“The Mojave Desert is an arid rain-shadow desert and the driest desert in North America. It is located . . . primarily within southeastern California and southern Nevada, and it occupies a total of 47,877 sq mi (124,000 km2).”—Wikipedia
“We got to get acrost.” —Ma Joad, referring to the Mojave, in The Grapes of Wrath
The first motel west of Needles is 100 miles away at Ludlow (2000 census population: 10). Bicycles are not allowed to enter I-40 at Needles, so Ludlow is 130 miles (a two-day journey) by bicycle. Jeffrey was prepared to spend one night in the desert to divide the journey in half. Instead, thanks to George and his truck, we are safe at the Ludlow Motel.
It’s spring. The Mojave is relatively green. We enjoyed the exotic plants.
The scenery is stark and spectacular.
About 60,000 motorcyclists are gathering for the annual Laughlin River Run, just east of the Mojave.
Jeffrey spoke with some of them.
These U.S. Army veterans now work for the Army as civilians. Jeffrey explained Human Rights First’s work to secure lawyers for asylum applicants, and to enlist retired military officers to oppose torture. All three nodded when Jeffrey said that one needs a lawyer to present one’s case properly. Charlie said torture is a non-starter with real military men; it’s just wrong. Jeffrey apologized for taking their time when they were out to have fun; Clarence said, with a smile, that a lawyer can’t help talking. All three shook Jeffrey’s hand.
Alice is an Army veteran, too.
Alice is biking from California to Washington, DC, on the Restore Honor Ride. She is talking to people about the mistreatment (until recently) of military personnel on account of affectional preference. She is finding what we have found regarding mistreatment of asylum applicants: once Americans know about an injustice, they want to set things right. We wished Alice and Bill (who is biking to support an American dentist’s free work in Africa) a wonderful journey.
Eléonore has a particularly exciting plan.
A freelance Beligian TV editor, she has set aside 11 weeks to bike to National Parks between Los Angeles and Seattle to raise money and consciousness for Survival International, a group dedicated to stopping outsiders’ exploitation of indigenous peoples’ land and rights.
Anti-torture, anti-discrimination, anti-exploitation: all our new friends are pro-human rights! What great fellow-travelers these be.
Eléonore did more than teach Jeffrey something new, and express support for the rights of asylum seekers. She told Jeffrey to ignore the “Road Closed in 30 Miles – No Thru Traffic” signs that were about to send us to the loud, 75 mph I-40 superhighway. Eléonore had biked Historic Route 66 from the west, and said there was a track in the sand around two unfinished bridges. We took Eléonore’s advice and enjoyed 30 miles of Route 66 virtually to ourselves; the signs had scared away nearly everyone but us and George.
We continue west tomorrow. To borrow Ma Joad’s locution, we aren’t yet acrost.