Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Greatest Adventure of The Trip - Kingston NM

Before reading any further, you must visit: It has a terrific picture of the region we are in and if you look off to the left, you will see part of the road that Taran and I rode down to get to Kingston. Also, if you read about the history of the area, you will believe that the room we are staying in was built in the 1880's and that we've walked on "Virtue Avenue" where the brothels used to be!!

After we got settled in our room, we came down to cook our dinner (as usual: spaghetti with Quinoa and sauce) and were given permission to use the stove. While we were waiting for the water to boil, Catherine says..."You know, we have some leftovers you might be interested in". Well, those are some of the best words I like to hear! She brought out a dish that I will call vegetable stew, but it was laced with chili peppers and was quite tasty. She also brought out some beef strips that had a special spice on them (New Mexico cooking maybe?). I loved it...It was not Taran's favorite unfortunately. It was at this time that we met Catherine's husband Pete. He sat down to join us while we were eating. We just started yakking and around 10pm he brought out his guitar and sang us a few Stan Rogers and Gordon Lightfoot. It was during our discussion with Pete that we learned that both Pete and Catherine are heavily involved in Alternative Building Methods...things like Straw Bale Construction, Cob, Bamboo and other environmentally friendly ways to create sustainable human habitats. Catherine actually published a book a few years ago called "The New Straw Bale Home". Both Pete and Catherine have consulted on the building of many, many construction projects around the United States and Canada. Catherine is working on her second book which is going to be about a broader range of building techniques and has traveled the world to view various projects.

Also while we were chatting with Pete, I learned that he had a few projects going on around the property. I casually mentioned that Taran and I could be put to work if he could use the help. He thought something could be "worked out", but no specifics were discussed. Also, Pete prepared his famous Chili Popcorn. He cuts up some chili peppers and fries these in the oil before adding the popcorn. He then adds a bit of secret seasonings to make a very great tasting popcorn creation.

The next morning Pete cooked us up a fabulous breakfast. Cereal, Toast, Waffles and Pete's eggs! He adds green chilis and other spices to the eggs and they are down right awesome. In fact, Pete's had 5 marriage proposals from people that loved his eggs so much...two of them from women. It was at this time that we met Tom who works on the property. He and Taran seemed to hit it off really well.

After Breakfast, Pete took us on a long hike around the area and gave us a thorough lesson on identifying the plants and animals in the region as well as a history lesson about Kingston. He pointed out a particular cactus that was surrounded by debris. He said that this is where a rat lives. The rat (called a pack rat) collects stuff and places it around the cactus to create a more secure 'home' for itself. Predators are less likely willing to poke around a cactus... The rats even pull off cactus spines and place them around the entrance to their 'homes' to ward of unwelcome guests. After lunch we got to work on the "water tank". Pete was in the middle of constructing a 12 foot high 8.5 foot diameter concrete rainwater holding tank. He had recently finished applying concrete on the reebar and wire frame and it was our job to apply the straw/clay/sand outer layer. The clay outer layer is meant to allow the concrete to cure slower (which will make it harder and leak resistant), keep the tank cooler and make it more aesthetically pleasing. There is plenty of clay in this region so we went out to a section of his property and loaded up the front end loader with clay. It was then that he got Taran to drive the vehicle back to the water tank. Taran was thrilled...Did I mention that Pete is a consumate funny person... He told Taran there were no brakes! Funny thing is that Pete has his foot on the brake the whole time!.

The process to prepare the "Mud Mixture" was to add clay water and sand in the cement mixer and when it's all mixed up add some straw. It was this mud mixture that we applied to the exterior of the water tank using our hands. It was a lot of fun. Taran didn't apply the mud mixture until a couple days later and was content to screen the clay and use the cement mixture to mix up the Mud. We worked until 8:30ish and then went in to get some dinner ready. During dinner, Pete told us about this great hike that we should go on. He suggested that Tom could take us to the top of Emory Pass 8,200 ft (the place where we rode our bikes through the mountain pass) and we would hike to the highest peak in the region - Hillsboro Peak at 10,000 feet - and then hike down the mountain to Kingston and back to the Lodge 5,800 ft. Both Taran and I were excited to give this a try. The hike from Emory Pass to Hillsboro Peak was very pleasant. We had a snowball fight with some snow we found. There is a Lookout Tower on top of Hillsboro Peak complete with a Lookout Ranger. We went up into the tower and were treated to a 360 view of the entire region. It was very cool! The trip down the mountain to Kingston was very hard on Taran. He is not used to that kind of hiking and was physically drained by the time we returned to the Lodge. His feet hurt quite a bit and I think the altitude may have played a role in his fatigue. Also, the trail was not well maintained and in places you could hardly tell that it existed. Not too many people used this particular route down the mountain. We were both happy to get onto the trail that we were familiar with and know that the Lodge was not too far away. We got back, had a bite to eat and watched a movie before going to bed.

