On Wednesday morning I awoke to a frozen egg wrap and a fruit smoothie
with more heavy whipping cream than fruit. With the sun on the city of
Brawley I could quickly see a city of composed of mostly migrant
workers and prison guards. I struck up a conversation with a lady at
the coffee shop and she said she was a stretching teacher, I asked her
if that meant a form of yoga and she said that technically yoga is not
allowed at school so she has to tell everyone that she is a
stretching teacher. I finished my breakfast and was blessed by the
local Pasteur before I set out for the day, “that will be for the
heat” I said to myself as I left.
Leaving the city, I cycled passed the surrounding by farms. Date
palms, alfalfa, and cotton are grown all over the Imperial Valley and
are irrigated by canals branching off of the Colorado River. The farm
country was a color change from the desert but soon the lush
countryside gave way to rolling hills and sparse creosote trees. The
desert is a strange place, water vapor and reflected sunlight give way
to “mirages” and at times it can look like the road ahead is flat a
free of obstacles, when really there steep climbs and mountains to
cross. The road ahead took me through the sand dunes of Glamis, during
the winter time it is not uncommon to find tens of thousands of
“Duners” off-roading and racing in the sand. The air hot and dry and
the sand blew strong off of the dunes, in some areas the road was
completely covered by sand. It was hard to imagine that the winter
time could be so busy because there wasn’t a soul out there during the
I stopped for some refreshing brews at the store and continued the
journey on to Blithe. My knee pain (now identified as an I.T Band
issue) continued to cause me pain and there were several occasions
where I had push Gaby up steep hills. Walking is harder than pedaling
in the heat, there is no breeze to cool you down. I finally arrived in
Blithe and rode to the “B and B” bait and tackle shop where I had
organized a place to stay. The bait shop had been converted to a
business in the mid ‘40’s and sold live gold-fish and crawdads to the
local fisher man. When I arrived a birthday party was underway and
half the town was hanging around on the grounds drinking beer, and
barbecuing meat. The town mayor was there and we had an argument over
trash burning regulations.
I pitched my tent on a manmade island in the back yard about ten feet
from the canal, and slept in the warm summer night.
I spent the next day swimming in the canal, helping with the store and
advising my host on how to rewire a few things on the property. I
struck up an interesting conversation with “Dan the guitar man” and
learned about “scrapers”. The city of Blithe is surrounded by
government land used specifically for military training, “scrapers”
drive out to these locations in camouflage vehicles and retrieve the
following; scrape metal, abandoned equipment, and other forgotten
items. Many times these “scrapers” are chased off by motorized
military vehicles, arrested or shoot at by personal, but several have
survived to tell their story including “Dan the guitar man” of Blithe.
The next day I hitched a ride with some new friends who were on their
way to a scatter a friends ashes in Yarnell, AZ. There was a cooler of
beer in the back seat of the pickup and by the time we got into the
city of Congress, AZ (about 60 miles away) all of the passengers had
finished off a 12 pk of beer. From the city of Congress I went on my
own and my new friends bid me farewell from the local bar where we
toasted Jack Daniels Honey whiskey at 2 pm. A family friend lived
close by in the city of Wickenburg, so I forced myself to cycle a few
miles in my torpor to the North End of town where we met up.
While resting in Wickenburg, AZ I made a trip to the day spa, and got a message from a physical therapist. He asked me before going in if I wanted a “soothing” or “therapeutic” treatment, and I told him that I wanted the treatment that would get me healed the fastest…. bad idea. I get undressed and under the sheets, and he asks me if he can change the music to something that helps him focus, “what do you think about metal” he asks, “hmm, sure I can do that”. The phony bamboo garden soundtrack is interrupted by a double bass drum, and growling vocals, here we go I thought. About an hour later, and after almost flying off the table a few times I lie on the table and wonder how to put the pieces back together.
Tomorrow is the two-year anniversary of my fathers passing. I will be heading to the small town of Superior where I hope to find a tree to sleep under. Weather forecasts are predicting a spike in temperature beginning tomorrow and Saturday is supposed to be 117+. It seems that while I have been resting the desert has been having a cool spell. I feel the happiness that comes with travel, and have been witness to the rut life can get you in. Wherever I go, I carry a sense of gratitude and compassion. We all need a break, or just a sincere laugh to get us away from the pull of this world. I have seen it so much in the last few days, and I haven’t felt the same way many times in my life. My dad always found money on the streets, and for a while I wondered how he did it. I soon realized that his mind was in the present moment, and that there are fruits no matter where you are.
Keep your head cool with a ziplock full of ice in your hat 🙂 Or stick a hand towel in the freezer if you’re staying at someone’s house and take it on the road with you… probably won’t last long in that heat but at least it’ll give you a little boost.
*wrap the wet hand towel around your neck