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Wherever I May Roam - One Woman Livin' on a DR650

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Feyala, Jun 26, 2012.

  1. Feyala

    Feyala Been here awhile

    Aug 20, 2011
    Oklahoma to Oregon along the California coast, Oregon forests, Hells Canyon, and beyond...

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Click any photo to enlarge.

    Unlike many ride reports, this one does not have a particular beginning or any predetermined end. I have no schedule and a shoestring budget. Quite frankly, I ride while I have money, I work when I don't, lather, rinse, repeat. I consider myself to be nomadic, and the only real static "home base" that I have is a mailing address in Phoenix AZ, where my parents live. I'm happy this way, I'm in love with life and I'm more than happy to exchange security and stability to taste more of it.

    I apologize now if my style doesn't appeal to some of you, or if you consider me a miscreant in my quest to maximize the amount of time I spend unchained from the workaday world, but I am unapologetic about who I am, and I'll try to be straightforward about what it takes to get me where I end up. If you consider taking extra condiments from a fast food restaurant to be stealing, you should probably pass this one by!

    That said, this is my first ride report, and I'm more than happy to have constructive feedback or requests!

    Once I catch this up to the current day, I'm going to attempt to keep it somewhat-live - a daunting prospect, but given that I am in no particular hurry, I should be able to get it done. Starting is the hardest part, right?

    Background: I've been nomadic off and on for years. I've lived out of a car, or bouncing around between friends' couches. I lived for 6 months in Berkeley, CA to attempt to learn "urban survival", squatting in abandoned houses, dumpster diving and learning how to find everything I needed for cheap or free. I spent a year living in Denmark with some friends from the internet back when I was 18, and I stayed for a month in 2009 in Thailand with a friend who was generous enough to pay for my trip because she wanted the company. I enjoy travel, I crave novelty, I like exploring places I've never been, and I grow as a person with every tip, trick and skill I pick up from a stranger. The day I stop learning is the day they put me in the ground. I've lived behind a computer screen for most of my life; traveling helps me to live in the moment and expand my horizons.


    To fund this trip I worked as a Professional Nerd at GoDaddy for about a year and a half. I managed to claw myself up into the ranks of Server Support by the time I was finished there. I managed to put away a decent amount of money - far less than I see budgeted for most trips of this nature - but enough that I knew I was in no risk of running out for at least a year with my cheap cost of living. I also managed to obliterate about $6k in credit card debt, freeing myself of any recurring bills except for insurance.I sold my car - the source of my debt - for chump change, parted with what I could, and left Phoenix last October. I rode my Honda Rebel 250 from Phoenix up through Cali and to Oregon, then back down to San Jose for a convention in January, and back up to Oregon again. I stayed with a friend of mine, helping him with odd projects such as dismantling cars for scrap, that sort of thing. I hooked up with my boyfriend, Oz, and moved up to the Portland area in February to be with him. He expressed an interest in traveling around with me, but needed to get his finances in order to be able to do so.


    I've been riding motorcycles for a little over one year. I've put 7,000+ mostly-touring miles on the little Rebel in that time. I've been interested in dual sporting for years, but I don't know too many other people who ride, let alone who ride dual sports, so I didn't really have a good direction to go, especially as I'd never even been on a dirt bike. I found myself taking the Rebel down forest service trails and many other places that it was Not Designed To Go, as I love camping, and this planted the seed that I may need a more purpose-built bike in the future. Riding the freeways in the Bay Area convinced me that I needed a larger displacement, something that I could use to outrun inattentive drivers if need be. After lurking on ADV for a couple of months, I knew that I wanted a DR650, the only question was how/when to acquire one.

    I've always loved motorcycles, but my father forgot to keep the shiny side up in his youth and had a bad crash, so he was insistent that no daughter of his would ever ride. Surprise! :D
    Omnimo likes this.
  2. Feyala

    Feyala Been here awhile

    Aug 20, 2011
    This story begins some rainy day in March. I'd been in Oregon for 5 months of dreary, grey skies and incessant rain, and I was absolutely sick of it. After searching Craigslist for a DR650 for weeks and coming up with nothing local, I decided to do a meta-search and searched the entire country for them. One ad caught my eye:
    "This is 2001 DR650se. This bike is trail ready and street legal, what more can you ask for!? Perfect for this upcoming riding season?!

    This bike has seen the Continental Divide as well as the Western Trans-American Trail. This bike will walk away from KLR650 and keep up with any Honda 650. I have been averaging 44-48 mpg around town, better on longer trips.