We were both sore the next morning. We got up a bit late, had a bite to eat and then went out to apply mud on the water tank. A friend of Pete and Catherine's, Greg, came up to help apply mud. He is an author who wrote a book on the trails and day hikes available in the region. (We had used it when we went up to Emory Pass). We spent a few hours mixing and applying mud on the tank. Later in the afternoon Greg and I went on a hike up some trails behind the Lodge. Greg is a botanist and identified many of the flora.

More later...

Friday, April 25, 2008

Silver City to Kingston NM

We had an interesting time in Silver City on Sunday. We got into town around 3:30pm but we had not connected with the warmshower host regarding when we could come by. We knew it would be later in the day so we tried the Library but it was closed and then we went to the local college campus where we were able to use their computer for about half an hour. I called the warmshower host at 5 and was told he wouldn't be back until 8 or 9pm. This is a bit later than what we were used to so we just hung out on the main street. I also called Phaedra and she told me about a warmshower host that was 18 miles outside of town that offered cookies to cyclists passing through. After I got off the phone with Phaedra, I called this host (Pat) and was happily surprised to find that indeed she would be willing to bake some cookies and have them ready for us when we drove by the next day.
To pass the time, we tuned up our bikes and while doing so noticed that Taran's rear tire needed replacing. We changed his tire but our pump broke while we were inflating it. The only place open that would have a pump for sale was Walmart...but it was on the other side of town...up a big hill which was under construction. We were famished by the time we got there so we decided to buy 1.5 pounds of chicken nuggets from the deli and some broccoli and ate in the Blimpys restaurant. Taran really enjoyed this meal (except for the broccoli part). We then went to the warmshower host and met this really cool fellow named Tsama (pronounced Chama). He was very friendly and helpful. He worked in the local bike shop.

We got off fairly early the next day (despite Taran having a flat - broken valve) and set off for Kingston NM. We passed the largest Open Pit Copper Mine in the US and Vista where you could see part (it's huge) of the operation. Exactly 18 miles from the center of Silver City we pulled into Pat's place and were greeted with two bags of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. We chatted with Pat for a while and met her donkey, her mule and her horse. She has a lovely property that she recently purchased to retire on. I'm not positive, but I think we were the only cyclists to take her up on the "cookies on the go offer". They were terrific!

Although Kingston was only 45 miles from Silver City, we were going to climb the biggest hill we had encountered: 8,288 feet above sea level (Silver City is at 4000 feet). Lucky for us it was a fairly gradual grade with quite a few switchbacks. Most of it went through what is called the "National Wilderness Preserve" which meant there were no services. There's quite a story about this particular Wilderness Preserve. It's the first one ever established in the US and is approximately 3 million acres in size. There is only one road that goes through the preserve. We saw very few vehicles along the way which was good because there was no shoulder. When we got to the top of the mountain pass (not the peak) we walked up to the Vista Point and were treated with an incredible view. We could see for 75 miles in three directions. It was breathtaking!. We could see the tree covered mountains, the deserts, the valleys and the small communities in the distance. I'm hoping my pictures will turn out! From the Vista point to Kingston is 8 miles...all down hill. It was a very windy road so there was no way I could attempt to break the previous high speed mark, but it was still fun!

Kingston: 30 full time residents, no stores or anything commercial except for Black Range Lodge

When we arrived at the Black Range Lodge, we went in to find out where we could pitch our tent. The adventure cycling map states that this place allows camping. Catherine came out to greet us and informed us that the map was misleading. There are camping sites in Kingston but they were a half mile up the road with no water, bathrooms or anything (it's called primitive camping sites). Catherine generously offered to provide water and the use of their toilet. I got to talking with her about this and that and she must have felt sorry for us because she offered to let us use her computer and then a little while later she suggested we could have showers. I was very taken (heartfelt) with Catherine, the ambiance and the sense of wellbeing that seemed to emanate from the Lodge. Catherine must have noticed this because it was at this point she said that she would offer a room at a discount price. Well, I jumped at the opportunity. Thus begins the tale of "The Greatest Adventure of The Trip".

