Post-Festival Road Trip, Part 3: San Fran, no, Zion, no, Joshua Tree!

I woke on the last Vegas morning when Molly did, she had intentions of finishing the paper up she'd started the other morning in Flagstaff. I quickly fell back asleep for another hour or so. When I woke again she was about done, I dragged her off and the two of us went to the buffet for breakfast, I'd been comped two free meals along with the free room there at the new Aria resort.

We filled our bellies, it didn't take much food to do so. Molly stuffed various bagels and other food into her purse, we brought that all back up to the room to feed everyone else. We began packing and talking about the plan, which originally was to head to San Francisco where we'd be meeting others driving up from southern california, those we'd met at Stagecoach.

The plan was far from stable, Walter was pressing us hard to camp in Zion. He had a flight to catch out of Vegas for Europe in just a day or so, this made San Fran out of the question for him. Olivier had joined our roaming group mainly for the thought of San Fran, as he was destined for Vancouver; he was soft spoken, but Zion or anywhere else certainly wasn't the thing for him. Sidney could care less as to our destination, as long as her gas was paid for. Molly and I could care less, wherever we were was the place.

That was the various stances of the five of us in Vegas, the other four in southern California were on the phone calling us crazy and laughing about it, but pretty much down for whatever. We went downstairs and checked out of the hotel, at this time all thinking we were heading to Zion. A phone call came in from southern California by the time we reached the car and suddenly our destination changed again, Joshua Tree for camping, this decision would stick.

Molly consoled Olivier in the parking garage while we played tetris packing yet another person's stuff, Walter's, into the already tight car. Joshua Tree was now in the complete opposite direction of Olivier's Vancouver. After some looking at maps and whatnot he settled a bit, thinking he'd be able to hitchhike from there anyhow, and the trip we'd had so far would make it all worth it.

A series of delays and stops would follow next. First a group of stopped at McDonalds in search of internet for Molly to add the finishing touches to her paper and email it in, Sidney took off to the Sprint store to deal with her phone once again. Internet could not be found, we only managed to jostle files from one computer to another.

Sidney returned with news that her phone would be ready in an hour. We took this time to head up town to a house where Walter had got a new camera mailed to, next we hit a gas station where we didn't get gas, and then a place to get oil for the car. We cruised down the strip in the bright sun, passing all the big casinos and all the way back down to the Sprint store for Sidney. While she dealt with that we were able to find internet and Molly managed to get done with the emailing of her assignment.

Sidney was still having issues at the Sprint store, Walter took off on foot for an electronics store, the rest of us went to a gas station and filled up the tank. We scooped Sidney, her phone was finally working now, we drove down towards the electronics store, accidentally getting on the freeway for a piece, then finally reaching where Walter was. Sidney filled the oil while I looked with Molly for a camera charger that the store didn't have.

Finally, we were on the road. Less than hour driving the car began to overheat, we pulled off into the shoulder. We popped the hood, it was smoking pretty good. We hung out a while waiting for it to cool down, a few of us climbed the embankment to discover the remnants of an old road leading to nowhere.

We made a sign that said "Coolant" and Molly got to jumping up and down with a big smile facing the oncoming traffic. A van full of spanish speaking guys pulled over, but they had nothing to offer. Soon after a big rig pulled over, he hopped out of the truck with a jug of water and a jug of coolant. Molly danced and cheered around him as he poured the liquids to ease our car back to good. He looked at her squarely and said, "If my daughter had as much energy as you I would have knocked her out years ago", we all laughed, even Molly who looked slightly stunned.

He took off and we waited just a bit longer for things to cool down, then we were on the road again. We stopped for beer in Barstow, then again in Indio, drinking some down until arriving at Joshua Tree in the dark.  We entered the park and lost phone service, on top of that Sidney informed us that we extremely low on gas, and we all knew there no gas stations for at least 20 or 30 miles.

Amazingly we passed Kirby and Earl on the road, they turned around and flashed us down. They'd been all through the park and figured all the campsites to be full. We decided to go searching, Molly hastily switched cars and rode with Earl during this. We drove all the way past everything and back to the freeway, then they decided to turn around again, looking for something, I'm not sure. We made it back into the park and to a Ranger station, Sidney worrying on her gas tank the whole way, I imagined we would have ran out at any moment.

In the parking lot there was discussion about campsites to try and our options, tension and stress built up from the day, I laid low and quiet with Walter - we knew we were in the place to be, we had beers after all. Molly and Earl took up to scout things out, the rest of us laughed about things while enjoying our beers, contemplating places to camp right there around the parking lot if need be.

The scouts came back with word of another full campground, they took off again in another direction while the rest of us carried on. They came back again with news of a overflow camping, we all hopped in the various cars and followed. We landed in a desert scene, not a joshua tree in sight, but a nice little clearing with the highway headlights far in the distance.

People got to setting up their various tents and whatnot, Earl took charge and scavenging for useful firewood, we'd all take turns helping him at different points. Olivier stayed in his tent alone for a while, I think he needed some time to himself after the turn of events.

The rest of us gathered around the fire passing around cheap weed, beers and gypsy wine. Earl and Kirby howled at the moon in homage to caveman days, Olivier eventually returned from his solitude and cooked hotdogs on a stick, Kirby shared food from a work party he'd "liberated". The wind picked up pretty good during the night making the fire erratic, this was around the same time the tequila started getting passed around.

Many of stayed up to witness the sunrise, an incredible one that had two distinct shows - one where the sun was actually peeking up, and a pink swirl of a show in the opposite direction behind us.

The next morning Earl packed his things, as did Walter and Olivier. We said our goodbyes and they took off, Walter and Olivier to be dropped off in different spots for hitchhiking - Walter heading to Vegas, Olivier heading towards San Fran and Vancouver.

This left just me, Molly, Sidney and Kirby. Mark and Elen were on route, planning to meet us there, we hadn't seen them since Stagecoach on the morning we'd decided to go on this road trip. I laid in the backseat of the car staying out of the sun for a part of the day until they arrived. We all had some drinks and caught up on our various going ons.

As the sun began to set we thought of gathering firewood, we all split off and found what we could. Elen had particularly rounded up quite a bit, I went back out with her, Mark and a flashlight to get some more. We came back with some pretty big pieces and stacked it all with the rest. Molly had passed out on Kirby's cot by this point, exhausted.

Sidney and Mark threw a big air mattress on top of her car, we managed to fit the five of us on there with the idea of star gazing. We did see some pretty impressive shooting stars, but mainly it was all giggling laughter and attempts to photograph our situation.

Kirby and Mark hopped off to get the fire going, I stayed up looking at the stars and talking to Elen, she had lots of questions about traveling, eager for a summer of doing so herself. Eventually we hopped down too to join the fire, Sidney remained up top mostly asleep. It didn't take long before I passed out next to the fire as well.

The next morning was a windy one, our things were blowing all over. Everyone slowly woke up and got to packing without much rush. After some sitting around and talking everyone finished packing and we had the last of the beer. Everyone else was heading west, mostly back home. Molly had booked a flight from San Diego to Phoenix when the original plan was to go to San Fran and get a ride south with Kirby who lived there.

We caravaned to the freeway, Mark had brought a couple jugs of diesel gas for Sidney for her to make it back to town. I hopped out at the freeway, hitchhiking east instead of west with them. I wasn't quite sure where I was going, Phoenix of Flagstaff was my guess. It was the end of that adventure, on to the next one.

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