2004-06-09-0220Z


Well, I broke my rule of not sleeping at night. That's what rules are for, right? The rest area was quiet, well-lit, and seemed safe enough. I lay down on the wide concrete wall and got maybe an hour or more of sleep. Then once I collected myself I headed for Blythe, California. The goal was McDonald's for breakfast, if I remember right; a lot has happened since then. I'm typing this from the Kinko's in: now guess first! Bzzzzzttt! Nope! Effing Mission Valley! What happened? Did I sprout wings and fly? No, even more incredibly amazing than that! I got a ride! But let's get back to the story.

It wasn't all downhill to Blythe, but it wasn't too difficult, either. After only a few miles the lights of a city were up ahead; and before too long I was looking at the bridge over the Colorado River. I was also looking at a sign that all vehicles must go through an inspection point. Uh-oh. I wasn't sure bicycles were allowed on that bridge, remember it's an interstate route. But I figured I'd wing it, first just get out my trusty flashlight to show as a headlight. Hmm, it's not in my left cargo pocket as it should be. Maybe I put it in the other pocket? Nope! I lost it! My $30 waterproof, no-batteries, LED-lamp flashlight that never wears out! Gone! Damn damn damn damn damn!

Well, pull yourself together, Intrepid Wanderer. So forget about crossing with the traffic. Now I see that there's a walkway, I just have to hop a fairly short fence, maybe 4 ft. high. Threw my stuff over, first the laptop bag, then the bicycle, and finally my own arse. Made fairly sure I didn't lose anything else in the process, and started pedaling across. When I got to the end it looked like it was fenced off, but I continued and it was open. Good. Got around the inspection point. Down a dirt hill, and started following the road but wasn't at all sure where it headed, so turned back around and entered I-10 again at a place past the inspection area. I didn't take the first exit, nor the second, I was looking for Mickey D's. There it was, at the third exit as usual. I guess McDonald's makes a point of always locating at the westernmost entrance to a town. At least here in NM, AZ, and CA along Interstate 10.

It was already about 6AM, so they were open for business. But what? No $1 breakfast items? What's going on? Oh yeah, this is California, they stopped that here some months ago. Well, it was good while it lasted, in New Mexico and Arizona. I got the sausage-only biscuit or McMuffin, can't remember, for $1.69 or so. I decided then to change my schedule so I eat breakfast after 11AM, either that or have my bananas for breakfast instead of later in the day.

After breakfast I went looking for a park. Blythe isn't a big city by any means, but I couldn't find it; up one street and down the other, I stopped looking for the park itself and looked instead for a phone booth with a phone book. No goddamn phones, either! Finally I found it outside the donut shop I had already passed. Freaking Verizon phone book, probably no map. Yes! It had one, and it showed where the park was. Got there a few minutes later. And these blithering idiots were starting the sprinkler cycle! Fine time to do it, just when the town is waking up and wants to walk through the park. Well, I waited till the first section was done, lay out my tarp on the still-wet grass, and lay down to sleep. And what a sleep. Best I had in days, maybe weeks. Woke up refreshed and no aches and pains from sleeping on concrete or hard-packed adobe mud; grass makes a much nicer bed. Plus I didn't have to cover my face because there was a nice shade tree under which I had positioned myself in such a way as to be awakened about noon, when the sun would clear the branches. Perfect. The sunlight playing on my eyes through the leaves woke me gently and happily. It's good to be alive!

Back to the phone book to find a library. It gave the address, but I couldn't find it on the map. So back to McD's for lunch, and talked to an old guy there who knew the city well. Turns out it was just on the opposite end of the same park. So went back and checked my email; the only thing I remember interesting was from RentACoder saying that my bid had been accepted. But I had deleted that bid! Something's fubar with their software. I noticed it before but thought it was only cosmetic; deleted bids still showing up in the "My Bids" section, and automated emails telling me someone else won a bid (even though mine had already been retracted). But now it turns out that the buyer either didn't know I had deleted the bid, or he knew but the software allowed him to select me anyway. Well, I responded to the email telling them what I just told you, but now I'm not sure if it went to RAC or to the buyer himself. This Kinko's apparently doesn't have free net access so I won't know until tomorrow at the earliest, unless after midnight I decide to spend part of my $8 to use their paid net access. Not bloody likely. I had to do my laundry today, with $1.75 wash not the 50c there was in Phoenix; I'm gonna be pretty hungry by midnight, not much chance of having money to spare tomorrow. Anyway, I told either RAC or the customer that I wasn't going to have reliable net access for another week, so there's no rush.

After filling my water bottles, I left the library and headed to the end of town again. Got on the entry ramp and was unpleasantly surprised to see the sign forbidding pedestrians, bicycles, and motorized bicycles from the interstate. Of course, that didn't stop me; I preferred to interpret it as meaning in the roadway proper. Of course bicycles can use the shoulder. Of course!

Well, I got about 5 miles out, sweating my ass off (remember this is still fairly early in the day), first found a quarter, then not long after, a dime; getting back on my bike after picking it up, I notice a red pickup stopped in the shoulder ahead of me. What's this? A lady who looked a lot like Cher, on the passenger side, had the window rolled down and asked me if I needed anything, could I use a ride? "Sure, I'd love a ride!", repeating the words I had once tried on a sign to no avail; but let's forget about that one for now; I jumped in, her man, a tough-looking dude, told me to get down so the cops couldn't see me. I was thanking them profusely, and told him I'd help with the gas, he said to forget about that, "just don't get me pulled over".

