Date: December 10th
Time Pedaling: 4 hrs. 06 min.
Avg. Speed: 9.5 mph
Max Speed: 15.7 mph
Trip Odometer: 1,804.29
Weather: sunny, windy and 48 degrees (Las Cruces, NM) to (Akela Flats, NM).
Time of Departure: 12:00
Arrival Time to Akela Flats, NM: 6:00 (Mountain Time Zone)
We had a good breakfast at the Drury Inn in Las Cruces. We actually got up to eat and then laid back down for about an hour. We decided that we wouldn’t start pedaling until the temp had risen to near 50 degrees. It wasn’t quite 50 as we pulled out of the lot.
We had been warned about the hill leaving town. It was a bear. It was windy and cold but we climbed and climbed. We took a quick breather at the top.
We took the frontage road that ran along side I-10 until it ended. The wind died down to being a non-factor after we had pedaled about 7 miles. It was still chilly but at least the wind was cooperative. The hills were minor, and caused little problem.
We were planning on making it to Deming because of losing the day in Las Cruces. Given the late start, that was probably a bit ambitious because Deming was about 60 miles away.
We stopped at the Old West Trading Post which was about 15 miles west of Las Cruces for a quick snack and bathroom break. The Trading Post is one of many owned by Bowlin Travel Centers in New Mexico and Arizona. They sell just about everything including rattlesnake eggs (the prank ones). The manager was only too happy to offer a certain 8 year old a peak into the envelope. Nice.
Dakota bought gifts for a few people but I can’t say who in case they read our blog (wink wink).
We ate a quick snack in front and got back to pedaling. We were bundled as this was probably the coldest day of pedaling we’ve had thus far. We agreed that we would only make it as far as Akela Flats which was about 40 miles in total from Las Cruces.
When we were about 10 miles out I spotted an animal to the north of us about 150 yards or so. We all stopped and it turned out to be a herd of pronghorn antelope. Luke was happy with the spotting. Actually as part of his school work I had been drilling him on spelling. I chose hunting words to keep it fun for him. One of the words I worked with him on was pronghorn antelope.
We made it to Akela Flats just after the sun went down. There was another Bowlin Travel Center and a Casino (that wasn’t a casino) at the exit. We needed a place to set up our tent and went in and asked at the casino that wasn’t a casino. It turns out that this is the newest Indian Reservation in the country. It is owned by the Ft. Sill Apache Tribe. They are currently trying to open a casino at the location. In the mean time, the building is basically a restaurant.
No matter what it is, we asked if we could set up camp in their lot, and were given permission to do so. It is open 24 hours which enables bathroom breaks for us. They also have wifi which I’m using right now. It will get down to the mid 20’s tonight so I will keep you posted as to how the sleeping mats and reflective blankets worked for us.
We are all spent due to the cold weather pedaling. We are sure glad this place is here in case we get a little too cold tonight.
40 miles, pronghorn antelopes and sleeping on an Indian Reservation? All in a day’s work.
To the Coast…wherever that may be for you. Thanks Gil.
Date: December 11th
Time Pedaling: 2 hrs. 22 min.
Avg. Speed: 9.1 mph
Max Speed: 17.4 mph
Trip Odometer: 1,825.91
Weather: sunny, windy and 55 degrees (Akela Flats, NM) to (Deming, NM).
Time of Departure: 2:30
Arrival Time to Deming, NM: 5:00 (Mountain Time Zone)
17 degrees can be cold in a tent. Real cold. I’m glad Aaron had given such great advice in the way of emergency blankets and self-inflating bed mats. They helped to make it bearable, but just barely.
We knew at some point we would hit some cold but truthfully weren’t expecting it to fall too much below 32. We will be facing a few more days of cold, but hopefully nothing in the teens again.
The cold weather has us leaving later than usual. It hasn’t been warming until about 11:00. We spent a while in the restaurant before getting on the road. We decided we would only get to Deming today because it was going to get down into the 20’s again tonight. We planned on another hotel which seems to be turning into a habit.
