Traffic Stops The California Way

Tuesday, May 20 - Rialto, California to Parker, Arizona
Didn’t sleep a wink. Too fearful. It’s 3:45am. We change out the larger back tires for smaller ones to get more torque up Big Bear Mountain.

We’re going. Finally. After nearly two years of dreaming and planning. We break down less than two miles from George’s house at the first gas station at which we try to fill up. Somehow, coddling gets the kart started again. We lose the key to the kart with the engine still running. Weird. Turns out a flathead screwdriver does the trick.

We stop at the crest, across from Rim of the World high school where the assistant principal Dave wants to show us his students’ artwork. We’re impressed by their action photography and ceramic pottery. They’re impressed by the golf kart.

Jim doesn’t have a spare Club Car key (any Club Car key will work in any Club Car ignition ... shhh), but he offers us $500 for the kart or an even trade of an old Harley. Hard to justify that deal, Jim, sorry.

Lunch at Quiznos and then a decision to avoid restaurant chains on the trip. McDonald’s is quintessentially American, but how much more interesting is Big Papa Ray’s cafe on Route 95 in Parker, Arizona (we’ll be there soon, Big Papa).

Pass through Joshua Tree again (this time at 32mph). Sleep on hot parking lot gravel with a water jug and road atlas for pillows. Pulled over by the police outside Joshua Tree. Our first traffic stop. D.W. Bradley asks questions, laughs at us, and lets us go.

Nightfall. It’s very dark on Route 62. 120 miles without streetlights and our headlights are getting dim. Quickly. We haven’t seen a car in an hour. We consider setting up camp on the shoulder and waiting for sunrise. I find a fuse. Placed carefully by God’s hand into Christine’s glove compartment. Scarily miraculous. Metal touches metal and the entire kart lights up. We drive in silence and fear.

A rocket screams past us about 200 feet overhead. The only warning is the blue hue from the afterburners. Weird. It’s 11pm on a Tuesday in the middle of nowhere. Testing? Training? Practical joke to scare the shit out of two already panicked kids?

Brian Landis Folkins is splitting the cost of a rental car with us and driven from Denver to meet us at a hotel room in Parker, Arizona. Brian is the kind of person you want to sit with, drink with, smoke with, and be around as often as you’re awake.

Big day, small hotel bed.

Miles traveled today: 239
Total miles traveled: 239

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