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

On Hold in Kingston NM

The latest word from the boys is that they are staying on for an extra couple of days in Kingston NM. They have found a couple of kindred spirits in Catherine and Pete at The Black Range Lodge.
I'm sure they will get on and update as soon as they can find the time. (Likely sometime between driving a backhoe (Taran) and applying clay to a concrete water tower (Ian).)
They are both sounding excited and happy although Taran is definately looking forward to getting to Texas. He said he wants to finish what he started but he is definately ready to come home.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Safford to Three Way to Buckhorn to Silver City

It's late so I need to be brief here... Safford to Three Way was fairly short (38 miles) and Taran struggled a bit due to his illness. three way is just a junction of three highways that converge. Very few services... We camped on Ranger Station lawn. It was free, but had no showers. In fact, it didn't have a washroom after 4:30pm. the next morning a fellow let us in to use the washrooms.

The ride to Buckhorn was very very hilly. We climbed 3000 feet in 5 miles. Very lovely scenic views but quite difficult. Taran was still not feeling 100 percent and I give him tremendous credit for how he persevered. It was 50 miles to Buckhorn and luckily the last 10 miles were downhill. We crossed into New Mexico midway between Three Way and Buckhorn. In Buckhorn, we met a fellow cyclist from San Diego who was on a 2 week jaunt around the territory. He was nice but did not seem interested in chatting. While at the RV park we were staying at, they held a "hoe down" in the "shop". the local band got together and played primarily country music until 9:30. It was very entertaining.

WE got off to a slow start in BUckhorn cause we knew it was going to be a short day (35 miles). I think Taran has fully recovered because he took off like a shot, jumping ahead of me which is fairly rate. He kept up a pace of about 18 miles an hour for a good hour. The terrain was rolling hills but the last little bit was all uphill.

More to tell...ask about Mule Creek Post Office.. Eating chicken in Walmart....and the warmshower host in Silver City and the chocolate chip cookies we're supposed to get tomorrow in Hanover. Gotta get some sleep

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Globe to Thatcher

We got off to an early start from our warmshower host in Globe. Unfortunately, there was a very strong headwind...somewhere between 15 and 20 miles an hour. Riding into the wind sucks! The first part of the route was very hilly (not mountainous) so it made going somewhat difficult. On a bright note, we met up with Stacy and Konrad, the couple that we met in Palo Verde. We cycled with them for quite a ways before Taran got another flat and we had to stop. We caught up with them later when they had stopped for lunch. We rode on and made it to Thatcher first and set up camp. They rode in a little later and we had a good chat with them before going to bed. Taran really liked them. They are both starting their residencies at a hospital in Rochester Minnesota.

Later that night, Taran started throwing up. I think he either got a bug or heat exhaustion. He threw up 3 or 4 times during the night and was not feeling well the next morning. He was very tired the next day and was running a fever. He slept most of the day (part of the time in the campground laundry room because it was the coolest place around). I read a book called "The Kite Runner" which was a very sad but well written book. That evening he was feeling better and actually had something to eat. Unfortunately, it did not stay down. The next morning we went and got a room at a local motel. He slowly ate food, drank gatorade and watched TV for the most of the day. I worked on the bikes and went shopping.

The next was still not feeling 100% so we decided to stay one more day in the motel. I doubt it was entirely necessary, but the next couple of campsites we are going to are very primitive so it's probably best that he be in good health.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Superior to Globe


We woke up a little later than usual to compensate for the lack of sleep from the night before. We were a bit sluggish getting our gear packed and when we were finally ready, Taran had a flat ... arrgh. Luckily we had a short day ahead of us - 25 miles. However, it was mostly uphill. I don't think Taran was feeling particularly well, cause he found it difficult to climb the hills. Usually he is keen to do hills, but today he suffered. We passed through a long tunnel today that was a bit scary. It was loud and dark, it did not have a shoulder to ride in and it was uphill. Luckily there were two lanes because traffic was somewhat heavy.

This part of Arizona has a few copper mines. We saw an open pit mine that was very large. Apparently they had been closed for many years but now that the price of copper is so high, they have been reopened.