The I-10 shoulder in New Mexico is a bit worse than Texas (never thought I would write that). What we’ve been on so far is similar to what we faced in Texas, with one exception. There are many cracks and large missing pieces. Fortunately, the wind slowed us down today so we didn’t hit too many potholes going faster than 9 mph.
As for wildlife, we have seen a few common ravens which are quite a bit bigger than crows. We also spotted a couple of Loggerhead Shrikes. We haven’t seen any wolves in New Mexico but that remains a possibility. The Mexican wolf, which is native to North America, was reintroduced a few years ago and may be seen in Arizona or New Mexico.
We made it to the Deming Walmart at about 4:30. We needed some food supplies and had problems with the Coleman bed mats we bought. Two that we bought were Coleman and two were Ozark Trail. The Coleman’s were about $10 more but appeared nicer (having a built-in pillow). Well, the first time using the Coleman’s they both went flat before morning. The Ozark Trail ones didn’t. We decided to just buy a full size air mattress with an air pump. It seems a bit late in the game to be buying an air mattress, but we still have several hundred miles to go and it doesn’t add that much weight.
We are already looking forward to Arizona and warmer temps. We may even slightly change our route if there is something we really want to check out. Well, not too much more to say.
We are resting tonight at the Comfort Inn and Suites on the west side of Deming.
Date: December 12th
Time Pedaling: 5 hrs. 20 min.
Avg. Speed: 11.4 mph
Max Speed: 17.2 mph
Trip Odometer: 1,886.98
Weather: sunny, breezy and 59 degrees (Deming, NM) to (Lordsburg, NM).
Time of Departure: 11:30
Arrival Time to Lordsburg, NM: 5:30 (Mountain Time Zone)
We ate a good breakfast at the Comfort Inn and Suites. The staff was very friendly. We made it down to breakfast at nine (when it was supposed to end) and the staff made sure we ate all we wanted. You remember those things, those little kindnesses extended.
We had a big day planned. Our goal was to make it the 60 miles to Lordsburg. It was going to be another cold night and didn’t want to camp along side I-10 unless we had to.
The temperature when we left Deming was about 48 degrees. The wind wasn’t a factor. Any hills were gradual and also not much of a factor.
We stopped at the Rest Area near mile marker 61 and talked to a couple of the workers. They warned us about inclement weather on the way about a day out. While at the Rest Area a man shared with us that he lost his Mother in 1966 to breast cancer. She was only 39 years young.
We pedaled on. We made excellent time and even with a couple of quick stops reached Lordsburg just after sunset. We headed to our planning headquarters (McDonald’s).
We called a couple of hotels just to check prices. We decided we would try a couple of churches as the hotels were over our budget especially after staying at a few the past couple of weeks.
Dakota called the First Baptist of Lordsburg first and that was the only call necessary. The woman who answered said yes, and also mentioned that they used to host a group of bicyclists every year. The church was less than a mile from McDonald’s which was nice because it had dropped to about 35 degrees.
Pastor Wil was complete with cowboy boots and cowboy hat when we met him. He could just as easily have been a Texas Ranger, albeit from New mexico. He showed us around the church and recommended we stay in the nursery because it was carpeted and warm. He turned the furnace on for us and was out the door.
We were setting up our pads (and new air mattress) when Linda, the woman that said yes on the phone, came in. She had been worried because she hadn’t heard from us. She was in another building and was expecting us there. She had driven back and forth to McDonald’s to see if we were lost! Linda then invited us to the building next door for sloppy joe’s.
We ate as we were asked questions by the children and adults that were there for a TEAM Kids meeting.
Afterwards, we emptied the bikes of gear and trailers and headed for Ramona’s Cafe. We enjoyed the sloppy joe’s but they were just about gone when we got there, and for 4 hungry cyclists, not quite enough.
