Day 49: Ocotillo to San Diego!!!!!

This is it folks, the very last travel day entry. I find myself both happy and sad about this prospect. I have really enjoyed writing about this trip but it is also a lot of work, especially at the end of these long days when I am tired. I put a lot of thought into each entry. It usually takes me an average of two hours for each one. It would probably be shorter if it wasn't on the iPhone. Anyway, I might write another reflective entry in a day or two. Then again, I might not depending on how much reflectivity this one ends up having. I'm sensing a lot. Here we go.

I didn't sleep all that well in Ocotillo. It was hot and I woke frequently. Maybe it had something to do with all the beer I drank, something I had not done on the whole trip. Usually all I ever wanted was one. But this night was special. It was the last night of the trip so I kept throwing them back and having a grand time.

I woke up with the sun at the usual time, around 5:30, feeling pretty tired. I laid there for another 45 minutes before I finally dragged myself off the couch and put my dirty bike clothes on for the last time. It took me less than 20 minutes to get everything ready. Ida was still pretty much packed up from the night before. I looked outside to check on the wind. In Koh Pah pass is known to have extremely high winds pretty much all the time. Great. It was howling pretty good already. But whatever, I can do this.

Anxious to get the 12 mile climb over with, I said bye to my new friend, Jimbo, and headed up the pass. Yep, it was windy. But it wasn't so bad once I accepted the fact that I wasn't going to leave the range of 3.8-4.2 mph for a while. The road wound up and around beautiful mountains which consisted of stacks of smoothly rounded boulders. I didn't take a picture lest I fall off my bike and I wasn't about to stop in the middle of a steep climb. I got to a little flat stretch though, and was able to snatch a photo of the valley I had left behind.

And the road ahead

After three hours of climbing, I reached the top of the first and longest climb. Relieved, I pulled off on the exit I was supposed to take and took a break. While I was sitting there, something happened to my head. I don't understand how or why, but I completely lost all motivation to continue on. The change was so sudden it almost scared me. I was ready be done. Right that second. Wow, what a great time for this to happen, I thought to myself. But I literally could not make myself go on. So I stuck out my thumb, hoping to catch a ride just over the next three climbs and then get dropped off on the other side. But no one would pick me up. I remembered Jimbo saying he was heading to San Diego today and a bell rang in my brain. I called him up, pitifully and with shame asking if he was busy, if he would come get me. He said he would, of course. So I cried a little and waited by the road, completely disappointed in myself for cheating on the very last day. Even now, looking back with a more level head, I know there is no way I would've been able to mentally go on. The pass must have taken all my mental strength. I may never know what really happened.

My rescuer pulled up about 20 minutes later and we loaded up Ida and jetset down the road. I was amazed by how quickly we covered ground. It had been a while since I had been in a car. He took me over the rest of the pass and to Alpine, about 35 miles from San Diego. Then he bought me a sandwich and juice and we ate lunch with his friend Bob in the sun to keep warm; the temperature had dropped and the cool ocean breeze was now licking at our skin.

It was finally time for me to go...again. So I said goodbye to Jimbo...again. Thanks for saving me. Getting back on the bike was hard, even though i knew it was pretty much all downhill from here.

The rest of the ride was beautiful. I thought it would flatten out pretty quickly but the mountains pretty much go right down to the ocean. Even though I was doing city riding for the majority of this last stretch it was actually pretty nice. I got to climb a little to make up for the small ones I had shamefully skipped. After a little while, it became apparent I would not have finished today had I not caught a ride. Maybe that's what happened up on the mountain. I did have my heart set on it.

I rode down through Lakeside and some other small suburbs of San Diego, where I had a pretty nice bike lane almost the whole way. I rode through Mission Gorge Park on a beautiful bike path.

Sometime after this I started to get antsy. Only 15 more miles! I ran into another cyclist who was out for a day ride and we rode together for a sec while he asked me questions. When I told him I had ridden from Florida he looked at my bike and said, "on THAT thing?" I said this is an awesome bike. And then a hill came and he coasted faster than I, so he said bye and went on. I was glad. I was done with him. How dare he insult Ida!

Those last miles seemed to drag on forever. I was in the real city now. My quaint city streets had turned into full-blown highways with exits and interchanges and a really crappy bike lane. I ran over a pot hole so big and with such speed I thought for sure I would get a flat. But Ida prevailed, as always.

Finally, I got to turn left off of the busy road and go through a place called Fashion Valley. Oh, goodie! I needed a new handbag. I scooted through there pretty fast and soon I was on the Ocean Beach bike path. These last few miles went by pretty quickly. Finally, completely burnt out and so so so so relieved to be at the western terminus of my adventure, my tires rolled into the sand. I had made it.

I pushed Ida down to the water and stood by her as the Pacific lapped at her wheels. Ida, we are done. 3,000 continuous trans-continental miles by bicycle: check. I had a nice woman take my picture to properly capture the moment. The sun was behind me so it's a little dark but so was this day.

I went and laid in the sand for two hours while i waited for Craig to come pick me up. Amazing. It was over. I couldn't really wrap my head around it at the time, and even now, the morning after, I am still having trouble grasping it. It just feels like another rest day. Except with one difference: I don't have to ride into the wind tomorrow!!!!!

Craig came and got me and, after we dropped off my stuff at his dad's house in Escondido, and I showered, we went and had tacos at Pacific Taco #1(there is no pacific taco #2 in case you were wondering) and then went to the Stone Brewery!!!! An amazing and fitting end to this grand adventure. I've done two bike tours now and on both of them I have ended up at stone brewery at some point. I had two strong and delicious beers and then we left with full bellies. Craig has school all day today ad lives with his mom and his dad is out of town so I have this ridiculously awesome house all to myself until we leave tomorrow. This was the view when I woke up this morning.

