Yes, I know, another lyric quote – I just can’t help myself! As I head out of Rancho Mirage toward Joshua Tree, I’m feeling pretty nervous about a grade that my mountain directory mentions on the I-10. To give you a little background, one of the things that was keeping me from leaving on this trip was that Silver (my Xterra) was having trouble pulling Wanda without overheating. Even on very small hills, I would have to pull over a few times to let her cool down. And may I just say, when you have to pull over on a curve, in the dark, wait for your vehicle to cool down and cross your fingers, praying to the universe because you can’t see back past the curve that no one barrels into the back of you, you start to white knuckle it anytime you see a hill approaching. And these were small enough grades that my mountain directory didn’t even acknowledge them! Long story short, after several trips to different mechanics, I finally took Silver back to my favorite mechanic, Sean at Advantec on Adams Avenue in San Diego (don’t be upset that I didn’t call, I was in and out of SD in 24 hours) and he not only put in a giant radiator, but he completely removed my thermostat. Since then, Silver’s been towing Wanda like I ought to rename her Twiggy.
So back to this giant grade I’m about to take on. We’re moving along just fine and I’m feeling pretty good, getting some confidence back (it really was that bad before all the work) and I notice a plume of black smoke in thedistance. Everyone starts slowing down as a police car drives by on the right. This road is only 2 lanes going in the same direction but there is barely enough room to pull over without ending up in a ditch. Then of course we all come to a stop. I can still see smoke, but can’t see around the bend enough to know what is on fire. I really want to jog up there with my camera, but the thought of someone being hurt or worse, stops me from that. Next come the fire trucks trying tosqueeze by on my right. As I’m surrounded by big rigs who can’t exactly pull over, the firetrucks are having quite a difficult time getting by. I literally could reach out and touch one they were passing so close.
A trucker came walking by and said it was a trailer of some sort. By the time they let us drive by, it is pretty much burnt to a crisp.
Once all that road drama was left behind, it was pretty much smooth sailing to Joshua Tree.
I opted to park at a BLM (Bureau of Land Management) spot for the night which is public owned land, undeveloped for the most part, where you can stay for free. It’s unmarked so luckily there was a big motorhome near by and a nice gentleman named Harold let me know that it was okay to park there. I choose a spot a bit away to give he and his wife Pauline some privacy but certainly enjoyed his banjo playing as the sun went down.