Monday, February 27, 2012

Day Five: Barstow to Twentynine Palms

Eight a.m. comes early, and off we went toward Twentynine Palms, a 100 mile ride. It was already no-coat weather, so there was no doubt the day would be quite warm. We drove to where we ended the ride the day before—at the top of that “We’re not going there” hill. Jeremy and Wesley got onto their respective bikes, and headed on Route 247 toward Twentynine Palms. The van and I stuck with the guys for about half of the day. Right off the bat was a climb—naturally! The combination of the heat and the gentle hills sucked the hydration right out of the riders, and I was sent ahead to get fluids as they went through their usual day’s stock.

I am simply amazed by the amount of wide-open spaces in this part of California. I am reminded of the rugged individualism that abounded in the early California settlers. At first blush there is really a whole lot of nothing out here: monochromatic browns, tans and dusty greens. But there is also very clean air and deafening silence.

For those who have never been to Twentynine Palms, the “city limits” sign is pretty far away from the actual town center—it’s a stretched-out town build on gentle hills overlooking the Marine base which is obviously the city’s main industry. We had been instructed to set up at Luckie Park and there was a speaking engagement for Jeremy and Wesley at a town center.

Luckie Park is named for a Los Angeles physician who referred World War I veterans suffering from lung problems secondary to mustard gas exposure to the clean dry desert air. It’s a cute little place, with nice green lawns and shade trees scattered all over the park. There is a nice community swimming pool, too. We waited for a representative of the city to tell us where she wanted us to set up, but she never showed up. So the traveling circus set up, and visitors trickled by.

I’m not certain of the exact time, but as the agreed-upon time for the speaking engagement approached, it was clear there was no meeting hall nearby. There was a bit of a flurry and a scurry when the person who was supposed to meet us at the park came looking for us: she’d described the meeting hall as being “at the park” but the truth was it was above and across from the park—we did not see it. The guys of course knocked it out of the park, and the highlight of the event was when Jeremy shushed a man who was standing at the door and carrying on conversations during Wesley’s presentation. We later learned the shushed man was the city manager!

I managed to upload some photos but it was soon off to bed for a guided tour of the Twentynine Palms Marine Base, named the Combat Center at Twentynine Palms, tomorrow, our “off” day. So much for catching up with work.

Worst of all, I am getting a scratchy throat, typical for me when I’m exposed to extremes in weather.


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