Warmshower Host: Larry and Susan

We're currently at a wonderful warmshower host's place. They are extremely friendly and fed us an amazing dinner - pork chops, corn, stuffing, a fabulous salad complete with mini red and yellow peppers and avocado. This was my kind of meal! Susan even made dessert - a chocolate brownie type thing with frozen yogurt. Taran went beserk over the dessert. He finished the frozen yogurt container. He kept eating and eating...
Both Larry and Susan (and their 8 children) are avid cyclists. About 10 years ago they took four of their kids on a cycling trip from Globe to Canada! The youngest child was 11 at the time. That sounds so cool! I certainly hope I continue cycling when I get back. I've lost 15 pounds so far and I'm hoping cycling will keep it off. Also, I will be able to see more of the Cowichan Valley!!

Taran is watching a movie - Men in Black. I'm hoping to go to bed early because we have a long day tomorrow. We're heading to Thatcher which is about 80 miles away.

Tempe To Tempe to Superior

From Chris's place, we went approximately 1 mile to Terry and Heather's place. It was our plan to drop our stuff off and head to a place called Rawhide Western Park.

Warmshower Host: Terry and Heather.

We arrived at Terry's place around 9:00am. He greeted us with a big smile and showed us all the amenities: Garage to park the bikes, kitchen, bathroom laundry facilities etc. As it turns out, Terry had recently done the northern tier bicycle trip and is an avid cyclist. Also, he and his wife spent a number of months traversing the country in a car looking for mountains to climb. The attempted to reach the highest point in every state. Some of them they couldn't because of weather and other circumstances, but they did amazingly well. Terry does Geocaching, but not as much as Jack in Imperial Beach.

We hung around for a while before heading to Rawhide. I had checked on Google for interesting things to do in Phoenix and Rawhide popped up as one of the top 10 ( We rode about 10 miles to the site. It was somewhat interesting but also somewhat lame. I think it was geared to a much younger crowd or for groups. They did have a mechanical bull (neither of went on though) and two live shows that we attended. We learned the history of the Lone Ranger and got a healthy dose of "Do good to your fellow man". We spent about 4 hours at Rawhide before heading back to Terry and Heather's place.

We did a bit of shopping on the way back arriving at around 5pm. Terry had already started dinner...spaghetti...and he invited us to join them. It was very good. Heather had thought she had burned the Garlic Toast, but it was exactly how I like it...I'm guessing most people like it slightly warmed but I like it toasted.

That evening Terry and Heather took us out to see the sights of Phoenix. Unfortunately South Mountain Park had changed their hours of operation and closed at 9pm...apparently it has the best views of the city. They then took us to another viewpoint near a restaurant called Rustler's Roost. This place was very interesting. It had a very large and live Bull (horns and all) in a cage outside its front door.

The next morning we took our sweet time getting ready to go cause it was fun just yakking with Terry and Heather. When we were finally ready to go, Terry volunteered to ride with us for a ways. I always like it when a host takes the lead and shows us the way to go. I quite enjoyed his company for the time he rode with us...about 25 miles I would guess. It was our plan to make it to Superior for the night which was 60+ miles from Terry's place.

From about the time Terry left us to Superior, the ride became more difficult. It was mostly uphill and the wind no longer is our friend. We fought a headwind most of the way. We did have a brand new highway that we had all to ourselves for about 10 miles. It had now been opened yet and being the weekend, they were not working on it. It was very nice to have the whole road to ourselves. We did not arrive in Superior until 5:30pm. The RV Park was right on the highway and we were allowed to camp on the lawn out front (beside the highway of course). The facilities were good, but no rec room. We ate dinner, showered and went to bed. At around 12:30 the wind started blowing...and I mean blow! After half an hour of wondering whether the tent was going to be ripped to shreds, we took it down and slept under the stars. Not the greatest sleep I've ever had, but it was better than being in the tent.

We're now in the "High Desert". There is actually more plants and greenery than in the "low Desert". The hills are quite interesting.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Wickenburg to Tempe

Flat Tires Galore

Taran had 2 flats and the trailer got two more flats leading into Wickenburg. What a pain!!! The number 60 highway did not treat us well. Because we only had one patch left, we attempted to purchase more patches in Wickenburg. We finally found some at a hardware store, but they didn't look like the right kind. We stayed at a place called Horsepatality RV park. They had a ranch out the back that you could keep your horse at. There were not many in the park when we got there. There was also a lot of Canadians in the park. Most of them were from the Okanagan or Alberta. Our campsite was right beside the Rec Room, bathroom and laundromat. The Rec Room had a TV and Microwave that we put to good use. We had purchased frozen burritos in the hopes a Microwave would be available and quite literally lucked out! Otherwise, we were going to have to Toast them on the stove.