    It has 10,5xx miles on it, a blast to ride. Has a tm40 pumper carb, properly jetted, upgraded front and rear progressive springs (will hold up to a 270lb rider), front fairing, skid plate, engine guards, pro taper aluminum bars and risers, Ims tank, renazco seat, pro moto billet rear rack and side guards, TUSK Handguards.

    Price is $3000 cash OBO"
    It seemed like a good deal for the money! 3k is a bit steep for the age and miles, but I'd save a bundle in addons! Of course it was in... Oklahoma. But hey, I needed to get out of the house anyways, right?! Right. Emails were exchanged, plans were made, and Greyhound Bus tickets were purchased. Ride the bus to Oklahoma, check out the bike, if it's kosher, ride it back to Portland. If it was no good, I had a list of 5 or 6 others to check out, but no real concrete plan.

    So I hopped on a bus on April 4th and began my journey!

    <p style="font-size: x-small; text-align:center;">Idaho was still a bit chilly...</p>
    I had a bit of difficulty convincing the owner that, no, really, I was on a greyhound from Oregon. No, I'm not a scammer. I'll be there in three days, please don't sell it to anybody else. A phone call with the bus idling in the background seemed to do the trick, and I settled in for three days of absolute hell.

    I hadn't been a Greyhound customer for any length of time since I started owning my own vehicles, sometime in 2006. The passage of time has not been kind to this company. Somewhere along the line, their ridership more than doubled, and somebody forgot to inform them. Overbooked busses - sometimes by twice the capacity of the bus - used to be the exception, but are now apparently the norm.

    I dealt with a child who would not shut up for the majority of 36 hours. She would scream and wail, and start giggling as soon as her mother paid attention to her. After days of no sleep, screaming children hit my hindbrain like an icepick. Mechanical failures on another bus meant every seat was taken, and even routine non-transfer stops became the worst game of musical chairs, where if you failed, you had to wait for the next bus, even though you'd paid $200 for a ride. Heaven help you if you happen to notice how the drivers are driving at night, in the snow... swerving and swaying, speeding... yikes.

    There were a series of mindbogglingly incompetent failures including a lack of drivers which would have resulted in over 50 people being stranded for 6+ hours while waiting for another bus. Instead we ended up 3 hours late due to being put on a longer route. We were told a bus would be waiting for us at our transfer point, Denver... and then that we'd need to wait 4 more hours once we got there, because oops, that bus had to leave. At one stop, where they switched drivers, there was terrible communication. They switched what door we left from without being organized or informing people properly, and the clusterfuck caused panic as people scrambled to get a spot in line. For the inconvenience of being delayed 7+ hours, we were given meal vouchers consisting of a soda, small bag of chips, and a "triangle sandwich". I was rudely brushed off when I explained that I was a vegetarian, and I can't eat a ham sandwich.

    Also, there was the Most Idiotic Restroom Ever:

    <p style="font-size: x-small; text-align:center;">I don't think I like ANYBODY this much!</p>
    Regardless of the snafus, overcrowding, and other various bullshit, I did enjoy the views. The scenery was gorgeous, and even though I was unhappy with my conveyance, it was good to be on the road again. Moving. Progress. Sunshine. I'd missed all three, and like old friends, I welcomed their company.




    One leg of my bus journey through Oklahoma, was fantastic. I was the only passenger on a nice, modern bus with wifi and outlets. I spent a great deal of time talking with the bus driver, who had driven busses for over 20 years - mostly charter busses for tour groups, it seemed. He knew a lot about the surrounding areas that we drove through, explaining history, and how a town which I sadly don't remember the name of was more or less completely destroyed by a tornado, except for the concrete grain elevator and a couple of other heavily-reinforced buildings. The concrete pads that used to be foundations for buildings took on an entirely different meaning with this information.

    Before I knew it, I found myself in the same town as my future bike: Norman Oklahoma. As I got there a full 7 hours after I'd intended to, I grabbed a "cheap" motel room and made plans to meet up the following day to look it over.
  3. Feyala

    Feyala Been here awhile

    Aug 20, 2011
    The next day, I wandered to the agreed meeting spot with a bulging pocket full of $20s. Little did I know when I set out that my bank does not exist in this state, so I was forced to use the ATM of another bank to withdraw the money... but it was an easily overcome obstacle. I do wish I'd gotten a photo of the pile o money though, that was fairly ludicrous. I had too much on my mind at the time.