Ramona’s was about 6 blocks in the increasingly cold weather, but it was well worth it. Everything we ate there was delicious. The Pastor had warned us about the spiciness of the food, but it was right up our alley. I highly recommend it.
We left there and pedaled to the church using the now freezing weather as a great motivator.
We settled in and used a TV in the next room to watch a family friendly movie. Well, okay, the one writing this began snoring 15 minutes in (or so I’m told).
We were warm and comfortable, well-fed and done pedaling.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention, we also had our highest mileage day at just over 61 miles.
Just another day on the road.
To the coast my friends…wherever that may be for you.
Date: December 13th
Time Pedaling: 3 hrs. 39 min.
Avg. Speed: 9.6 mph
Max Speed: 19.5 mph
Trip Odometer: 1,922.06
Weather: cloudy, very windy and 55 degrees (Lordsburg, NM) to (San Simon, AZ).
Time of Departure: 1:00
Arrival Time to San Simon, AZ: 5:30 (Mountain Time Zone)
We left the hospitable lodgings of the First Baptist Church of Lordsburg just after 1:00 pm. It was an intentional late start. We had pedaled 60 miles on Wednesday and needed the rest. We also knew that San Simon, AZ was only about 30 miles up the road and that was our next stop. We slept quite peacefully on the carpeted nursery at the church. We slept until just after 10:00 and then caught up on some emails, etc.
We left town knowing a storm was brewing to the west of us. Depending on the source, we could count on snow or rain and strong winds.
The wind was blowing north as we pedaled through town to get to I-10. Once on the interstate the winds at least to this point were a non-factor.
That changed drastically after about 5 miles. I’m not sure if the wind changed or the direction of the road, but we quickly were pedaling against strong winds.
We have faced plenty of winds coming across Texas, but this wind almost derailed our plans for the day.
It is hard to find an accurate reading of how strong they were but my estimate is at least 30 mph or more blowing directly at us.
It was a struggle and we were barely at 12 miles pedaling. As we approached exit 5 at Road Forks there was a motel and truck stop on the south side of I-10. I knew if we stopped we wouldn’t be going any further. I rallied the troops and told them Steins Mountain ahead would block some of the wind.
To my wife’s credit, she was willing to be rallied, and so we kept pedaling. To get over Steins Mountain we had to pedal up about 4-5 miles, but sure enough the wind was partially blocked.
By the time we made it to the ghost town of Steins, our fortune had changed completely. The wind was now pushing us forward and we were on a decline!
Talk about a 360. We went from almost being done to having a great dose of encouragement. It seemed to parallel life itself. At times we hit a rough patch and then it just gets better. We just don’t know when, so we keep on pedaling.
We were still enjoying a downhill when we spotted a wonderful sign, “Welcome to Arizona”. Nearly 2 months to the day that 4 family members set out from Jacksonville Beach, we were now separated from the Pacific ocean by 2 states.
We stopped at the Rest Area just inside Arizona. The Rest Area was quite nice. There were plenty of signs that covered the whole landscape of Arizona. We are now in the Cowboy Region according to the map.
San Simon has 2 exits. We weren’t quite sure which one we wanted so opted for the second one.
In the 3 miles from the 1st exit until the 2nd exit we had to cross the San Simon River Bridge. It had just turned dark. We expected to be there already but the headwind put us back a good 30 minutes or so. Well, either way, we had to cross the bridge which was about an 1/8th of a mile in the dark. That wouldn’t have been a problem if the shoulder didn’t disappear with vehicles travelling at 70 mph. You are probably thinking a kind stranger slowed down and put his hazards on? Not exactly, but for some strange reason we did receive a lot of beeps of encouragement on that stretch.
As far as the exit, it didn’t really matter. The only business in San Simon is the Chevron Truck Stop. It is the grocery store, restaurant, gift and fuel stop.
The employees at the Chevron were very friendly. We ate cheddar and jalapeno hot dogs along with our trail mix. The workers actually invited us to crash in the Quizno’s end of the station due to the cold and the rain.
