Misadventure Monday with “Ryan from Travel and Graphs”

This post is part of a L’appel Du Vide feature, Misadventure Mondays. In each segment, I’ll ask one of my favorite travel bloggers to share one of their Travel Misadventures. This Monday, Ryan from “Travel and Graphs” shares his story of a crazy road trip.

Current Trip

Currently my nomad factor is about zero. I have a summer job in Yellowstone National Park doing office work and inventory control for the maintenance guys here. Before that, I traveled from January to late May living out of a 1992 Previa van. Going from a completely vagabond lifestyle to this kind of intense communal living, has been bewildering to say the least.

Travel Style

My travel style revolves around two things: Low cost and the internet. I would much rather travel for longer living off the bare bones, than luxuriously for a short period of time.

I am slightly limited in where I can go though, since I will have violent web withdrawals if I don’t get my fix.

What’s been your best/worst travel misadventure?

Driving through eastern California. It was mainly my fault, as I had very unrealistic expectations for what was to come. I was heading to 29 Palms to see my brother who had just returned from serving in Afghanistan.

Before I set out, he told me something about the region, but I was way too busy thinking about flip flops, sun block, The Beach Boys, The OC, and living the west coast dream.

-The Initial Drive

My naivety was revealed as I was shocked California just kept on being like western Nevada: Kind of bare and seemingly lifeless. A part of me wanted the scenery to change instantly…with a surfer to great me at the border and a tequila sunrise issued upon arrival. I especially thought the boarded up houses (which look straight out of Breaking Bad) were a thing of the past.

Nope.

Apparently, this used to be a very popular route through the state until airplanes and larger highways rendered it a ghost route lined with desolation and abandoned roadside diners.

Suddenly, my brakes start making hideous noises. This is how horror movies start. It’s about that time that I remember what my brother tried to tell me:

“Yeah, eastern Cali is where they filmed the original version of The Hills Have Eyes.”

This is literally how horror movies start.

But it’s ok. It’s not like the only buildings around for miles had a toy teddy bear impaled on barb wire or anything.

Pulling into “Town”

I got my gas in a town with a population of 10 and owned by a man who moonlights as a chicken stand mogul. This is literally his (awesome, I might add) business card.

On cue, a gang of motorcyclists take form out of the dust.

However, even they get the heebie jeebies from the stark environment. When I ask ‘em where they are headed, the only answer I get (after a long, contemplated silence) is:

“East.”

Although his eyes tell me:

“Get out, young man. Get out while you still can!” 

-Nearing Joshua tree and 29 Palms

My brakes hiss and shriek as I bumble towards the two small cities. I was expecting the safety of civilization; this is what I got.

And this.

-Prologue: “…ahhh!”

The brother’s house is arrived at, safe and sound. He is gone for the day and I have the place to myself. Naturally, the first thing desired is a long, long, hot shower to wash away my over-exaggerated jitters. But the real nightmare is just beginning.

The Curtains Have Eyes.” (Eight of them, to be exact.)

What were the negative or positive outcomes of this experience?

Negative: A decreased overall impression of California, a hesitation to travel through any place that doubles as a horror set, and my arachnophobia got 10 times worse.

Positive: Seeing my brother was more than worth it, and I walked away with a greater appreciation for diversity and size of the American west.

What I learned

Never to let your imagination run away with you before you set out somewhere. Try as much as possible to cultivate a mind of openness…although how one becomes open to experiencing spiders on your shower curtain is a task for a better blogger than I.

What is the one lesson you wish you learned before your trip

I wish I had some pre-planning skills. Not only would legs of the journey like this be a little more enjoyable, preparation can make you much more confident in your travels. There is happy medium somewhere between a rigid itinerary and completely winging it.

Oh, and that no shower is safe.

Thanks Ryan for sharing!

You can check out more about Ryan’s travel adventures at his blog and by following him on twitter or facebook.

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