That is Lake Hodges this house looks down on. There is also an epic pool which I might have to check out, you know, to make sure it is working properly.

And that's that. Tomorrow we are heading north to Humboldt. I could almost cry at how happy that makes me.


It is amazing how something so foreign to anything you've ever done can become your entire reality so quickly. After the first couple of weeks, I settled into this way of life as if I had never done anything else. It became me and I became it. When I was asked what I do for a living, I could honestly say I ride my bike, all day, every day. Because if I didn't, I wasn't living. And I liked the thought of that. I got rambling in my blood. If I sat still for more than a day I got anxious. If I wasn't traveling I wasn't living.

Now that it is over, I am left with a great sense of accomplishment and a plethora of fantastic memories, from the beautiful smell of green fields of cilantro in the imperial valley to that very first moment I felt such immense happiness from riding my bike I could only smile and cry and briefly forget that words were something I knew while I simply existed in that joyous moment. Or one of the several times I sat down on the side of the road and cried in frustration. This trip had it all. The good, the bad, the drunk, and everything in between.

I could sit here and tally any number of things. Money spent, rest days, miles skipped, whole pizzas eaten in one sitting, cravings for ice cream, amount of Gatorade consumed, flat tires, tiny dog pursuers, etc. But the important things are the those I cannot tally, like the feeling of being the only person on the road as the sun rises over a golden desert, or the feeling of finally not being in Texas anymore, or what it's like to become a part of this road you are traveling, to let it seep into the core of your existence until you share the same purpose: to go. To be.

Friends, this is a great and terrible thing I have done. Because now I must have more and there is no telling what possession I will sell next to pay for it. My name is Jess and I am addicted to bike touring. The first step is admitting you have a problem. The second step is to ignore the first step and keep doing it. And I will. I will.

Well, I reckon this here is my sign off. Thank you thank you thank you all for your wonderful support and encouragement. You are what kept me going on the days I wanted to throw my bike into a precipice. And a special thanks to all those who donated money or your home for a night. I appreciate it more than you know.

Until next time, may the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be always at your back. Seriously, because headwinds suck.

Love, love, love,


Day 48: Glamis to Ocotillo

What a day! 73 miles and the roughest road yet led me to ocotillo, CA, a small town right at the base of the In Koh Pah pass over the mountains to the coast.

I left Glamis this morning around
7 and rode the last 7 miles or so through the beautiful golden dunes with no wind!!

I descended into the Imperial Valley and cranked out a flat 50 miles in not time. In Brawley, I stopped for brunch, which was inspired by an intense craving for a Subway sandwich. Footlong veggie with all the veggies. Yum! While i was stopped i noticed my rear tire seemed low again so I went to put air in it. When I had been pumping for a minute or two, that dreadful sound of air escaping somewhere inside the tire suddenly made itself known. Groaning, I removed the pump and began tire change nĂºmero tres. Turns out a thorn about 1/3 of an inch long had embedded itself in the tread and broken off. I was surprised it had taken this long for it to go all the way flat. I was determined not to get anymore flats, so I switched the front and rear tires. The front tire had almost no wear on it and the back one was clearly worn pretty well from the burden of supporting many things I didn't actually need. That seemed to do the trick. No more tire troubles the rest of the day.

When I got to El Centro, I went on a wild goose chase for the bike shop to get a spare tire and another tube just in case but I never found it. I decided to chance it. Luckily, it worked out.

The road out of el centro was known to be treacherous. There was an alternate on the map, which was nine miles longer. I didn't really feel up to that so I went for it. The last ten miles of the day were horrible. I've never been on a rougher surface.

Gettin closer!

Finally, I arrived in Ocotillo and made a beeline to a place called the old highway cafe, which I am sure serves other things but the only thing on the sign that registered in my mind was cocktails. It's a real neat place. As soon as I walked in everyone started talking with me about my ride. They said I looked tired. I said I needed a beer more than anything ever. And it was the best beer I've ever had in my life. But, of course, it always is at the end of a long day. The man at te en of the bar bought me another while I was in the bathroom. Then he offered up his couch as an alternative to camping. I couldn't refuse.

Jimbo is one of the coolest people I've met on the trip. He's 53, from San Diego, and races trucks in the desert. He has a sweet bungalow. We spent the evening chatting over beers as he cooked chicken and potatoes on the grill. We hit it off pretty good. It was nice to wrap up the day with a fine meal and better company.

Tomorrow I tackle the pass and try to make it all the way to San Diego, 95 miles. That's a long ways. We'll see how it goes. Lots of climbing ahead. The first is a 6% grade for 12 miles for a gain of 3,500 feet. Then there are three more thousand footers after that. I'd be lying if I said I was looking forward to it. Nighty night!



Day 47: Ehrenberg, AZ to Glamis, CA!!

Miles today: 67.53
Total: 2,826.9
Ride time: 6:57:05
Avg speed: 9.6

My word, what a world! It has been quite the up and down day. As you may have intuited, I crossed into California today, which brought me much joy. But there was not much to be had after that.

I woke early, around 5 am, to the call of nature that has not quite yet adjusted to the time change. After laying around too long, I finally started packing up. I was ready to go by 6:30. Before I could leave, the crazy eager to help lady had come back over twice, once to offer me breakfast and one to give me $20. I felt bad for declining her offer of breakfast but I wasn't lying when I said I can't really eat that early. She insisted I take the money.

I took off, dumped my camp trash and was crossing the Colorado into California almost immediately. The feeling of joy it brought me was powerful. I thought nothing could dampen this day. But I was wrong!

I was greeted with the smell of stale urine, a scent I was sure had been blown down from Arcata as a welcome back gift.

