I entered Lake Havasu around 8pm last night with fond recollections of a road trip with my wife in 1999. I remember it the same way, warm night with lots of lights and the feeling of water nearby. I was looking forward to possibly spending another day here to catch up on blog posts and enjoy the warmth. A sign outside says ďBreakfast overlooking the lakeĒ, I proceed to into my hotel and seem to be the only one here. There are almost no other cars in the parking lot, inside is a somewhat rundown looking hotel that reminds me of the cold, impersonal one-star hotels I stayed in in India. The breakfast area is far less welcoming tucked in a corner and I chuckle thinking of the sign outside. A small Indian man, Mr. Patel tries to balance his cell phone conversation in Hindi with the burden of checking me in. Iím still in a good mood despite the less than warm feeling about security of leaving my bike outside. The three pawn shops across the street arenít a good sign. I further trouble Mr. Patel for a room with a better view of my bike. He seems annoyed. The business card stack at the counter reminds me this is his establishment. Hereís a little tip for the kids: if youíre not hospitable, donít go into the hospitality industry.
I find a Panda Express, highly recommended by my college sister-in-law. After an overdose of MSG I return to let the effects put me right to sleep without accomplishing any of my usual duties like sorting and posting pictures. I sleep well waking occasionally to check on the bike instead of coughing. Progress.
8am and I jump out of bed to hit snooze so I can return for another 30 minutes of sleep. Just as I get back under the covers the door opens without a knock and I yell and hear ďIíll come back later!Ē. Yeah, thanks. Had you been a few minutes earlier I would have had to charge you for the show. Albeit not much, but still. I realize that I really have no control over my domain, even in a hotel. Especially in a hotel.
I decide to get up and get started on my chores. Cleaning gear, helmet, etc. Putting clothes and all my gear back in bags in the meantime trying to sort pictures, video and get it all posted. Once posted I can begin to recount the adventures, emotions and trivial details from the previous three days. Checkout is at 11am, the race is on. At 10:30 I realize Iím not going to make a fraction of what Iíd like to post. A call to Mr. Patel to negotiate for a later checkout time was not received well, since Iím the only one here, theyíre anxious to clean my room. Aggravated, I push what I can to the web and race to honor the 11am checkout. At 10:45 I make the first of many runs to load my bike and realize I canít get back into my room. Mr Patel looks at the clock to see if he has an argument, but instead of resetting my card he walks with me down the hall to open my door. Thanks, but I have about 4 more loads, how do I get back in? He walks away. I prop the door and finish loading, annoyed.
Outside I call my wife since I didnít have time in the morning. She listens to me gripe and points out that Iím like a homeless person. Painfully accurate this morning, but hearing her makes up for it all.
I havenít even had time to look at the map and have a bike fully loaded and no direction at all. I decide to find a McDonalds to have a proper cup of coffee and find a direction.
In front of me at the counter is an old man in a peach shirt having an exchange with someoneís whoís sex Iím unable to identify and an oversized tie. Iím too late to figure out what she said to him, but I can feel it, and itís not good. She, he, it scolded this old man, at least 50 years older than her and I didnít like what I felt. I could see my sister leaning over the counter, grabbing that oversized tie and instructing her (?) to go forth and multiply herself. I realized that there might be more to the story and tried to let it go. I find a quiet corner where I can see the bike and slowly milk my $1.75 worth of rent. With the help of my wife by text, 2.5 hours later Iíve picked a point on the map almost randomly. Before I go, I run to the loo to return my coffee. While I'm in there the same old man in peach steps out of the penalty box and seems to be waiting for me. When I finish I proceed to wash my hands where he starts a conversation about god. Oh boy. I pretend to listen while feeling an urgency to leave. When he figures out Iím not buying whatever it is heís selling, he cuts to the chase and blurts out ďcan I have a ride?Ē
Politely, with a smile I explain Iím on a bike (guess he missed the Power Ranger outfit) and canít help him. He continues on something about Jesus and the closing door leaves him behind. I gather up my things and head out to the bike. It takes a few minutes to put things away and I see my friend outside headed for me. I keep packing. I turn around and heís in my space. For those who know me, you know this isnít a good place to be. I give him a look he seems to understand and takes a step back, but undeterred he starts rambling about seeing a Harley once and how much expensive they are. Next heís on to how he used to sell timeshares, al the while Iím going about my business of packing. Itís a delicate balance of being polite and respectful, while still being undeniable firm. Iím not sure I found that balance but I did let him know our conversation had ended.
Not three hours earlier I felt bad for this old man being, and now Iím thoroughly annoyed by him. As I got back on the road my mind started to replay the morning and how I could have such a change of heart. Just some homeless guy (who didnít look homeless) hustling people and loitering at McDonalds. Sounds an awful lot like me. We were both loitering, milking our time and the resources of McDonalds. The only real thing that separates the two of us is that he has a direction and no transportation, I have transportation and no direction. I spend the next hour being humbled by the experience. Monks spend time begging, perhaps to build humility. Perhaps I too need more of this.
I pull over at the first restaurant and spend almost two hours writing this down, just to make sure I donít lose track of this bit of humility. Donít think Iíll make Phoenix tonight after all.
Outside of Havasu, headed for Hope, AZ.