I have not seen the sun in days. The coast has been cold, wet and windy. This combination does nothing to improve my mood. The last week or so of riding has not been my favorite. The year and a half on the road is beginning to wear on me.
We passed several small fishing villages that, in a different light, could potentially be picturesque. Instead, in my present disposition, I saw nothing attractive.
The road turned away from the coast but the sand continued. Giant rolling dunes surrounded us, cut only by the road. As we travelled inland, the weather began to change and the sun began to force its way through the clouds.
Irrigation created pockets of fertility and vineyards appeared. We entered wine country and stopped to buy a bottle, which we looked forward to opening at camp later in the day.
Between the sun and tailwind, my disposition had improved tremendously.
Up to that point the day was a routine bicycle touring day. That changed when I went out into the desert to look for camping.
I went to investigate the cell tower at the top of a hill. Cell towers usually make a good camping spot. The ground in the area is usually level, free of brush and scrub, and the walls surrounding the equipment provide a partial buffer from the wind while helping to obscure the tent.
As I was walking around the building, I stutter-stepped to avoid what I thought was a large round white rock. It looked unusual.
I picked it up to discover it was not a rock but a human skull without the jawbone or teeth. Then I noticed the second skull by my feet.
The skulls were amazingly light and bleached out. With no teeth, my first thought was foul play, to deter any identification. There were neither bullet holes in the skulls nor cracks. There was no sign of trauma at all. Strangely though, no other bones — ribs, spine, arms, legs, etc. — were present.
That’s when an old Eddy Murphy stand-up routine played in my head.
In the Amityville Horror the ghost told them to get out of the house.
White people stayed in there. Now that’s a hint and a half for your ass.
Being a dumb-ass white guy, in a situation that was obviously the start of a horror movie where I was the main character, I ignored the warning signs. I yelled to back to Sarah who was waiting farther away on the side of the road: “I found an old Indian burial ground, we should put our tent here, it’ll be like Poltergeist! The clown should be here shortly.”
I walked the skulls back down to the road to show Sarah. In a very un-horror movie-like decision, she was not keen on camping anywhere near the site. I agreed it was a little creepy but continued my lead role in the movie, “You’re right, we should split up. You go on ahead up the road, to that old abandoned house on the sand dune and see if we can sleep there. I’ll walk back up the hill and return the skulls to the spot where I found them, beneath the black clouds forming a swirling vortex.”