Hey, why not? It beats setting up the tent in the elements.
Good night friends.
Date: December 14th
Time Pedaling: none
Avg. Speed: n/a
Max Speed: n/a
Trip Odometer: 1,922.06
Weather: cloudy, very windy and cold in (San Simon, AZ).
Time of Departure: n/a
Arrival Time to San Simon, AZ: n/a
Gail, and I slept for about 4 hours on the floor of the Chevron Station (actually the Quizno’s portion of it). It was quite comfortable with our new air mattress, albeit a bit noisy. We allowed the kids to sleep for an extra 2 hours even though Quizno’s was open. They were strategically bedded down next to the soda fountain. There were also few customers, so Gail and I had some coffee and worked while the kids slept.
The longer we stayed, the worse the weather looked. There was a headwind up to 40 mph’s depending on the source. It was also raining off and on the whole way. We decided we would stay over another day rather than making it only half way (or worse). It isn’t fun being forced into an off day. It is always better to choose them, and plan around them.
But, we had the choice to make some lemonade, so we did.
We played about 20 rounds of Banangrams and watched some Disney. We talked to several fellow travelers (none were on bikes, though). This seems to be a rougher part of the country. Similar to Texas and New Mexico. Maybe it is fear, not sure.
I’m trying to write events as they happen. In some cases, it just isn’t so good. There was a woman and her husband in the Chevron who had ran out of gas about 2 miles out of town. They walked to get gas but left their hazards on for safety. When they got back, the truck wouldn’t start because the battery was dead. They stood outside of their truck holding jumper cables for the passing traffic to see. They tried for several hours on two consecutive days, to no avail. Maybe it is because I have stopped numerous times and helped someone out, I figure it is just normal. Changing tires, jumping a car, pushing a car with my truck or giving someone a ride when it is 20 below up north is part of life. I’m not talking everyday, or being late for work, but just offering a bit of help to my ‘neighbor’.
It is hard for me to fathom that not one person stopped to help. The couple clearly had most of their possessions in the truck and trailer. Maybe they were getting a new start. Not sure. They were in their 50’s and had to walk 2 miles back and forth for two days in cold and windy weather. The repair shop next door to the Chevron wanted $150 to jump the truck. The couple obviously didn’t budget for that expense and were at the mercy of the people. My guess is that to drive 2 miles back and forth including jumping the vehicle is a total of 15 minutes or less.
We mentioned that we had several flat tires and other mechanical repairs along the way. Pecos County, Texas was good for nearly 10 flats. During our time in Texas, we never had one motorist stop and ask if we needed anything. A family of four, on the road side. Maybe we could use a phone, a wrench, etc. I’m not sure I get this.
We didn’t need anything and have been able to make things work just fine, but the point remains. I hope that it has been timing.
The couple did get help from a fellow motorist at the gas station, they got their jump and showed up a few minutes later to fuel up. We talked to the lady for a few moments before they hit the road. Then, they pulled out and were once again on the road.
We were welcomed to stay put for the night again. We appreciated that for a couple of reasons. The first reason is that it was cold and windy outside. The second reason, was that I had a case of food poisoning from eating Quizno’s. We all ate but I’m the only one that ate crumbled bleu cheese, turkey on my sandwich, and chicken in my salad. No one else was sick so we think it had to be one of those things. Not fun for me at all. Several trips to the bathroom and the front of the store.
We watched the Scrooge and laid our bedding out as soon as Quizno’s closed.
On another note, our hearts go out to the families in Connecticut. We watched the coverage with saddened hearts.
Date: December 15th
Time Pedaling: 4 hrs. 47 min.
Avg. Speed: 7.9 mph
Max Speed: 17.9 mph
Trip Odometer: 1,960.42
Weather: overcast, very windy and 50 degrees – with the wind it felt much colder (San Simon, AZ) to (Willcox, AZ).
