day one / 8.27.19
We started our day pretty early, 4:30am early. Started our final touchups on where things would go in the van and topping off oil, coolant, etc. Then after saying our goodbyes and running some very last minute errands, at 8:45am we were off. After just slightly over two hours we made it to the Redlands, where we took our first stop at Augie’s Coffee Roasters, honestly kind of disappointing. The space was great but the service and coffee were just eh. We decided to take a minute (more like two hours) to relax before taking off on the rest of our drive for the day towards Joshua Tree National Park.
So we end up arriving to Joshua Tree at about 2:30 pm and it is 110 degrees outside and just a dry heat. Miserable. We hang out in the visitors center for a bit to stretch our legs and get some AC. After about 45 minutes we drove to fill up our gas and get more water for that night. As I go in to buy more water Ryker is filling up the gas and the gas pump doesn’t shut off and shoots out all over him (this was just the start of our bad luck for the day, stay tuned). So after trying to clean up the gas off him, and not knowing when or where our next shower would be, we set off into the park. After driving through for about 25 minutes we find a nice easy hike that we had done last year to Barkers Dam. It wasn’t that bad besides the fact that I was really hot and love to complain about it.
It takes us about 30 minutes to finish our walk and we decide to find our place to camp for the night. We drive about 2 hours though the park to reach the Cottonwood / South gate entrance. We stop at the visitors center to top off our water and then leave to find our BLM camping spot outside of the park (this is where it gets good). Ryker notices that the van is pulling to the left as we drive, so we pull off to a spot about a quarter mile away from the main road. It’s about 6:30 pm when he hops out to start to set up camp for the night and notices that our front left tire was flat. He goes to change the tire and the lug wrench snaps…
So we call AAA to come help us out and they say they will be there in 30-40 minutes. So around 7:15pm we get a call from them and they are at the wrong end of the park… So they say they will send someone else closer by us. 40 minutes later someone calls and says give them another hour to be there. We kill time by making some dinner and starting to set up camp. Now it’s 9pm and we get the call that the AAA man is there but he can’t drive onto the dirt and asks us “how flat is your tire? Meet me on the main road.” We start packing up our camp now when he calls back to tell us that he has another call so he’s going to leave and come back. We were livid at that point. We head down to the main road and wait for this guy. At 10:30 (!!!) he finally shows up and tells Ryker he might not have the right tool to change our tire. He helps Ryker change it but tells him that he couldn’t get it on all the way so we need to be careful driving on it.
We were planning to be in Joshua Tree for three days, but after just that first day we decided to just drive “carefully” down to Indio for the night and stealth camp near a tire shop so we can get everything settled in the morning, then just head straight up to San Luis Obispo the next day.