Unfortunately, the cool welcome to California sign was on I-10, and bikes are not allowed on I-10 in many parts of California, so my route had me on a frontage road and I could only longingly glance at it from across a ditch and on the other side of a fence.

It would look so much better with Ida next to it. I should write a letter.

I made a stop in Blythe, the first town across the border, and got snacks and dinner supplies. This would be the last good stop for such things for about 80 miles.

Then the wind started.... early, again, around 8 or so. That means I started freaking out early today. Maybe by the last day of this tour I will figure out that I am in good enough shape to handle the wind just fine now. It would save me a lot of stress. Well, it wasn't too bad at first. Just a steady 10-12 mph breeze for the first 27 miles or so. I rode through agricultural land for the majority of this distance. It was quite beautiful. People were bailing hay and the sweet aroma of alfalfa was swirling in the air. I stopped and ate the other burrito Floyd and Christy gave me. Yum!

Not too long after that I rode through the "town" of Palo Verde, which was just a service station with some houses nearby. I bought a big bottle of water, unsure if I would be able to restock in Glamis. This was a good move.

After Palo Verde, I began climbing, steadily at first, and then up and down very short but very steep rollers. This continued for 20 miles and all the while the wind was picking up until it was blowing at what I imagine is a steady 30-35 miles per hour. Who cares about the number, it was blowing me all over the road.

After what seemed like forever, I finally reached something that resembled the top, which only means it flattened out for a couple miles and then started rolling gradually downhill. On my way down I passed the Chocolate Mountain Naval Reservation Aerial Gunnery Range. It looked like a strip mine to me, surrounded by razor wire.

Five miles later I arrived in Glamis and was greeted with the Imperial dunes and a full on sandstorm. Now, I can handle wind, I can handle rain, I can even handle wind and rain. But I can't ride with sand blowing into my eyeballs. So I decided to stop, needless to say, 8 miles short of my destination. I took shelter under the awning of the saloon and had a guilt-free Mountain Dew out of the coke machine. The only store in town was closed. Stupid Easter. Then I headed across the street to the rv storage place to see if there's anywhere I could pitch my tent. The woman working there, Jeanette, told me they had just had a big sand toy event and the empty vendor tents were all still up. She said I could camp out in one of those. Right on, I headed over.

My shelter of choice is a three-sided metal shack, in favor of its quieter and much stronger resistance to this screaming wind. There also seems to be less sand blowing around in here, not that it matters because everything is already covered anyway. I wish I could take a picture of my phone. I've had to wipe it off four times during this blogging so I can keep typing. Here is my make shift breathing mask, which also doubles as my snot rag.

The wind really started blowing hard when I first got here. Sand was blowing everywhere. The best description I can muster is it looked like the earth was rising up to meet the sky. Each time I ventured out of the building I was blasted from all directions. Without closing your eyes or wearing goggles there really is no way to keep it out of your eyes. Hopefully it will die down long enough for me to cook dinner. I selected a fine meal of stuffed tortellini to which I am going to add oyster mushrooms and a little tuna, and probably some sand. I was feeling a little silica deficient anyway.

Aside from the wind, not a terrible first day back in California. There was a stretch there when I was very unhappy, namely when the wind started howling and I was still climbing steep hills. But it's great to be back. I sure will sleep good tonight. Maybe.

Adios folks!

Until tomorrow,


Day 46: Aguila to Ehrenberg

Another long day, folks. But not one for the record books, at least as far as distance goes. We have a grand total of 85.something miles today. I have landed right next to the Colorado river and on the other side of that river is California. I cannot tell you how awesome it will feel to cross that river tomorrow. But first, let's talk about today cause some interesting things happened.

I packed up camp and was on the road by 6:30 this morning. My only visitor in the park last night was one of the neighborhood dogs. A flag in town told me there was a calm east wind, something I never get too excited about because I know it will shift any minute.

I made it about 17 miles in a little over an hour and was feeling awesome when the evil wind made the turnaround. It was as if someone had flipped a switch. It came out of nowhere. Flabbergasted, I had a small moment of panic. This wasn't supposed to happen until almost 11!! I wondered if I would be able to cover the 85 miles today.

At mile 23 I pedaled into Wenden and my failure to eat breakfast was suddenly making itself known in a big way. I found a little cafe and ha an order of biscuits and gravy and bacon, another staple on this trip. Biscuits and gravy and pizza. That's all I ever want. And I had both today. And I saw these two awesome signs in that town:

It's kind of hard to read but says: "ingredients: coffee bar and way cool cafe! Good food-great coffee! Unforgettable women"

And this one I think you can read pretty well.

The next 40 miles to Quartzite were fairly monotonous. I climbed steadily and coasted down a steeper grade. I passed two day riders, one of whom shouted at me, "hey! I saw you yesterday in Wickenburg!" I thought that was pretty cool. And unexpected. Not too long after, I saw another touring cyclist going east. We said hi from across the road but neither one of us wanted to stop. Then i saw a derailed train.

Kind of hard to tell but that is the bottom of a train.

It was a good wildlife day. There was a raven that got chased off and dive bombed repeatedly by two very small brown birds, probably defending a nest. I saw ground squirrels and rabbits every where. I also saw a very cool and large tan lizard that was sunbathing on the shoulder.

I stopped for water and a bathroom break in Brenda at an RV resort, one of about 30 I passed today, most of them displaying 55+ on their signs. I had ne'er seen such a thing. A few miles down the road I had a TDP, and it almost went completely unnoticed because I had my earphones in. I remember hearing the oddest noise over my music, like a clicking noise, and it took a long time for me to realize It was the toenails of a tiny dog on the pavement. It never barked until I made a sudden jerk as this profound realization occurred to me. It gave up very shortly after that.

