle Handlebars Outfitted With Glowing LED Lights
I wish I had thought of this.
So I got a spot beacon. A gps tracker (thank God my mom turned it on, because otherwise I couldn’t afford to activate it). The neat thing is it includes a tracking page so if you’re wondering where I am, just go here: http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=0mhje1q82nx2WcmcdIQ1DpKrqBMDl6jqt
You may need to play with the zoom to actually see what’s going on. If you know of anything in the area I’m passing through shoot me a text or email (or use tumblr’s ask feature) and let me know to stop and check things out!
Weird names: The device is named after a Shelti we had as kids, named Skye. If you’re searching fro my user profile it’s curtis31 , though i don’t know if that will prove useful.
If you want to be added to the list of contacts who get updates (it only holds about 3 messages, including check-in/ok) let me know if you prefer email or text, and if text, include your cell carrier (it’s a technical necessity). I regret not getting this from REI (they are the ones who told me about it, and I love their member refund) but I’m so glad to have it!!
Still not sure about photos etc. but I think I might try to get strangers to take pics and email them to me so I can include them? Not sure, but I feel better knowing Lloyd’s of London will send a helicopter to pick me up if the worst should happen.
Added bonus: if anyone steals my bike and accidentally gets the beacon with it, they get lojacked.
So as soon as it’s cool I’m taking off to see how far I get this evening. Say a prayer I can be halfway (or more) to Arizona tomorrow.
PS: It also updates my facebook, and the map that you get from the facebook link works with my computer, whereas the one I posted above is sketchy on my PC. http://www.findmespot.com/mylocation/?id=8mFyG
My beard is now a roadbeard, which automatically makes it better than your beard. Just so you know.