It all started when I saw an opportunity to hear my favorite dj perform live in Los Angeles. Matt Darey has been a long time favorite for the Vegas climbing community since I’ve been around there. I think old man Ramsey (love you, Bill) popularized him. Since then Matt has been a staple artist, an item you never leave home without, especially if you are going climbing. With his tours and some happy luck a group of climbers befriended him. Now, listening to his mixes and remixes has more meaning to us. We’re supporting a friend. Unfortunately his tours have kept him away from Vegas. Los Angeles happened to be the closest venue I could hope to attend for the foreseeable future.
After a perfect weather day climbing up at mount potosi I headed, prepacked, for LA. Everything was set to go off without a hitch. Traffic was light, the day was early enough to get me in around 9, I even managed to Hotwire a room 3 blocks from the venue. How lucky is that?
Then while driving on the 15, 30 miles from Barstow, my jeep jumps to 5k RPM. I’m on cruise and driving a straight stretch headlong into gusty winds. I tap the brakes to bring the RPMs down. The gears aren’t shifting. Traffic is light and I’m in the far right lane so I put my hazards on and see if I can get 2nd gear to respond. Nothing. I drift down to around 40mph with RPMs around 3k. I think it’s stable enough not to blow the engine and start scoping the shoulder and looking for mile markers. Nothing immediately suitable and no landmarks or exits on the horizon. Not a single sign to tell me where I am. I see a wide shoulder with a large gravel space on my right. A trucker’s cab is there as well. The check engine light had come on and with my dangerously low speed, I get off the road.
I call my insurance and am thankful, 1) that my phone has a signal and 2) that I can tell them where I am by locating the nearest town using my GPS on my phone. 45 minutes later and I’m being towed to Barstow where I will spend the night and get an idea of what I am looking at with the jeep, in the morning.
I am thankful that I picked up a quick and healthy sandwich before setting off on this trip and I have water and my puffy so stranded at sunset in the middle of the desert did not seem too dire.
While I wait for the tow, I manage to get a full refund on the hotel through Hotwire (those guys are great!) and drop a line at the event and with friends that I was no longer going to make it. I definitely was bummed to have to hang out in what turned out to be a dive of a town but I had no choice. I’ve left my computer at home, which is a rarity so any real research has to be done by friends on my behalf. A huge shout out to Julie for helping me pull something together and for picking me up in Vegas. I owe you!
Well, to give you a glimpse of the events that got me to where I am now, which is on a greyhound bound for las vegas, read on. Days like these remind me that I’m extremely lucky: lucky to be stressed about missing a friend dj live, being stuck in a dive hotel, having to eat fast food, having to deal with the underbelly of America’s finest people, and finally how to fix and fetch my jeep. These truly are first world problems and luckily they are mine. I’m thankful to have a good job to help me financially navigate these issues and good friends willing to step up if necessary.
All of these things could never happen if I wasn’t out living my life. I am most thankful for this opportunity. Hopefully I’ll make another matt darey show. Hopefully my jeep will be repaired soon and not cost me a fortune. Hopefully this greyhound ride marks the end of a series of unfortunate and unfortunately humorous set of events.
Have a good laugh, it’s worth it.
1. Jeep craps out middle of nowhere CA
2. Tow guy gets lost but finds me 45 minutes after dispatch (which it turns out is lucky)
3. Tow guy Sydney has had congestive heart failure, his buddy and partner tower recently died of a heart attack followed by a stroke. This guy Sydney works 112 hours a week. I feel bad he had to come get me. He recommends motel 6 instead of the dives near the shop ( his words).
4. I detach and leave only the jeep key, which turns out later was smart. But I definitely wasn’t thinking when I did that.
5. I take everything useful out of the jeep but leave the rope and my hiking shoes. Usually my rope is in my climbing bag but on this day Hiroshi hiked it out. I also wore sandals to be more comfortable on the drive and decide to leave those items, which I was unable to get before leaving Barstow.
6. Tow guy drops me at motel asks for room number, um, no thanks
7. I get the 2nd to last available room on the complex
8. Motel is bustling with questionable characters of all kinds of stereotypes. I imagine meth heads when I see one guest hovering at his room door. Gang members when I pass another set, white trash at another, too many people moving about to be discreet and go unnoticed. I am obviously uncomfortable but trying to pass like I do this all of the time.
9. I need food. Front desk patches me through to a pizza delivery place but the number’s been disconnected. There is a denny’s we drove past a few blocks up. I wonder if i’m brave enough to walk these streets for food. I had scoped out the surroundings from the tow drive to the motel. Cop talking to some bum on the side of the road, lots of abandoned properties and a lot of pedestrians out for 9pm in the middle of nowhere. I opt out of walking to Denny’s thinking the closer of weinerschnitzel or jack in the box would have to suffice. They were, after all, only within a block from the hotel.
10. On my way to get food I’m aware that along my path is a nightclub promoting nude girls. Just the type of crowd I want to pass at this hour, which is nearing 10.
