The thing about travel is that it exercises your resilience. At home, if you’re lucky things stay pretty much the same. But traveling, the unforeseen happens over and over.
We left home on Thursday. It was an easy drive down to southern Oregon. On Friday, on a glorious sunny day we drove over Siskiyou Pass and down the Sacramento River to West Sacramento. So far, so good. On Saturday we got lost twice and stopped in a lot of strange places, ending up in Bakersfield, where we checked into a hotel that was fully booked, but we had a reservation.
There was a gathering of motorcyclists. But not just motorcyclists. They were Harley riders, and some of them appeared to be contesting who had the noisiest bike. Other than that, they just enjoyed each others’ company and ignored the rest of us.
Then we discovered we’d left our jackets in the hotel in West Sacramento. I called twice, but they couldn’t be found. Both Andrea and I have had enough experience to know that once something is left in a motel room, it drifts downstream and is never seen again. But that was my favorite jacket, with my favorite pair of gloves. I worked on reconciling myself to the loss and hoping that whoever ended up with the jacket came to love the jacket as much as I had, during which time there was almost continuous noise from the parking lot outside our window. The really loud bikes shut off fairly early, but the signature thump-thump, thump-thump of a Harley would continue on and off into the evening. And some of those bikes had truly impressive sound systems.
We were exhausted from the day’s drive down highway 99, but we didn’t sleep well. We were still reconciling ourselves to the loss of the jackets and trying to ignore the Harleys. A small party was going on down the hall, but it evidently broke up about 1 o’clock.
In the morning, the stink of oil refinery clung to the parking lot. We packed up and set off across Tehachapi Pass, heading east into the desert.
The lighter traffic and the sunny sky and the open spaces helped. We had a light lunch in Barstow while the car was charging, shrugged off the LA-to-Vegas traffic, and set off across the Mojave Desert to Arizona, listening to an audiobook by Robert B Parker. We stayed overnight in Kingman in a blissfully quiet motel and slept deeply through the night.
Heading east again, we had pie and coffee at one of our usual stops: the Road Kill Cafe in Seligman. We charged again in Flagstaff, then went by REI to see if we could replace our jackets. We had no luck there, but across the street we bought a sandwich to share from the Wildflower Bread Co. (We were still pretty full from the pie we had two hours earlier, and half a sandwich was more than enough.) Then across the high desert of north-eastern Arizona.
Tonight we are in Gallup, NM, happy to be here, happy to have made it this far, happy our resilience is not tested more severely, happy we don’t live in a war zone, happy our troubles are small ones – just glad to be alive.