Sat 9/20-Tues 9/23: Trail Angel captivity (lol!), Sedona, Wooden Tepee

Saturday morning I met up with my awesome Trail Angel ladies Sisol and Dorothee whom I met at Gila Hot Springs and then again in Silver City! They have an amazing house here in Tucson, I’m so stoked to see them! They are truly absolutely amazing people. πŸ™‚

We went to the Tucson airport to pick Kyle up. He finished his hike the day before I did. Yay Kyle! He finished in a snow storm at Glacier National Park Montana/Canada border, and I finished in flash flood conditions. The Continental Divide did not let us off easy….lol! So we’re rendezvousing here in Tucson where we’re gonna go do some not physical dirt bagging (in a car! Road trip!), before we have to reintegrate into normal society again.

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Sisol and Dorothee are the most awesome hosts! We basically ended up in what I call a “Trail Angel Hostage Situation”. Lol! Kinda like when I started in Banff and my trail angels up there kept me for 3 days, and we did all kinda of awesome adventures. Lol! Dorothee and Sisol showed us around Tucson and fed us and it was absolutely amazing. We saw an awesome kid-prodigy guitarist play at his CD release party, and had dinner at their friend’s house while they discussed wedding catering plans for another friend. It was just such an incredibly random and awesome day. Lol!

Sunday I picked up my rental car. A trick for renting cars that I’ve learned is, you pay for the class you reserve for, not what you actually get. I always reserve economy class, and I try and pickup at a non-airport location. Reason is, they usually run out of economy cars, and they’ll give u whatever they have left. Sure enough, I ended up with a pretty spiffy ride. Fire-engine red 2 door mustang. Lol!!

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Impressively, I still fit Mochi in there, all my crap, Kyle’s backpack, as well as a cooler full of craft beers. Whoop whoop!! πŸ˜€ Ready for a road trip! Squizzle agrees. Squizzle is kind of like Kyle’s version of Butterstuff. But way more travel-sized. Lol!

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First stop was Saguaro National Park. Those cacti are so cool looking!!! They’re HUGE! Saguaro can grow up to 40 feet talk and live over 150 years old! Wow!

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The next day (Monday) we get into Sedona. Oh my god the place is so beautiful!!!

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Did some trail riding too. It’s so pretty. Yay rocks!!

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And some hiking.

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End of trail indeed. What better way to celebrate the end of a 3,000 mile cross country journey, than a road trip? πŸ™‚

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Of course a trip to Sedona would not be complete without going to one of these… Lol.

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All in all, Sedona was absolutely beautiful. The landscape and scenery is so incredibly dramatic and stunning, in a way I’ve never seen before. As for the actual town of Sedona. Well, let’s just say I think this entire area would have been way cooler if the town wasn’t there. It has a super rich yuppie feel to it which I’m not into.

Coolest thing that happened to me in Sedona: at the end of a hike, coming back to the trailhead parking lot a random stranger gifted me a small heart shaped rock along with a little blessing. Super duper awesome! πŸ™‚

Onto the next destination! So, we’re pretty much flying by the seat of our pants here. We have really no plan, we’re just winging it as we go, and sleeping wherever we can find a flat spot. Lol! Pretty much like what I’ve been doing for the last two months, only difference is I have a car. Last couple nights we stealth camped behind some bushes/trees at some random trailheads. Tonight I slept in a plywood teepee on the side of the road. Lol! There were 3 of these wooden tepees at this free campground we found in the middle of nowhere. They are a lot more spacious inside than they look. Lol!

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Of all the states I’ve driven through (which are a lot), Arizona has hands down the most amount of random things you’ll find on the side of roads/highways. Like a free campground with 3 huge wooden tepees. πŸ˜€

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Fri 9/19: Hitching on I-10, burlesque in Tucson! :D

The guy in the motel room next to me was motorcycle touring. We checked out at the same time, and I saw him packing up his bike and I said, hey I’m riding my bike across country too! Except I don’t have a motor. Lol! He was from Australia and spent the summer touring the USA, including going to Sturgis. We chatted for a while. He’s a cool cat. I’ve never met an Aussie I didn’t like. πŸ™‚

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So, the rest of the morning really sucked because originally I was going to take the greyhound bus to Tucson, which left Deming around 1pm. I had a ticketing issue so I wasn’t able to to get a ticket and the next bus to Deming didn’t leave until almost 8pm. POOP!!!!

After a mad scramble in trying to figure out logistics I just decided to hitch. Which was my original plan anyways, except I was just trying to get out of here ASAP.

There weren’t many vehicles on the freeway on ramp. Damn. So I walked right onto the freeway and was literally hitching off the Interstate 10 fwy. It was pretty frickin scary. Vehicles were whizzing by at 70+ MPH. This was not looking positive for me. Plus, most of the vehicles passing by were huge semi trucks. Things were looking grim. I thought to myself, I’m going to be here all day….

