Well, I finally found someone besides me with the genius to be a true entrepreneur: Mike! Whoever he is. During my whole ridiculously long journey from coast to coast (sometimes I wonder if there’s a prize for slowest travel time) I have been thinking gods, if only there was a DIVE BAR / RV PARK COMBO out there! And finally, I found one. And, it was a good one, with all regulars, a ceiling covered with dollar bills and a bar made of sand.* If they had Flintstones buildings, I would never have left. (Note: figure out how to get a liquor license in Valle, AZ. You think I really left Bedrock? Bedrock is my ultimate goal. Bedrock is in my SOUL. I’m going back to Bedrock.)
I appreciated Mike’s even more because I was afraid it didn’t exist. I have three different RV apps on my phone to help me locate places to stay at night and it was only listed on one of them. Sometimes that happens – that’s why I have all three – but sometimes it means that a place is closed, or doesn’t exist at all except in the fevered imagination of some lonesome long haul Rver. Like, for example, me when it starts getting dark. I can’t see for shit in the dark anymore and I sure as hell don’t want to be towing Amelia blind. So I have resigned myself to camping on the side of the road if it gets dark. I haven’t done this yet – I’m just too fucking chicken, or as my friend Elizabeth said more diplomatically, too middle class – but the day, I am sure, will come. I thought it had come on Thursday.
The problem was that I left the Grand Canyon too soon and without real plans. I had had a vague plan to leave Moby and Amelia in the parking lot at the Grand Canyon supermarket and spend another day taking photos of rocks, but I couldn’t quite justify it. If I did that I was going to go back to Bedrock for another night and I have a not unjustifiable fear that if I ever return to Bedrock I will never leave. So I went to one more gift shoppe and bolted away like a sensible woman. There was a Grand Canyon Caverns RV park listed on two of my three apps. One of them said it cost $40 but the other said $20, so I headed off onto a weird loop of Route 66, hoping for caverns and a $20 night. 40 miles or so later, I found it too: dinosaurs! Weird memorabilia! A lounge! Friendly people who chatted with me! But then I drove the whole long potholed dirt road behind the empty, scary motel to the RV park and discovered that the $40 price was accurate. Well, no. Just, no, even for caverns, decaying dinosaurs, a closed motel, a decrepit lounge and a cast of mildly desperate characters wandering adrift in the desert. So I drove off and if I could have stomped, I would. But nobody even noticed me leave.
I drove and drove and it got darker and darker and then, just as I had given up hope and resigned myself to a night on the side of the highway hoping to all the gods of Hanna Barbara that a car full of drunk rednecks looking for trouble didn’t cruise by, I spotted Mike’s. I pulled in and found myself in a dive bar, or, as I like to call it, HOME. They had one RV spot left and a charming guy called me lucky and offered me a drink. Ahhhh. So I set up camp and spent an hour or two having a lovely time at the bar. Everyone knew each other. Everyone lived nearby. It was great. And the glow from the wine lasted all night, even though the trains went by – right by, like 50 feet away – all night and Route 66 hummed along even closer. But I like trains and I like charming drunk men who flirt gently with me at bars full of Western memorabilia and I will remember Mike’s, sitting almost alone in the desert, 20 miles or so outside Kingman, Arizona.
* the bar had a glass top. Under the glass was a bed of desert sand and displayed on that were all kinds of random things, from a rattlesnake skin to a couple of bullets to a French franc note. It was great. If I ever own a dive bar I’m totally stealing the idea.