“Where are we?”
I turned around, my arms full of coffee, snacks, and new water bottles. A woman stood next to a blue sedan, a small toddler wriggling in her arms, while her husband fiddled with the gas pump. I smiled,
“Mojave,” I said, pausing under the 76 gas station overhang. The woman paused,
“We’re in the middle of nowhere, aren’t we?” She asked, resigned.
I couldn’t help but laugh, “yeah. Yeah, we are.”
I turned back and climbed through the fence to the cheap Motel 6 across the parking lot, trying to find my room key amongst my many pockets while keeping my coffee upright.
Mojave definitely feels like the middle of nowhere. Several chain restaurants dot the main route, interspersed with wide, empty parking lots, abandoned business ventures, and large clumps of brush which act as town seives, collecting trash in their thick brambles.
I’ve taken a room for a couple nights with another hiker, Johnny Walker, where we’ve arbitrarily decided to take a zero day. Our room faces the main road, busy with long-haul trucks boasting two to three trailers, and camper vans just passing through. A railroad track runs alongside it, hurrying freight by every forty-five minutes. Beyond, the hills are lavishly painted with countless wind turbines. These, I learned, were only built in the last four years, and locals are not happy about it. Private energy companies muscled out residences, putting up hundreds of humming turbines in their place. Energy is sold to companies and municipal governments in Arizona, Nevada, and other parts of Southern California.
Today, after breakfast with Johnny Walker, Blue, and two hikers I haven’t seen since Idyllwild 400 miles back, Motown and Stinger, I took (another) shower, finished up some laundry, and jogged across the road to Stater Bros for my next resupply. It’s funny how the small things in life–the commodities I took for granted–are so incredibly luxurious now. Cleanliness. Easy access to water. Transportation. Linens. Hot food. There have been several instances so far that I’ve turned down an opportunity to do laundry or take a shower because I’d just done it two or three days previous.
This last stretch of 142 miles marks my last in Southern California. Soon I’ll reach Kennedy Meadows, what is often considered the gateway into the Sierra. While I’ve really enjoyed, and even grown to love parts of the chaparral, I’m intensely excited to see what the Sierra have in store.