11. An suv full of rowdy kids passes by and starts hooting and hollering at me. They don’t let up when they pass and for a brief moment I worry they will stop or turn around. I decide to jay walk. I’ve only just passed the nightclub. A man in a silver car leers at me. I need him to pass so I can cross.
12. The silver sedan crosses all lanes and veers towards me. My demeanor is unchanged. I look at him as he turns in next to me. He studies me and I almost think he is stopping when I take advantage of the lull in traffic and cross purposefully to the other side.
13. Eat in or take out. While I wait for my order which was placed by me into an ordering machine, I study the surroundings outside along the path I’d just come. I don’t see anyone obviously lingering so I retrace my steps with my food to the hotel. This time without incident.
14. I return to my room to find that the door was never shut. Fortuitous. No one disturbed my things and after my brief episode outside of the hotel, I suddenly feel safer surrounded by these neighbors than the strangers along the street. I note to make sure the door latches when closed. Then I eat, watch some news about the wild fires in Malibu then pass out. It had been a long day.
15. I wake in the middle of the night to a nose bleed. How can this air be any drier than vegas? I attribute it to the smog from the wild fire and Local pollution.
16. Good morning! What has this day got in store for me?
17. Upside, I get to watch tv in bed, which never happens at home and is a rare treat, though there is hardly ever anything worth watching. Today, however, Stanley cup playoffs are in full swing and the penguins vs islanders game is being aired. I tune in to that.
Downside: tv is tiny with poor reception. I shower and notice they don’t even supply anything more than a bar of soap. Also noted was the lack of a pen and paper. Guess that’s why the rate was so cheap.
18. Time to get my day underway. 9am the mechanic should be looking at my jeep. 9:30ish I start making phone calls. Checkout time is 12.
19. Mechanic won’t answer his office line. I have to talk through the tow company contacts. I’m supposed to get a call with an update. My guess, the mechanic will now see the jeep. I head to Denny’s for breakfast.
20. Egg whites, spinach and tomatoes. Oh and a good tasting bold coffee. Thank you!!
21. Tow guy finally contacts me. Jeep’s out of commission. Mechanic won’t do anything until tomorrow. Tow to Vegas will run me several hundred dollars. Time to think about alternative ways home.
22. All rental car agencies are closed.
23. Turns out the rental car and travel expense reimbursement is only in the event of an accident. No help in this regard for breakdowns.
24. Kenny and Julie are a huge help. Nothing to do about my situation now but sort out how bad it is in the morning. Looks like greyhound has some runs to Vegas throughout the day. It’s just noon, next bus is at 1:45. Plenty if time, but then I know how these things go…
25. Plan is to make the 1:45 to Vegas. Note, next time book the ticket online and save a few bucks.
26. Try to find a taxi to take me to get my rope, etc from the jeep, but mostly so I can get the engine codes and talk to the mechanic. He says he’ll wait for me. Only one taxi company in town and I keep getting vm.
27. Finally get a person on the line for a taxi. They are down to one car ( engine blew up on the only other one) it will be 45 minutes. It is now looking like catching the 1:45 might be close. I am tempted to buy the ticket online to guarantee my seat but without the certainty of arrival, call too check seat availability. Looks like I can risk arriving and getting my ticket up to 10 minutes before departure. I take the risk of waiting on the taxi with the hope of talking to the mechanic. I have now determined the greyhound station is an 11 minute walk, which I will absolutely do if the cab doesn’t arrive within the estimated time.
28. Cab calls me to confirm pick up. Phone loses reception and cuts us off when I try to tell her I’m in the lobby.
29. I call her back after 5 minutes, when she said she’d be here. She caught my pickup at lobby in the last conversation. She says 2 minutes out. I wait.
30. Cab arrived. We head to the shop the address of which I have given her. It’s a straight shot. She makes a turn. She’s on the phone. I ask her where she’s going. Julie tells me to get out and run to greyhound. I stay the course.
31. At the shop. No one is around. I call the tow guy, why didn’t I do this earlier to make sure the mechanic would be there??
32. Mechanic is home but driving over, 10 minutes out. Cab driver is about to leave me. I can no longer walk to greyhound. I have to bail. I call the tow guy back, tell him to tell the mechanic to go back home and explain my situation. I forgot my garage opener is in the jeep.
33. I say good bye to my jeep. Hope the items left don’t lure vandals and make it to greyhound with enough time to consolidate my bags (had hoped to have my rope to pack in one of them).
34. Forgot my ear buds when I went climbing yesterday. Bought new ones at the greyhound station so I can listen to my tunes on the bus. Also searched for some reading material but all I found where inappropriate girly magazines and sudoku. I bought a sudoku and a pen.
35. Finally, on my way home. I have a rental reserved and a ride from the bus stop. The greyhound is nice. We set off nearly on time. We pass a horrible looking accident in the southbound lanes and terrible congestion for miles after. I am glad I am not in it. Then, the sewage breaks on the bus. It smells for awhile but then clears. I have no idea why. The driver pulls over at one point to investigate but then we get back on the road. I note that I hope I don’t need that facility on this trip.