Then the time had come for me to leave behind the comfort of highway 60, which I had mostly to myself all morning. It ended and I continued onto I-10. The interstate has its advantages and disadvantages. For one, the shoulder is almost always a nicer surface. Highway 60 went in and out of this VERY annoying thing where the shoulder would have raised cracks all the way across, big enough to make riding uncomfortable. They were so evenly spaced you could almost set your watch by them. I was convinced it was bicycle sabotage. So i spent a lot of time riding on the white line, which cars do not like but i do not care. The interstate didn't have that. But on the other hand the shoulder is pretty full of (mostly) small pieces of debris. I felt like I was in that video game Frogger, where you're the little frog and you try to cross the road without getting pasted by a car, only instead of cars I was dodging flat tires. And then there is the traffic. The shoulder is incredibly wide which gets me away from it enough to not be scary but the noise is very annoying. I do like it when the big trucks go by me because they give me a little draft boost, sometimes enough to increase my speed by two miles per hour!! Plus, it breaks up the wind for a second.

Anyway, I spent about the last 20 miles on there. I stopped in Quartzite for pizza and beer and Gatorade, a threesome made in heaven. It was pretty hot then. My cyclometer read 95. Someone had turned on the hair drier again.

Then, finally! The home stretch on the last long day of the trip! All I had to do was climb for a few miles and then descend into Ehrenberg. It was a baby climb. The grade was so gentle I kept it in 14th gear and managed to not go under 8mph even with the wind, which had now become an entity I wanted to fight and then when I had finished with it I wanted to fight its whole family. While I was thinking about that I reached the top. Woo hoo! The descent was real fun. But windy. About half way down there was a tractor trailer that had gone through a guard rail and into a ditch about 15 feet deep. There were two two trucks with cables attached trying to pull it out, rather unsuccessfully it seemed. As much as I wanted to rubber neck some more, the downhill beckoned and I could not resist. I rolled into Ehrenberg around 3.

I'm camping in an rv park by the Colorado next to an older woman who has been VERY eager to help menout in some way. She came over four separate times, each time offering me something different. She kind of creeped me out. Luckily, my neighbors to the left are way cooler, Floyd and Christy, a cute married couple who live in Riverside and come up here on the weekends. I talked with Floyd at great length about my trip and his time in the military and so forth and so on. They gave me a Coors and offered to bring me back a plate from the barbecue they went to a few rv parks down (they are everywhere!) Oh yeah! Christy is the office manager for a surgery clinic in LA where they fix painful things like elbows in baseball players and knees and such. Her clinic is the famous one for this type of surgery and she meets all kinds of celebrities, like Lionel Ritchie and Samuel L. Jackson, and the guy who played Starsky in the original Starsky and Hutch movies. She said Sylvester Stallone is a ridiculous person way too caught up in his celebrity. He wouldn't even talk to her. He had his wife fill out all the paperwork. Really nice folks though, these two. It was great chatting with them.

Welp, I'm about out of observations for the day. Who knew it was Easter tomorrow? Not this girl. Being out of the loop sure is nice. I didn't even know it was Saturday. Alrightio. Good night! Ok, scratch that, Christy just came by with two chorizo, egg and bean burritos for me. So loving these guys. Ok, now good night.

California dreamin,


Day 45: Scottsdale to Aguila

Sigh. I've done it again. So close to the century but just short. I'm not exactly sure how far I rode today. At some point my cyclometer reset itself. The last time I looked at it it read 22.something, which is probably pretty close to what it was when it reset. Right now it reads 75.77. I'm guessing it's right around 98 miles total. It's just too bad it had to be this way. Cyclometer, I think we should see other people. It's not me, it's you.

The resetting actually might've, could've possibly been my fault. I had a few clipless related falls today in Phoenix when I could have hit it. Since it's urban I had to stop at lights and stop signs a lot. But my route took me on fairly empty streets, so a lot of times I was able to just track stand for a few seconds and then cross. The first time I fell I actually had one foot out. I had just crossed the street and was crossing the other one to get to a bike path. I turned oddly on the corner of the street while moving slow and all the weight of my gear shifted the bike towards my left side, which did not have the free foot, and I ate it on the sidewalk right in front of about 30 cars. Yeah, pretty embarrassing. I skinned up my knee too. Well, the right knee was jealous of the left knee's battle scars I guess, cause the second time I couldn't get any foot out at all. I went down to the right while I was in the street. Don't worry, it was in a neighborhood, no cars near me when it happened. But one pulled up behind me right after. You know what they say: No pain, no gain, though I don't exactly know what I gained except a wounded sense of pride and a little road rash. They must've been talking about something else.

Anyway, maybe I should back up and start at the beginning of the day. I left the cozy motel 6 at 6:30 and pedaled out into the cool morning. Traffic seemed light for such a large metropolitan area. Then again, I wasn't exactly on I-10 or anything like it. The wind was out of the east as it often starts out here before it shifts to the gnar of headwinds, as if it is deliberately trying to tease me. I was feeling very good and had covered 17 miles in no time. I got to ride on the Arizona canal bike path for about 8 miles after that. It took me right next to a bike cafe, which is a bike shop with a cafe in it, in case you didn't know. I had an egg, bacon, and tomato sandwich and a peanut butter banana smoothie. I also bought another tube. What a brilliant idea.

Time to gooooo! On and on I pedaled, not leaving metropolis until what I am guessing was mile 30 something. I had crossed 65-70 miles of continuous city streets. Wow. And, surprisingly, it wasn't that bad. Phoenix and its surrounding megatropolis is actually super bike friendly. Sometimes I had a bike lane that was bigger than the lane for the cars. But I was still glad to get out of there and back into the real desert.

I stopped for lunch at 50 miles at a gas station just outside of a small town I can't remember the name of right now. There were shaded tables outside and a man was using a pressure washer to clean the parking lot. I found this a disgusting use of water in such a dry place. But I think it's ridiculous no matter where you are.