Then, as luck would have it, a gigantic flatbed semi pulls over. What?!? The driver gets out and is ratcheting down his cargo. I thought, aw damnit he just pulled over to tighten his chains…

Then he’s waves me over. Holy crap no way!! πŸ˜€ Turns out he’s doing a delivery to California. An he said he would be ok with dropping me off in Tucson. COOL!!! :D. Mochi got to ride strapped to the back of a semi, and I got to ride in the cabin of a semi, for the first time.

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Wow those trucks are frickin cool! I had no idea they had what was practically a studio apartment behind the seats. This particular truck had 2 bunks to sleep in, a mini fridge, and some outlets. That’s awesome. I always wondered where the drivers slept, when I see trucks pulled over on the sides of roads.

The driver was pretty cool. Jorge from Costa Rica, living in Kansas for 20 years. Lol, talk about a change of scenery! We had fun coversation, which made the drive to Tucson quite pleasant. It was about a 4 hour drive. Partway between we stopped by a winery. Jorge likes wine and collects bottles from different places he drives to.

I stayed at the Roadrunner Hostel near downtown Tucson. That place is super awesome! I’ve been in many hostels and this one is definitely one of the best ones I’ve been to.

I found out some of my burlesque friends were performing at a show tonight here in Tucson. STOKED! It was at an awesome venue called the Surly Wench. It was such a great show, plus it was a fundraiser for an awesome local anti-abuse organization. They even had some male performers. Yay for backlit Manlesque! πŸ˜€

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Downtown Tucson is AWESOME! Funny, because I’ve driven through town, only on the 10 fwy, and it’s rather non-descript. Then I wander to downtown and discover it’s AMAZING art scene and awesome venues that play fantastic music! WOW!!! This town is sooooooooo cool! I don’t think I’d want to live here (too hot and no ocean…), but I frickin love this town! πŸ˜€

PS. Yay for 24 hour coffee shops that are bike friendly! πŸ˜€

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Day 66: Thurs 9/18, A rather hellacious ending…and Mexico!! :D 84 miles

I got almost no sleep. The rain never let up and the wind was cranking. Which made my tent super loud. Plus I was so paranoid about my tent flooding. And mentally I was just somewhere else. The thought that in less than 24 hours, I will have finished my ride, was just incredibly overwhelming, along with all the emotion that comes with that.

At around 5:30am I just couldn’t sleep anymore so I just tossed and turned til around 6:15, then I mentally motivated myself to start packing up.

All night it was raining so hard. It was pretty much dripping inside my tent, because when my fly portion gets stuck to the bug net from condensation, water starts dripping in. This doesn’t usually happen but when I pack a wet tent for days on end, everything just gets wet, and stays wet.

Which is pretty much a summary of how all of today went. Oh my gosh today was hands down the hardest day of riding on my entire trip. Mainly mentally. But also the rain never let up, and even though I had rain gear on I was still soaked from sweat. All in all I was just absolutely miserable. Lol.

Here’s what the morning looked like. In fact that’s what the entire day looked like. Except sometimes it was a light misting rain, but more often it was coming down hard enough to sting my face.

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Seriously, if I had to describe today in one word it would be “miserable”. Lol! Oh man what a way to end the journey. Here’s a pic of my very last continental divide crossing. Quite a difference from the near 12,000′ passes from just a week ago. πŸ™‚

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Since there was no scenery really to look at, and the rain hurt my face I pretty much just put my head down and pedaled. It was hot under the rain shell. It wasn’t too long before my shirt was just soaking wet from sweat. And that’s how it went. For 65 miles… Oh but it gets better! The last 47 miles I had a straight headwind. At times it blew hard enough to slow my progress down to about 6mph. That definitely did not improve my mood. And the wind never let up.

Plus, after leaving Silver City I noticed a bulge on my tire. The tread was starting to separate. Oh man. If it burst it would be beyond anything the Stan’s sealant could fix. So I was mentally freaking out that my tire would burst before I could finish. My poor bike Mochi. What a trooper. Just a few more miles Mochi and then we’re done!

It was raining so much a lot of the road was even washed out. I had to do some water crossings. Most were relatively doable, one in particular was nuts. Water was deep enough I couldn’t ride through it, so halfway across my bike stopped rolling, I almost fell over. That was scary. The water was running so fast it was hard to move against it. I was so relieved when I finally made it across!

I was also relieved when I saw this sign.

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And then when I saw this sign, I nearly cried.

