Today I taught myself how to install a brake cable. It went pretty well. My cousin-to-be, Jeff, had been helping a friend assemble a new bike in his apartment, and from him I leaned the mystical alignment of brake-lever-parts. That came in handy. The new cable doesn't quite fit through the guides for the old one, and makes some nasty grinding noises. A cheap cable is better than a broken one, though, and if it saws through itself I'm only out five bucks.
Riding through the Imperial Valley was... ugly. The fields had a chemical stink. There where no nice little farmhouses or personal touches that make farmland charming. It's all big industry agriculture. Brawley seemed like a nice town, but Calipatria was nondescript. Niland is greasy and creepy on the surface, and I never really got past the surface. It's not all bad, though! I'm heading towards Slab City. I've been both nervous and excited about this for a while. Slab City is a legend in my mind; a heaven for vagabonds, tramps, misfits, and retired folks with big rigs. Along the way, I've head all kinds of warnings against it; don't go there, don't even think about it. The people there are all sick, they'll rob you, you'll regret it...
There is something about California, at least southern California, that I should address. I was first warned in Colorado; "Watch out for California Drivers! They're all insane!". I've heard that the campgrounds are trashy, people in grocery stores are rude, and no one in the damn state can really be trusted. All in all, that's nothing out of the ordinary. In Missouri folks talked bad about Kansas. In Kansas they said Nebraska was boring. In Colorado they warned me about meth houses in Idaho. What is different, here, in California, is that people warn me about... themselves. Californias are afraid of Californians. Go figure. Ironically, people have been pretty friendly. No one is trying to run me off the road, steal my bike, or mug me. The only bad experience I'm having is the incessant need of some people to force their own fears on me. One fellow took it so far I just had to up and take off, leaving him muttering "I'm just trying to keep you safe..." and shaking his head behind me.
So, in sort - California is okay, really. Still, I kind of want to get out of here... Coming up next, Slab City!