    I met up with the owner of the bike and took it for a spin around the parking lot. There was a very, very steep learning curve. I am a short, 5'5" or so woman, and the only bike I'd ever rode was my Rebel. Never even test-drove a dual sport, never rode dirt bikes as a kid... nada. The DR650 is a tall machine, and this one was even taller - stiffer suspension and the Renazco seat make it a good couple of inches taller than a stock version. I found that I could flat foot one foot, or drag both tippy-toes. I learned really, really quickly that the clutch was not nearly as forgiving as my Rebel, although it did take a few stalls due to a dropped clutch getting up to speed from a stop to drive the lesson home. The low-end torque was phenomenal, like nothing I'd experienced on the smaller bike. I looked it over for obvious problems, and finding none that would outweigh the value of the purchase, gave away my bundle of cash and had the title signed over to me at a notary.

    <center><a href="http://www.feyala.net/wp-content/gallery/2012ok2phx/bike.JPG" title="Newly-purchased DR650 in Rattlecan Red"><img src="http://www.feyala.net/index.php?callback=image&amp;pid=201&amp;width=320&amp;height=240&amp;mode=" alt="Bike" title="Bike" />
    <p style="font-size: x-small; text-align:center;">Why yes, most of my luggage IS tarp straps, why do you ask?</p>It's an ugly fucker, but paint is cheap and it suits me just fine! :ricky

    The previous owner was absolutely fantastic. He was a hoarder - he had a good number of OEM parts, another set of tires, rims, and other goodies that he sent with me. I wasn't willing to carry all of these things strapped Beverly Hillbillies-style to the bike, especially an unfamiliar bike, so he was a true gentleman and drove me to a UPS store, where I spent $200 shipping everything but the stock exhaust home. He seemed a bit sad to see his baby go, but his wife was expecting, and had developed an interest in riding pillion, so he was in the market for a cruiser instead. His loss!

    The day that I purchased the bike was dreary and rainy, but I didn't care. I had a new motorcycle! After getting insurance set up and printed out, I romped around on some back roads, going in the vague direction of Phoenix, and retired to a scummy dive motel in Chickasha for the evening.

    <center><a href="http://www.feyala.net/wp-content/gallery/2012ok2phx/oklahoma.JPG" title="Pretty rolling hills in Oklahoma"><img src="http://www.feyala.net/index.php?callback=image&amp;pid=204&amp;width=320&amp;height=240&amp;mode=" alt="Oklahoma" title="Oklahoma" /></a></center>
    <p style="font-size: x-small; text-align:center;">Oklahoma was full of rolling green scenery.</p>Wow, these motels are getting expensive! And why are they all owned by folks from India? Some mysteries will never be solved... after the night in Norman and another $30 now drained from my bank account, I started considering my options. I had no camping gear - it was too bulky to carry on the bus with my riding gear as well. I wasn't too enthusiastic about being woken up in the middle of the night by spiders, scorpions, or other hooligans, and besides which, it was still a bit chilly out. I remembered that my parents are packrats, and decided to book it back to Phoenix, in case they happened to have any camping gear laying around that they'd be willing to let me have.

    I decided that as much as I hate the freeway, it was the only way to really get from Oklahoma to Phoenix with any alacrity. I-40, here I come!

    The next day was a drone along I-40. I didn't stop to take too many photos, because I was pushing as much as I could. I finally ended up in an exhausted heap in Santa Rosa, New Mexico, making my first real day on this bike 410 miles.

    <center><a href="http://www.feyala.net/wp-content/gallery/2012ok2phx/texasbugs.JPG" title="Ewwwww!"><img src="http://www.feyala.net/index.php?callback=image&amp;pid=206&amp;width=320&amp;height=240&amp;mode=" alt="Texas Bugs" title="Texas Bugs" /></a></center>
    <p style="font-size: x-small; text-align:center;">I'd heard about the Texas bugs, but ewwww!</p><center><a href="http://www.feyala.net/wp-content/gallery/2012ok2phx/graffitipaper.JPG" title="Great idea to prevent graffiti!"><img src="http://www.feyala.net/index.php?callback=image&amp;pid=203&amp;width=320&amp;height=240&amp;mode=" alt="Graffiti Paper" title="Graffiti Paper" /></a></center>
    <p style="font-size: x-small; text-align:center;">One of my rest stops had a great idea - give people paper so they don't write on the walls!</p>Another dive motel, another $50 down the drain. Wifi stopped working randomly - the manager couldn't speak enough english to understand "The wifi isn't working, can you check it?". I found a purse in one of the drawers with a receipt in it which suggested it'd been there since February. Cheap soap, decor from the 70s... ugh. I don't mind spending money if I want a quality experience, but paying rent just to sleep? For the birds. I was determined to make it to Phoenix without paying another dime to short-stay slumlords.