They stopped several times for bathroom breaks, food and gas. Her name is Zora and he's Ron. He spent 10 and a half years in prison for something, didn't ask what, but I don't care, they're damn good people. Nobody else even pretended to offer me a ride, not even that day I was out of water, wind in my face, 10 more miles to the nearest rest area, and made that sign which hundreds of people blithely ignored. I had already consigned all of car-driving humanity to the hottest regions of hell, but Ron and Zora saved your sorry asses. You can say your prayers to them from now on.

Anyway, they said they were going to San Diego. I decided right then and there that LA could wait for another time, and told them that would be just great; turns out what they had in mind was actually Oceanside, still part of San Diego county but farther north along the shore than I had ever been; doesn't matter, they saved me at least a week of pedaling, and the trip, though not altogether comfortable underneath my bike, my legs alternately cramping or losing circulation, was short and sweet. The last hour or so was getting pretty cold as we approached the Pacific, but I was dressed for it.

They dropped me off at the Denny's in Oceanside, I thanked them again and we went our separate ways. It was easy to find South despite the cloud cover, just keep the ocean on my right. Mile after mile, it started a cold drizzle and my pleasure at getting the ride was severely dampened but by no means erased. By daybreak I had reached the beach at Torrey Pines State Park, where I had planned to take an ocean bath but due to the cold decided against it; instead I took a brief nap until the restrooms opened, and went inside to apply my Escabindex, the Mexican brand of Benzoato de Bencilo that my lady had bought me. I later realized I must have left the bottle in that restroom. Damn, I'm starting a very bad habit of leaving things behind. That's worrying me mainly because I had to remove my ring due to swelling, and am now wearing it on the keyring where I have my bicycle key, attached to a plastic ring on my fanny pack. That's one thing I'd really rather not lose.

Through the park, down the hill on the opposite side, finally stopping in La Jolla at the Mobil Mart next to a Starbucks. Resisted the urge for my favorite Espresso Brownies (another log on the bonfire of my vanities), and instead had a hotdog and coffee at Mobil for less than $2 total. Got back on the bike and pedaled. And pedaled. And pedaled.

By the time I got to Ocean Beach it was mid-afternoon and the sun was breaking through the clouds. Perfect! I had my bath, a very quick one believe me, in the cold Pacific, and gathered up my clothes for the laundromat. About an hour later, feeling more civilized and without, hopefully, a noticeable odor, I made my way back to Old Town and after some searching and asking around found a McDonald's; had two of the dollar double cheeseburgers and then went to Ralph's for bananas. Still hungry, and it's very early in the day; back to McD's for a hunger-killing coffee, and tried to take my mind off my stomach by singing along with the muzak. They played some good songs among the trash, notably Gerry Rafferty's Baker Street. I had enough for another double cheeseburger, which I bought about 6PM, and then one cookie for 42c another half hour or so later. And then I was out of cash until Midnight. I'm gonna stick to this budget no matter what. I started towards Mission Valley, and got here not more than an hour later. Probably not even an hour. Man, it's so nice having a bicycle to maneuver around SD! It was OK walking with that roll-around flight bag, but this is worlds mo' betta. I can get lost a lot quicker, and then get back on track again that much quicker. It's fucking great.

Well, still three and a half hours till midnight and I'm running out of steam. Not sure what I'll do now; head downtown, maybe, or to Chula Vista and Imperial Beach, or stay right here in Mission Valley. Haven't heard from my lady for a few days, not sure if she's still in Florida or she's already in Rosarito; I'm sure I'll hear something sooner or later. I can't ever be sure if she still loves me or not but it's fairly certain she won't forget someone who has fucked up such a big chunk of her life... so when she has a chance she'll write.

Getting back to McDonald's: say what you will about the quality of the food, they are the only fast-food restaurant I know of which is very consistent with their dollar menu. Burger King, by contrast, is clearly a follower and not a leader in this regard. Every now and then they'll make a lame attempt to trump Mickey by putting the Whopper on sale, but McD's quickly, in Arizona, countered with a dollar Big N' Tasty, the same thing. In Phoenix the BK's didn't offer the whopper for a dollar, but a double cheeseburger, so Mac had them whoppered. They never win. And often, they just give up, as now in California where the dollar items are the lame Whopper Jr., some chicken nuggets and two wimpy tacos. McDonald's has had the dollar double or better for well over a year now nationwide, as far as I know. Maybe some regions haven't had it, and they of course don't offer it in airports and other such high-rent areas, but I know for sure South Florida, Southern Cal, Arizona and New Mexico. Plus they often give me the Senior price (45 cents or so) for coffee without my asking, and today I found out that they sell the cookies one-off and not just 3 for a dollar. And they refill the coffee as many times as I dare ask (never gone beyond 3 yet, but maybe I'll try for 4 one of these days). For a person on a strict budget, old Ronald is a hero. My arteries may be filling with grease, but my hunger pangs are normally abated.

I guess that's enough for now. If you're like me, you see a long-winded post like this one you'll just skim it or skip it anyway. Later, buds. Hey, don't take it personal about my rants about motorists. As I said before, I was one too, and so whatever I say about any group to which I ever belonged I say to myself. Or in my conversation with Chris and July one day in City of the Sun: "I don't deny I'm full of contradictions", when asked about my aversion to driving and drivers but still insist on my computers. We all have our own reparations to make with Gaia, and I'm just trying to whittle down my future obligations without sacrificing anything I'm not willing to sacrifice.

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last updated 2013-01-10 20:24:10. served from tektonic