We decided to NOT put up tent and sleep under the stars. Our campsite was a level grassy spot that was fairly secure. It got chilly, but we both slept really well. No bugs, no animals, not too much noise. Very enjoyable.

When we were just about ready to leave, we both noticed that our bikes had flats. I fixed my bike and we tried the new patches on Taran's bike. They did not work...wrong kind. We put a new tube in Taran's bike and headed out with the hope we would not get a flat on the way into Phoenix. We made it to within one mile of a bike shop before Taran got another flat. We walked the last mile. The bike shop had been recommended by our warmshower host and turned out to be very good. They fixed Taran's rear wheel and front derailleur right away. Usually there is a 3 hour waiting period.

Driving to our warmshower location took longer than expected. It was a 25 mile ride through the city at rush hour without many bike lanes. We did get a few honks here and there, but overall we were safe. It felt like it was taking forever! Also, the directions we had did not have distances, so we had to keep stopping and asking people where the next street was because we did not want to go past it.

Warmshower Host in Tempe: Chris and his dogs: Jake, Dobey and Frankie

We arrived at Chris's house around 5:30 buy no one was home except three dogs. They started "singing" as soon as we rang the bell. It was quite the performance. If they practiced a bit and perhaps harmonized, they would sound pretty good. We got out our books and sat down to read and wait. When Chris arrived he said we could have gone in...cause the dogs turned out to be very friendly. We showered, ate more burritos that we purchased and I spent some time yakking with Chris. He turned out to be a very active and eclectic fellow. He has raced road bikes, cyclecross and mountain bikes. He does mountain climbing and is preparing for a Mount Everest Climb, he's part of the avalanche rescue squad, he builds custom bicycle frames, he currently works for a performance car shop building turbo chargers for high performance cars, etc, etc. He was also working on another project creating his own kitchen countertops. He had taken a one day course that showed him how to mix concrete, glass fibers and other chemicals and pour it onto a mold. Apparently the result is a very light (compared to concrete) but very sturdy counter surface. I was very intriqued.

When I was on the phone with Phaedra, Chris and Taran took our bikes into his workshop and Chris started tuning up our bikes. He replaced a rear derailleur on Taran's bike and tuned up the brakes. He replaced a brake cable and rear brakes pads on my bike and low and behold they work now. They had never worked this well. I always thought that the trailer made the brakes not work well...nope, it was the pads and the cable... He also tuned up the derailleurs. We were amazed at how quickly and effeciently he worked. He was a machine. We really appreciated his work cause we're heading into some remote and very hilly territory.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Quartzsite to Harcuvar to Wickenburg

We've found a new favourite restaurant...Carl Jr.s. We both had a burger for the first time in quite a while. Eating Quinoa and Spaghetti all the time game us a craving for burgers. After dinner we went to the RV Park (one of probably 20 in the town) campsite. It turned out to be all rock and no grass or "soft spots". We spent half an hour digging ourselves a comfortable spot. Luckily it only cost 3.50 dollars. The showers were great and it had a kitchen that we used to cook breakfast.

The next morning we had planned to go to Wickenburg (90 miles) to a couch surfer location. However, the couch surfer location did not pan out and we had a couple of flats on the trailer wheel. We decided to hang out in Quartzsite doing laundary and reading our books before heading to Harcuvar (35 miles) for the night. The RV Park in Harcuvar was satisfactory, but it cost 10 bucks and was quite windy. We were able to swap a couple of books in their library though. While we were finishing dinner, a elderly lady came out of her RV and yelled Help, would you please help. Taran and I went over to see what the problem was and found out her husband had fallen down and couldn't get up. We helped him up and reset his chair in place. The women had a big gash on her arm that I suspect she got when he went tumbling over. They declined any further assistance. I sure hope they are okay.

We're currently in Aquila which is about 30 miles from Wickenburg. This library was not on our map but Eagle Eye Taran caught it very quickly. He can spot them a mile or two away.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Brawley to Palo Verde to Quartzsite

Brawley Campsite

I was truly excited about staying at the Brawley Campsite because it was situated beside a lake. When we arrived, we saw lots of boats pulling tubes and waterskiers. However, when we checked in, the ranger told us that we could not swim because there was no life guard. I think he would have let us swim if no one else was around, but he didn't want to get into trouble. Later, when I spoke to him, he apologized and actually gave me a couple of books that were in the office. One for Taran and one for me. Also, when he was leaving to go home, he came over and offered to let us stay in the "supervisors trailer". He said that if no one shows up by 8pm, that we could move in. He said the supervisor brought his girlfriend to the trailer occasionally. We were quite excited at first, but after we took a look inside the trailer, we changed our minds. It was a bit grungy and I had a bad feeling about it. Someone showed up at around 9pm and went into the trailer.....

