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STORIES FROM THE ROAD


April 03, 1993

HOT MEAL IN THE DESERT

Today had been a good ride so far. After church in Victorville, I took the old highway to Baker through Oro Grande instead of getting back on the shoulder of I-15. I made pretty good time to Barstow. I could have stopped in Barstow but it was still to early and I wanted to made some distance through the Upper Desert between the Cady and Soda Mountains.

At Yermo, I got back on the shoulder of the interstate at an interchange. The ride was good. Heading westward on what might have been the old highway before the interstate was built was a long convoy of military vehicles. They might have been on maneuvers either at the Fort Irwin Military Reservation or Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Base.

About two miles passed the next interchange, I got stopped by a state trooper. He told me that I would have to walk back to the interchange that I had just passed and get on the old highway. There was a law that said that bicyclists could travel along the interstate only if there was no other road. I really didn't want to risk traveling on the old road because I didn't know what condition it was in but I had no other choice.

When I got on the old highway, I found out that it was in really bad shape. The pavement was sort of missing in some places and in others there were deep wide cracks or potholes. I had to slow down a lot so that I would not break anything on the bike especially spokes. I hoped that the road wouldn't last long so that I could get back on the interstate.

Along the side of the highway, I saw dark green or brown plastic bags. When I stopped to check one of them out, I saw that they were military rations (MRE's). They might have come from the convoy that had gone passed several hours ago or from another military convoy. Most of the bags that I stopped to check out were empty but others had small packets of things like peanut butter, crackers, candy. I stopped to check as many as I could because I could always use the extra food if there was any.

About ten miles down the highway and near the small town of Harvard, I came across a soldier who had a broken down truck. It turns out that the trailer that he was pulling had a flat tire. He was waiting for one of the other soldiers to come back with another wheel. I joked with him about all the MRE items that his fellow soldiers had left along side the road.

The soldier asked me if I ever saw a full MRE packet before and I said no. He then went to his truck and came back with four packets and he said that they were extras and I could have them. I thanked him a lot for them. Along with them, he gave me three water activated heating packs so that I could heat up the main course. Before I got back on the road, he made sure that my water bottles were filled.

Right before dusk I found a place to camp out near some of the few trees that I had seen in the desert that were not cactus. It was really wild that here I was in the desert having a hot meal for dinner. I wished that I had gotten the name of the soldier but I didn't so I would not have a way to write and thank him.




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