We saw him at dusk, lurking around the garbage bin, sneaking into camps, ducking behind rocks and shrubs, and then venturing out from hiding again, always alert, on guard. "His name is Charlie," the man camped next to us reported, going on to say, "I think there have been many Charlie's over the years, but we've always just called him Charlie." Our camp neighbor lives in Los Angeles, and has been coming here for 25 years, so he's somewhat of a Charlie expert.
Charlie is the Ryan Campground coyote, patrolling in the late evening, howling in the night. We saw him again this morning, briefly, as he checked out barbecues. Then he faded away, back out into the desert.
Yesterday, we went to town -- again! With Thistle's sewage line repairs taking so much time, we still needed to tend to other important business, like showers! Except for sponge baths, we won't confess how long it had been since we've stood under pounding hot water, freely lathering our bodies with soap.
Joshua Tree is a strange little town, sprawled along a hugely wide highway. The businesses are dwarfed by the vastness of the road. Crossing the highway is a huge undertaking, seeming too wide and too dangerous to even tackle. The outcome is almost like two towns. One on the north side of the highway, one on the south, with a huge moat-of-pavement in-between.
|How highway departments ruin towns|
It's also a divided town in other ways with businesses of vastly differing personalities, from dark bars to cheerful tourist shops. And there is another divide as well, the one we've been seeing everywhere we travel. The large gulf between the haves and the have-nots, inspiring me to reread The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. I've also been reading Blue Highways, a Journey Into America, by William Least Heat Moon, an inspirational tale about an early '80's road trip across American.
After returning to camp, we released our tandem from its rack and went for a late afternoon ride. Thistle is not moving for three days! But, we are! Riding and hiking are in our future. Besides we must stay out of town! The muffins and espresso are entirely too enticing.
"When we get these thruways across the whole country, as we will and must, it will be possible to drive from New York to California without seeing a single thing."
- John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America