    <center><a href="http://www.feyala.net/wp-content/gallery/2012ok2phx/swamppool.JPG" title="I... guess people don't go swimming that often...?"><img src="http://www.feyala.net/index.php?callback=image&amp;pid=205&amp;width=320&amp;height=240&amp;mode=" alt="Swamp Pool" title="Swamp Pool" /></a></center>
    <p style="font-size: x-small; text-align:center;">Nothing says "I stopped caring" like a swamp where the pool used to be...</p>The next day I booked it. 85mph all day, only stopping when I absolutely had to. The IMS tank was a blessing - I found I could go a good 180 miles and still have a gallon or two of gas left over. The drone was boring - I was thankful for my headphones and music! But, I closed in on my goal. I called my parents near the state line to let them know I was on my way.

    <center><a href="http://www.feyala.net/wp-content/gallery/2012ok2phx/flagstaff.JPG" title="View overlooking the valley below, near Flagstaff, AZ"><img src="http://www.feyala.net/index.php?callback=image&amp;pid=202&amp;width=320&amp;height=240&amp;mode=" alt="Flagstaff" title="Flagstaff" /></a></center>
    <p style="font-size: x-small; text-align:center;">Gorgeous views coming in from Flagstaff, AZ</p>I rolled into town shortly after dark. Success! I could sleep in a bed that was much less likely to be infested with bedbugs! This was my longest day ever in the saddle - a good 580 miles. Thanks to the seat, my ass was fine, but the rest of me needed a good, long nap.

    I stayed with my parents in Phoenix for a week and a half. I hadn't intended on staying this long, but my mother's birthday was right around the corner and I didn't want to leave beforehand. While I was there I did minor maintenance on the bike - changed the oil and oil filter, took the chain off, soaked it in kerosene and re-greased it. The chain was much better than before but still rather stiff. Cleaned the air filter and oiled it. I also gave the bike itself a nice wash.

    <center><a href="http://www.feyala.net/wp-content/gallery/2012ok2phx/momonbike.JPG" title="No mom, it's okay, it won't fall over!"><img src="http://www.feyala.net/index.php?callback=image&amp;pid=207&amp;width=320&amp;height=240&amp;mode=" alt="Mom on My Bike" title="Mom on My Bike" /></a></center>
    <p style="font-size: x-small; text-align:center;">No mom, it's okay, it won't fall over... No, I know you can't touch the ground...</p>Bikes? Needing to be checked yearly for emissions?! Say it ain't so! I had to wrestle with the DMV to get the bike past emissions to register it - thanks ADVRiders in Phoenix for all the help with this! Eventually I wrangled it through and got the bike registered. Why did I bother to register in Arizona? I move around a lot, and this is the closest thing to a permanent address that I have. Besides which, my AZ license doesn't expire until 2049! It's also been my experience that when your registration is in a different state than your license, cops tend to look at you a bit sideways... not that I plan on getting pulled over, but I'd rather be safe than sorry!

    <center><a href="http://www.feyala.net/wp-content/gallery/2012ok2phx/selfportraitinyard.JPG" title="In my parents' yard. I'm squinting because the sun is stabbing me in the eye."><img src="http://www.feyala.net/index.php?callback=image&amp;pid=208&amp;width=320&amp;height=240&amp;mode=" alt="Self Portrait in Phoenix" title="Self Portrait in Phoenix" /></a></center>
    <p style="font-size: x-small; text-align:center;">I'm squinting because the sun is stabbing me in the eyes.</p>I visited with some friends who I hadn't seen in months. Got a poor-quality $20 tent back from a guy I had previously given it to, he claimed it was "derpy" and that he didn't like it. Sweet! Free tent! Begone, insects of the night! My mother found a sleeping bag in their Garage of Hoarding that I hadn't seen since I was a kid, and thusly I was equipped for the next leg of my adventure.

