Day 9 | This is Not Sustainable

March 18, 2017

Last night we had to drive for over an hour just for Brett to send an email to let his business partner know that he was not able to create the content he was planning to create yesterday. It was the perfect illustration of how life is for us here. It takes so long to get anything done. Even letting someone know that you didn’t get anything done! Eight hours to go grocery shopping, six hours to do a little bit of laundry and over an hour to send a quick email.

This is why most people only come here for a one week vacation. They leave their work behind, bring all the clean clothes they will need, and a nice supply of non-perishable foods like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

We can’t leave our work behind however because Brett just launched an online program and he needs to be able to keep up with it. We can’t avoid doing laundry because I have to change my shirt every time I decontaminate and I can go through three or four shirts a day. We can’t stock up on easy to prepare non-perishable foods because I can’t have processed foods or peanut butter and jelly without breaking into hives.

We were both exhausted as we drove back to our backcountry campsite after sending the email and it was a battle for Brett to stay awake. When we finally got down the terrible dirt road we decided to just sleep in the car. Neither of us had the energy to haul our sleeping bags, water and medicine back to the tent. I sighed and broke the silence, “This is not sustainable!” Brett laughed because it was so obvious.

This morning I started washing our sleeping bags because I wanted to give Brett a chance to think about his work. We are supposed to wash the sleeping bags daily but haven’t been able to. We absolutely had to wash them today though if we wanted to bring them into the tent again, since they were most likely contaminated by whatever caused the hives at Red Rock.

Unfortunately, even with the extra energy I get from being in this feel good spot I do not have the strength to wring out the sleeping bags nearly as well as Brett can. This wouldn’t be such a problem if we had an endless supply of running water but we don’t. Because we can’t afford to waste a single drop of water Brett ended up having to wring out the sleeping bags for me. I felt so bad that I couldn’t even take that off of his plate!

It’s becoming clear to us that Death Valley just isn’t going to work for us. We need to find a place to camp where getting work done, shopping, and fetching water don’t eat up so much time because they require so much driving.

The other problem we’re having is that right now I’ve been reacting to all the more populated campsites and towns around here. Yet I have to tag along because Brett can’t leave me by myself in a place without cell phone reception. I need to be able to contact him in case of a medical emergency.

He could drive me to one of the campgrounds with cell reception but I would need a way of escape if I started reacting to something. I wouldn’t have a car and even if I did, I haven’t driven for almost five years. It’s definitely a catch 22.

A lot of mold illness sufferers come to Death Valley each year and Sarah Mattson suggested that maybe the areas that get more traffic are becoming contaminated because of it. That definitely seems like a possibility to me. She suggested that we could try coming to Elko, Nevada where she and her husband will be. It’s about six hours away from where we are. She said there’s better internet and running water there.

We both wish we could just find a safe apartment in some town or city but it seems unlikely that living in an apartment would be possible during the intensification phase. Unfortunately, research on this illness is limited and no one really knows how long intensification is supposed to last but the anecdotal evidence I’ve seen suggests that it may take about three weeks before it starts to abate.

I just hope we can find a more convenient place to camp while we ride it out. It would definitely be nice to get to meet Sara and be able learn from her in person. We’re hoping to talk to her again today to ask her for more details about Elko before we decide. All we know is that we can’t keep this backcountry camping thing up for much longer and it’s obvious that I can’t tolerate the campsites in Death Valley right now.

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