I cant believe its been this long since I last posted a blog post. I guess this post will be long.
So, I left Ed and Mary for the second time heading up hill. The land was gorgeous but it sure was a steep climb. On my first day I made it to around two miles from Oatman when I settled in for the night. In the middle of the night I heard this strange sound that I just couldn’t figure out. It sounded like a bad ring tone, but I was fairly certain I was on my own. I finally realized it had to be the burro’s as the local donkeys are known as. They sounded hilarious and I soon went back to sleep.
The next morning, just as I started to pack up camp, the weather broke and it started to rain. It was a cold driving rain and I wasn’t too thrilled. I got my stuff covered with plastic and started to walk. I was lucky though, and soon Tom stopped and asked if I wanted some shelter from the rain. Tom owns the horses that are for rent right next to the fire station, and he let me sit in the fire station garage while it rained. Meanwhile some local burro’s came and said Hi. I was enamored.
Soon the weather got better again, and I started to walk. Tom stopped me though and gave me some warnings about the road ahead. He felt it was too steep, narrow and windy and that it might be a bit dangerous to walk. After listening to Tom I agreed to let him drive me a few miles. It was a windy road ahead of me, and Tom drove me about 6 miles til the other side of the pass. I walked a few more miles that day before I found a place to relax by the side of the road and sat down. Just before dark I started to set up the tent I had because I was still worried about the potential rains. Before I got the tent set up though, Martha and Skip stopped and offered me to get inside for the night, a meal and a shower. Yummy and wonderful stuff! I also did my laundry, and managed to cook a nice pasta dinner for Martha and Skip. Thank you to those two for their hospitality.
The next morning the rains really hit, and I got worried about getting cold and wet out in the wilderness alone, so Martha returned me to Oatman where Uncle Charlie agreed to host me for a night. I was grateful, the weather was dreadful, and the news promised more of it. Below Uncle Charlie and his charming neighbor.
So I got a chance to explore Oatman a bit, and what a charming town that was! Looking like an old western town right out of the movies, but of course, the shops were all touristy stuff with not much variety. The town was incredibly charming though and I enjoyed it.
That night I was warm and cozy at Uncle Charlie’s place, and I enjoyed some good company and conversations – as well as a “White Russian”, which is Milk, Kahlua and Vodka. Yum, Yum.
The next morning dawned blustery, wet, dark and nasty weather. It seems that the reality of bad weather in the Arizona high desert that several people had warmed me about was now here. So, I decided to return to Ed and Mary one more time to wait out the storm, and to start to winterize my pack. I had decided I still wanted to try and hit Flagstaff and Albuquerque but I wanted to make sure I could do it safely as I will without a doubt run in to winter weather – including snow. So, I returned to Ed and Mary’s place on a Friday, and they had planned to celebrate their thanksgiving with their family on Monday.
It was great timing, because I could help cook the thanksgiving feast and clean the house! I even got to make my own pumpkin pie which is yummy and I haven’t made it in a while. Monday we had quite a feast and a good time.
Tuesday I started to reach out to a few corporations asking for donations of product – starting to prepare to winterize.
Wednesday morning I prepared to leave again, saying my prayers that product donations would come through by the time I hit Kingman. As we prepared to leave Ed and Mary took me to the nearby Big 5 and gave me a big sleeping bag, winter boots, gloves and socks. Wow! I had not expected that, but sure am grateful.
After our impromptu shopping they drove me back up past Oatman. I opted to have them drive me about 3 miles past where I had walked myself, mainly because I agreed with Tom that this stretch of road really was quite dangerous, with many blind turns and no where for me to go if someone drove fast and dangerous. At the top of the pass I decided I repacked my cart with the new stuff and started to walk. I cheated with about 3 miles and 700 ft climb – sorry.
That day I made it to the same spot where Skip and Martha had picked me up and settled in for the night. It was a good little hiding spot and I was comfortable. The next morning – surprise of surprises – I woke up and there was a thick layer of frost on my sleeping bag. I hadn’t expected that, and I was nice and warm inside the bag. Thank you Mary and Ed! Take a look at the layer of frost on my pants that were laying outside.