    After having paid more in hotel fees for 3 nights than I did in gasoline to cover more than 1k miles, I decided that I would do my best to sleep for free from here on out.
    Omnimo likes this.
  4. Klay

    Klay dreaming adventurer Super Supporter

    Nov 19, 2005
    right here on my thermarest
  5. one2ride

    one2ride Adventurer

    Sep 19, 2003
    Oh I am so in. You write like your sitting next to me telling the story. Thanks
  6. carcajou

    carcajou Resourceful Weasel

    Dec 25, 2010
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Good for you. The DR is a great bike. I hope you have an aftermarket seat. take care.
  7. BobRob

    BobRob Pick one Supporter

    Jan 17, 2010
    Gilmanton, NH
  8. on2wheels52

    on2wheels52 Long timer

    Jun 14, 2006
    northern Arkansas
    May as well tag along. I had a somewhat similar nomadic period of life myself.
  9. RokLobster

    RokLobster Far from sanity Supporter

    Aug 21, 2011
    Mill Creek WA - Land of perpetual wet
  10. FLARider1

    FLARider1 Long timer

    Dec 30, 2009
    Homestead, Florida
    IN!!! This is gonna be fun!! :lurk:beer
  11. kitesurfer

    kitesurfer Long timer

    Mar 25, 2009
    north florida
    somewhere in my life, i saw a picture/poster/album cover of this big red tongue...ROLLING STONES maybe? One on each side of your tank and that bike would be awsome! enjoy the ride!!!!
  12. Apple Jam

    Apple Jam Forest Flyer Super Supporter

    Aug 26, 2007
    High over Hood River
    Awesome report, looking forward to your journies around Oregon, and of course, Hells Canyon !!

    You write well, it makes it fun to read...
  13. B50Paul

    B50Paul Been here awhile

    Dec 25, 2010
    Salt spring Island the Hawaii of Canada
    Great report . Haven't been on greyhound for twenty years , hope I can keep it that way . Paul
  14. MoToad

    MoToad Been here awhile

    Jul 4, 2008
    Creston, BC
    Wow. Not sure if I'm in.
  15. j2beers

    j2beers Taxpayer

    May 23, 2009
    North Vancouver, BC
    Yeah, I'm in. Your comment about Dad not wanting you to ride hooked me.

    I just hope my daughter doesn't find this report. I suspect she'd just steal my bike and join you.
  16. bESS

    bESS Been here awhile

    Jan 31, 2008
    wet coast, bc

    I love your free spirit. Can't wait to tag along on your adventure.

    We will be in Hell's Canyon on July 21st, 2012. will keep my eye out for your DR

  17. Feyala

    Feyala Been here awhile

    Aug 20, 2011
    On Saturday I got an early start to a very productive day and... hahaha, who am I kidding?

    <center><a href="http://www.feyala.net/wp-content/gallery/2012phx2sc/packedup.jpg" title="Bike all packed up with tent and sleeping bag."><img src="http://www.feyala.net/index.php?callback=image&amp;pid=219&amp;width=320&amp;height=240&amp;mode=" alt="Packed Up" title="Packed Up" /></a></center>
    <p style="font-size: x-small; text-align:center;">The solution is always MORE TARP STRAPS!</p>After playing Tetris with trying to fit all of my crap on the bike with tarp straps and no real luggage for several hours, I finally got on the road. I was a bit hurried - I had gotten a very late start and I wanted to make sure that I made it to East Jesus before sunset, as the proprietor's website warned that anybody arriving after dark without prior notice would likely be met with the business end of a shotgun. Specifically:

    <blockquote>"1) **UNLESS** THERE IS A SCHEDULED EVENT, if you plan to camp out here or even just visit, DO NOT ARRIVE AFTER DARK. Either show up before dark or spend the night elsewhere. No discussion, no exceptions. Also, even if you have been here before, DO NOT SHOW UP AFTER DARK WITHOUT PRIOR NOTICE AND APPROVAL. No discussion, no exceptions. Accept it and deal with it and plan accordingly. Given the nature of Slab City and some of its inhabitants, unexpected visitors after dark are presumed to be trespassing with ill intent and risk staring down the barrel of my 12GA."</p></blockquote> - from <a href="http://chaster.us/wp/?page_id=414">here</a>

    Wait, wait. East Jesus? Hold on a second, is that some kind of crazy cult?

    I suppose some history may be in order.

    Once upon a time in a land far far away, down by the Salton Sea in southern California, there was a military base which closed up shop and demolished all the buildings, leaving nothing but the concrete foundations behind. Boondockers - RVers who dry camp for free (usually because of a fixed income), found this an ideal place to while away the chilly winters further north, and thus Slab City was born. Slab city is home to dozens, if not hundreds, of what are essentially squatters in a giant dump site with no real infrastructure (no power, no water), next to a military bombing range, at the ass-end of nowhere. It's become a mecca for traveller kids in the winter, and is one of those places you'll hear rumors and legends about. One of the last places you can live free and not be hassled.

