Palo Verde, land of the green trees, home to 171 people. With the exception of the lightly stocked mini-mart, every other business in town is boarded shut. Several townsfolk gather out front, seated on milk crates in the sun, swapping tales in a dusty lot. Jo and I visit with them for a minute, then pick up the essentials for the evening. The locals point us across the highway to the Tamarisk Mobile Home Park where we’ll find a spot to lay our heads.
This trailer park overlooks a lagoon that fills from the Colorado River. Winny is adorable, warmly greeting us when we arrive. We talk for awhile, but I’m delirious from the days physically and mentally taxing ride. She accepts our ten dollars and points us to our perfect little campsite beneath a grove of massive salt cedars. The folks from the park wander over to chat, curious about our adventure. Jo makes a small friend. I give young Isaac a cookie and then he and Jo run around the yard playing chase.
At the start of our day, when I left the desert floor, I was welcomed to the narrow two lane highway by an intense headwind. The first six miles were up hill, a slight grade that only allowed me to use my lowest gear. Head down and Jo running beside me, we slowly made our way east, slightly discouraged, but making progress with each stroke of the pedals.
I was warned of the trucker traffic ahead, and specifically, to be cautious when two of them meet going in the opposite direction of each other. In that moment, there is no room for a cyclist on the roadway, no bike line, no shoulder. I had one close encounter, a wide load narrowly missing me, nearly taking me out.
The road was a succession of rolling hills, one after another. Shoeless Jo and I work closely together. He hops out of the trailer at bottom of each hill, running beside me leashed to the bike, then hopping back in at the top. We repeat this at each grade, at least a hundred times in our 36.9 miles that we explored.
The Border Patrol had their eyes on me, parking themselves out in the desert, not far from an inspection station where others in uniform search for narcotics. Jo and I are waived through, avoiding a strip search when we reach the checkpoint. A drug sniffing K9 sits crated, patiently waiting to do his job.
And now it’s the end of our day. I’m certain that I’ve burned more calories than I can consume in a day. Dinner consisted of mac-n-cheese, rehydrated spicy beef crumbles, a snickers, an egg sandwich, a box of lemon cookies, a Gatorade, a bag of almonds and two handfuls of raisins.
The time has changed, rolling the clocks back an hour. At 6:30 we crawl into bed. I listen to the truckers rolling down the highway and to the sounds of Creedence Clearwater blaring from one of the prehistoric mobile homes. Tonight I’m reminded how truly lucky I am, that I’m a “Fortunate Son”.