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And then……

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It was almost unreal. For two months I’ve been riding almost everyday, to get here. And now I’m here. It was weird. Lol! Wet, soggy, miserable but absolutely ecstatic at the same time. πŸ˜€

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So….now what? Lol! I need to get outta here! I’m soaked and I need to dry up. I tried hitchiking out of Columbus (border town) and it was futile. No one would pick me up. Which is not surprising, it’s a border town…

It was about 30 miles to the town of Deming. After a couple hours of trying to hitchhike, I was at a point where, I could still get to Deming before dark if I started pedaling now. So I did.

And it absolutely sucked. It rained so hard the hwy was startin to wash out. It rained harder than any other time on the entire trail. It totally sucked. The rain let up for a few minutes and I decided to stop and eat. I was starving and in an absolutely horrible mood. I learned that when you’re in a bad mood, it’s better to at least not be hungry. Haha.

And that’s when I noticed it. A huge tumor-like bulge on Mochi’s front tire. It wouldn’t roll past the stanchion of the fork. Oh man, I just kind of had a breakdown. I never generally lose my cool but I had such a crappy day I just sat there and cried. I was still about 15 miles out of Deming.

And then, as the Universe always does, an Angel was sent my way. Guy with a pickup truck stopped and see if I needed help. He said he stopped for me because he’s been in a situation on the side of the road before where he needed help and people have helped him. Oh man I was sooooo stoked. I thought I was so screwed!

I got a ride into Deming. Of course the only (kind-of) bike shop in town in town was closed til Monday… Crap, where was I gonna get a 29″ tire?!?

There was a walmart in town. It was worth a shot. Lo and behold, they had one 29″ tire! JOY! My bike will be able to roll again!!! πŸ˜€

I got a room at a random little cheap motel. STOKED to finally be able dry off all my soaked gear. Lol!

Holy crap what a day. Funny, when I first started my ride I thought finishing at the Mexican border would be so boring and anticlimactic. I couldn’t be more wrong. Lol!!

As they say, when one journey ends, another begins! Tomorrow I gotta somehow get to Tucson, and then to Sedona. Whoo hoo for Adventure Part II! πŸ™‚

Day 65: Weds 9/17, Leaving Silver City, and Rain… 63 miles

I am an idiot. Lol! Last night at the laundromat I left my backpack (with all my super crucial and important stuff in there) on a chair inside the laundromat. I realized this when I was a mere 2 blocks away. In a panic, I turn around and race back to the laundromat. Door is locked! AAAAAAAHHHH!!!!! >.< On the bright side, I see my backpack sitting there, right where I left it. Whew!! Well, that's a relief. So, theoretically, when I return in the morning just as they open, it should still be there, right? The laundromat opens at 5:30am.

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Let’s hope so.

I didn’t sleep much that night. I didn’t go to bed til pretty late. And I woke up almost every hour, to check what time it was. After what seemed like an eternity it was finally time to go get my backpack. I got there at 5:31am, and the door was already unlocked. My backpack was there! JOY!!!! πŸ˜€

So now the question is, what the heck am I going to do til 9am (which is when the bike shop opens)?? At this point it was still dark.

I ended up riding to Walmart to do my resupply, since it was one of the few places that were open. I’m generally one of those anti-walmart people. But unfortunately there was no other efficient way to spend my time and I sure as heck was not going to go back to sleep. So I went grocery shopping at 5:30am. Lol. Of course I got rained on.

I hung out at a coffee shop down the street from where the bike shop is, waiting for the bike shop to open. Guess who walks in? One of the guys I met at the Gila Hot springs campground, who I also saw at cliff dwellings! And shortly after, Sisol and Dorothee arrive! They are the two ladies who fed me spaghetti at the Gila hot springs campground last night! Cool! So stoked to see them again. Apparently the campground was evacuated yesterday, in preparation for possible flooding… Crazy!

Here’s downtown historic Silver City. Cool artsy place with a health food store co-op and 2 bike shops, restaurants, quirky stores, and more! Western New Mexico University is just down the street.

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The bike shop replaced my brakes and they also found some spare parts for my rack yay!! It’s not hanging by a Ziptie anymore! πŸ™‚

The ride out of Silver City was relatively chill. Huge rolling hills and no rain, for now. Yay! It was a short lived dry spell though. But, I’m glad this last stretch of dirt riding is high grade gravel, which is still passable when wet. Whew!

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My whole goal today was to get past the dirt portion of the road. Oh, by the way there has been flash flood warnings for all of Southern New Mexico. The very very last part of this ride is on pavement. I figured I’d rather be on pavement in torrential rains than dirt.

Today’s ride was pretty darn crappy. I was pretty wet, as I didn’t put on my rain gear until I was significantly rained on. It was just really hot under all that rain gear and I figured I’d be wet regardless. On a positive note, it’s not cold! πŸ™‚

I passed by a ranch and there were horses on the road. They ran with me for a while, that was pretty cool. πŸ™‚

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I passed under the I-10 freeway. Not the first time I’ve crossed under that freeway in the middle of nowhere on a cross country journey. I walked under the I-10 fwy when I hiked the PCT also.

