So I just went through one of the longest days ever in one of the hottest deserts ever. The fly is the mosquito of the desert. Back in East Texas, there were clouds of mosquitoes so thick that I couldn’t stop the bike for fear of getting eaten. When the light shined through the trees at the right angle, you’d see ‘em. Clouds of them hovering above the ground like a buzzing, vibrating mist. It’s the same deal here, except the dots are black and the forests are beige. Flies also don’t leave bumps after biting.
I broke a spoke today. Can you tell which one is the replacement job? I don’t have the tools to remove the rear casette hub and smoothly slide the new spoke through. Instead, I had to twist and bend it around the hub by hand. I like it, actually. Looks kind of artsy and still works like a spoke. It’s super-dangerous and needs to be replaced ASAP.
Other technical difficulties included wind and water. I’m still running out of water as I write this. Always running out of water. Will need to sip until I’m 21 miles West of my current location in the morning. A kind-of-dangerous situation. Must keep self-control.
Wind and hills are to blame for making today one of my slowest days ever. I think it officially was, but I’ll do the math later. I left Blythe at 8 a.m. hoping to get to Brawley, 90 miles away. So let’s do the math. At 7:15 p.m. I dialed Jim telling him I wouldn’t make it, so after 11 hours and 15 minutes I travelled 70 miles for a daily average speed of 9.3 miles per hour. Actually, I don’t think that’s my slowest. It’s pretty slow, but not my slowest. When I was slower out of Del Rio, I stopped earlier. There was still civilization to take advantage of.
Now I’m in the American Sahara, the Sonora. I’m shocked by two revelations: the sheer awe of experiencing that thing really exists, and also that there really is nothing here. It’s the desertiest desert of them all, the natural landscape is as alien and lifeless as possible. The built environment is haunting– there was one store in-between my starting point and my ending point. It was closed. The vending machine out front wouldn’t take my wrinkled-up $5 bills.
I am as you are, wandering through the dunes and staring into a glowing black matrix of multicolored dots, pondering the meaning of words thought up hours ago. Question: do I think in AP style? Did I pass under two layers of editing and revision that slowly got messier towards the bottom of the page before transforming this part of me into bits? My headlamp is scanning across paper pages, its reflections dancing about my polyester canvas coffin like skittering insects.
Let’s see where this ontological stream of thought leads us. To Brawley? To food and water and chairs for buttrest? To lush mountains and the well-populated suburbs outside of Diego? Either way it goes, it will lead to my last day out here in the desert. It will lead to the end of a weeks-long gauntlet of survival in America’s harshest environment. This is the end, my only friend, the end.
Question: when is one’s stream of consciousness mutually excluded from one’s stream of basic physiological needs?
I am as you are, cowering and lounging behind the glow of an always-on dual-serving entertainment and surveillance machine. Will the rangers find me out here in the dunes? Will they make me move, or will they bring me water and food and gee whiz that would just be swell? I’m camped next to their station– empty though. No water spigots on the building, either. I got caught out in darkness. Biked all the way from sunup to sundown to make it less far than I wanted to go. I think I saw a sign by the side of the road that said I could camp here, but now that I’m here I’m seeing “no camping” signs everywhere. My bike is locked on one, actually. I feel like such a rebel sometimes– like a real rebel, a stealth-camping guerilla revolutionary. I’m really not, and when I think of that, I don’t feel like a rebel anymore.
I am instead on a journey on you, fueling myself and my machine through a place neither of us should be. Both of us will wake up covered in sand, but we’ll just have to deal with it. The bike has it easy, what with its lack of a gastrointestinal system. I’ll be parched. Sip only. Must practice self control. I think I have just enough to make it there, but no more. If you’re reading this, then that means I made it.