Okay, not literally, especially when your van is persistent on dragging you onto the right shoulder. When you realize that something is seriously not right whilst driving the 75 mph speed limit proceed to follow these steps:
Step One: Don’t Panic
Step Two: PANIC
Step Three: Call Dad when you realize you have cell service.
My first recommendation to anyone wanting to embark on any kind of serious road trip, is to have CAA / AAA. I have CAA Plus and it carries over to AAA. It’s a sure peace of mind when you know help (or a tow) is just a phone call away. BUT, as you venture throughout the desert, it is good to have an idea of your cell coverage, as if this incident had of happened any sooner, I would have been pulling my bike out and pedalling down the interstate to find cell service, or a state patrol would have hopefully found me sooner.
After a solid four days off the grid amidst Joshua Tree National Park, it sure was a wakeup call coming back into the real world. JTree is something out of this world though. While I was among the park I was able to get in a ton of hiking, riding and of course bouldering. After a ‘shoulder season’ of pretty committed bouldering/climbing at the local climbing gym in Collingwood, I was feeling fairly confident in my strength and ability. But, here’s the reality. It’s like saying ‘hey, I ride a spin bike regularly, so I should be able to mountain bike’. And then you get on a mountain bike and feel like you have never ridden a bike in your life. That’s the reality of transitioning to outdoor bouldering and climbing. Not to mention, the monzogranite rock will shred your hands in a matter of minutes. Challenge accepted.
Coyotes are pretty common within JTree. As I jumped from a failed attempt at a problem, I looked up to see what I thought was someone’s dog. Nope, guess again, but I think we equally scared the crap out of each other.
I was hoping to land a site in Hidden Valley or Ryan Campgrounds, but unfortunately they are pretty coveted spots among climbers. I opted for a semi-private, level spot in Jumbo Rocks, which boasts some pretty neat rocks features in itself. It is also amazing how open people are to mingling (in a non creepy way) when you are travelling solo. I became camper-friends with the group, also living the Van Life, in the site next to me. They welcomed me to sit in on their campfire after someone swiped my well hid firewood from my campsite. It’s a sure laugh sharing Van Life experiences with other Van Lifers.
There is a ton of trails and climbing options within the park, so it’s pick your own adventure. Unfortunately there are no designated trails for mountain biking, but you are able to pedal on any of the roads (paved or dirt) throughout the park. My third day in the park I committed to riding out to the top of Keys View for a spectacular view beyond the park.
Note that the haze in the distance is from the Salton Sea. I quickly checked out Bombay Beach, the lost town of Salton Sea, before entering JTree. I felt like I had entered the set for an episode of the Walking Dead, and was ready to doge zombies at any minute. There is something eery, yet drawing to this mainly abandoned little town. If you have five minutes, Google the history of it.
So back to Goldilocks. The van is currently getting a front wheel bearing replaced, while I hang out in the lobby and reflect on my time is JTree. So not an overly damaging hit, but it did require that I get a tow from the middle of no-where. Being stuck in a small truck cab with a random guy from the area, the Driver was actually one of the most interesting people I have talked to on this trip so far. He had some really neat stories, and tidbits on places to check out once I venture up to Utah, where he is originally from.
For more inside #VanLife details, follow miniiadventures.com
And always remember, home is where you park it!