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Over the weekend I took my first solo recreational road trip. I went to San Diego to visit my friend Rachel (who wrote the song “Hallway” for “The Bet.” After I’d gotten laid off, she kept bugging me to come and visit. So I did. I was a bit nervous driving out there on my own – especially since my car is having issues. But I took it in, got it checked and dropped $920 to get some repairs. Still freaky on certain roads, but it was fine for the trip.

It was a nice ride, no traffic to speak of, and once I neared SD it was overcast and foggy. And great break from the 100-degree weather here. I watched as the temp dropped from 98 to 88 to 78 to 52.

I got there about 3pm. Rachel had told me we were going to ride in Critical Mass that night. I was up for it. Until I saw the bike I was borrowing was a townie, not a bmx. BIG difference. I was way wobbly on it and was suddenly very nervous. Not to mention it was in the lowest gear and a bitch to pedal uphill. But I figured I’d driven all this way, I might as well give it a go. As Rachel said, we’d jumped out of a plane together; this was nothing.

As hundreds of bikers gathered around the fountain in a park, waiting to go, there was a thud. Some guy who’d been standing about 15 feet from me passed out. While one of our group ran over to the cop car nearby, he came to, then went out again and I was sure he had just died. But he came to again and seemed fine. An ambulance came and took him away. Not what I needed to calm my nerves. Rachel and I decided we’d bail on the whole event and head back. I was plenty exhausted anyway from the drive and all, so I was all too happy to call it a night.

The next day we went to Salton Sea. I’d never heard of it, but it seemed like a pretty interesting place. Apparently the algae is so thick that it robs all oxygen so when fish get to a certain size they suffocate and float to the surface. Fun! It took nearly three hours to drive out there and the misty overcast skies gave way to sun and heat. When we got there, the smell was so overwhelming we nearly just turned around. But decided to do some exploring.

We’d hoped to find some of the abandoned buildings and such that we’d heard about, but the shore that we were one really held nothing but dead fish. Lots and lots of dead fish. And ground up fish bones. And stink. We’d had enough of the heat and smell and headed back.

That night we went to So Say We All, a Moth-style storytelling event that some of Rachel’s friends were in. The theme was “It seemed like a good idea at the time” – which could have described our two pseudo-adventures. After that, we were both dead tired. I was leaving in the morning and wanted to get some sleep, not looking forward to the long drive back.

It may not have been everything we’d hoped, but I was with a good friend so the misadventures were simply adventures. And her dog, Agent Cooper, is probably the cutest damn dog I’ve ever met. Plus, now that my road trip cherry has been popped (Rachel’s words), I’m looking forward to doing it again.