I went through a rugby phase, where I was convinced I would make a great rugby player for about ten months. I have a rugby sweatshirt, I like knee high socks, and I find black eyes aesthetically appealing. My phase ended when a friend insisted I come to a rugby game he was working at.

“These girls will eat you,” he said. He was right. Some of them were how I imagined; wearing knee high socks and fitted shirts with perfectly placed dirt stains. Most of them, though, looked like they could, and would, eat me if given the chance. I immediately decided to catalog it in my brain next to photography, something I talk about how great I’d be at if only given the chance.

I’m currently going through one of these phases with being a detective. It started out as wanting to be a hacker, but all the websites I found have too small of font, and I struggle reading on the computer as it is. Then I decided to be a detective, because I like trench coats. I am going about researching for the trip with the mindset that it will prepare me for being a detective.

Sure, It would be easy enough to go online and buy maps of different states, but where is the fun in that? Instead, I have searched for maps by calling different departments, like the Department of Transportation and the Parks Department. I go on their web sites, find a contact name, and call or email them. This is how I do anything, really. Why take the time to figure it out for myself, when there are customer service representatives for this reason? I imagine them all sitting in their cubicles, bored as anything, waiting for me to call and entertain them. Plus, when I talk to people I get a lot more than “click here to be sent a map of bike routes in Arizona.”

When it comes to crossing California, Kloe and I have to come up with the route on our own. Piecing together established bike routes has been our go to between Denver and Las Vegas, but we haven’t found any existing routes from Las Vegas to Los Angeles. This is probably because most people try to avoid the Mojave Desert, which isn’t bad, if you’re into biking hundreds of miles in unbearable temperatures with no water. But I prefer to live, so Kloe and I decided that let’s figure it out when we get there probably isn’t the best tactic.

After calling different post offices and schools I found throughout the Mojave Desert area, I finally found Dora, with the Parks Department.

“Can you tell me about Essex, California?” I asked, “I am thinking of biking through and staying there.”

“Oh, honey, I would not suggest that,” she said.

“Why?” I asked, stupidly.

“It’s a ghost town, no one really lives there anymore,” she said.

Kloe and I lived in Ithaca, New York, for a while, where the town was small enough that you knew most people, but I have a hunch that small town in the desert is different. Especially when I saw that on Wikipedia the population of Essex is eight.

Dora proceeded to tell me, from what I can only assume is her memory, how to bike from Las Vegas to Joshua Tree: “Then you’ll see a restaurant, stop there for water. And turn left,” she said.

I scrambled to write down what she was saying on the back of loose paper I found near me.

“Can you repeat that?” I said.

“You’ll go under a bypass, and stop there for a few hours. It’s the only shade you’ll see for days,” she said.

Being a detective, I got Dora’s contact information and told her to expect to hear from me with follow up questions. Being concerned for my general safety, she sent me multiple maps and information packets about the Mojave Desert in general.


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