(I didn’t take too many pictures this day, due to bad weather and being in a hurry. Sorry!)
I woke early after sleeping fairly well; the cold shower the evening before definitely helped in that regard. After packing everything up on the bike, I had a bowl of cereal and a bit of banter with Frank. I tucked some donation money into their can as a thank-you for the fantastic hospitality, watched the water truck refill the cisterns, and left early in an attempt to escape a repeat of the blinding heat death of Sunday’s adventures.
I’d had a chat with a good friend of mine who had been staying in Oakland, while taking advantage of East Jesus’ free wireless internet. She was getting a bit antsy to head back east, so I was on a definite schedule if I wanted to see her before she left. It’d been a bit over half a year since the last time we hung out, so I figured I’d better boogie. I scrapped my plans to check out some nearby mud pots, an abandoned building, the Salton Sea, and Joshua Tree for the time being. Without a specific path in mind, I aimed myself North.
My path took me near the Salton Sea, which is a curious bit of history, but not one which I had the time to investigate much this time around. From a distance, it looked like any normal lake. I snapped a few quick pics and was off.
Most of the camping within a wide radius of LA has steep fees, due to heavy use. Thinking back to the terrible hotel situation earlier in the trip, I would not be denied in my quest for free camping! I resolved to find a solution, and decided to choose a campground which was free with an Interagency Pass. I’d been planning on getting one anyways, because I’d like to visit Yellowstone and Yosemite again, and the fees really add up. The Pass is $80, but if you visit more than 4 parks, it’s totally worth it. Also, one pass is good for two motorcycles, so my boyfriend can sneak in too once he joins me on my adventures.
I headed toward what Google promised me was the ranger station, and which a PDF from the federal government assured me issued the passes… but instead, I found myself riding through drizzly, grey weather to a probationary work camp… not what I was looking for at all! Curse you, Google! After being directed to another location which also didn’t issue passes, I called the office, and they informed me that they were closed to the public and that I’d need to visit an office in San Fernando, almost an hour away. In LA-ish traffic. During rush hour. Oh boy.
I somehow managed to avoid becoming somebody’s hood ornament and finally found my way to the San Fernando office, just before they closed. I inconvenienced the poor rangers and felt really bad – it took another 20 minutes for them to restart the computer to process my transaction, but I was eventually successful.
I explained my financial situation and the woman recommended that I stay in a camp called Millard. It was only a quarter-mile walk to the site from the parking area, fairly nearby, and my best bet for a free night’s stay. It was already late by this point, so I hurried through the unending drizzle through the city toward the site.
The road up the canyon and down into the parking lot was a bit hairy – it was poorly maintained road, full of ruts, with many blind corners. Especially in the rain, with poor visibility, I went ridiculously slow. I made it there safely, and as the promised, the only thing I needed was my shiny new decal to park in the lot, and the campground itself was free. Score!
I hiked the quarter-mile or so to the campground in the dark, through thick fog and light misty rain. I didn’t want to leave any luggage on the bike – I don’t have much faith in humanity as far as theft is concerned, and even on my optimistic days I prefer to avoid presenting the temptation. I managed to hook much of my luggage to itself and waddled there in one very awkward, lumpy trip.
I set up the free tent and had a humid night’s rest as the rain continued into the night and the tent was anything but waterproof. This was the first time I’d used it in years, and the first night in the rain, but it beat hotel fees or sleeping with no tent! I made a nest out of my motorcycle gear to act as a ground pad, and made a pillow out of my spare clothes.
Derpiest tent ever.
The campground was very quiet, there was only one other tent that I could see. Not bad at all for just outside of LA!