And onwards I walked! It was actually not easy walking although it was all downhill. The road had some strong slants which makes The Cadillac very difficult to maneuver and it keeps threatening to overturn on those slants, and the downward grade was so heavy that I had to brace myself and hold on to The Cadillac. It was hard walking.
At the end of the mountain, I pulled over for the night, and found a really delicious hiding spot for the night. It was now Thanksgiving, and I called a few friends to wish them a merry one. As I spoke with Robin in Santa Rosa she offered to get me a tent. Yay! Further getting winterized – and a great big thank you to Robin and Paul, old friends from back home. Some pictures of my view from that hiding spot.
Now, knowing I would have to wait in Kingman for the tent I decided to really slow down – I also had a headache and I ended up staying in that particular hiding spot for three days. It was nice there, gorgeous country, and the nights were as always stunningly gorgeous. I also had a really good book that I enjoyed. All good stuff. It was a strange dichotomy though, I loved the gorgeous solitude but it was interrupted by bouts of grief and hurt. One moment I reveled in the solitude, the next, I felt lost, afraid and alone. Still, I already knew this would happen when I got to the wilderness. Dealing with the grief is better out there, than cooped up inside.
I finally got my act together on Monday and packed up to leave. I wanted to put a little more air in two of my tires – they weren’t flat, just a little low. Unfortunately the pump I have sucks, and when I screwed it into the tire it immediately let out all the air. Somehow I really struggled to pump those tires – because the pump kept the ventilator open so it seemed as much went out as went in. Yikes, now I actually did have two flat tires. And I was in the middle of absolutely nowhere. When, lucky me, a couple of German tourists in a big RV pulled over to look around. We exchanged a few words, and I explained my dilemma to them. I was just so lucky that they had a much better pump in their RV and presto – I was ready to walk. It is hard not to see the hand of God in these helpers.
It was midday though, and I only made 6 miles. One more gorgeous night, and another day walking dawned. And the wind kicked up, and man, that wind just kept getting worse. The Cadillac even got overturned once by the wind, and I had to lean in to the wind to stay upright. The sun was out, but that wasn’t fun walking!! My upper body was sore as heck holding on to The Cadillac!
I checked the weather on my phone and was horrified to realize there was a 50% chance of rain that night. I was not prepared for rain until I got a rain poncho and a good tent. I could handle the promised cold, even the wind – not rain. Sitting by the side of the road I kept wondering – now what. Get out of the elements any way possible, or brave it? Twice someone stopped and asked if I wanted help – but this looked like a rather tough and tumble bunch, and I was slightly worried about accepting their help. They seemed nice though, and kept passing me going back and forth so I started to consider it. By 4:30 the wind was crazy, I was getting chilled and really worried about rain so I accepted the offered help. This was a poignant reminder of what I have said the whole time. If I think twice about saying “no”, then I MUST say no and not question myself. I ended up – thankfully- not in actual danger, but in an extremely uncomfortable situation, that could have the potential for danger. My host was so alcoholic I have never before seen anyone survive that amount of alcohol. By 7:30 pm he was so drunk and high he was crawling on the floor to get around, and he kept replenishing his drunk throughout the evening. I was a little worried about my safety before he started crawling on the floor, but soon realized that someone so frail that he couldn’t stand up wasn’t an actual threat. I kept up regular – almost hourly – safety checks with Maureen, kept my pepper spray close by and toughed it out. How sad of a life would that be – I am sorry – but I would rather die than live a life like that. I was saddened but also a little disgusted. I was amazed, the next morning he acted normally again. I am sure this probably happens every night, but still….It was almost noon before he had me back on the trail again the next morning though.
Kingman was still two days ahead of me while moving slowly, but the news was that the tent would still not be there, so I continued slowly. I am not sure why Kingman is such a struggle, except it is hardcore uphill. Then – ahh – it is never easy. One of the wheels on my Cadillac broke 7 miles from Kingman. I need to replace not just the tubes but the entire wheel. Sheesh! So, I am back with Mary and Ed for the 4th time and invited to a birthday bash this weekend down in Yuma – I will take that offer. I have to wait for the tent at this point, and it will be well in to next week before I get it. I might stay here till then, or time when I start to walk again so that I know the tent is in Kingman when I arrive there.
Some other shots from this stretch that are too gorgeous not to share!