At this point I counted about 45 miles left to cover. Yeah. Let's do this! The terrain seemed completely flat even though I was slowly climbing. Sometimes I could tell. The wind had been behaving for the most part.

I didn't take very many pictures today. Who wants to see photos of dirty cities anyway? No, you want pristine desert, like this

That's pretty much how it looked the last half of the day. Traffic was light and the shoulder was decent. I didn't really see anything terribly exciting.

I stopped for a Gatorade in Wickenburg, where three people talked to me about the ride. One man was moving his mother down to the area, another Mexican woman was passing through. I got the same questions I always get, "aren't you afraid?" and "why are you doing this?" questions I was happy to answer at the beginning of the trip but now am getting tired of hearing. I think it's time I start making things up. Something like, "yes, I am terrified!! Can I come home with you?" and "a witch doctor told me if I did this my IQ would go up 50 points and my boobs would get bigger," and then show them before and after photos of me and ask if they think it's working.

The last 15 miles were long, as is often the case on these long days. The wind had kicked it up several notches and my iPod had finally died, so the constant and deafening sound of riding in a car with all the windows down pretty much almost drove me crazy a couple of times. I kept motivated by thinking how joyous I would feel when I held my Ida up in the air with both feet in the Pacific. Ahh, what a warm feeling it brings.

I finally rolled into Aguila around 5:30 and tried to figure out where the RV park is. I called but the number is disconnected. I asked a woman on the street but she didn't speak English. The next person I saw was a great grandmother who didn't speak any English and her great granddaughter who was about 10 and was of no help to me at all. Spanish speakers and children were all I could come up with. Finally, jackpot. The gas station attendant pointed me towards the city park where all the cyclists stay. Good thing I didn't ride the 3 miles out of town to find that place. But I would've logged the century for sure!

I bought an ice cream sandwich and a Mexican Sprite and headed to the park. It's right next to the fire station and, apparently, the church, because I can hear the very loud and emphatic Spanish sermon from 300 yards away. El Diablo seems to be up to something cause they are mentioning him a lot. On top of that, someone in the other direction is playing Mexican polka music. If I didn't know any better, I would say I am in Mexico. It's actually pretty cool.

Being so close to the end, I can't help but think of what's next. I have been simultaneously going somewhere and nowhere for the last two months. I have to work now. I can't just play anymore and I'm not liking the sound of that after 5 months of adventuring. I have a short term plan (work in Alaska for the Forest Service until November or later) but as far as where I will be or what I will be doing five years down the road, (when I will be 30! Danger, Will Robinson!) I have no idea. And I'm alright with it for now. Leaving things open is nice.

Anyway, the time for reflection had passed and the time for attempting to sleep is nigh. Five more days!!

With dreams of the ocean,

Day 44: Globe to Scottsdale/Phoenix

Another long day today. 90 miles! I rode until dark for the first time, I think. I also got my first flat while riding. The other one happened over night in Louisiana...or at least I didn't notice it until morning.

Heike and I left a great warm shower and this adorable puppy this morning around 7:

It was really hard to get her to sit still for this. She is a ball of energy.

We stopped and ate breakfast at Jerry's, an old diner on highway 60. I had the southern breakfast. Biscuits and gravy, sausage, two eggs, and hash browns.

The route was downhill and flat for a few miles until we reached Miami, when we started climbing up the last sizable pass for a while. This 17 mile section from Miami to Superior is known to be treacherous for cyclists. It is full of big trucks and mining traffic and in many spots has no shoulder. There is also a dark 1/4 mile long tunnel to go through. Not two weeks ago, another cyclist was deliberately run off the road coming down the hill. He got severe road rash and a broken shoulder. But our trip was fine. No close calls and beautiful views!!

Once we crested the top the real fun began. The other side was much steeper, with a 7% grade, and we coasted down the canyon at 35+ for a good 20 minutes. It was incredible. I wanted to take a picture of the canyon walls but it was too sketchy to only hold on with one hand. The tunnel wasn't bad at all. It was real short. Before we knew it we were in Superior eating delicious ice cream and sitting in the shade.

At the top. Heike is in the distance.

It was time to mosey again so we saddled up and cranked out the last 25 miles to Apache Junction, the destination for today. The miles were flat....and so was my back tire. Turns out I had run over a staple.

We stopped at the Sundance bar and grill just inside town and had nice ice cold beers and lunch. I got a Philly cheesesteak sandwich. I did it again. I had stuffed myself for the second time today. While sitting there, I discovered that a friend from school who lives in San Diego is actually driving up to humboldt next Thursday. If I get there by Wednesday I can catch a ride! So i juggled things around and should now be finishing Wednesday afternoon sometime. Yeah!

Part of that plan entailed riding on into Phoenix today so I hopped back on the bike. This was also the time of parting ways for Heike and I. She was staying in apache junction. It was nice to ride with her but I am glad to be back on my own again.

I was surprised I had the energy to keep going after the long day yesterday but I never felt tired. I rode through Mesa, Tempe, and Scottsdale, and made it pretty much to Phoenix before the setting sun and the increasing wind got the best of me. There's nowhere to camp here in this giant metropolis so I checked into the motel 6 and headed next door for Indian food after I successfully blackened another pristine washcloth. It's amazing how dirty I get in just one day.

The Indian food was incredible. I just stuffed myself for the third time today. There's no way I burned all those calories.

Ah. Sleep is setting in quickly. Another long day tomorrow, maybe even a century. It's about time I broke the 100 mile mark.

Good night folks.



Day 43: Safford to Globe, AZ

85 miles today. Whew whee!

