I awoke to the sound of semi-trucks rumbling over the bridge at 4 a.m. Slightly board and a bit cold, I crawled out of the hammock to rebuild the fire. After watching the sunrise I packed up Ruby and hit the road. The camping site worked well and if the opportunity presents itself I’ll try the method again. It has been cold in the mornings, and I usually leave night gear on for the first few miles before slowly shedding layers as the day goes on. I occupy my time by playing games like trying to keep Ruby’s front wheel on the white line.
I had never been more excited to make it to a town where the population sign read 100 (I think they rounded up). I walked to the only place open, JB tire. The guy built the place himself in 1961, and I’m sure at one point the business had its glory years. Our dialogue went something like this, “do you have an outlet I can plug my phone into?” His reply, “right over there in the wall.” My response, “thanks.” His annoyed statement, “don’t park your buggy there I might get a customer.” The other 10 citizens of Essex may have been loyal customers of the old tire garage but I had my doubts that there was a customer within 100 miles.
The next 10 miles felt like the earth had doubled its gravitational pull and my legs were heavier than logs. I kept thinking there were Ninjas hiding on the side of the road throwing knives into my legs. I don’t know where these shooting pains were coming from, but they had no rhyme or reason and usually left as quickly as they came. However, I had housing in Goffs and was determined not to spend another lonely night in the desert. When I got to interstate 40 there was a slightly normal gas station where I sat in the shade and stared out over the Mojave Desert for who knows how long. Before I left I bought a hot dog and snickers bar. It made for a good lunch when combined with a power bar and energy gel. A few minutes later I was flying down the road to Goffs and throwing my fists in the air to get a toot toot from the train conductor. I’m not sure what they put in those energy gels, but it was awfully powerful for 3 or 4 miles. I could see Goffs in the distance and was thrilled when two older men came out to meet me in their golf carts.
I was reading through Reid Stowe pages and pages of blog post and found this amazing story that I just had to share because of its flat out movie like characteristics. Hard to believe unless you knew that he would years later set the record for the longest time at sea. Over 1,000 days. I will write more on him sometime, but for now here is the story.
In his own nonchalant words “This very atmospheric old photo was sent to me by a French couple who took it from their sailboat. In 1974, I was with them on their sailboat on the Amazon River when we were captured by pirates. We were tied up for three nights and two days while the pirates stripped the boat and argued amongst themselves. They let us live and left us tied up on the floor. We untied ourselves and sailed out of the Amazon to Martinique. My little catamaran TANTRA was left anchored alone in the pirate’s den.
Everyone is aware of the danger of pirates today. Around ten years ago, the world’s most famous sailor, Sir Peter Blake, took over leadership of the Cousteau Society and was murdered by pirates on the Amazon River close to where I was captured many years before. It is dangerous to sail to the wild places of the world, even today.
Four months after my pirate experience at the age of 22, I went back to the Amazon and stole my catamaran out of the pirate’s den. I sailed up to Martinique where I rejoined my French sailing friends. That was when they took this photo of me on my catamaran. Imagine sailing to four continents on this 1,400 pound, 27 ft boat navigating with an old brass sextant and having no motor, no electricity, no radio, or life raft. Those were the days! Those years of sailing set the stage for me to conceive of accomplishing the longest sea voyage in history.” Reid