The night inside the bivy was still slightly chilly, but much better. See, genius? It's worth the extra effort required to, you know, climb inside the damn thing!
|Casa del Dirt|
|Having a live chat to Germany from here. "Viva tech! I hate you! No! I love you! I'm so confused! Hold me..."|
Got moving and packed up around 7am then had an unexpected treat: a Facebook Messenger chat with Chris. He's recently taken the in-person reins off his Andes hostel and arrived back in Germany to spend time with his fiancé, Cathrin. Ian's now on location and running things in Peru while CEO Chris is in the process of beginning a new chapter after nearly 5-years in South America.
It was nice to catch up and I had to laugh. Technology's changed in 8-years! A live chat from a Nevada desert nest with a buddy half way around the world? Ha! Thinking back to the early travel days, that's astounding. We could have video chatted if we'd wanted to!
I also realized just how little attention I'd paid to photography in favor of video! That needed to change. Video's fun, but I'm no videographer! And it takes a whole lot of battery to produce.
Eventually I got inside to execute the charge/write/Subway routine, and finally decided to half way "try" to get moving. Translation: I moved from my table across the parking lot to the Flying J's exit. I hung my new "Barstow" sign on the shade tree, plopped down, and began contemplating options.
Specifically: Baja California. A land route thru Mexico and back to Central America.
This idea had been bouncing around since Las Vegas. I'd had conversations with my friend Amber in San Diego about paying a visit then taking a day trip on Tijuana where I would just grab a bus down the peninsula to get away from the border. The problem: she was leaving on a trip of her own 10/25 and, while I'd brought my passport, I still wasn't properly geared. Things would need to be sent home as well.
In reality, The Mexico Option also reanimated my vocational dilemma. It still felt silly to go to Mexico, Guatemala, and wherever else without a "real" camera. It feels weird to say I'm a photographer now, but I am. Shouldn't I be, you know, actually "photographing" if I take another Latin American trip? Especially after the successes of Peru? The trouble with that is simple: I'd have to stop down for several weeks in order to replace the camera. This didn't sit well, especially after the existential epiphanies of the previous day.
And, to be honest, I wondered if I were just lazily defaulting to the familiar. Five Latin American trips encompassing every country from Mexico to Peru since 2011; sure, I was relying on experience and method, but let's be clear: hitchhiking the US is what's "new" and unfamiliar again! See: Tin Man reference!
That being said, on this sunny Saturday in the Nevada desert, I felt myself subconsciously guiding the USS Toddzilla back to Mexico. If it were even a month earlier, I'd no doubt already be moving north. But, that was becoming more out of the question with each passing day. The later in the year it got, the more it seemed that my only domestic options were California, Texas, and (ugh!) the Dirty South and Florida.
I've never had any urge to hitchhike the Confederacy. And, after my shitty experiences volunteering after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, I'd chosen to personally boycott Mississippi out of disgusted spite.
Mexico? Yup. Made sense. Maybe that should have been interpreted as a red flag. Time will tell.
Setting the GPS
Morning became afternoon and I decided to call Jeff in Phoenix. I wanted to let him know that if his invite was still open, a visit was a definite possibility; maybe impending. I also needed to be sure he understood that I'd need to be making and receiving shipments from home and that at least one dreaded REI trip would be necessary! He seemed to be all about it.
This conversation basically locked Phoenix into my metaphorical GPS. Having several days to decompress and write would almost certainly help make my Mexico decision.
The next question: bus or thumb? That decision could be deferred as well. No matter what, I was going to have to hitch the 100 or so miles to Barstow.
But, not today. The afternoon was hot, and I already knew the last bus from Barstow to Phoenix left at 6:40. So, as 4:00 approached I threw in Saturday's towel and resolved to get to the actual exit ramp early on Sunday. Time to make it happen. Sounds a lot like Wednesday night and Thursday!
But, my day wasn't finished.
The Flying J's staff was by now familiar with me, so I struck up a conversation with a cashier after I returned inside and finished some video editing. I needed a shower, so asked how that worked. Were the shower only for truckers?
