“Open your eyes, look within. Are you satisfied with the life you’re living?” ~ Bob Marley.
At seven o’clock in the morning, I pushed my Land Sleigh to the edge of the road. From Salome, it’s just over fifty miles east into the town of Wickenburg. Shoeless Jo has his #RuffWear saddle on, packing his own water and carrying a weeks supply of #TurboPUP meal bars. He loves working for his biscuits, hauling his own.
After a few clicks on Highway 60, I was welcomed by another cyclist. Bill lives in Salome. He’s a retired gold miner. Every morning he rides his bike 30 miles down the same highway, turning around at the halfway point. He’s outfitted in his leather work boots, denim, and carries a military canteen to keep him hydrated. We played leapfrog for a few miles, stopping and chatting more than once on this rural route.
It’s a gradual climb out of the low desert, eventually reaching the haunted Vulture Peak, then descending the last ten miles into Wickenburg.
Shoeless Jo takes a day off and rides in his #Burley Tail Wagon for all but a few hundred yards. He hops out toward the end of the day, helping me up a hill. The entire days ride presents a long subtle climb. Even with the weight of Jo, his wagon, and his gear, I’m able to maintain a pace of over 10 mph.
At the half way mark in the tiny town of Aquila, we pull into the only place open. It’s Woody’s Gas Station, and it’s here where we have lunch and top off our water bottles. The sun is beaming today with temps reaching about eighty degrees.
Mounted atop my trusty steed, overlooking the handlebars, facing the long road ahead, I spend time thinking about my life. My heart is open; it tells me what it wants. I find the answers within.
After coasting into the town we had set out for, a roadside drive-up burger joint beckons us, tempting me with a double bacon cheeseburger and a strawberry malt.
We pedal through the historic downtown district at sunset, capturing a few images and learning a bit about this places rich western history.
Most everyone here is sporting a cowboy hat, wranglers, a few with spurs, and some maintain the weathered look of one who has labored in the unforgiving sun.
Wickenburg Feed Company is recommended as the best watering hole around. I arrive to find Holly Jo, a singer-songwriter who hails from the great state of Texas. She’s visiting family, and on this cool desert night she’s outdoors on the patio pouring out one song after another. Sara is the bar-keep who fills my glass and plates up a mean reuben sandwich. She snaps a photo of Shoeless Jo and I, sharing our adventure on the inter-webs.
I share my mission and vision with most everyone I meet. Telling them how many people come together, creating a brighter Christmas for thousands of children, year after year via Operation Elf Box. I elaborate on my belief, that we can open ‘free toy stores’, sprinkling them all over the country. The folks who listen to my dream in motion, take interest, offering support and encouragement. Several have shared with me how they too would like to open up an Elf Shoppe in their town this coming Christmas season and share more love within their community.
The morning will come quickly. With all of this bike riding, I’m needing extra rest. Jo does too. We check into the hotel next door. Bruce is the nicest night audit, offering me a AAA discount and waiving the fee for Shoeless Jo.
And now from this aged wingback brown leather chair, here in this best-western lobby, I’m gnawing on a firm bagel, completely satisfied with the life I’m living.