Monday, November 7, 2016

11/7/16: Election Eve On The Santa Fe Trail

Albuquerque-Raton, NM

It wasn’t a restful night, but I slept well enough in my creepy dirt nest. The first thing I noticed when waking up at 6:30: everything was soaked. Again. This time, rather than condensation: desert dew. Since I’d slept outside of the bivy, the sleeping bag bore the brunt. As did the uncovered backpack. But, moisture aside, the sleeping bag rocked again and the shell kept its insides dry. Still, I again needed to dry it before stowing it for very long. At least I was still at a Flying J. Easy fix.

The second thing: a car parked nearby in the nothingness! It was just 40-50 yards away and sitting directly beneath the massive sign luring I-40’s traffic to the Flying J. I don’t know which creeped me out more: a car so close to my nest or that I hadn’t heard it pull in!

“Whatever, Adventureman. The sun is up. You’re visible. Everything about this nest is creepy and generally uncomfortable. Quit gawking. Get moving. Dumbass.”

Sunday, November 6, 2016

11/6/16: "Bus, Bus, Foreigner's Tour Bus"

Flagstaff-Albuquerque

After my creepy 4am awakening, the frost coating the bivy convinced me to stay snugly in my sleeping bag for an hour struggling to get more sleep. It was still dark, I had no idea how to deal with the frost layer before re-packing the bivy, and the condensation inside the bivy sack had collected onto the sleeping bag. All new complications needing to be dealt with. And the sun wasn’t even beginning to rise.

I purchased this particular bag in Phoenix because Big Agnes marketed the Bellyache Mountain as having a water resistant outer shell as well as containing “water repellant down”. I’d hesitated switching to a much lighter weight down-bag before because they’re traditionally known to be useless once they get wet.; the down would clump in older bags and they’d lose their ability to retain heat. But, over the last few years, technology has developed to combat that significant problem. If Big Agnes’s “Downtek” worked, the weight/packability would make one worth the investment. Despite the considerable condensation, one thing was certain this Sunday morning: the moisture hadn’t penetrated its outer shell and gotten at me. And it still felt like a furnace! So far, so good. I just didn’t want to extract myself! But, I wanted to spend another night in Flagstaff far less.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

11/5/16: "Remember, Remember the 5th of November"

After almost two weeks, on Flux Capacitor/Guy Fawkes Day, it was time to get moving. With Standing Rock as a tentative “plan” (ha!), we decided north from Phoenix was the best option and around 11am we packed Dexter The Dog into Jefe’s truck and took I-17 toward Flagstaff.

Compared to Nevada, I-17 has an abundance of suitable hitchhiker drop zones once Phoenix’s sprawl is left behind. Jeff generously decided on Camp Verde, 90-miles away; only an hour south of Flagstaff and my new target: I-40 east. Meet the new goal. Same as the old goal.

Friday, November 4, 2016

10/24-11/4/16: Phoenix, AZ - El Jefe Revisited

Some backstory is in order for those who have joined the party since 2010. Jefe and I grew up in the same town and have a history running back to the first Bush administration. He moved west in the late 1990’s, and we managed to stay connected by phone and me paying infrequent visits before and after I myself moved west in 2004. When Chris and I decided in January, 2010 that we’d meet up at Slab City , in the California desert near the Salton Sea, I Dirty Dogged from Santa Fe to Phoenix so Jeff could join us for a night or two. He was there when we encountered Leonard Knight and Kevin Eubank and I believe he even met the infamous Ray. We then occasionally got together in 2013 while we lived in Tucson. For whatever reason, La Casa de Jefe is frequently on the way! We hadn’t seen each other since my move to Chicago in late-2013, so a visit seemed likely from the moment I landed in Las Vegas.

We quickly got re-acquainted, which is never hard, and things quieted down significantly over the next several days. He worked while I spent the mornings with his dog and cat updating my blog, editing video, and contemplating Mexico.

Monday, October 24, 2016

10/24/16: Phoenix - Go Forth Boldly, Young Man

Aside from a rather comical episode of sleep/smartphone induced disorientation leading me to spend 5-10 minutes believing I’d slept thru Phoenix and was arriving in Albuquerque without my backpack, the Greyhound from L.A. to Phoenix was uneventful. I arrived just as the sun rose and spent the next several hours at the terminal waiting for Jefe to get out of work and pick me up.

IMG_6298

Bus stations are never “ordinary”. The collection of humanity gathering at Greyhound always make for superb people watching, and Phoenix is no exception. Along with the typical strutting examples of facial tattoos and recently parolees, I did meet one interesting, familiar character.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

10/23/16: Barstow, CA - Jad, Drifters, and a Dirty Dog Escape

The clouds kept things warmer overnight. I was finally snug and toasty and climatologically undisturbed inside the bivy until around 7:30. I got moving immediately. Just as I finished packing up stray raindrops fell. They didn't stick around, but it was a prelude of later.

I finally had a goal: southwest on I-15.  Barstow. Of course, when hitchhiking there is no way to plan anything. So, I'd just take it a step at a time and let my arrival determine the next move. From Barstow, I was inclined to hitch at least to Flagstaff. But, it's rarely easy to switch interstates and always a crapshoot. I knew nothing useful about the I-40 situation other than there was (apparently) only one direction to go: east. Route 66's killer dies itself it Barstow.

Inexplicably, I went inside to charge and write. Somehow, I'd actually forgotten the 12:30 Barstow Greyhound that would be the best option for both Jeff and I once I arrived in Phoenix. He works early mornings, and an evening arrival would be easiest on him. And me. I wouldn't have to lounge at the luxurious Dirty Dog terminal.

After putzing around for 45-minutes or an hour, I suddenly realized my idiocy. I topped off the water, decided to forego Subway, and hustled over to the exit ramp for the first time hoping some good luck got me to Barstow by noon.

Few things about actual hitchhiking are consistent. One is: expectations and "hoping" that the hitchhiking gods mercifully conspire to assist my pre-conceived plans never works. Whenever I feel like I "need" a ride by a certain time, I never get it. The Hitching Gods have their own ideas. They've repeatedly made it clear that my "plans" (ha!) mean squat.

And thus it went.