It has been a really long trip, even though I’ve only been gone 3 days.
They say travel changes a person, and even saying that makes me sound like a weathered traveler. But it does. And I am changed.
Mostly, I have learned things I already knew, but now double extra know them, like that people are generally friendly and wonderful and want to help you, and that things that seem like a really big deal are actually usually not that big of a deal, so it’s not worth getting worked up over.
I know all these things, but I have had ample opportunities to re-learn them on this trip.
I’ll have to catch up on the past few days of events in another post. I do have it all in my journal and I’m basically going to just transcribe my journal to recount the adventures.
But today was really magical.
Yesterday, I woke up pretty upset.
I was really hungover and sleep deprived, because the previous night, I got into Vegas quite late (and got lost driving around Vegas because whose dee-fool idea is to close a bunch of streets?).
By the time I reached my room, I was beat. I also knew I should eat something, but I also knew I didn’t want to pay for Vegas-priced cocktails. So I fixed myself a couple cocktails and ruminated on where I might go for dinner.
I had never been to The Fremont Experience, so I intentionally picked a room right on the whole shebang (also, it was dirt cheap), thinking I would arrive to Vegas all fresh and full of energy from what was undoubtedly going to be a quick and easy drive (I wasn’t because it wasn’t -- it turns out Death Valley is both literally a long drive and psychologically a long drive).
But the idea of even leaving the room felt like voluntarily getting punched in the face.
I considered room service, but I am too cheap to pay people to bring a single meal to me because I’m too lazy to take an elevator 18 floors.
So I ventured out.
When in the Lobby, I decided that The Fremont Experience probably had food, so I went out there.
What I found instead were SURGES of bodies smashing against all surfaces, including each other. It was a roiling ocean of drunks and the elderly in a confused and spinning frenzy courtesy, in part, to The Four Queens Casino, who had apparently hired a Def Leppard cover band for the evening. And no food, just bars.
So I made my way back to the casino and found the Mexican restaurant that was nearly about to close. I had a margarita and a quesadilla, and tried to focus on the monster truck rally while some completely disgusting jerks hit on the bartender.
Instead of going back up to my room, though, I decided to go ahead and submit my ceremonial sacrificial $5 to the casino gods in the usual fashion: penny slots.
To my surprise, I almost immediately won $56. For penny slots, that’s an insane win. Thank you, casino gods. And thusly, the casino stay paid for itself.
I took my winnings and went up to bed.
For whatever reason, I slept like cripes. I went to bed late and woke up at 5 and couldn’t get back to sleep. I was obsessed with the location of my power cord for my laptop, which I had forgotten in Colfax when I left (the reason I hadn’t written more to that point). Russ had overnighted it to me at the hotel, but it was delayed somewhere in the postal system.
I couldn’t leave Las Vegas without it. A new one costs $80 and I already have two.
I decided to just show up at the post office where the online tracking reported it was. To my surprise, the postal clerk nodded, took the tracking info, went back to the back room for what felt like an hour, and came back with MY PACKAGE.
It was nothing short of a miracle.
And just like that, I was on the road again! Tired, hung over, frazzled, frustrated, reclusive… but leaving Las Vegas.
As I drove, the idea of continuing to Prescott seemed less and less appealing. I would have to go through Sedona, Jerome, and Cottonwood before getting to Prescott for the night. My friend’s mom had offered her guest room, but I just wasn’t sure I could make it that far.
I made the tough choice to find a campground close to the Arizona border and set up camp for the night, even though it was only 2pm.
For those of you who wonder how I find all these great campgrounds, it’s the Parkfinder app: http://www.ohranger.com/app/parkfinder
The campground was a very remote one and was really not accessible by regular cars. Suited me fine, since I really just wanted to be alone.
And alone I was.
I sat on the road and watched the clouds. I watched a stink bug. I watched the sun against the hills. I watched the light around the campfire ring and imagined how it would look at night, as I tried to draw it.
I listened to the wind in the pines that sounded either like a coming car or the whispers of taffeta.
And then I went to bed.
Sleeping in a strange place is never easy for me, and sleeping in my car with the wind blowing is doubly difficult. But for whatever reason, I slept soundly, dreaming of working with the US Marshals to solve crimes in the old West.
Waking up in a campground, getting up, and fixing coffee, bacon, and eggs is literally my favorite thing in the world. I don’t know why I don’t do it more often. So I puttered around camp making breakfast tacos (OMG BREAKFAST TACOS) and having coffee.
Considering again that my central purpose in this trip is selling soap, and people who smell like they haven’t showered don’t make great soap salespeople, I decided to make a little splash-bath of warm water. I set up the little propane heater that Russ so thoughtfully packed and gritted my teeth and really went for it, using my sidekick of Blazing Saddles and lathering up and splashing my armpits and other stinky parts.
It was very invigorating, let me tell you. I certainly was very awake after that.
And then I packed the car and set out for Sedona.
Except, like the best road trip adventures, I decided to stop at a roadside attraction, and that roadside attraction changed the course of the entire trip.
Ash Fork, AZ
In Ash Fork, there are many rocks. It’s the limestone capital of the US or something. (I have to verify what it was).
But what interested me was their little museum, which looks a lot smaller than it actually is. Inside, it's huge and amazing and really interactive. I LOVE ASH FORK!
I went in and poked around… they really have a collection of a lot of really cool and interesting things. There’s even a poker table with a sheriff and an undertaker playing poker next to a jail cell.
There were many curiosities, and it was well worth the detour.
At the end of the tour, I stopped at the gift shop and found a bracelet that I quite liked, as well as a couple postcards.
Rosemary, the woman working there, and I got to chatting and she helped set me on this new adventurous path that led me through Prescott (more on Prescott later), Jerome (more on Jerome later), and Cottonwood. I had planned on going toward Sedona to meet up with a little Western shop there, but after hearing about the historic trail from Whiskey Row through Cottonwood, we both decided it would be a better adventure (as well as have better sales prospects) to go South.
And then she bought some soap and lip balms for the gift shop, which was both unexpected and totally awesome. So now we’re in Ash Fork, Arizona, on Route 66! HOORAY!
This post is long overdue and I’m finishing it up five days after I started it, so I am going to finish it up here and tell the story of the historic Western trail in the next post...