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.