So, let me start by saying that I have heard from several people that I do not update you folks enough, especially those short, fun updates on facebook, as well as pictures. I will endeavor to do a lot better, but please keep in mind that I do not always have connectivity.
I left off my travel story in Barstow and the horrifically expensive showers. I was waiting for a check that I thought would be there the next day, but it took 4 days for the check to arrive and I was going crazy nuts. Then it arrived Saturday afternoon, and Sunday morning I was back on the trail. Staying those days at the truck stop were interesting – on the one hand there was nothing to do, on the other hand I had a magnificent night time hiding spot that I also hung out some at during the day. It was nice and relaxed and I actually enjoyed the quiet. One evening a desert fox came across me accidentally. I scared him more than he scared me but he was gorgeous and cute. Giant ears; and a color much like the sand.
Sunday I finally got back on the trail – and well, I must admit, Barstow is not for the casual tourist. Apparently Barstow is a way stop for many, and has an enormous homeless problem – with all the drugs and crime that carries with it.
Right out of the truck stop a young man with an ugly tattoo on the side of his neck stopped and offered me a ride, I politely declined. Then he asked if I wanted to earn some money on that fat ass. I didn’t know my hand could respond so fast, but before I even knew it I had my bear spray in hand, with the safety tip off, and told him to move on, which he did.
Going through Lenwood, a suburb to Barstow also had me on my toes, it was clearly an old, decrepit and depressed area and I was aware of needing to keep an eye around me. Getting in to Barstow I desperately wanted to have that check cashed – mind you, it was a postal money order for only $258, it was not a big check. No place I stopped through my ten mile walk would cash a postal money order. I stopped at major grocery chains, check cashing places, western union places and no one, not a single person would work with postal money orders. And I was broke, counting nickels type broke. I also needed water. At one point I was looking for a place to ask for drinking water and passed Desert Ambulance, the place was clearly open and I figured they would be willing to give me some water. A man in his fifties or sixties came out the door as I headed towards it and asked what I wanted. I smiled and started to introduce myself. Before I even got to my name, or what I was doing he interrupted me and told me he helps no one! Then he ran to his fancy BMW, jumped in and sped off. My jaw was literally at my feet over the level of rudeness and arrogance! I walked next door to the slightly more grizzled and tough looking tow truck folks; introduced myself and asked for some water. I got a camel back full – thank you! Sometimes it is not the best dressed people you want in your life!
I managed to walk 10 miles, looking for a place to cash that darn check, and then later for a spot to sleep. I didn’t feel comfortable in Barstow and wanted to be careful. It was getting dark, but as long as I had side walk I continued to walk. Then I ran out of side walk, and didn’t want to walk in the dark like that. Right at the last minute I saw a big stand of low hanging evergreen pines. I could get over there, even though there was a fence around the huge empty lot. I knew it was probably empty private ground, but didn’t care much. Those pines were a perfect hiding spot. Initially, I thought I wouldn’t have space to lie down and still be hidden, but they formed a wonderful cave, and I was surprisingly comfortable.
I was so relieved that I would be joined on the trail the next day by Nancy – as I knew she would help me find a place to cash that check! I was up with the birdies, because I didn’t want to risk being seen and went over to nearby Walmart – no, they do not cash money orders either. Then I waited for Nancy who joined me just after 8 am. We headed directly to the nearby post office – and apparently they only cash their own checks if they happen to have the money in their drawers. If not – they shrug their shoulders and tell you to come back later. Then I went to a bank – no, they wouldn’t do it either. Finally, Nancy and I decided to eat and go walking, to return to the post office later in the day.
We hit the trail and it was fabulous, because Nancy showed me a short cut around the marine base. We were on dirt roads, but my heavy gear was all in Nancy’s car and that made me happy. In spite of that, I did not walk all that well, and we only got in 5-6 miles by 2 pm when we were picked up by Nancy’s son, Eric. We had a great time though, talking, laughing and telling cute stories – a few of which were slightly x-rated.
By 2 we got picked up by Eric and went back to Barstow. We immediately returned to the post office – and “well, shucks, sorry Ma’am, we still don’t have enough cash for your check”. I was fuming mad and had steam coming out my ears. I now know that postal money orders are not always honored by the US postal service. Nancy finally took me all the way back to Victorville for the night so I could cash my check. That gave me a chance to cook for Nancy and her family as well so that was fun. I also got a SHOWER, did laundry and slept in a real bed. Yummy!
The next morning Nancy took me back to the trail – Thank You Nancy for all your help! I was back with feet on trail by 9:10 am, and got in a solid 8 miles before I found a nice ditch for the night.
I woke up this morning to clouds, heavy wind and a hint of rain in the air. It was hard to roll out of that warm cozy sleeping bag, but I was back on the trail by 8 am. The weather today has remained cold, windy and threatening rain. In fact, the wind was several times so heavy that I had to hang on to my Cadillac and make sure it didn’t overturn. Another 7 miles got me in to Newberry Springs, ahead of the rains. They had a subway sandwich so I was thrilled to sit down and hoped to update all you folks with my travel stories and some pictures – when I realized a small mountain is right next to me and that is wiping out my cell phone connections, so I will have to wait with posting this. I also realized I had another flat tire – Thank you so much to Penny who made sure I had fresh inner tubes for my tires. I had to figure out how to change the thing though, and that took a little time (and some cussing, especially at the pump which really needed separate instructions to operate). I am all proud of myself for figuring it all out on my own, and my tire is now all freshly changed. I am back in Subway hoping for the rain to settle before I find a hiding whole for the night. Let’s pray for a night with no rain, but just in case, I am buying giant plastic bags to use to protect my stuff. Tomorrow, I head towards Ludlow which I hope to reach in 3-4 days.
Pictures are coming just as soon as I get better weather and connectivity – I promise, scouts honor. I am now in that desolate stretch of the Mojave Desert that everyone warned me so loudly about. So far I have done well, and Nancy has promised a water drop or two when / if needed. I should be fine!