Monday, September 7, 2009

Revenge of Tom

The honeymoon is over.

Tom has a will of his own, yes- and he's vicious. We've paid for our little detour down the Path of Giants by tenfold.

But we'll start with the present. For the moment, RJ and I are in a little town in southern Utah, by the border of Nevada, and close enough to Zion that we could have driven there yesterday with enormous ease. Unfortunately, both of us are struggling valiantly with a nasty cold, and spent all of yesterday sleeping in air conditioning. Yes, we're in a hotel room. But I swear, mum, it's cheap as hell! Besides, after getting kicked out of Las Vegas...

Okay, okay, so it wasn't Las Vegas, but it was close enough. We were told to leave the town of Henderson. And what grave crime did we commit to get kicked out of that crummy Las Vegas suburb?

This leads back to Tom. Everything is his fault.

For those who are unfamiliar with GPS systems, they have this nifty feature called 'Point of Interest' (or POI.) This allows you to find certain things- such as gas stations, hospitals, grocery stores, museums, rest stops... one of Tom's POI categories is 'Camping'. This absolutely thrilled me, as you might imagine.

So we tested it out after the day we spent in San Francisco, hoping to get to our campground before dark.

To our dismay, Tom led us into the middle of a suburban intersection, and his electronic voice cheerfully informed us, 'You have reached your destination'. As we sat there, dazed and bewildered, we decided we'd simply have to go to a different campground. 'Curry Creek' sounded promising...

Phase forward two hours. We're on a one-way unpaved road going down a swampy gully with a sharp cliff on one side. RJ has had to deal with me stuffing my fist in my mouth to keep from screaming. We've been in the MIDDLE of NO WHERE, it's ten o clock at night, and there have been NO signs of any campground. Cheerfully, Tom tells us to keep going down this series of winding twisting paths, sometimes the road feels so narrow that we are absolutely going to plummet from it and die. I'm exhausted from a long and eventful day spent traipsing San Francisco, and I'm watching the gas needle point steadily lower. Our fun day has turned into a nightmare, and it won't ever end.

Finally, we pull onto a roughly paved road. And then, the road has two lanes. Hallelujah, glory be! Perhaps there IS a camp ground up ahead! We pick up speed; we drive, only one more mile...

It tells us to turn in at this drive. Still no signs for a campground... and then it tells us, 'You have reached your destination'.

We're in a trailer park, people. A small, rural trailer park counterpart to the suburban one it had directed us to before.

I start to sob. Well, okay, not really- but it's a close thing. Apparently, Tom believes that trailer parks for permanent residents are also acceptable campgrounds.

Battered, defeated, depressed, we head to the nearest town, and look for a park. Nothing. We settle into an enormous parking lot, put the sunshade up, and sleep.

Well, RJ slept. I lay there, eyes wide open, head milling full of thoughts, unable to get comfortable.

Finally, at about three AM, I shake RJ awake and say that I'm okay to drive. We're going to find somewhere to get out of the car and sleep.

Onto Tom's Tomfoolery, I search for a location with the words 'shore' in them. We will sleep on the beach under the stars, damn it.

This sends us back to San Francisco. I drive. And drive. And drive. It's so late, and I'm tired, but paying as much attention as I can, single mindedly focused on the road...

We get to this 'beach', and it turns out to be a small park on a river near San Fran. Not only that, it's closed, with threats of 'severe tire damage' if we attempt to pull in the wrong way. At this point, I do start crying.

We look for a park... and we find one. It even offers camping. I don't care what time it is. I need to get out of the car, stretch out in my tent, and SLEEP FOREVER.

We drive down winding twisting paths. Who would have known San Francisco had such a rural forested area in the heart of it...? A deer idles back into the trees as we approach, at one point. The moon is a silver globe in the tree-filled skyline. We make it!

The campground is closed. We should have gotten there before ten PM (SUCKERS!)

At this point, it's looking again for a park so we can pull in and just sleep in the bloody car. I don't care. I'm tired. I'm tired. I AM TIRED.

We find a park in the bad part of town in a two hour parking zone, pull in, lock the doors, and catch some sleep.

Our lesson is that Tom cannot be trusted to navigate to camping locations. We spent the next day driving round Mariposa and Yosemite, but unfortunately, due to the raging wildfires, there is only one way into the park- and subsequently, Tom wants us to navigate only by the closed ways out. We sleep in an overpriced hotel for the night, as the campgrounds wanted fourty five or more just to sleep on a measly patch of dirt. FOURTY FIVE DOLLARS, people. For the privilege of hoisting a tent! WTF.

The next day we navigate down through southern Cali, and we are determined to leave California- FOREVER. Oh my god California. Why? WHY? We drive and drive and drive... at one point, we failed at remembering the gas tank existed. We nearly ran completely out of gas. Thirty miles on empty, Candii is a real trooper- we paid four dollars a gallon when we found a roadside gas station. And we kissed the ground for the privilege of doing so. We won't forget this lesson any time soon.

Got some amazing photos... of flat, empty nothing. Yay. Southern California is not really our favorite place.

Finally, we left the state, and arrived in Nevada! HOORAY! No campgrounds in sight, though. But we'd heard somewhere... now I can't recall the source, of course... that Walmart would allow you to sleep in their parking lots.

We settled in. I tried to get comfortable, and eventually fell asleep.. but woke up with the pressing need to use the restroom. I shook RJ and mumbled this, but he must not have heard me.

I took my time, and when I returned to the parking lot... the car was locked and RJ was not there. I waited for only a minute before I saw him heading my way.

His window had been tapped on by a police officer. He had been asked to exit the car, and then patted down. They kept asking where I was- he guessed in the bathroom. They acted as if the likely reality was my murder and his theft of the car and all of our things. Yes, police. Very good. In the Las Vegas surburbs, the most interesting thing you can find to do... is kick people out of Walmart parking lots?

RJ was told that it didn't matter what Walmart said, we would have to leave. We were not welcome in the City of Henderson.

So I drove. At one in the morning. Because, you know, sleeping in a parking lot is much worse than driving 75 miles an hour when sleep deprived. That's definitely safe. Good job, public safety. GOOD. JOB.

We found a park called 'The Valley of Fire', where we drove, and drove, and drove. Eventually, I found myself driving Stupidly Scary Cliffs at three AM, got fed up, and pulled off the road. I turned off the car and went to sleep.

Thank you, Tom. You're stupid. We don't like you any more.

Anyhow, the morning after that, I drove into Utah, where we found a great deal on a hotel room. RJ has been throwing up snot. Poor thing. So we spent all day yesterday just sleeping.

Anyway, we are off, today. We will try to camp, as we've had adequate rest here. Today will be Zion, and possibly Bryce- we'll see. Lots of pictures, and I'll keep you all updated as I may!


  1. I guess Tom is a city boy, eh? Sorry to hear about your problems -- I'd recommend checking out KOA facilities in the area where you're headed.

    And I'll send a friend to Henderson with a carpet to deal with that brilliant cop.

  2. And said friend with carpet lives VERY close to Henderson. She'll be happy to make sure he and his carpet become intimately acquainted with the desert.

    I'm sorry you've had such rough times, and sorry RJ is sick. (EW) It will get better. You really are on an adventure!

  3. Lara - Sorry you guys had such a bad time with the camping in our neck of the woods! And feeling bad that both of you have the sick!
    You could have called us for some local knowledge - we were driving until 3 am Thursday night...