I woke with the sun this morning, which rises a little after five here in eastern Arizona. Joy came out not too long after and asked if we were ready for breakfast. Yeah!! Always. Not too long after we were all sitting around the table enjoying waffles, eggs, and bacon, and, of course, good conversation. We soon became sufficiently stuffed and Backed away from our forks to avoid increased drag on the bike. But it was probably too late. Soon after it was time to hit the road. It is always hard to leave great hosts behind but we had to try and beat the wind. Thanks again to The Larson family for your great hospitality! It was wonderful to learn about your town and your family. They even have a Kentucky connection! Awesome. It's been awhile since I have had one.

Once we started pedaling the miles cranked off so fast. We had covered 25 miles by a little before 9, 50 by not too long after. Then the terrain started rolling and the wind picked up so we slowed down a bit. We ran into Charlie, Chris, and Bob again three times throughout the day. They were planning on stopping at the casino best western on the Apache reservation. Heike and I were headed for a warm shower here in globe.

About 15 miles from the casino I saw my first Socorro cactus. So exciting! I took a picture of one that was close to the road

The rest of the landscape was beautiful. We were riding through a rolling valley in between two mountain ranges, tall in the distance.

Finally, after a grueling 10 miles up and down hills and into an increasing wind, we arrived at the casino, where we had planned to have a meal with the three amigos. We waited and drank a beer and waited more but they didn't show for an hour and a half. By then we needed to get on the way to globe to new our hosts so we said adieu and went on to tackle the last 10 uphill miles.

We arrived at the home of Zach and Alyssa, two young folks who teach on the reservation. They have an adorable puppy named Amy. I will definitely be photographing her in the morning. So don't worry, I've got it covered. The shower was great, even though I broke off the shower head when I tried to adjust it down (it was decayed and just waiting to happen!) We had pizza and wings, the meal i crave the most, and beer while we shared touring stories and played a board game called Blokus. That fateful time arrived when my brain begins to shut down social interaction and I had to retire.

One more pass tomorrow until a big downhill into the valley where the metropolis of apache junction/Mesa/Tempe/Scottsdale/Phoenix stretches for almost 80 miles. But then it is only a few more days until the California state line. Yay!!!!!! The closer I get the more antsy I get. Anyway, I gotta jet, but yes, can't wait to get to San Diego and dip my wheel in the Pacific!

Love to you all,


Day 42: AZ state line to Safford, AZ

Gooood evening! I write to you from Safford, Arizona after 57 miles of biking today.

After I hunkered down in my tent last night and started singing loudly to music playing on my iPod, I heard a voice outside asking if anyone was home. Surprised, and slightly embarrassed, I unzipped the fly to find another solo female rider standing next to my picnic table. Her name is Heike and she is from Germany but has lived in the US for the last ten years working as a ski instructor, mainly in Colorado. And she's heading east! But she is only doing a loop. She started in Phoenix and is ending there in a few days.

Well she insisted we have a fire so we (mostly she) built one and we sat around getting acquainted. She gave me a nice tall can of Beck's to drink. Yummmm. I like ze Germans. The time came when I couldn't hold my head up and I retired. She left camp earlier than I did this morning because it was cold and she is traveling lighter than I so it took her less time to pack up. We planned on meeting up here in Safford.

I started pedaling just after 7, ready to conquer the last 4.7 miles of the pass. 4.7 beautiful miles!! The view from the top was spectacular. I descended the other side for about 15 miles, gradually making my way down to the valley that stood between me and the next mountain range I was to tackle. What a fun ride!

14 miles from the pass, Heike and I both stopped in the town of Three Way and filled up on water. There wouldn't really be another place until close to Safford, another 35 miles. Right out of town began the second climb, a winding 5 mile gentle grade of about 6%. I had a harder time with this one. I guess I was a little tired. The wind had also started picking up. But once I crested that range it was pretty much all downhill to Safford, steep at first and then a very gradual descent on a straight road I could see for 15 miles.
It pretty much looked like this
For as far as I could see:

Eventually I caught up with Heike where she had stopped to eat a cookie. I had stopped at the top of the hill to eat a cliff bar. Hunger can kind of sneak up on you when you're riding. One minute you're fine, the next you are starving.

We rode the last ten miles into town trading drafts to rest out of the wind. About halfway down that stretch we caught up with three older guys who started in Florida and are heading to Scottsdale. They are only a couple of days from being done. Their names are Chris, Charlie, and Bob. Bob had a long haul trucker too.

Once we got into Safford we beelined to the first restaurant we saw. I had a cheeseburger and fries. It was mediocre at best and the service was pretty bad. Normally I wouldn't consider it a tragedy to wait 15 minutes for a refill on my ice water, but you can understand the level of thirst we work up in a day, especially for cold things.

While we were eating I found out Heike had set up a warm showers host for herself here a few days ago so she called the guy up and asked if there was room for one more. He said yes of course. The original plan was to bike to the hot springs 6 miles south of town, take a soak, then ride back. But then I found out the host's house was another 3 miles on top of that. I'm sorry to say, but I wussed out and went straight to the host. The thought of riding another 15 miles in this heat all to soak in a pool of 105 degree water was a little more than i could bear. I would've never made it back here after getting all relaxed in the springs.

So that's the story of today. I think I'm just shy of 2,400 miles now. I'm also on Pacific time since Arizona doesn't follow daylight savings time. I'm not sure where the actual time zone change is but I can't be too far away. Tomorrow we head for Globe, a 78 mile ride with some good climbs. We also ride through the San Carlos Apache Reservation. I've been told by two people already not to stop anywhere in the reservation. I'm glad Heike will be with me. Looks like 9 more riding days if all goes as planned. I'm already thinking about what's next and getting excited about it. Woo hoo! Ok, time to really enjoy this air conditioning. Catch y'all tomorrow.


