So, we left off in Amboy after my supply stop from Nancy. Ahead of me lay Essex, population of 8-10 people and Goffs that is equally deserted. Neither would have any services, but I was counting on people giving me water.
The walk to Essex took 4 days, one more than I expected, mainly because I was dealing with a lot of emotions. The desert held me in her arms and comforted me through the chilli nights. When I arrived in Essex it was completely deserted. I saw some buildings with signs that people were usually around, but no people. Eventually, I found a working tire shop and went in to ask for water, which was freely given. For the night, I found one of my favorite type spots – a nice gully – and was visited by a tarantula early the next morning *shudder*.
On to Goffs, which took me three days as I took one more day off. Goffs was as empty as Essex, but when I approached a home and asked for water, it was as freely given – and I was grateful. Goffs had a gorgeous ghost town ruin that I couldn’t help but hope someone will eventually restore.
At this point I have truly fallen in love with the desert – something I didn’t expect. It has a vibrant, harsh pulse under my feet as the desert sports extremes and lives, not in spite of, but because of those extremes. The days were bright, hot, burnished, making me feel my feet, the heat on top of my head and my breathing. The austere mountains around me stunning in their many colored hues. An experience of pride filled me every time I passed one range to see the other side of it, or a completely new range. The nights as cold as the days were hot, making me curl up to preserve my warmth. And the night sky, the night sky a truly divine miracle of unsurpassed beauty. In some ways the extremeness of the desert rivaled my own emotions as they passed over me and through me. In one phone call with Maureen, tears coming down my cheeks, I voiced out loud: “This, this is why I had to walk, this blessing, a gift from God”.
Unless someone chatted me up in the evening or called me I would easily be asleep by 8 pm, just to wake at 3 am marveling, almost stunned at the magnificence above me. I usually saw three bands of the milky way. The big and little dippers proudly displayed. The Pleiades just before the little dipper. I have also gotten adept at finding Jupiter, a very bright star at the moment and Sirius. Venus shimmers early in the evening. The movements of and wax or wane of the moon has gotten to a predictable friend.
Some place just before Goffs I realized one reason I had been dragging my feet for the last week was because I did not want to leave this area. Needles marked a major turning point of leaving California and soon after the Mojave desert. I felt such connection with the desert that it was hard for me to leave. I was also still in-love with a guy and hoping – against hope – that we would find some way to see each other one more time before I got too far away.
As I passed Goffs, and got the news, however cruelly delivered, that he really wanted nothing to do with me, I started to move a lot faster again, although the desert tucks at my heart still. Thankfully, I will be in desert territory for a while yet.
Goffs to Needles was accomplished in my scheduled three days, and it made me proud, this was three days of an average of 10 miles a day, without getting sore.
Some time before Needles one of the BNSF railroad workers named Kevin started to stop daily to ask if I was ok and give me cold water. Kevin became a genuine, and very sweet road angel with his daily check on me. The last day I saw him, he and the other guys had each given up some of their lunch to make me a bag of goodies. Which landed me several fruits, crackers and a tomato. Deliciousness. After Goff’s I got really lazy in my eating. I didnt want to use water to cook quinoa because I needed to make sure I had enough, and I was a bit tired of the general lack of taste in my travel pack. The result was I only ate nuts for two days before Needles as I kept fantasizing about the food I would get when I arrived in town.
Getting in to Needles I started doing my usual outreach – but did not find a host. I will however be interviewed by “The Desert Star” this coming Tuesday. I also tried the Chamber of Commerce and other options to get sponsorships, with no luck. The KOA campground did not want to sponsor me, and when initially asked didn’t want to let me shower there either. However, as I arrived in to Needles and passed them I went in and asked to take a shower one more time, and I was given the OK. Boy, did that feel GOOD. You guys, in your little homes, getting a daily shower have no clue how good you have it!
After my shower I continued the last mile or so towards Needles city. Ahead of me were several loud signs with chain food stores – among them a subway sign. About 1/2 mile from those signs I started not feeling well. First I was just a little generally weak, then dizzy. I knew it couldn’t be heat, the day hadn’t been that hot, and I had a nice cool shower. Pushing myself towards my destination did not help the general unease. About a 1/4 mile from the signs I felt scary weak, and managed to get my black duffel bag off the cart to sit on. It was barely in time, as my legs gave out under me before I sat down on the bag, and I had to pull myself back on top of the bag. I felt close to a black out, and initially confused at what had caused it. Someone saw I wasnt looking good and pulled over to offer me a gatorade, which I gratefully took and drank right away. This is not something I usually drink, but figured at that moment it might help, and it did. Within 45 mins I felt somewhat better. As I looked at the sugar content of that drink and contemplated my diet the last two days I realized my blood sugar had probably bottomed out. I was able to haul myself back on the road the last quarter mile to Subway for a sandwich.
It didn’t completely cure my sense of dizzyness and weakness though. It was getting late in the day, I was worried about finding a camping spot, and really nervous at feeling so weak. After going some back and forth I decided that between having been so hungry and a bad nights sleep the night before I probably just needed sleep, and should give that a chance first. There was a field behind me, although it was very close to the railroad with it’s noise, I decided to go find a spot to sleep. Thankfully, as I woke up this morning my hunch was right – food and tiredness had been the cause of yesterday’s malaise.
This morning I took it slow, ate some M&M’s and almonds and started to head out. I was lucky and almost immediately I found “Juicy’s River Cafe”. More a restaurant than a cafe, I splurged with some of my last funds and got a burger and fries. The food was delicious, the server and assistant manager wonderful as I asked them for permission to hang out for a few hours to get my gizmo’s fully charged, they readily gave it. After less than 2 hours the manager kicked me out though – polite, but very cold. They had plenty of open tables too.
Heading out and towards the Colorado River I found an amazing little park right by the river with a toilet, potable water and so many hiding spots I think I will stay around here tomorrow as well.