We left Brawley at around 9am and had stocked up on water. - approximately 11 litres. As it turned out, we probably didn't need to carry quite that much as we were able to refill once or twice along the way. We did go through the desert, complete with sand dunes, dune buggies, quads, motorcycles and huge motorhomes with "garages" (to house all the toys). The motorhomes would congregate in certain areas in the desert and make a mini-town. It was quite amazing.

While Taran and I stopped to take a break, a fellow in a truck pulled over and started talking to us (me). Once he found out we were from Canada, he pointed across the road to a huge mountain of dirt and said, do you know who owns that? I said I had no clue. He said "Canadians". It was a gold mine. He then proceeded to explain how the operation works:

1) They pour a mixture of cyanide and water down the slope of the mountain (not sure if it was a pre-dug mountain of ore or just the mountain). (cyanide in the amount of 1 grain of rice can kill a person)
2) The run off is captured in a big basin at the bottom
3) This run off is then filtered through coconut charcoal. The coconut charcoal becomes "pregnant" (his word) with the gold.
4) The charcoal is then washed again and gold, in a flour consistency, is filtered off
5) The gold flour is heated and bars are about 98 to 99 percent.

Once we left the desert, we rode into the Chocolate Mountains (not the edible kind Joisan). The grade was not too difficult, but the they had what they called Dips. These were small hills, one after the other, over and over again...up and down, up and down. Taran thought it was great, but I prefer flat terrain.

Near Glamis, we met a father and son combo that were traveling from San Diego to Florida. They had an RV supporting them along the way, so it wasn't quite the same experience that Taran and I are on. I believe they might have been on a "charity" ride in support of children at risk. The fellow was not too clear on the details.

We arrived at the Palo Verde campground at around 4pm and we averaged about 13 miles an hour. The campground was just on the side of the road beside the river. Unfortunately, there was no swimming allowed (and no reason given) but it was free so that helped. We found a cool campsite amongst the trees and decided to read our books for about an hour before setting up camp.

The next morning, just as we were getting to leave, two fellow cyclists who had ridden in late the night before came over to introduce themselves. Konrad and Stacy were from Seattle Washington but had started their trek East to Florida in San Diego. They were pulling two single wheel "Bob" trailers and were travelling a lot lighter than Taran and I. Also, their daily mileage was probably 25 to 35 miles more than what we do. They both looked in great shape. What amazed me most was that Stacy was a very petite person and didn't seem bothered pulling a trailer for over 100 miles. Taran and I haven't even done a 100 mile day!!! It certainly was an eye opener! I think part of it has to do with the equipment we're using and part of it that we still are "newbies"... I looking forward to meeting up with Stacy and Konrad along the way!

We're in Blythe at the moment heading to Quartsite to camp tonight.