Days 40 and 41: Silver City and The Arizona State Line

As you may or may not have intuited by meow, I took yesterday off and hung out in Silver City for the day. It was everything I dreamed it could be. Not really. It was Sunday so everything was closed. Almost. I got up early, around 6, just as the sun was rising. I caught up on the blog and then headed down the hall to the continental breakfast, where my cross-country biker appetite made quite the appearance. Two bagels with cream cheese, two hard-boiled eggs, a couple of muffins, and two cups of coffee, which I never drink so you can imagine the outcome of that. My stomach was finally satisfied so it was time to do some serious surfing. Couch surfing. I turned on the tv and probably didn't move for three hours and it was awesome!! Gotta admit, Extreme Makeover Home Edition is a pretty great show. Yeah, it made me cry. Don't judge me!

Brennan finally woke up ("this is a biking trip not a sleeping trip!" followed by an airhorn) around 10. 11:30 came and went and I suddenly felt lazy. Time to go out into the real world.....and get ice cream! But first we made our way down to the bike shop. I always stop in and say hi at the shops even if I don't need anything. I ended up buying a Tour of the Gila t shirt. Great, more clothes to carry! Just kidding. It's an awesome shirt. And it doesn't smell like my other one. Yet. Anyway, Tour of the Gila is this world class bicycle race that is happening next week in Silver City and the vicinity. All the big guys come. There are pictures of Lance Armstrong riding in it all over town. I'm pretty bummed I won't be around to see it. I went to silver city and all I got was this lousy t shirt. Kidding again.

After the bike shop we got Italian ice cream and walked around. I chose the flavor Bounty (coconut with chocolate pieces in it) - so good! Brennan got mint chocolate. Also good. Too bad my rest day was a Sunday. That always seems to be the case when I am in the cool towns.

For lunch we went back to Isaac's. The duck fat French fries hold a gravitational pull on me equal to or greater than that of the sun. Holy mackerel they are good!! I'd go back to silver city again just for the fries. But there's lots of other cool things to see too.

For dinner we ate at a fancy place called 1zero6. The owner and chef, Jake, creates a new menu every day based on what he can find fresh at the market. It's kind of a thai/Asian/Indonesian/Indian fusion that he does not Americanize at all. It's really good food. And for how fancy it is it wasn't that pricey. I had the Indonesian spicy chicken with green beans and rice. Brennan got Roh nah, which is a pork loin noodle dish. Our appetizer was out of this world. I don't even really know how to describe it because the only ingredients I recognized were shrimp and, well, that's about it. They were little rice cake bowls with shrimp and sauce and herbs in them. Yummmmmmm!!!!

Then the food coma set in and we were again in front of the tv until we fell asleep. I still haven't kicked this cold all the way. It seems to come and go, get a little better and then worsen up again if I push hard one day. Some Nights my throat hurts so badly it wakes me up. I'll be glad to be done so I can finally be rid of it! Anyway, good rest day! Thanks, Silver City. Way to be!

Now that brings us to today. I wanted to be on the road by 7 to try and beat the wind, which was forecasted to gust at up to 39 mph. But of course that never happens. The continental breakfast didn't even start until 7.

I finally decided to just go for it and snack on the road. I said bye to Brennan, sorry to see his wounded knee kick him off the bike so early when he drove so far to ride. Such a bummer. But we shall meet again in another place. It was real nice having him around for the time he could ride.

On my way down the hall the lure of the breakfast table was too strong to resist so I stopped and had a bagel and chatted with some motorcyclists from Arizona for a bit. I finally hit the road around 7:30.

I was dreading this ride today. I knew the wind would be brutal and I was prepared to climb a lot, especially early on as I neared the continental divide. But it actually wasn't that bad. The climb up out of downtown Silver City provided a beautiful view of the sun rising over the town.

It was much prettier than this crappy photo but I couldn't resist.

Not too long after I crested the continental divide!

It was all downhill from there until buckhorn, about 35 miles. The rising sun illuminated glowing fields of golden grass covering hill after hill as I coasted the morning away. It was so beautiful!

I didn't really see another town for 30 miles and traffic was very light. I arrived in buckhorn to restock on food and water around 10:15. While I was checking the map to find the store, a woman came out of the house I was next to and offered me food and water. I was starving and couldn't resist so we went inside and she cooked me a hamburger. Elsie and her husband Ron moved to buckhorn from michigan after Ron's heart started acting up. They've been here for about 4 years now.

After I ate, Elsie showed me pictures of the bike race, which comes right by their house, as well as photos of her 42 year old son, with whom she tried to match make me from almost the moment I met her. Luckily, he had already gone to work before I arrived. These two folks were great, though a little odd, and I greatly appreciated their generosity. Ron gave me two extra quarts of water since my next water stop was Three Way, AZ, 45 miles away. I would not make it there today, so I essentially had to carry a day and a half worth of water.

On my way out of town I stopped at the store to find something to cook for dinner tonight but the selection was meager. I couldn't bring myself to buy a can of soup, which was pretty much the only option, so I stocked up on beef jerky instead.

While I was there a bunch of east-bounders showed up. There was one group of four with vehicle support and one lone self-supported guy named Rob who had met up with them along the way. It was a neat little small world moment when the woman driving the truck told me her grandson is about to go to Humboldt. Then Rob said he had been to Petersburg when he worked on a fishing boat out of Juneau. Real nice folks. They let me use some of their sunscreen since I'm almost out but I got a sunburn anyway. Looks like the jersey will have to reappear tomorrow in place of the tank top so I can use less sunscreen until I can restock in Safford.

