Well I've been out in the cell phone netherlands so I've had no cell access so I'm a day or two behind. Last I blogged I'd just made it to Vegas and had yet to do much. Well after that I headed for the KOA down at Circus Circus, but first detoured to In-N-Out Burger. For those not familiar, here's my description. Tasty goodness meets paradise all while in dreamland. Seriously the burgers there could be no better if cows came from fields of gold. $100.00 Kobe beef burgers would fall faster than France to a Girl Scout invasion if they went up against these burgers. The menu is simple enough even RTD could figure it out if he had to. Your options are Burger, Burger w/ cheese, Double Double, fries, drink. No yardbird, no fake mexican Enchiladoriburritas, no gimmicky burger the size of a book of matches, just pure amazement. Personally I went for the DoubleDouble which is two patties and two real cheese slices. The only other name this burger could have is tastebud crack. If you ever go to Cali/Nevada, forgo the Bunny Ranch and spend that money at In-N-Out. Your tastebuds and VD report will thank you!
Satiated, I continued on to Dante's KOA. Let me dispell a little myth for you real quick. The desert does NOT get cold at night. All those stories of 115 degree days and 30 degree nights were obviously propagated by the Bureau of Tourism somewhere. I checked in at 9:30 pm and it was a balmy 96 degrees. I grabbed a cold shower and met up with a kind lady named Shannon who took me out to see the lights of Vegas and then drink frosty beverages. Finally I headed back to the 7th level of heKOAll and tried to turn in for the night. I ended up leaving the fan running all night and still slept fitfully thanks to RTD. Super Retarded Dog started the night breathing heavily enough that I started to wonder if HE made it to the bunny ranch. Finally sometime around 2 am I awaken because I'm getting kicked in the face. See, I sleep on a twin size mattress in the back of the Bean. Well there's about a 10-12 inch gap between the matress and tirewell when I'm back there. Apparently Rocky The Destroyer managed to somehow roll over onto his back and then inch his way up into that gap. And get stuck. His answer was to occasionally kick me in the face, and the snore some more. I responded by smacking his ribcage which caused occasional gyrating, more face kicking, and no progress whatsoever. Finally I grabbed his doggy harness and tossed him back into his spot in the Bean. Aside from a grunt or two, I don't think RTD ever stirred.
The next morning I woke up to a beautiful day on the surface of the sun. I went ahead and packed the sleeping bag away in the storage bin, and rolled up the mat etc to get ready to go. I then headed to a local Firestone to get the Bean fixed. Once there they explained that they weren't affiliated with that other Firestone, so my "nationwide warranty" was no good there. I asked where the nearest one was that I could use, and apparently it was the one I'd recently left. Great. Anyhow I had them check it out and they found the other place had put the brake springs in backwards, and forgot to tighten the trim cap on the wheel. Thanks Firestone of Sacramento, glad I'm not dead now! Well I paid them for their services and started my trip to Phoenix. Fortuitously, I thought to call ahead to my family here, who inquired as to why I was skipping the Grand Canyon. I then ended my trip to Phoenix and rerouted to canyon country.
The only place I hit along the way was Hoover Dam, which was different than expected. The water level is waaaaaaaaaaaay lower than in the pictures I've seen, so it looked much taller on the lake side. I couldn't get to much of it b/c apparently dogs aren't allowed there for whatever reasons. Probably homeland security. I'll have to remember not to let RTD wear his turban and sandals next time. The drive out of the dam follows the rolling dry hills of the Lake Mead area, and the view is still pretty spectacular. All variety of craggy hills and mountains come and go, never relinquishing their reign to trees or other foliage. Only after you've driven a few hundred miles and gone up a few thousand feet do the scrubby little pines make their debut.
As I continued on, I decided to run the A/C for RTD's benefit, and enjoy the musical selection of NPR talk radio. Yes, that's right, I'm a talk radio nerd. I'm really glad my phone doesn't have the letters on the keypad for me to be able to dial the 1-800 NPR number, or I'd quickly become that Talk Radio Ranter we all hate so much. I can only angrily yell at my radio . For now... After a bit I went to roll down the window to check the outside temp, and it didn't budge. I looked at the voltmeter, which was redder than the desert I was in, and I knew I was in trouble. I asked the Garminator where there nearest Autozone was, and it let me know it was conveniently only 32 miles away. I mean OUT of the way... Of course... I knew that the alternator had gone bad, b/c it was about the only thing I hadn't yet replaced. I'd hoped to save a few hundred bucks... C'est la vi... I called ahead to make sure the zone had the part, and then limped there. I've learned that if you don't call ahead, they are required by unwritten law to not have the part you need.
Amazingly, the alternator was an easy fix, which is a rarity in the breakdown world. I just barely had made it to Chino, as the battery was too dead to even crank the Bean when it was finally fixed! While I was there I had an interesting chat with an Apache medicine man. We talked about my journey, and how in the end it's a journey to find myself. He told me to think less with my head and more with my heart, and to be nicer to RTD. Before I left he gave me a few dollars for fuel which I tried to refuse. The advice was donation enough, and on top of that he gave me a well worn stone he had in his pocket. He explained that whenever I needed direction or was worried, to rub the stone and think with my heart, and I'd find my answer and solace. Humbling, to say the least. A man who told me he sold scrap metal to make ends meet willing to part with a few hard earned dollars to help what is essentially a college kid on break get around. I only hope that my journeys bring credit to men like this.
With a new alternator in the Bean, I hauled arse up towards Grand Canyon to camp for the night. There was no one at the KOA office when I got there, so I pulled out and headed closer to the park. After a bit I realized I was in a national forest, and I could camp for free! Not wanting to waste money, I immediately pulled off and into the wilderness. Once I was a good distance away I set up shop and tried to stop sweating. Stupid desert. After I realized my phones wasn't gonna connect to the net, I went ahead and hit the hay. I opted to leave the tailgate down as it was so hot...
Ok so maybe the desert DOES get cold at night! Apparently this is in the higher elevations only, though! About 1:30 I awoke to a chilling sound on a chilly night! All around the Bean, within a 1/2 mile or so were coyotes calling to each other. Every so often one group would do their increasing yip-yiiippp-yiiiiiiiippppppppp to the other, and I'd nervously wonder if leaving the tailgate down was a great idea. I occasionally looked over at my fearless companion, who was twitching one paw as he chased some rabbit or Pimp Hand Strong off in dreamland. This is the same animal who goes rabid at the sight of a crow hopping by. The same dog who explodes at the sound of a mouse fart. Great protection ya got their, Lou. Anyhow, finally the coyotes found their Acme box or whatever and calmed down. I then broke down and fumbled the sleeping bag BACK out of the storage box where I'd banished it only that morning, and managed to get some decent sleep for a change.
Next, The Grand Canyon!