    Also it has this:
    <center><a href="http://www.feyala.net/wp-content/gallery/2012phx2sc/salvationmtn.jpg" title="Salvation Mountain, Slab City, CA"><img src="http://www.feyala.net/index.php?callback=image&amp;pid=220&amp;width=320&amp;height=240&amp;mode=" alt="Salvation Mountain" title="Salvation Mountain" /></a></center>
    <p style="font-size: x-small; text-align:center;">Yes, it really is that huge.</p>You've probably at least encountered a reference to Salvation Mountain somewhere along the way, there's really nothing quite like it. I think it was featured in that movie "Into the Wild" as a place where they stop along the way.

    I'd heard a few tales of Slab City, and I decided that since I was going west anyways, now was as good a time as any to check it out. What can I say? I love weird things! I have nothing to lose! And Saturday was supposed to be Live Music night!

    While doing some internet research about the place, I kept coming across references to East Jesus, which seemed to be a Burningman-styled libertarian setup - East Jesus was not a reference to religion so much as a descriptor for "middle of nowhere". The proprietor seemed to be a bit of a gun nut, but that should prevent his camp from being fucked with. Also, they seemed to have the only toilets. There were rumors of the vast stretches of human waste baking in the sun near Poverty Flats, and I wanted none of it. If I'm going to stay in a squatter town in the middle of the desert, I'm doing it in style, damnit!

    I sent the owner an email, but I got no reply. Strange... Oh well, better hurry up anyways, maybe his wifi went out or he just didn't feel like answering emails today.

    So off I went. Slab again. Yawn.

    <center><a href="http://www.feyala.net/wp-content/gallery/2012phx2sc/map.jpg" title="Route map."><img src="http://www.feyala.net/index.php?callback=image&amp;pid=218&amp;width=320&amp;height=240&amp;mode=" alt="Map" title="Map" /></a></center>
    <p style="font-size: x-small; text-align:center;">Total distance: 260 miles.</p>Somehow, even though I've lived in Phoenix for a good 8 years or so combined, I always manage to forget how hot it gets when I haven't been there in a while. I was baking all day. Some road rash on my knee from when I lowsided the Rebel (Monsoon season in Phoenix, I hit one of the stupid Median Trees that fell into the road and went sideways doing 30) convinced me that the ATGATT mantra had some validity. But boy, when it's almost 100, not even the vented gear and mesh helps all that much.

    I was pretty dehydrated when I rolled into Blythe, CA. I stopped at a Starbucks for some air conditioning, wifi (I wanted to see if there was a reply to my email yet), power, etc. I did my duty and bought the cheapest drink I could to excuse my presence.

    While I was cooling down, one of the employees mentioned that they have free water. I indicated that I already had a drink, and he said, "Well, that's tasty too, but the water is free..." I told him that I was raised to think it rude to hang out, enjoying the facilities and comfy chairs and not pay for anything, and he told me that they basically don't care and expect that kind of thing. "And anyways, it's not like we have to climb a ladder to get the water or anything." Hmm. Good to keep in mind I suppose...

    From Blythe I headed south on CA-78. As the road wound from desert into irrigated farmland the humidity dramatically increased. It struck me that growing crops in the middle of the desert was a bit ludicrous. I would have gotten some photos of desert scrubland right up against green crops, but the shotgun threat bore more heavily on my mind than an interest in landscape photography.

    There were a couple of oddities I did stop to take photos of. One was a strangely lumpy set of hills behind a barbed-wire fence, some kind of military thing? I don't know. There were these large divots carved out of the hillside at varying intervals:

    <center><a href="http://www.feyala.net/wp-content/gallery/2012phx2sc/lumpyhill.jpg" title="Strangely patterned dirt on this hill - military?"><img src="http://www.feyala.net/index.php?callback=image&amp;pid=217&amp;width=320&amp;height=240&amp;mode=" alt="Lumpy Hill" title="Lumpy Hill" /></a></center>
    <center><img src="http://www.feyala.net/wp-content/gallery/2012phx2sc/dirtpattern.jpg" alt="Dirt Pattern" /></center>

    The other was, I came up over a hill and suddenly, DUNES! Tons of dunes as far as the eye can see! They were having some kind of race, too, I saw dirtbikes and dune buggies with flags tearing the place up, vendors selling gas out of pickup trucks with "RACE GAS" signs. Oh man, it looked like fun. Someday I should try to get in on something like that. I snapped a few quick pics and was off.

