Part VI: The 46 Mile Grocery Trip

Do you think I could get another pin into Denver?

Do you think I could get another pin into Denver?


It’s said that God rested on this day. He may be resting, but I’m definitely not.

As I sit in the Park Rock Cafe and charge my phone and GoPro, it slowly dawns on me there are no grocery stores in the town of Joshua Tree with the lonely exception of an organic store. The closest is about 5 miles. The 23-ish miles I just rode to get into town weren’t so bad considering they were mostly downhill. An extra 10 miles and then back uphill to Jumbo Rocks does not sound like fun times.

Note: The signs in the park at Jumbo Rocks says it’s 23 miles to the town. The question once I hit the park entrance was, where does the town begin? Did the town start at the park boundary or some other odd spot on the road? And how many extra miles from the park entrance (if it was 23 to it) would I need to go to find a grocery store? As it turns out, it’s 23 miles to get to the information center right smack dab in the middle of town and next to route 62. Be aware that Map My Ride’s initial route to town takes you on Queen Valley Road which turns into dirt/gravel from pavement, though it knocks off 3 miles. 

You may be asking yourself, why the hell did she leave the park and go into town? Didn’t she pack enough?

Well, yes and no.

What I did not anticipate was the energy being sucked out of my devices from the cold nights (I started sticking them in my sleeping bag at night). However, I had planned on Sunday being grocery/water fetching day. I knew I would only be able to carry so much water so why waste calories trucking more food and water around when I could just hop into town.

If I had known what my first day biking was going to have been, I probably would have loaded up. Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t. It was the most relaxed biking day I had the whole trip. Easy cruise into town with one pannier and backpack and hit the coffee shop, the park’s gift shop and organic store (expensive but organic). In addition, I found the post office (I needed stamps for postcards. I don’t buy chintzy souvenir crap. It’s wasted beer money.), the alcoholics’ liquor store, and an overpriced hi-uppie coffee shop.

Hi-uppie: noun. a person that is a combination of hippie and yuppie. They have both sensibilities which create the most annoying mishmash of patchouli/sandalwood, tree-hugging laid-backness with high irritability if their $9 coffee order doesn’t come out exactly the way they think it should as they drive off in a brand new, macked out Touareg with Save the Earth and jam band stickers on the bumper. 

Swiss cheese, a couple of avocados, bananas, and pears, a tomato, an orange, dried papaya, strawberries, two bottles of organic beer, and a second coffee in my system later, I’m headed back up to the park. I figure stocking up on water at the entrance is the better idea since the hill into town looked like it was the worst part of this upcoming 23 miles.

That was the best decision I had made besides waiting until 1:00pm to get moving again.

The trek from town to the park entrance kinda sucks. It’s steep-ish rolling hills all the way (though it looks like one big hill). The upside was bumping into two other cyclists on their way back to Jumbo Rocks that had come into town for brunch. The lady was living in Estes Park, CO, while the gentleman was visiting her from Belgium. We chit-chatted most of the way and they invited me to stop by later that evening for dinner and relaxing by the campfire.

It's only about 5 miles from town to the West Entrance. Those 2 red hills are the worst parts. Especially when all you want to do is drink the beer in your pack.

It’s only about 5 miles from town to the West Entrance. Those 2 red hills are the worst parts. Especially when all you want to do is drink the beer in your pack.

Once into the park, the ride was so easy I started singing songs as I biked. The afternoon became cooler yet the sun was still strong and warm. The worst part of the day is 11:00am to 1:00pm. It’s just so horribly hot.

It’s 3:00pm and I’m back to my campsite. After a much needed nap, I take a bit of a walk around on the rocks again. The sun is fading to orange as a large group of spandex-clad cyclists go huffing up the road. I yell out to the stragglers, “Get it!! There’s cold beer at the end!!!” One sits up on his bike, shakes his hands in victory at the air, and with a huge smile on his face yells back, “YES!!!”

The benefit of traveling alone is meeting new people. As I walked the camp roads looking for the biking couple, I strike up conversation with an older couple out for an evening stroll. They’re snowbirds from Canada, as are many of the snowbirds in Joshua Tree and Southern California. According to them, Mexico is too far and it’s warm enough for them here. Huh. Go figure.

The biking couple had moved to another campsite, to which I had been redirected, to let a large group of older hippies all camp together. Apparently, this group comes to JTNP once a year to see each other and party like the good old days. I hope that I’m that kind of bad ass in my 60’s.

The campfire was just starting to roll. It was wonderful to have company for an evening, sharing stories over a glass of wine and pasta. I never appreciated pasta as much as I did that night. They shared stories of how they met doing a trans-American bicycle tour, how small the touring community is (apparently there’s a pair of Portuguese twins and an Irishman that tour a lot), and some tips on touring. They were on a month-long road trip and biking wherever they ended up.

There’s always more good people out there than bad.

I still sleep with my knife close by, just in case. I’m a cute girl… can you blame me?