Come and listen to the story of a gal named
A poor Desert Racer, that kept her family
Then one day she was in the cold without
So off to the desert they began to roam.
Homeless, that is…. Skid Row…Panhandling!
Well, the first thing ya know, ol Jay’s
a Desert Rat
Normal folks say “Well take a look
Said Johnson Valley is the place you outta
So they loaded up the van an’ camped
in the valley
Lucerne, that is…. Rattle snakes,
Ol’ Jay bought a trailer….
now, it’s a P.O.S.
Twelve foot six but has no more payments.
Lotsa folks objected, said it was much
But better then a tent when it began to
Wind, that is…. storm’s comin’
Well now it's time to say WooHoo to Jay
and all her kids
An' they would like to thank you folks
fer kindly bringing wood.
You're all invited back again to Johnson
T'have a heapin' helpin' of their hospitality.
Desert Rat, that is! Ride a spell, Keep
your boots on!
Y'all come back, now…ya hear!
My four kids and I were literally homeless
for seven weeks or so. We had an adventure of a lifetime during those 7 weeks! Four of the seven weeks we camped in the desert.
It just so happens that I have tons of camping equipment very well suited for desert living. Hmm…. wonder how that
happened? The first week was the week leading up to Thanksgiving. Due to near hurricane force winds, we packed up camp Thanksgiving
morning and went to stay at a friend’s. Thanks Jim!
We then spent the next 3 weeks in
a motel…. waiting out a serious of knarly winter storms. We were in a tent…I knew we couldn’t ride out storms
of this magnitude in a tent…thus in a motel we stayed. Staying in a Homeless Shelter just seemed absurd to me. We were
homeless…. not destitute. Due to the upcoming holidays…. affordable motel rooms dried up in the middle of December.
I had planned to check into a motel in Apple Valley to ride out the busy holiday season…far from Big Bear. Upon my arrival
at the motel, I was greeted by a man in a turban. No big deal…. I am far from a racist. But…. in the background
was playing news from the Middle East in English. The gist of the news report was…. Kill the American Capitalist pigs.
Um, yeah. I needed a roof over my kids’ heads…. politics were far
from the top of my list of things to worry about. I walked into the room that was to be where we would live for the next 3
weeks or better. It reeked of stale Schlitz Malt Liquor and Ben Gay. I could not do it! I could not check into
this room to torture my children in a place like this. I know there was yet another winter storm coming in within a few days….
but a few days camping would be better then checking into this horrible “Kill the American Capitalist Pigs/Stale Beer”
Motel. On the way to set up camp, I stopped by a place that I knew often had travel trailers for sale and for rent. Lo and
behold…. they had a very small trailer for sale…. it just so happened that I had almost enough money to
buy it outright. Cool! We spent 3 nights in a tent during that second trip…. then I got the trailer. Just in time because
we’d no sooner set up the trailer then the winds started coming in…. heavy winds. The wind brought a friend….
rain… heavy rain. We were in a trailer…. like bliss! We weathered several storms in the trailer. The first week
the only bike we had with us was one of the kid’s 50s. Oh, but the Enduro I ran on that thing! Can you say…. let’s
be terribly abusive to a little motorcycle? After nearly a week…. all the desert scavenging I could ever want….
I decided to scavenge with a purpose. I used a tie down and a bungee cord to attach our dishpan to the front of the 50 to
scavenge for firewood. I got nearly 3 days of firewood from scavenging. Pretty cool. Hey, I was bored…. shut up! Morgan
(V3x ’01) brought all our bikes down from the mountain after a week. I never did gear up completely. The most I did
was put my helmet, gloves and my chest protector on. The chest protector has my neck roll attached and I cannot ride in just
a helmet without that neck roll. Even a small whack hits my helmet against my still tender shoulder. I feel nekked
without my gear on…. and it keeps me from riding like a maniac. But, I have to admit that I rode my son’s KX60
like a total fool on way too many occasions.. oh, but it was just too much fun to resist! My kids all rode and my 10-year-old
son made tons of new friends. One day…. a boy rides up to our camp…”Is Eddie home? Can he come out and ride?”
Priceless! Yes…. Eddie is home! He has a home in the desert.
We met so many cool people. One was Ed….
the Tugboat Captain. Thanks, Ed for letting us come in and invade your tranquility!!! Now, Ed looked like he just stepped
off a box of fish sticks right into the desert. When I first saw him…. his beard was hanging out the bottom of his helmet…and
he was dressed in overalls. I just get the biggest kick out of older guys riding in overalls…. seems like it’s
a picture of what it’s all about! Yeah…. there’s a million miles of desert…. and I just had
to camp right next to Ed…the Tugboat Captain and his daughter. Sorry, Ed…. but I knew we were going to be there
for a few weeks and the camp site next to yours was the best for wind and weather protection. I had scoped it out the first
time we camped. Ed was a great “neighbor”!