This particular cashier was a righteously obnoxious smartass. I liked him immediately. He just laughed, with a playfully mocking tone, and said anyone can use them if they want to pay the $12 fee. Yes. $12. For a shower. But the showers are glorious! And, let's be honest, after a week on the road, I wasn't exactly smelling like Summer's Eve.
Having luck with the shower, I asked about the little room with plush seats and power outlets I assumed was the trucker's lounge. He pointed and made it clear, in his adorably obnoxious way, that I was welcome to use it.
The Cubs-Dodgers series was resuming in a few minutes. Game 6 was in Chicago and the Cubs were on the verge of clinching their first World Series appearance since 1945. I was watching this game! I'd already downloaded the FOX Sports app expecting to stream it in the bivy from Casa del Dirt. To hell with that. I now had power and fake leather! My night got even better when a trucker came in, grabbed the remote, and switched the lounge's TV over to the game. Score!
I watched with three quiet truck drivers, each were noticeably mesmerized by Donald Trump's anti-Clinton Benghazi commercials. It was actually quite funny. As soon as "Benghazi" hit their ears, all their heads turned toward the screen in unison. It was as if it were choreographed (some would argue it was) and reminded me of cocker spaniels hearing a far off dog whistle!
They were also leery of engaging me in conversation because of the backpack and the assumption that I'd eventually hit them up for a ride and/or money. I saw Jean's harassing road rat in my mind and wanted to kick him in the spleen. I just wanted to talk baseball!
The Cubs indeed won and were on their way to the World Series against the Indians. A classic matchup that would begin Tuesday. I now had a soft timeline to get to Phoenix, even though I could stream it if necessary.
Go Cubs, go! I bought a celebratory Snickers, went outside to prepare for the trek to the nest, and was then treated to an encore performance of Flying J Theater.
Tonight's parking lot drama: "Love on the Outside" brought to you by the Nevada Department of Corrections. In this thespian masterpiece, we had a sketchy hitchhiking couple featuring a righteously skanky damsel in distress who'd been kicked to the vagabond curb by her tough love parolee.
Here's some of the high decibel Shakespearean dialogue that's sure to inspire future generations of Broadway writers:
"You're nothin' but a two bit whore who's good for nothing other than sucking dick!"
"You think I'll die out here, motherfucker? We'll see how one of these truckers like the way I suck cock. At least maybe he'll appreciate it!"
"You stupid bitch! I should have left your crazy ass as soon as I got out!"
"Like you could find anyone else! Who else wants your loser ass? I'm the only the one who stuck by you thru all your prison bullshit!"
"Fuck you, cunt! Jimmy was right. Nothin' but a cheap fuckin' whore!"
"You're probably sucking Jimmy's dick every night. You two are a couple of prison fags!"
**Enter casino security stage left**
Are you still wondering why I do this?
Unfortunately, that wasn't quite the end. Our dangerously frustrated, felonious leading man, we'll call him Shanks, decided to storm off to the trucker's parking lot in a psychotically desperate and futile attempt at finding a ride. He then sat down and planted himself directly between me and my nest!
"You motherfucker!" I muttered. Very quietly.
I was now blocked from Casa del Dirt; there was NO WAY I wanted this questionably balanced critter watching me wobble into the desert thereby knowing where I slept.
So, I sat down next to the Flying J's back entrance, looking remarkably sketchy myself as a result, and waited. Thankfully, he didn't stay long. Ten minutes later, he stormed back toward the gas pumps out front. I trailed, far behind, to see what he was up to. It looked like he was stomping toward the exit ramp. When I knew he was far enough away not to backtrack in time to see me before I was in the desert, I hustled over the fallen chain link fence to the safety of the nest.
I laid there for about 20-minutes before sliding into the bivy and falling asleep. I barely noticed some clouds rolling in. "That's a nice change" I thought thinking maybe the sun would give me a break on Sunday.
A change? That's for sure. Nice? Not so much. It was a change that ultimately helped set the theme for this little adventure's next chapter...