    <center><a href="http://www.feyala.net/wp-content/gallery/2012phx2sc/dunepark.jpg" title="Hugh T Osborne Lookout Park"><img src="http://www.feyala.net/index.php?callback=image&amp;pid=215&amp;width=320&amp;height=240&amp;mode=" alt="Dune Park" title="Dune Park" /></a></center>
    <center><a href="http://www.feyala.net/wp-content/gallery/2012phx2sc/dunes.jpg" title="Dunes as far as the eye can see."><img src="http://www.feyala.net/index.php?callback=image&amp;pid=216&amp;width=320&amp;height=240&amp;mode=" alt="Dunes!" title="Dunes!" /></a></center>
    I arrived at East Jesus just before dusk, after picking up a can of soup and some fruit from the store in Niland. I was proud that I managed to not drop the bike in some of the loose dirt on the road to get there! I came close!

    After chatting with the local ringleader, Frank (Sorry for getting your name wrong!), I found out that the website I'd found was defunct, the original owner, Charlie, had passed away last May and his friends were taking care of the place in his stead. Well, makes sense why he wasn't answering his email...

    Their actual website was <a href="http://eastjesus.org/">http://eastjesus.org/</a>

    East Jesus was an oasis in the desert - ice cold water, electricity, shower, wifi, composting toilets, refrigeration, all of the comforts of home in a squatter town in the middle of the desert, far from utilities. There were solar panels, wind turbines and a generator, as well as deep-cycle batteries to provide the juice to power everything. Every available nook and cranny was absolutely stuffed full of assemblage art, most of which was created from recycled/found materials as Slab City is for the most part a junkyard. There were various pieces that had been dragged here from elsewhere - the art cars, a few of the donated larger sculptures were refugees from art galleries in LA or elsewhere. From what Frank had said, the place had a bit of a reputation among artsy types, and he'd regularly get people bringing by a truckload of doll parts or other random odds and ends for the people who frequent East Jesus to build things with. It was surreal to be browsing the internet 20 miles from nowhere surrounded by random artifacts of civilization.

    I was given the tour of the sculpture garden and the facilities, then led to a camp with a very large, 8-person tent already set up. He called the camp "Hogwarts", because, as he said, "a wizard used to live there". Cloak and pointy hat and everything. Somehow this did not surprise me in the least. I moved my bike into the camp, took my gear off (ahhhh, much cooler) and set up my sleeping bag in the gigantic tent.

    <center><a href="http://www.feyala.net/wp-content/gallery/2012phx2sc/hogwarts.jpg" title="My camp at East Jesus"><img src="http://www.feyala.net/index.php?callback=image&amp;pid=223&amp;width=320&amp;height=240&amp;mode=" alt="Hogwarts" title="Hogwarts" /></a></center>
    <center><a href="http://www.feyala.net/wp-content/gallery/2012phx2sc/viewfromtent.jpg" title="Hogwarts, at East Jesus"><img src="http://www.feyala.net/index.php?callback=image&amp;pid=226&amp;width=320&amp;height=240&amp;mode=" alt="View From My Tent" title="View From My Tent" /></a></center>
    <center><a href="http://www.feyala.net/wp-content/gallery/2012phx2sc/welcomesign.jpg" title="Hogwarts, at East Jesus"><img src="http://www.feyala.net/index.php?callback=image&amp;pid=227&amp;width=320&amp;height=240&amp;mode=" alt="Welcome Sign" title="Welcome Sign" /></a></center><center><table padding="10"><tr><td align="center"><a href="http://www.feyala.net/wp-content/gallery/2012phx2sc/deadfish.jpg" title="A relic from the Salton Sea"><img src="http://www.feyala.net/index.php?callback=image&amp;pid=222&amp;width=320&amp;height=240&amp;mode=" alt="Dead Fish" title="Dead Fish" /></a></td><td align="center"><a href="http://www.feyala.net/wp-content/gallery/2012phx2sc/wizard.jpg" title="Look ma, no hands!"><img src="http://www.feyala.net/index.php?callback=image&amp;pid=228&amp;width=320&amp;height=240&amp;mode=" alt="Wizard" title="Wizard" /></a></td><td align="center"><a href="http://www.feyala.net/wp-content/gallery/2012phx2sc/skullpture.jpg" title="Strange sculpture in my camp at East Jesus"><img src="http://www.feyala.net/index.php?callback=image&amp;pid=225&amp;width=320&amp;height=240&amp;mode=" alt="Skullpture" title="Skullpture" /></a></td></tr><tr><td colspan="3">
    <p style="font-size: x-small; text-align:center;">I mentioned everything was covered in weird sculpture, right?</p></td></tr></table></center>Back at the main camp, I met up with a British woman named Beth and Chris from BC who were travelling together. Chris had been busking all across the US and told stories of the various places he'd been. Highly entertaining. He was going to perform for us at The Range - the main stage where live music gets performed every Saturday night. It's more or less a free-for-all, loosely organized by a guy they referred to as "Builder Bob".