We celebrated Christmas in the desert.
We had a GREAT family Christmas! With the help of a few good friends who made it all possible! Yes…. if
there was ever any doubt…. Santa did find us out in the middle of nowhere! We opened presents around the campfire….
truly a memorable Christmas! It was the Christmas of dangerous toys. Well, hey…what better place for dangerous toys
then the desert? My 10-year-old son got a real Red Rider BB gun for Christmas! “You’ll shoot your eye out kid!”
The kids also got slingshots, paint balls
(those suckers hurt!), and rockets to launch. My 18-year-old son was with us for Christmas, as was Morgan (AKA Stand
in Dad kinda guy). The three of us “adults” showed the children the proper rules of safe gunplay and slingshots
by running around shooting each other. What better way to show what not to do then by example? The kids also learned
that even us “old folks” can move pretty fast when a model rocket launches out of control and comes back at spectators.
I got the chance to be the early
morning a-hole! Woo Hoo! Hey…it was 8 o’clock! Somebody had to be that a-hole…. I voted for
me that morning! There was good riding to be had! There was a layer of frost blanketing the desert…. I could
feel it crunching under my tires as I rode….neato feeling! So…. if you were out camping…. one morning you
heard a 2 stroke go by your camp…. rider “singing” the theme to Mission Impossible at the top of their lungs
(dunt, dunt, dunna, dunt, dunt, dunna, dunt, dunt, dunna, dunt…do, di, do…do, di, do…do, di, do….dunna!)….
With an occasional battle cry of “Sphincter says Get Up!”…That was me! You’re very welcome…really;
it was no imposition at all!
Another morning…. I was the third
early morning so-and-so…. the second on a 2 stroke. It was raining that morning…. from drizzle to down pour and
back again. I LOVE riding in the rain! I woke just before dawn…. hearing the piddle, piddle of rain again the
roof of the trailer. Oh…. I can’t wake all these folks up just yet…. that would be rude. A Weekend Warrior
faux pas. So…I waited. Right about sunrise…. sure enough…. first morning a-hole…. COOL! As
I was getting my boots on…. the second early morning so-and-so. WAY COOL! So…. out to start my bike! Went
‘round the canyon several times….”WooHooing” the whole way! One pass around the canyon turned my WooHoos
into cussing that would make a sailor blush. Vrttt, vrrt, vrrt…..high pitched Wingginging….blub, blub, blub….Oh,
%^&$*! I just blew up my bike! Oh, *&@%$#! I should have shaken the gas up better! Um…. uh….
what was the trouble? Um…. I ran out of gas! That horrible sound was my bike running way lean right before it ran out
of gas. Um, yeah…live and learn.
New Year’s Eve brought a dear friend
(that’s you, Mindy!) and her son du jour. We polished off many, many bottles of Martinelli’s. We strew
the bottles through out camp and vowed to beat our heads against the rocks New Year’s day for that full hang over experience.
Sober New Year’s…. but we had a blast dancing to the music from other camps and listening to lots of very drunk
people WooHooing around the canyon.
On several occasions we were serenaded
by the poetry in motion of trials riders practicing on the rocks that surrounded our camp. On one occasion…. the kids
got a front row seat watching a guy tumble down the rocks. He was ok…. as others had made it look easy…. this
guy reminded us how not easy climbing that rock hill was.
Hey, UEA! I want to camp right where we
were for your Enduro! I’m thinking a table to pass out coffee and doughnuts to the riders as they pass might be a nice
gesture. We could also set up some pretty good obstacles for you. Oooh, watch out for the van mirror…. then there’s
the log home leftover woodpile to traverse…oh, be careful of those tent stakes! You’ll want to swing way to your
left to avoid the small boy flailing a sword. I’m thinking of gathering a multi national panel of judges to judge riders
as they make their way through the LB Obstacle course! 8.5, 8.5, 9.0, 7.5…. oooooo, that judge from France has just
been brutal all day!
To a certain club…I have something
of yours…. and I am holding it hostage! Find me at the next Grand Prix…ask me nice and I might give it
We saw many Weekend Warriors and day-trippers
come and go. Their perspective much different then ours. They left to go home…. we were already home.
We’re back up in the mountains in
a house, now…. Morgan has joined us to make this house a home. We even have a garage now…that was worth
the wait! Now we don’t have to work on bikes in the kitchen…. though I will always miss the days of avoiding half
torn down motorcycles while trying to cook dinner.
Many thanks to all those who helped me!
I could not have done a thing such as this alone! May God bless you!
One evening a scene summed up our experience.
Only a few campers in the canyon…. breaking the silence was Elton John…
“How wonderful life is…”
Janette (W41 ’01)