Time of Departure: 10:15
Arrival Time to Willcox, AZ: 4:30 (Mountain Time Zone)
Some of the journal will be missing from 12-15 to 12-18 or so. I will try to piece some things in. The truth is that I was doing well to pedal through food poisoning, wind and hills (and allergies). Nothing on our journey has stopped us.
We have all had pain of one kind or another (you think?). But, it really is just a mental battle. Even pedaling 30+ miles with the food poisoning. And yes, having no choice but to use the bathroom facilities available on the way to our stop wasn’t so much fun. But, like wind and hills, it becomes nothing more or less than a battle in the mind. We press on. We pedal on.
Some of that time period is collected in pictures and in our minds, but a chunk of it is a blur to me.
I decided I could share some injuries with you. I’m not sure if our photographer has captured pictures of each but I’m sure you can visualize just fine.
My wife (the photographer) had the important task of lugging the second antler we found on the back of her bike (on the rack). We had left the first one behind, which became the cause of 8 year old tears.
Who can bear that?
When we spotted another we secured it to her bike rack. This was fine except that she found it with her leg on several occasions. My wife bruises fairly easy. Between the antler and the bike pedal hitting the back of her leg, there were large scratches and bruising. In fact, if you read about our time at Balmorhea State Park, my wife stayed out of the springs because the small fish wanted to help with the cleaning process. She wasn’t hip on that.
You may have read about our only wipeout at the time in the Sand Pond State Forest (Florida). Luke and I hit a sand spot and tumbled, knocking the wind out of him. We may be able to do better than that.
We were trying to figure out where we would stay for the night in New Mexico. We had just gotten off an exit at Akela Flats and were talking options while pedaling. A state trooper was passing in his truck when Dakota clipped my back tire with her front tire causing her to spill almost instantly. With the grace of a gazelle, she hit the ground running and never fell down. The trooper backed up to make sure we were okay after the spill. We all had sheepish grins on our faces, and told him we were.
Somewhere in between Mississippi and Louisiana the guy writing this got ringworm. Never had such a prestigious thing before. I thought it so prestigious, that I didn’t mention it or do anything about it. Like most men, I figured it would go away by itself. It didn’t. It got bigger. About 3 weeks later I thought I should mention it to my wife. Then, I decided to search google for remedies. One called for using the hottest water that could be tolerated. We had a coffee pot available, and if I was game, my wife was really game to try. She poured as I grit my teeth. We did this 2-3 times (not sure how many, I think I passed out). The next day there was no change except it was a bit more bright red. While my wife was anxious to try the coffee pot method again, I decided to give Mom a try. Sure enough, Mom was familiar with this sort of thing and recommended Athlete’s Foot spray. We picked some up and have been using it since. It is 12-19 and there is still a round circle on my rib cage nearly 2 months later. It has definitely gotten smaller and seems to be on the way out. If not, the wife is ready…
We have all had at least one thorn needing to be removed. The male persuasion a few more than the females.
Back pain, saddle sores, scratches of every shape and size, cramps, hurt feelings have all been a part of crossing the country on our bikes.
We have been very fortunate. Those have all been small prices to pay.
Date: December 16th
Time Pedaling: n/a
Avg. Speed: n/a
Max Speed: n/a
Trip Odometer: 1,960.42
Weather: cloudy, cold 50 degrees but feels like 44 degrees (Willcox, AZ).
Time of Departure: n/a
Arrival Time to Willcox, AZ: n/a
We decided to stay put another night in Wilcox due to the weather. We had braved the elements the day before and thought it best to ride it out without pedaling. Actually, my wife and daughter pretty much decided it while I was sweating out the food poisoning and sleeping until almost noon. We seem to be hitting a bit of a wall with the weather and what not, but we made it through Texas taking only one or two days off through the entire state.
We didn’t do very much. We walked to McDonald’s and grabbed a bite (except me). That was pretty much our adventure. We watched some tv and rested peacefully.
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