Paul and Rob’s Excellent Blythe Adventure

(with a postcard image to boot)

It All Started So Innocently…

One night, Paul and I decided to go to Blythe, California.

This is not your run-of-the-mill trip. Blythe is a rural community located on the California/Arizona border, 228 miles east of Long Beach, our point of origin. To get there, we had to take the 10 East past Riverside, Palm Springs, and Indio. At this point, CalTrans divides the universe into two parts, Beach Cities and Desert Cities. This is truly the middle of nowhere.

It was about 2AM and we were still a good twenty minutes from Blythe when we decided enough was enough. I pulled off the freeway onto a two-lane road called “Ford Dry Lake Road.” According to my map, this road would turn back on itself and connect to the freeway. Feeling slightly adventurous, we decided to take the road and return to the freeway that way.

All was going well until I hit the dry wash. I lost control and when the dust settled, the car was embedded in a sand dune with at least one flat tire. (Later, we found out it was two.)

If you want, you can get a detailed account of the accident.

The Journey of Twelve Miles Begins with a Single Step

So there we were, in the middle of nowhere, twenty miles from the nearest town. It was dark, cold, and more than a bit frightening. The road we had taken was probably used once a week. We had a decision to make: hike five miles toward the freeway and an offramp ignored by everyone, or hike twenty miles towards the city? We decided to take the latter.

After about two hours, we met up with a small group in a truck. They didn’t offer us a lift — jerks — but they did tell us there was a rest stop a mile past the connection back to the freeway. It was another two hours to the freeway, and the sun was beginning to rise. This was the desert, and I had no desire to be cooked by the sun. Encouraged by the signs of life in the distance, we jogged the remaining half-mile.

Everything after that was an anti-climax. My mother was notably upset yet relieved, and she gave me her credit card number over the phone so I could get a tow. The wheels had to be removed to get gravel out of the brakes, so it’s a good thing that I wasn’t able to drive out of the dune.

Paul’s mother forbade him from ever letting me drive again; this embargo lasted for about three years, until the Moldsmobile reared its ugly hood.

And Then…

This little excursion cost more than shoe rubber: my mother decided she needed new tires so I had to pay for them. To be precise, I got new tires for her car for my birthday and Christmas.

I returned to Blythe a year later (alone and surreptitiously) to eat at a restaurant (which wasn’t IHOP) and pick up the above postcard. Eventually, I want to return to Blythe and photograph the crash site.