    After securing a free meal and a jug full of ice cold water (luxuries!), we wandered over to The Range. There were a lot of dogs randomly roaming around as well as on the stage itself. The seating at The Range was all old couches, bus seats, and various car parts, left to wither in the desert sun. I wished I'd brought a blanket or something to sit on, but luckily I managed to avoid any exposed springs. The foam was scratchy, though. Lighting was bulbs placed inside of 5 gallon buckets. Ghetto, but highly functional.

    Some of the entertainers were not very good - Bob, the organizer, admitted that he was not very good, yet insisted on playing the first and last 5 songs. He was terrible. A for effort though?

    <center><a href="http://www.feyala.net/wp-content/gallery/2012phx2sc/bob.jpg" title="Builder Bob at The Range"><img src="http://www.feyala.net/index.php?callback=image&amp;pid=221&amp;width=320&amp;height=240&amp;mode=" alt="Bob" title="Bob" /></a></center>
    In case you wanted proof:

    <center><object width="560" height="315"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/hdWS35WRBec?version=3&amp;hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/hdWS35WRBec?version=3&amp;hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="560" height="315" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object></center><br>
    Chris played, and was actually really good:

    <center><object width="560" height="315"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/xi15KcFOFfI?version=3&amp;hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/xi15KcFOFfI?version=3&amp;hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="560" height="315" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object></center><br>
    Another band that I liked was called the Bible Brothers - I'm not religious, but they sure could play. A man from the audience with an accordion and a harmonica joined them, blurring the line between entertainer and audience, and added another layer entirely to the performance.

    <center><object width="420" height="315"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/8ouCAxzLEfY?version=3&amp;hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/8ouCAxzLEfY?version=3&amp;hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="420" height="315" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object></center><br>
    (Sorry about the video quality. I took these using my Droid X2. I don't really have a proper video camera, and my cheapy point ‘n shoot takes worse video than this does. Also I was running out of disk space. And I'd never taken videos with it before. I've got a bunch of other videos from this evening, but these were the best without editing - that entire process is a bit of a mystery and I don't think I can do it on the Droid. Ahem.)

    Eventually the quality of the music started to degrade and we headed back for East Jesus.

    Frank took no shit from anyone. He'd been a chef professionally, and had hitchhiked all across the US. We had some good conversations, and then I wandered off to Hogwarts and settled down in my sleeping bag to the sounds of a drunken woman screaming into a microphone at the top of her lungs at 2 am. She was decent with the guitar, but her off-key half-remembered lyrics to popular songs (Stairway to Heaven, Hotel California) and random caterwauling made me grateful when the festivities came to a close.

    Next: Fey explores Slab City and tries not to die of heat exhaustion!
  18. Feyala

    Feyala Been here awhile

    Aug 20, 2011
    Wow, I'm overwhelmed by the response so far! I didn't think anybody would be that interested!

    Thanks for the support! :clap It really encourages me to keep writing!

    Yep, Renazco! Fancy seat saves my butt. It's actually a bit of a drawback in some cases - I don't stand up as readily offroad because I can stay seated without regretting it later...

    Awww, thanks! I never really thought of myself as much of a writer... was great meeting you at the HC rally! I'll get this thing caught up eventually...

    If I ever am without a vehicle and in need of going long distances again, I'm hopping a damn freight train. Seriously.


    I have no idea where I'll be around that time. I was in HC for the ADV rally a couple weeks ago - had a blast! :D
  19. Sojourner2005

    Sojourner2005 Been here awhile

    May 21, 2009
    Winnipeg, Manitoba
    Thanks for sharing. This has been a great read so far. Subscribed.

    ROAD DAMAGE Long timer Supporter

    Jun 3, 2007
    Steamboat Springs, COLORADO
    Alright Feyala,

    I'm hooked and following along. :D

    I've come to expect a high level of entertainment here on ADV and I've got the feeling that you won't disappoint.

    It's a fine balance of witless banter, mental masturbation and just flat out lying that tend to make a good story. Oh yeah, and incriminating photos too. :lol3

    Seriously, I think this will be fun. Thanks for posting.

    Safe travels!


    edit: Oh yeah, I saw from your pictures that you visited Steamboat Springs on your bus trip to OK. Did you find suitable vegetarian grub here? Near where you took the picture of the pedestrian bridge with Mt Werner in the background .... is a great little Bar-B-Q joint. I'm sure that you were salivating like a Pavlovian Dog because you were directly downwind!