Message from Taran...
Hello Everybody This is Taran, I'm just leaving you all with a puzzle to figure out. In the following paragraph is a message I have put in code. It is your job to figure it out and send what you think the secret message is to me at Luck.... . -.-- .- .-.. .-.. .-- .... .- - ... ..- .--. ..--.. .... --- .-- .-.. --- -. --. -.. .. -.. .. - - .- -.- . -.-- --- ..- - --- -.. . -.-. --- -.. . - .... .. ... ..--.. .. - - --- --- -.- -- . ..-. --- .-. . ...- . .-. - --- .-- .-. .. - . - .... .. ... ..- .--. .-.-.- .... .- ...- . -.-- --- ..- ... . . -. - .... . .--. .. -.-. ... --- ..-. -- -.-- .... .- -. -.. ... ..--.. - .... . -.-- .-.. --- --- -.- ..-. ..- -. -. -.-- -.. --- -. - - .... . -.-- .-.-.- -- -.-- .- -. -.- .-.. . ... .- .-. . - .... . ... .- -- . .-.-.- .. .- -- --. --- .. -. --. - --- -... . .-. . .- .-.. .-.. -.-- ... ..- .-. .--. .-. .. ... . -.. .. ..-. -.-- --- ..- - --- --- -.- .- .-.. .-.. - .... . - .. -- . - --- -.. . -.-. --- -.. . - .... .. ... --..-- -... ..- - .. ..-. -.-- --- ..- .--- ..- ... - -.-. --- .--. .. . -.. .- -. -.. .--. .- ... - . -.. .. - .. -. .- - .-. .- -. ... .-.. .- - --- .-. .. -- --. --- -. -. .- -... . - .. -.-. -.- . -.. .. - - --- --- -.- .- .-.. --- -. --. - .. -- . - --- .-- .-. .. - . - .... .. ... .-.-.-Dreaming in ditches, you orange underwear, green enchiladas taste terrible, hi iguana snakes. men's essence smells salty, a greedy elephantor if you are up to the challenge.... . .-.. .-.. --- . ...- . .-. -.-- -... --- -.. -.-- - .... .. ... .. ... - .- .-. .- -. --..-- .. -- .--- ..- ... - .-.. . .- ...- .. -. --. -.-- --- ..- .- .-.. .-.. .-- .. - .... .- .--. ..- --.. --.. .-.. . - --- ..-. .. --. ..- .-. . --- ..- - .-.-.- .. -. - .... . ..-. --- .-.. .-.. --- .-- .. -. --. .--. .- .-. .- --. .-. .- .--. .... .. ... .- -- . ... ... .- --. . .. .... .- ...- . .--. ..- - .. -. -.-. --- -.. . .-.-.- .. - .. ... -.-- --- ..- .-. .--- --- -... - --- ..-. .. --. ..- .-. . .. - --- ..- - .- -. -.. ... . -. -.. .-- .... .- - -.-- --- ..- - .... .. -. -.- - .... . ... . -.-. .-. . - -- . ... ... .- --. . .. ... - --- -- . .- - - .- .-. .- -. .- ... --- ..- .-. --. -- .- .. .-.. .-.-.- -.-. --- -- .-.-.- --. --- --- -.. .-.. ..- -.-. -.-.-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- .-.-.- -.. .-. . .- -- .. -. --. .. -. -.. .. - -.-. .... . ... --..-- -.-- --- ..- --- .-. .- -. --. . ..- -. -.. . .-. .-- . .- .-. --..-- --. .-. . . -. . -. -.-. .... .. .-.. .- -.. .- ... - .- ... - . - . .-. .-. .. -... .-.. . --..-- .... .. .. --. ..- .- -. .- ... -. .- -.- . ... .-.-.- -- . -. ... . ... ... . -. -.-. . ... -- . .-.. .-.. ... ... .- .-.. - -.-- --..-- .- --. .-. . . -.. -.-- . .-.. . .--. .... .- -. -

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Jacumba to Ocotillo to Brawley

From the library in Jacumba to Ocotillo contains an incredible downhill experience. It was both exillerating and scary at the same time. It was basically a 6 mile downhill run at between 4 and 7 % grade. The road had recently been repaved, so the conditions were perfect. However, all along the way there were signs saying "Strong Winds". Neither Taran nor I did any pedalling the entire ride down. In fact, Taran had his brakes on most of the time. I could have probably broken the previous record of 45.8 mph, but I was too nervous. I averaged 38 mpg the whole way down. Keep in mind that we typically ride somewhere between 8 and 14 mpg most of the time.

Ocotillo and the Desert

Ocotillo is in desert country. The town itself is not much. Add to that incredibly bad roads and Taran and I were a bit nervous about staying here. We spent 20 minutes cycling 1 mile into the wind to find the RV park we intended to stay but the instructions on the Map turned out to be wrong. We had to spend another 45 minutes heading out into the desert to find the park. When we arrived at the park, we rode up to a fellow sitting in a bench rocker and introduced ourselves. He turned out to be the owner and he told us we could either set up our tent or sleep in the recreation (rec) room. We took a look at the rec room and quickly decided to sleep there. It had a big TV, Cable, tons of DVD's, tons of books, a stove, a fridge, and ice machine. There were laundry facilites and a great shower. When I asked how much, he said "it's by donation".
We were in heaven! It was like an Oasis in the desert. On top of it all, there was three different types of free ice cream in the freezer.

We spent a lot of time reading and watching TV. There was not much else in the town or surrounding area to see or do. I did spend a lot of time 'chewing the fat' with John. He's a 76 year old ex-marine who spent time on an Aircraft Carrier. He had lots of stories and things to say about his life and about life in Ocotillo.

