The 2022 Great Desert Road Trip

Johnny O

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Headed back out to the West desert to do some pay to play trilobite digging. Went well. Was gonna head up to sinbad overlook to camp after, but the frequent storms made me think twice. The road there is tricky when it’s dry, so decided to just camp in the Wheeler Amphitheater.
 

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Johnny O

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Uneventful yet relaxing evening. It rained a ton. I watched as the Jeep trail in submerged under about a meter of water.

No worries, it will be gone by morning, right?

Wrong.

Too deep to risk driving through solo. Have to find a different route out.

Managed to do so, but had to go pure off road…and that’s when the passenger front lower ball joint broke…

No worries, have an emergency spare! Of course this is when I discovered I neglected to pack any tools for swapping one out…

So, had to get creative. Pulled the knuckle, pulled the wheel bearing, then heated the thing on my propane campfire box. Got the busted one out.

The replacement moog just didn’t want to go in and it’s getting dark. I’m miles off the road and hidden in a small arroyo. No one can see me.

So, after taking stock of what I have available, I crank the fridge down as low as it will go and throw the ball joint in with what remains of my ice. I heat the knuckle back up on the firebox. It’s now dark, and there’s not really a good place to camp.

I rig all my lights and the use my 2lb mini sledge and hammer in the ball joint with extreme predjudice.

Exhausted with many small burns, I managed to get the dang thing in with minimal damage. It ain’t perfect, but it’s enough I can drive into town and do it right. The top of the ball joint is hammered all to hell, but it will work good enough.

I don’t even bother setting camp, I just pass out on my bedroll in the open.

I woke up screaming. Scorpion got me on the neck. Never been hit by one before. I’m in agony and can barely see straight. It’s still dark.

I duct tape a cold pack over the sting site and throw on all the lights to find my way back to a road. It takes hours.

Now I’m nauseated and can barely think straight, but I make it back to Delta around sunrise. I must be mildly allergic as my eyes are all but swollen shut.

Thankfully, the VA gives hydroxizine to us twitchy vets. It’s actually an antihistamine, but it works really well in small doses to induce sleep and reduce the impact of anxiety. I pop four times my proscribed dose.

I am waiting at the door when the autoparts store opens, covered in mud, face and neck swollen, and Bert is very obviously out of alignment.

I explain the situation. The parts store is on the Main Street frontage, so no parking lot to work in…and the only alignment shop is next town over, miles out of my way.

I get a warranty moog ball joint. Lucky me, only one in stock. I rent a press and then drive, painfully, down to the Dollar Tree parking lot.

Somehow, in between the dry heaves, I get the replacement moog in. At some point shortly thereafter I must have passed out… might have eaten one too many of the hydroxizine…

I’m awoken by a knuckle jab to the sternum by an EMT.

“You OK? What happened?”
I slur out the story.
“You want to go to a hospital?”
Nah, I’ll be fine. Just need coffee. Send the bill to the VA.
“You sure? You’re in pretty bad shape.”
I’m sure. I’ve had enough adventures this week. I just want to get on the road and to the KOA site I reserved in Vernal…then home…
 

Johnny O

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Still out of alignment, but I need sleep. The drive to the KOA is miserable, but I make it there fine and sleep for about 12 hours. Thankfully I had noise canceling headphones with me.

Never ever again will I stay at a KOA.

Rest of the trip is uneventful, but I make it home.

Adventure!
 
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