Strait thru the Mojave

Trip Start Jun 01, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , California
Saturday, June 18, 2011

Driving westward through the Mojave Desert while listening to George Strait just felt right.  After my power nap in the Grand Canyon visitor's lot I was feeling recharged, although still a little thin.

I stopped in at a couple of the small towns on this particular stretch of highway 40 - Williams, Seligman.  I noticed the same thing at both of them: very friendly people.  I stopped in Williams to get gas and a cup of ice to keep the few perishable items in my ice chest cool.  The woman inside was very friendly and when I came out, I was surprised to see a man washing my windshield.  "Well hey there!" I said.  He greeted me in response.  I motioned to the rest of my truck, more colored by speckles and spatters of mud than of white paint (thank you, Crested Butte), and asked him, "So, you gonna wash the rest while you're at it?"  "Don't push your luck!", he smiled.  "So you just feeling like being helpful?"  "No, I'm the owner of the shop.  We try to get to everyone that comes in, just like in the good old days."  Amazing.  Approaching Seligman, I was lured in by the A&W signs for a cold cup of root beer.  Same thing - friendly, helpful people.

However, I also made some less optimistic observations.  All of the workers I saw at these establishments were older, some of them probably well into their 60s.  And here they are, working at a A&W/Convenience store combo taking the orders of tourists and travelers who are just stopping through.  It saddened me.  I hypothetically imagined my grandmother, living in a small town in the middle of the desert, flipping burgers or distributing change after a purchase of a Rock Star and Snickers bar.  Is this the only fate that some people have?  No education, no marketable skills (or least nowhere to use them within the area), stuck, trapped, forced to work such an unfortunate job?  Now, I don't intend this in any way to sound judgmental or condescending.  Although the people I came across were all helpful and friendly, are they happy?  Are they content with where they have come?  Or are they actually as demoralized and frightened as some of their eyes betrayed them to be?

Kingman.  Another ridiculously hot town that appeared to be filled with chains.  (sidenote - perhaps there was an unconsciously intentional play on words: fast food chains, keeping society in chains, trapped, tied down... or maybe I'm stretching a little too far).  But I fell for it.  Starbucks.  Check.  In N Out.  Check.  I was parked next to a racing Lambourghini, covered bumper to bumper with stickers and endorsements.  Two other similar vehicles were in the lot.  It didn't take a genius to know, immediately after entering In N Out, who the vehicles belonged to: the bulging biceps, crew cut, designer sunglasses, two-size-too-small-black-t-shirt douchebags with the bleach blonde, bogus boobed, nose-jobbed, booty shorted women hanging off of their sides.  I turned and laughed, hoping that they didn't see my reaction to their ridiculous appearance.  (It's amazing I have never gotten my face beat in considering the number of times I have had this reaction to bro-bras everywhere).

Driving over the Mighty Colorado and across the California state line while listening to Duran Duran just felt right.  Needles, Barstow... still desert.  Not until reaching Victorville did any semblance of leafy green plant appear, more the California that I have known in the past.  I was surprised to see mountain tops still boasting a bit of snow in the distance.  At the feet of these mountains lay my next destination.

Wrightwood.  A "quiet, close-knit Southern California community nestled in the San Gabriel Mountains".  A quaint little place.  Felt a bit like a retirement community.  Don't piss off the girl you're dating, cause she's the only one in town kinda of place.  Only about a dozen people under the age of 30 in the town, most of whom lived at the Larkhouse.  A buddy from Beaver Creek was living there short-term while working with a company that designs and builds ropes courses - ziplines!  He and a crew of 7 or 8 others worked 12-hour days, climbing and dangling from trees, lashing and cutting and shooting sawed-off shotguns to run lines, getting covered in pitch head to toe, all living together in a large house on Lark Road, the so-called Larkhouse.  Let me tell ya - there's nothing like spending time with a group of fit, tanned, surfing, rock-climbing guys that don't like to wear shirts to make you feel like a fat slob.  Girls, you probably wouldn't complain as much.  I definitely would not if the roles were reversed  :)

At roughly 6000 feet, Wrightwood provided some much-needed coolness after a scorching drive across the desert.

The "Night Life" of Wrightwood consisted of the Coon - where any female who unknowingly or unsuspectingly ventured in to such an establishment was soon surrounded and accosted by ravenous mountain men, and the Inn - a depressingly humorous blend of horrible music I haven't heard since grade school, karaoke, one bartender that looked like Santa Clause, another with a cattle prob (no joke), and a cheesy lazer light show that rivaled the best of Pink Floyd, all wrapped up with the 1.5-mile walk that I could recall about 100 yards of when I woke.

The next day included a pleasant hike off of the breathtaking Angeles Crest Highway.  The hike culminated at a beautiful clear waterfall, including lunch, a cold beer, a quick dip in the frigid pool that formed at the waterfall's base, and sun drying on the rocks.  Nothing like hanging out with another dude in your underwear.  On Pride weekend, nonetheless.  But, it was the first "shower" I'd had in a couple days, and I wouldn't have one for a couple more.  If you are wondering why I did not bathe at the house, may I remind you that 7 grungy, nomad, surfer guys live there?  I'll take my chances with the fish and snowmelt!
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Mom on

Absolutely amazing photos! I envy you - not that I want to travel - but I do envy your fearlessness. BE CAREFUL!

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