Taran had not been feeling well the last couple of days so we decided to spend an extra day in the Ocotillo Oasis (actually called Jackson's ADULT RV Park). It felt like a holiday!

We left Ocotillo fairly early this morning anticipating a fairly long day. However, we soon discovered that we had a 25 mph wind behind us. It only took us one and a half hours to go 25 miles to El Centro. We're now at the El Centro and only 20 miles from the campsite in Brawley. We averaged 19 mph! Taran was a machine today. He kept the pace pretty high.

We're in Brawley now and our campsite is 5 miles north of a lake. It's 30 degrees and a bit windy. We had to travel into the wind from El Centro to Brawley. I'm hoping the lake is cool!

From Brawley there are very few services for 117 miles. We are going to try and make it to the nearest campground which is 75 miles away. If the wind is behind us, I think we'll be fine. If not, we'll be camping in the desert along the way.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Jacumba (pronounced Hacumba)

Clarification from the last post...Dennis provided a more accurate description of the feast he kindly provided in El Cahon:

pollo asado - marinated chicken mini tacos
carnitas - pork mini tacos
carne asada - marinated beef mini tacos
shredded beef burrito and spicy carrots with jalapenos.

Makes me hungry just reading it...

Note: We just exceeded our Maximum Speed on our bikes: We breached the 45 mph mark gaining 45.8 mph somewhere between Boulevard and Jacumba... (45.8 mph = 73.7 kmh) WAHOO!!

El Cahon to a campground near Alpine (on an Indian Reservation)

Dennis was kind enough to help us out in the fact he provided our lunch material - peanut butter and jam sandwiches. Very kind. He also gave me a supply of ear plugs for which I will most definitely use.

As we were leaving town a fellow from a vehicle asked Taran where we were headed. Taran told him Texas...he asked us to pull over to chat. He was a nice fellow, but turned out to be a bit strange. Shortly after that we started getting into the hills. We made it to Alpine fairly early, but we were pleasantly surpised to learn that we had climbed 2000 feet or halfway to the top of the mountain. We had planned to continue up the mountain another 20 miles and camp at a "Forest Service Campground". However, we wanted to find out about the services available (i.e. shower/ potable water) so we stopped at the Alpine Ranger Station to find out. As it turns out, the camp was closed due to procreating bullfrogs. I guess they like their privacy. There was a closer campground, but it was still early in the day. Taran suggested we go to the library before heading to camp...which we did. When we finally arrived at the camp we were suprised to learn it had a pool, a jaccuzzi, and a billiards room. They had a sign on the check-in counter that stated "Baby rattlesnakes have been spotted nearby - Stay on the trails and make sure your dogs are on a leash".

Alpine to Live Oak Springs

Climbing Climbing Climbing. That's what we did all day long. We went up to 4000 feet, down to 2000 feet and then back up to 4100 feet. We were very tired when we arrived at the Live Oak Springs Resort and Campground. We had been forewarned that it might rain and I had tried to find an inexpensive motel or something to ride out the storm, but to no avail. The cheapest accomodation I could find was 65 dollars. The lady who checked us in did give us some hope we wouldn't get wet. She said that Live Oak Springs get about half the amount of rain that any of the towns within 5 miles get.
We set up camp under a tree, strung a line over the tent to hold the tarp in place and put everything else in garbage bags to weather the storm. That evening we went to the Resort Restaurant and hung out by the fireplace playing chess and checkers. We also played some pool. It's fairly cold at night at this elevation at this time of year. We have warm sleeping bags, so we are always warm!

Well, it didn't rain...thank goodness. It was a bit windy, but no rain spoiled the night or day!

Phaedra had researched another accomodation program called "couch surfing". She informed us that there was a person in El Centro (60 miles away) that would be willing to host us for Thursday night. I spoke to the fellow and made arrangements. However, I will need to phone him shortly and change the plans. There are too many hills and we will not make it to El Centro before dark...and we don't ride in the dark.

We're currently in Jacumba and will likely find a campground in Octillo which is about 20 miles away. Taran desperately wanted to visit a library so that's where we are right now.

Discussion Item: Prior to leaving San Diego, I purchased a bunch of Quinoa as a protein source instead of trying to find and carry meat. We have been cooking it and mixing it with our spaghetti. We tried adding a powdered spaghetti sauce, but to limited success. Does anybody have any suggestions on what to add to Quinoa that would make it better suited to mix with spaghetti? Would curry be a good thing to add? Thanks for any ideas...