We have been on the road for almost 6 weeks now and last night as we were driving through Joshua Tree, having just left the Joshua Tree State Park the transmission on our bus blows a gasket on Route 62 at about 5:30pm. We were about 30 yards from the Safari Motel where we limped into the parking lot, leaking the last amount of transmission fluid that we had onboard. After checking into, another, once again, cheap motel we stood by our broken vehicle and there alongside highway 62 was a sign that read “Transmission work, call Hector”. Although, it took us a few hours, we called Hector. Hector happened to live and work just an 1/8th of a mile up the road from the Safari Motel.
We have been in the desert for well over a week and were looking forward to getting into the Sierras as soon as possible. Highs, here in the desert during the day range from 110 degrees to 115. Lows range from 70 to 80 degrees. So, here we are an 1/8th of a mile from Hector and the Sierras ahead of us, which we will never reach unless Hector rebuilds our transmission. So, Hector comes down to the Motel with his Father, with whom he works with and they take one look at our transmission and both immediately identify the problem, “there was a guy last week with the same exact bus, and he was coming up the grade when the gasket blew. During the Summer in the desert, we see this all the time. It’s unfortunate, but the stress on vehicles in the desert is enormous”.
Hector is rebuilding our transmission. But, that is not really the point. After dropping our broken bus at their house/shop, Hector and his Father drove us to a place to stay and made sure that we were taken care of. I have spoken to Hector 32 times in the last 3 days. In every conversation he wanted to make sure that we were taken care of. He spoke to us about the area and his passion for this region, admitting that it is not for everyone, but it is a place he has made his home.
That is the point. Everyone we have met along this journey talks specifically about a sense of place, that they have made an intentional decision about where they are living and why. Unlike my experiences back on the East Coast whereby the most common reason that people are where they are has been because of jobs, relationships, schools. Here, we have met people that are where they are because that’s where they want to be, and where they want to be serves their dreams. It makes a difference when you meet people that know why they are there, and where they are. Live where you live. Soon to be back on the road.