I arrived in the small town of Superior, AZ in the early evening, and napped on the porch of some friends. The city is surrounded by mountains, and boasts one of the largest silver mines in the area. This is Apache country, with the infamous Superstition mountain range about 50 miles to the west. Alone again. I enjoyed staying with my friends in Wickenburg, and it was great to have company for a few days. I always find it so hard to say good-bye that I sometimes wonder if it is worth it. I find myself creating relationships with people I meet around me, and bonding with people each evening when I camp or come into town, only to awaken the next day alone and on the road again.
The road out of Superior was fantastic, a step climb to the “top of the world” (where miners go to get their kicks, legal prostitution and booze) and then a long decent into the valley. I rode through the Apache reservation of Bylas and was sad to see the current state of our Native people. Most were drunk and wandering about asking for money, many were almost toothless due to extensive drug use. One lady asked me if I wanted to take a shower underneath her leaking swamp cooler, I thanked her and continued down the road. The temperature began to soar and I cowboy’d up with a straw hat and long sleeve shirt, I think I beat my record and can thankfully say that I cycled safely in 114 degree heat.
I stopped at a local bike shop in Safford (where I would stay the night) and inquired about getting a better bicycle fit. Instead of offering any help the owner and my “host” ridiculed me about my sandals and cycling attire. What can I expect in this part of Arizona stretching on a yoga mat is something very foreign, and is greeted with stares and strange comments. I think that the closest thing to a yoga class around here would be a dance aerobics class.
I stayed the night with a Mormon family in Safford, but I quickly realized that I would have been better off alone. I brought some broccoli as a house-warming gift which didn’t go very well, and slept with two stinky cats on the couch. (I still don’t know why I need companionship). A local forest fire threatened my route to the mountains but the only alternative would be a 80 mile ride into the sun. A mountainous climb was much-needed after the depressed city life, and my spirits brightened when I got to a forest at 6,000 feet. What a climb! If I ever try to tell you that I don’t use my granny gear, pinch me on my dimple, there is no way I could have made it to the top without it. I drank over a gallon of water on a 3,500 feet accent. At the summit I camped with the campground host who cooked me steak and made me coffee. I slept in a summer wonderland as ash dusted the forest and open meadows.
It is surprising the amount of people who I have met that are carrying human ashes. It’s not a normal subject of conversation but on this trip I find myself meeting people who can relate to my trip. The camp host who cooked me dinner is carrying his uncles ashes in his RV and plans to find a final place for them soon. I also met a lady who is on an American road trip dispersing her husbands ashes. The back roads are nice and quiet, and all the nice people are away from the cities. I still have not yet encountered another cyclist.
I found a quiet place to sleep behind a tractor near a wind farm, and before I could sleep a summer storm blew in. For three hours I held down the tent as sand, rain and strong winds battered from all directions. I had to use my bike and panniers to help hold down the tent. When the storm passed I found myself soaked by the humidity and sweating under the tent fly.
The next day I rode into the city of Las Cruces, NM and found my way to the local brewery. The bicycle is a great conversation starter, while at the brewery I met many new friends and had a problem saying no to free beers, after 5 pints (3 of which are a triple IPA) I found my way to my hosts house and ate an all American buffet dinner (bad idea). I returned to his house and quickly found my way to the bathroom floor where I proceeded to “puke my guts out”. Of all the foods to eat before vomiting an all American buffet has to be the worst, noodles, rice, potatoes, fries, peas and gravy, yum! My reflexes are still really good though and the nausea never caught me off guard, I usually have a good 30 second warning before it comes up.
I feel into a dizzy sleep and woke up thinking of the open country. I am heading off for El Paso tomorrow, and hope to find a nice place to spend the 4th. I am almost halfway through the United States. Hello Texas