I was sleeping on the ground nestled between two RV’s. The warm sun peaking over the desert mountains, beaming rays upon my face. This was my wake up call, one that came earlier than I’d prefer on this particular day.
Rubbing the sleep from my eyes, I walked slowly the few yards to the nearest pot of coffee. My teeth felt like they were wearing sweaters. I find a washroom nearby, my toothbrush in my pocket, polishing my meat mashers.
I returned to the coffee cup, seated on a shaded stoop overlooking the main strip in Quartzite. From that place, I wrote my previous blog post. Now I’m sitting in a different place, in the town of Salome, 37.68 (s)miles further up the road, blogging about the last place I was blogging from.
I didn’t leave Quartzite until shortly after one o’clock, first finishing a burger and also sharing one with Shoeless Jo. It was eighty degrees and the afternoon sun was unguarded by even a single cloud.
At a roundabout that reminded me of being back home, I merged my Land Sleigh and Jo’s Tail Wagon onto the interstate.
The road heading east from town offers those who pedal a challenge with a long warm grade to climb. The diesel trucks billowing by, one after another, shaking my rig as they wiz on ahead. Jo doesn’t like trucks. They growl. He’s a lover. He seeks refuge in his wagon, staying low and out of site from the semi’s that he believes might eat him.
On our eighth day of cycling, we’ve finally encountered two other bikers headed east. Jo is a border collie, instinctually obligated to keep us all together. But the riders pedal forward, leaving us in the dust. Jo snaps his jaws, signaling his disapproval, hopping out and sprinting after them, pulling me up the mountain.
On the side of the road we stopped and chatted with two women who were held up near the top of the pass with a flattened tire. I offer to help but they have no spare. I suggest one ride on my handle bars, the other, in the trailer with Jo. They tell me AAA is in the way.
Merging on to highway sixty east, I gradually descend into the valley. I pull into a country store. The old boys out front tell me there’s a dog in my trailer. They’re are a half a dozen off road vehicles and a few pick-up trucks in the gravel stalls. And the two bike riders are there sitting on the front deck. They were discussing the only hotel in the town of Brenda and perhaps ending their day there. I kept going, never saw a hotel, leaving behind a tip, a wadded napkin, and a plate licked clean; an all-you-can-eat salad bar in the middle of the desert.
It’s about fifteen (s)miles to the next town of Hope. The sun was to set in about an hour. I stopped not long after I got started and pushed my earphones in. I tuned in to The Wood Brothers station on Pandora and scooted down the road another ten miles or so. Jo rides with his head sticking out of the wagon so he can see ahead. Like me, he’s taking in all of our beautiful surroundings.
Scattered throughout this dust bowl are palm tree lined RV parks. Down a dirt road, crossing over a cattle guard, I discover one for the “Dreamers” in the desert. $16.75 lands me a hot shower and a spot of dirt to make my bed.
If you don’t already know, a large percentage of Americas fifty five plus are living out here part of the year; they’re snow birds. And they’re crazy about rocks. My grandparents were snowbirds. My folks are following in their footsteps. And there I was, in a snowbird infested RV park, talking about Pokeno and arthritis with a man who’s wearing Birkenstocks with his plaid socks pulled up.