Right about the time I was ready to get back on the road the wind picked up, as predicted. I still had about 25 miles to go, all up hill toward a 6,329 foot pass. I made it about 11 miles before I stopped and made a little nest inside a juniper to get out of the wind for a while. I really considered staying there inside that shrub for the night but I really needed to cover more ground so I pulled myself up and got back on the bike after a long break. I was surprised by how quickly the miles went even though they were somewhat miserable. Before I knew it I was entering Gila national forest, then Apache National Forest, then Arizona!!

I just climbed up from all that

Within another mile, a downhill mile! I had pulled into Coal Creek campground, which I have all to myself. I still haven't conquered the pass. It's about 4.7 miles away, but I figured I'd save it for morning when the winds aren't so treacherous and my legs are fresh...er. Tomorrow is a short day anyway - 53 miles to Safford.

Which reminds me, I need to give you some stats. Today I rode 62.6 miles, bringing the grand total to 2,336. Wowza!! That's less than 700 miles to go. Woo hoo! But I need not count my chickens before they hatch. Tomorrow is a new day, hopefully a less windy one but it is supposed to be like this all week. The good news is I've kind of gotten used to it. Riding into strong wind is just something I do now. But, of course, tailwinds are always welcome.

In closing, I would like to wish my little brother, Justin, a happy 22nd birthday! Love youuuu. Don't do anything I wouldn't do, which isn't saying much, but you get the idea. See you soon!

It's good to be in Arizona,


Day 39: Hillsboro to Silver City, NM

Hahahahaha. Emory Pass is finally conquered!

We left Hillsboro around 8:30 and started the gradual winding 1,000 foot climb up to Kingston, the gateway to the pass. Along the way I saw four Elk down by the creek and there were cows everywhere alongside the road. I must've ridden over 20 cattle guards today. I was surprised to see them right on a highway. So were my wheels. But they actually weren't that bad if I had a little speed.

By the time we made it to Kingston it was clear Brennan wasn't going to be able to tackle the pass. His knee was in a bad way, so he was basically down to one leg, on top of having a high-geared racing bike. Sadly, he had to stay in Kingston and stick out his thumb. I am both sad and happy to say this turned out to work in my advantage, as I was able to leave my panniers with him and go up the pass 30 pounds lighter. And what a difference it made!! I was still in my granny gear pretty much the whole time but I never even felt out of breath until the last two miles of this 8 mile, 4,000 foot ascent. It's probably the only big climb I have ever enjoyed. It was wonderful to climb up into pine forest and see trees again for the first time in a little while. The view kept getting more and more spectacular as I inched my way up to the top of this 8,228 foot peak. About 3 miles from the top a red truck pulled up beside me. It was a man named Jose and he had Brennan with him. I was relieved to see he had found a ride.

Finally, I made it!!!

It took me an hour and a half but it was a joyous hour and a half. I climbed up a little more and checked out the vista maintained by the forest service.

What a view! I could see the towns of Kingston and Hillsboro in the distance.

Then came the best part. The descent! It was nice and steep toward the top so I was able to go fast enough to take over the whole lane and not be caught by any cars, about 35 mph. The hairpin turns were sometimes a little scary but I tried to brake as little as possible. About three miles down I passed four other cyclists climbing up. I gave a big fist pump and loud "whooooo hooooooo!!" and the replied with big smiles, no doubt coupled with thoughts of their own speedy descent on the back side.

That was about all the fun I was to have today. The last 30 miles into Silver City, miles which I thought were going to be mostly downhill, were tough. I pedaled up and down one multi-mile long climb after another, same steepness as the pass, all the while with an increasing west wind. By the time I was five miles from town, I was gassed. But I did pass the Santa Rita mine, one of the world's largest open pit copper mines. Check out how gross it is.

If you look hard, you can see the tiny speck that is one of those giant dump trucks with 8 foot tires. Ick!

Finally, finally!!! Silver City. Brennan was waiting at the buffalo bar and I savored a Marble Red Ale, brewed in Albuquerque. Yum yum. But I needed real food. We tried to go this place called the curious cumquat, which we found to be a very uppity and pretentious-looking place, so we jet set out of thee and headed back in the direction we had come from. We landed at Isaac's, a bar and grill. Brennan had eaten lunch there bit didn't mind going back. I had a Philly cheesesteak sandwich southwestern style and the best French fries I've ever had in my life. They were fried in duck fat. Oh.my.goodness. I might take a rest day tomorrow just so I can eat them again. Plus, my legs are tired. Oh me oh my.

The food coma then began and it is so good at making me part with my money for comfy but too expensive hotel rooms. We ended up across the street (barely made it that far, haha) at the Palace Hotel, an old timey place with reasonable rates. What an amazing shower! It had been a while. I was starting to not be okay with it. I'm pretty sure I fell asleep within an hour afterwards. Sorry folks, I was too tired to blog. Oh, which reminds me. Sorry for the delay on entries. I lost service sometime before Hillsboro and didn't get it back until about 10 miles outside of Silver City. I am expecting that too happen more often in this last week and a half, so heads up.

Which reminds me of something else. I don't believe I have relayed the exciting news yet, but I have planned out the remainder of the ride and I should be arriving in San Diego sometime around the 29th. That's so soon! I can't believe I am almost there, that I have almost actually done this. Anyway, might need a rest day or two sometime in there, so it's not exact but I would say two weeks at the most if nothing crazy happens like bike issues or insane weather, all of which are very possible. But I can't help but be very very excited. This trip has been epic and awesome but I will be glad when it is over too.

Well, the continental breakfast is a callin. I will probably stick around here today and rest. Brennan's time on the bike is sadly over and he must wait around for Enterprise to open tomorrow so he can get a car and drive back to El Paso. So I can hang with him while I rest and we can explore Silver City on a Sunday.

Arizona's not too far away now. The winds are going to be an issue from here on out, so I'm afraid the last stretch is gonna be tough. But I should be used to that by now.

Take care, folks. Until next time