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In September, McCandless hitched down the U.S. Highway 101 into California, then headed east into the desert. By early October McCandless had landed in Bullhead, Arizona. Bullhead City is a community in the oxymoronic, late-twentieth-century idiom. Lacking a discernible center, the town exists as a haphazard sprawl of subdivisions and strip malls stretching for eight or nine miles along the banks of the Colorado, directly across the river from the high-rise hotels and casinos of Laughlin, Nevada. Bullhead's distinguishing civic feature is the Mohave Valley Highway, four lanes of asphalt lined with gas stations and fast-food franchises, chiropractors and video shops, auto-parts outlets and tourist traps.

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McCandless took a strong liking to Bullhead. When he arrived here he stopped moving for more than two months which was probably the longest he'd ever stayed in one place. In a postcard he wrote to Westerberg, McCandless states "It's a good place to spend the winter and I might settle down and abandon my tramping life, for good." While living in Bullhead City, McCandless held down a full-time job working at McDonalds flipping burgers. Not only did he apply for the job under his real name but also opened a savings account. When Chris first started working at McDonald's he was homeless, and would show up to work smelling pretty badly. McCandless tried to disguise the fact that he was a drifter living out of a backpack. During Chris first several weeks of living in Bullhead City, he camped out in the desert at the edge of town. Whenever a co-worker would offer him a ride home, he would politely decline. It wasn't until Chris was shaving in the restroom when a man walked in, and asked him if he was "sleeping out." Chris replied yes and the man offered him a place to stay for free.

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Bullhead City was known for it's beautiful weather year round which is no wonder why Chris wanted to possibly settle down here. "It's a good place to spend the winter and I might finally settle down and abandon my tramping life, for good..."However, in late November of 1991, Chris packed up his items and left for Niland, California where he met up with Jan Burres and her boyfriend Bob. They had planned on visiting him in Bullhead City but four days after they received the postcard, Chris arrived in Niland.

Leah Thompson