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For the next 7 or 8 miles, I was in a gravel frontage road, paralleling the freeway. This was the last portion of off-road riding I had. Oh man, this section seemed to go on FOREVER. Plus it was starting to get dark so it was a race against time for me. I NEEDED to get off the dirt.

After what seemed like an eternity I finally got on pavement. Yay!! This will improve my speed and I won’t be slogging as much. Now it was a matter of finding a place to pitch my tent that wasn’t underwater, and that didn’t look like it would be flooded.

I found somewhere I thought would stay relatively dry. At this point the rain hasn’t stopped so I was seeking a higher spot off the side of the road. Somewhere water wouldn’t pool.

I must be on the Border Patrol radar because my goodness there were a lot of patrol cars going past me. But then again I’m less than 65 miles from the Mexico border, so I’m not surprised. Although it is somewhat intimidating to have them drive by so frequently, it ultimately made me feel a lot safer.

The rain an wind is just crankin. Ugh. Time to think positive thoughts! Perhaps it will stop raining in the morning? That has seemed to be the trend throughout the trip. If it rained last night, usually the next morning would be bright and sunny. Hard to imagine this is my last night on the trail…

Day 65 into 66: Weds 9/17 Thurs 9/18, Flash Flood warnings

So, I’m in my tent on the side of the road, it’s pouring rain and the wind is cranking. It’s been coming down all night. Needless to say i didn’t sleep much.

Just throwing this out there, when there’s a flash flood warning, don’t go riding your bike through it. This definitely ranks as one of my less intelligent decisions. But on the flip side, i honestly don’t think I could have just sat in Silver City and waited. Not with less than 130 miles to go.

I’m gonna make a run for the border and hope for the best. I’m about 66 miles away. I’m going to finish in Columbus, NM, which is an official alternative terminus of the route, instead of the traditional Antelope Wells. There are several reasons for this, but one of them being, if shit hits the fan here, it’ll be a lot easier for me to get out of Columbus than Antelope Wells.

There are enough border patrol guys rolling around in trucks here, that I assume if they intend on evacuating the area, and see me on a bike, someone will tell me.

Damn, this is pretty gnarly. Glad I picked a pretty good area to pitch my tent, as I didn’t wake up in a puddle of water. Ok time to think positive. 1)I’m not getting hailed or snowed on, 2)I’m dry (for now, anyways), 3)despite the wind and rain, it’s still pretty warm.

Here goes nothing.

Day 64: Tues 9/16, Ancient Cliff Dwellings, Badass Theater!! 51 miles

Well today was quite an adventure. It rained all night and into the morning. Once again, I am grateful to be on pavement and not slogging through mud.

Last night I met the two wonderful ladies camping next to me. They are from Tuscon AZ and the Gila Hot Springs is a very special place for them because they got married there. Cool! They are amazing people with beautiful souls. So stoked I met them. Thanks for sharing your spaghetti dinner and wine! πŸ™‚

I rode out from the hot springs and got rained on. The cliff dwellings were well worth it. I’m so glad I took this detour! It was amazing!! The place has been inhabited for hundreds of years, by different civilizations. First by hunter gatherers, then the people who built actual structures there. There are 6 caves in total. Some used as living areas, some as storage. I got to walk in some of the caves.

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The ride out was wet and cold. Lol. Interestingly enough the climb up and over the mountains weren’t too bad. I was up in thick fog on and off.

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In the historic town of Pinos Altos, in the mountains just above a Silver City, lie possibly the coolest bar I’ve been to the entire route. It was built in the mid 1800s and has 16″ thick adobe walls. I forgot to take a pic of the exterior BUMMER! But the inside was amazing. It literally looked like you walked into a saloon in the Wild West.

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And even cooler, it’s adjacent to an old opera house theater that still functions as a performance venue, and even has it’s own bar. I’m convinced I need to come back here and do a show. πŸ™‚ And to add to the coolness, the place is haunted! πŸ˜€

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The ride down to Silver City was wet. But hey that’s nothing new I’ve been getting rained on the last few days. Lol!

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I got some info from the local bike shop about a place called The Bikehaus that welcomed divide riders. Cool!! The place is so awesomely weird! When I got there, one guy was building a mobile chicken coop. I stayed in a loft, in a loft where they make gigantic paper mΓ’chΓ© puppets. It’s one of those houses that seem to have no end. Lol! I loved quirky cool places like that. πŸ™‚

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Silver City is a cool town. It has a downtown historic art district, and a nearby university. I dig. πŸ™‚

By the way, there’s a flash flood warning for all of southern New Mexico. Greeeeeeeat…. Lol