Wednesday, July 27, 2022

September 25

I was ready to be done with North Joshua Tree BLM when I again woke up in a pool of sweat Sunday morning. Today though, I would be reentering society after forty-eight plus hours of unmitigated sweating and took my second van shower since hitting the road at the end of August. Of course, I had showered at stops along the way wherever possible, but this was to be my second official van shower. Doing the van life thing you learn very quickly to use your water as if you had to walk five miles to a well to replenish this heaven-sent life sustaining resource. Conserving this precious resource, you learned to get by with baby wipes and generally be dirty. You also have to accept wearing dirty clothes and washing your dishes with just a few drops of this liquid gold.Although hot water was available by way of the van’s water heater, I chose to skip it and just deal with the cold water. Despite all the sweating the cold water was still a shock, but not all that unfamiliar. Growing up in a one-bath house with nine siblings a cold-shower or two was inevitable. When I was done I felt like a human again and was ready for re-entry into society.

It was football Sunday and the Bills were playing the hated Dolphins. With the time difference the game would start at 10am, which I absolutely loved. I found a place in Twenty-Nine Palms called “Fans Sports Barand Grill,” which was a twenty-minute ride from North Joshua Tree. I went and checked it out, but it wasn’t open till10am, which was fine since I needed gas and groceries.

Besides paying five bucks a gallon, getting gas was fine. What wasn't so fine was another unfamiliar grocery store—Stater Bros. After walking around in circles for a bit in Stater Bros.  I flagged down a nice female employee who helped me find some salsa and dental floss. I’m glad I had squared away the nail clippers in L.A.

It was right at 10am when I got to Fans and all the stools at the bar were populated by Chiefs fans watching their game against the Colts. I looked around and the plethora of TV's and all of them were set to the Chiefs game except for a large one opposite the bar at the other end of the room which had on the Raiders v. Titans. A young kid in a Raiders jersey and his girlfriend were in front of that TV, but they were mostly making out and not really watching the game.

A guy in a Cowboys, Amari Cooper jersey came up to me and asked what I was looking for and when I told him the Bills game, he pulled a clicker out of his pocket and hooked me up with two TV's—one in front of me over bar entrance with the sound down and one behind me with the sound up. He got me an Irish red draft and apologized that his normal cook went into labor this morning and was having a baby and her replacement wouldn’t be there for another hour, which was fine.

What wasn’t fine was how the Bills game played out—losing to the goddamn Dolphins after holding the ball for forty minutes and putting up over four-hundred yards of offense. It was weird to be among a group of people and be the only one interested in the game I was watching. Mary the bartender, who was a sweetheart, was in a Saints jersey and they were losing to the Brady and the Bucs. More Raider fans showed up and they were losing to the Titans and the Chiefs were losing to the Colts. It was a bar full of losers except for this one guy sitting across from me quietly cheering on the Eagles to a 24-0 win over the Commanders.

Oh well, the Cali Burger with avocado was good when the replacement cook showed up and I was among Chief fans who also had a WTF loss.

From there I went to the Joshua Tree Laundry. I don’t know about you, but I love the laundromat. There’s always characters at the laundromat and the bustling JTL was no exception. Right away, there was an older lady with a weathered face in a bandana who singled me out as I looked for a washer and pointed to a heavy duty one and said, “That one’s free.”

Of course, I followed her suggestion, which was really more of a command. So did a young guy who was looking for an open dryer. She pointed to one in the top row and with a certain amount laundromat expertise she kind of snickered and said, “That load is a three quarter load.”

There wasn’t any seats in the laundromat that wouldn’t invade someone’s space so I went outside and sat on a bench adjacent o the front door. A thin old guy with long white hair wrapped in a bandana named Terry sat down next to me. Terry didn’t have laundromat business. He was just kind hanging out at the little plaza which had other shops and a Mexican restaurant. He wore a red “Charlie Daniels Band” t-shirt with a big hole in it that exposed his slight mid-section. This wasn’t a fashion statement—it was a t-shirt with a hole in it. He told me right off he had recently lost some friends who had been in Vietnam. I expressed my condolences and then he asked me if I believed in God. I gave him my stock answer—“I don’t discount the possibility of God’s existence.”

Terry then got heavy with me about voting and how the world is on fire. I thought to myself, everything he’s saying is true, but the Bills just lost to the fucking Dolphins and I didn’t want to deal with the world is on fire bullshit now and politely exited the conversation and went back inside where my load had three minutes to go.

When the three minutes were up the lady with bandana nodded toward an open dryer on the bottom row and I followed her direction.

I saw Terry had gone so I went back outside. Three black boys maybe like twelve or thirteen came up to me and asked me if I had change for a twenty. I did and gave him two tens. When the transaction was complete the kid I gave the tens to, who was the smallest of the three boys said, “This in that n----‘s twenty,” and looked at his friend or his brother or whoever he was like he was running a scam. Not only didn’t I appreciate that kid dropping the n-bomb, but I failed to see the scam and it must have showed on my face because the n-bomb kid just laughed and they moved on. Maybe he was just trying to get a rise out of me by using that provocative language.

Pondering that as I sat there a family pulling a big thirty-foot trailer pulled up. The dad went inside and took care of the laundry and the mom stayed outside occupying the kids by walking up and down the plaza. The kids were very young, like one and three. I smiled watching the young one try to negotiate a curb. Unsure of her footing she very creatively she sat down on her bottom, wiggled her way forward and then put her feet back on the ground and stood up. The mom smiled at me, smiling at her little girl. The older girl also picked up on my smile and started to show off a bit by negotiating the curb in a normal grown up way. It was sweet.

With my laundry done my plan was to stay in the actual Joshua Tree Park for the night. In the morning, before moving onto Flagstaff, I was going to look for Cap Rock, where Gram Parsons’ manager unsuccessfully tried to burn his casket. But there was no internet inside the park and I wanted to hear about the late NFL games, so I made the executive decision to spend a couple of hours in the air-conditioned Starbucks on Rt. 62 sipping an Americano and then head back to the North Joshua Tree BLM where access to the internet was perfect.

I also went back because, you know, I need to hate on and complain about things. 

How we got here...
An Ode to Fire and Donna
Chronological Posts From The Road 
Going Mobile: What We Learned
Our Rig: A Pictorial Essay

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