It was so hard to leave, and for a while I really had to keep myself from looking back. I cycled past my high school, elementary school even the corner grocery store that my father used to take me to after school for pop sickles. I thought that the sign strapped to the back of Gaby garner attention and help brighten my spirits but no one noticed. The road out of town was windy and very busy, the shoulder was none existent and I often had to pull over to let cars pass.
There were minimal rest stops and one gas station which doubled as a bar where if filled up my bottles. People inside were pounding beers and drinking whiskey, that seems like fun, not now though because I still have another 40 miles to ride. Leaving Temecula the temperature was a nice 92, once I started climbing the hills to Warner Springs the temperature probably rose to about 100, and the sun really started to cook. How much longer to I have to do this? Your almost there I told myself, almost where? China? I finally climbed the last big hill into Warner, when I passed a very sullen lady “Are you from around here” I asked, ” yeah” she responded taking her eyes off the ground for a moment then returning her gaze to the earth. “Is there a grocery store near by”? “Yes but I just want to keep walking” Ok, well I don’t want to keep cycling I just want to go back to bed. It turns out that everything in Warner has closed for the summer and the nearest store is 13 miles up a step hill.
I met a fire chief in Seattle who told me, “If you are ever in a jam just go to the fire department” Well I still had a little rice left from breakfast but decided to see if they could help me out. A cute blonde greeted me and offered me food, a place to camp and a warm shower, I wasn’t quite where I wanted to be for the night but I couldn’t refuse. The rest of the department seemed very annoyed, and even locked the bathroom over night, oh well. I rested my sore muscles and slept under the pine trees and moon light.
I awoke this morning with a very sore right knee, something seems to be a bit inflamed, maybe I should have done a bit more training. I pack my bags and leave before the sun comes up. The mountains were surprisingly cold and I hid my head in my sleeping bag all night, now as the sun comes up the heat becomes very familiar. These are ghost towns everyone has left for the Summer and there is little if any inhabitants. I finally cycle down to Borrego springs where I can load up on supplies and inquire about water along the road. It seems that everything is broken up into 25 mile increments including the nearest tree! I asked where I could find shade on the road and a guy at the information booth pointed to his map and told me that I could find a tamarisk is that area to rest under.
The sun peaked and the temperatures rose above 100, it is so dry that after soaking myself with water my clothes are dry in a few minutes. Sweating does not occur until after you stop pedaling, and breaks are best when coasting due to the breeze. Appetite is almost not existent and I constantly had to force myself to eat warm melted gummy bears. For hours today I watched cars pass me and disappear into the far horizon as my tires crumbled scorched asphalt. The hottest time of the day here is between 1-4, try to find shade at this time! Today I caught in what felt like an additional heat wave and had to rest behind a “Do Not Enter” sign beside the freeway, while red ants crawled up my clothes.
The locals have nicknamed this place the warmest place on earth being that death valley is not inhabited during the summer, warmest or not its 7 pm now and its still over 100. Next month the temperatures will remain over 100 till after 1 am, so it could get worse. Most of the inhabitants of this 20,000 plus community either work in one of the two prisons or are migrant workers on the farms. Alfalfa, cantaloupe, water melon, and asparagus are all in season now, and i rode past acres and acres as I entered the city.
My knee not good and hurts while I write this. I am in an air conditioned living room in a very typical American house with 5 tropical parrots. I am optimistic for tomorrow, look forward to rest