December 31st – January 6th On Our Cross Country Bike Trip

Date: December 31st

Time Pedaling: 4 hrs. 34 min.
Miles: 39.96
Avg. Speed: 8.7 mph
Max Speed: 14.9 mph
Trip Odometer: 2,410.98
Weather: partly cloudy, windy, 61 degrees in (Imperial Sand Dunes, CA) to (El Centro, CA)
Time of Departure: 10:30
Arrival Time to Holiday Inn Express in El Centro, CA: 7:15 (PacificTime Zone)
Repairs: None

Our campsite at the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area

Our campsite at the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area

Today was a bit rough. Roads, winds and a migraine.

We left the Rec Area and began pedaling on the frontage road once again. California is a bit more serious about bikes staying on secondary roads. The road we have to be on is Old highway 80. It is worse than any shoulder or road we have been on in any state. No exaggeration.

The rough roads along old highway 80.

The rough roads along old highway 80.

These roads are rough even without a headache.

These roads are rough even without a headache.

Rough roads slow down our progress and make the trailers seem heavier.

Rough roads slow down our progress and make the trailers seem heavier.

There are humongous cracks and pot holes over every stretch we have been on. Between the noise of the ATV’s and the jolting road, my wife got one of her bad migraine headaches. We had to stop for about 2 hours while she rested.

We had to push on because we were only about 2 hours from dark (on New Year’s Eve!). We made it to Holtville just before dark. El Centro was another 10 or so miles and we really wanted to get there as there was very little in Holtville.

The shoulder was actually quite good. We pedaled fast while showing off our pink reflective vests given to us in Yuma.

We were all quite pleased to reach El Centro and hotel for the night. After unloading our gear, we grabbed a bite at a local Mexican restaurant. It was named Mexicali Tacos and the food was delicious. We all had the same thing; Carnitas burritos.

Luke and I hit the workout room at the hotel when we got back. The pool wasn’t heated and the 8 year old still was still teeming with energy. Gail and Dakota relaxed, checked emails and talked on the phone.

The day had been challenging, but victorious.

From the Four the Road Family,

Make it a great New Year!

Make it, a great New Year.

Good night friends.

Date: January 1st

Time Pedaling: 3 hrs. 10 min.
Miles: 28.49
Avg. Speed: 8.9 mph
Max Speed: 17.0 mph
Trip Odometer: 2,439.47
Weather: partly cloudy, breezy, 62 degrees in (El Centro, CA) to (Ocotillo, CA)
Time of Departure: 12:00
Arrival Time to Jacksons Hide-A-Way RV Park in Ocotillo, CA: 4:00 (PacificTime Zone)
Repairs: Flat on Dakota’s rear bike tire. The culprit? A wire.

Leaving the hotel after a goods night sleep!

Leaving the hotel after a goods night sleep!

We headed out of El Centro with Ocotillo our goal. Making it to Ocotillo would place us at the base of the mountains that we will need to climb tomorrow.

The wind was a non-factor for us on our ride. The main factor once again was the terrible road. The cracks are huge and unavoidable. It was slow going for the 28 miles because of the road.

On the brighter side of things, we finally got our first flat tire (on a bike) since Texas. It may not sound good, but considering we have gotten nearly 30 flats total, making it through New Mexico, Arizona (over 300 miles), and a couple of days into California, we are well pleased. The flat came about 26 miles in on Dakota’s rear tire. We hadn’t taken a break at all, so it was time anyway. It became a flat tire changing and eating party. The culprit was a wire.

Team Adelphia works together to fix the flat fast!

Team Adelphia works together to fix the flat fast!

The wire Dakota pulled out of her tire.

The wire Dakota pulled out of her tire.

Luke spotted a Burrowing Owl on Evan Hewes Highway. We had just gotten off Main St in El Centro and turned onto Hewes when he spotted it. It was somewhat easy for him to spot since he was looking for birds to scare with his ‘special noises’ as we rode by.

I did not take this picture but I wanted you to see what Luke saw; a burrowing owl!

I did not take this picture but I wanted you to see what Luke saw; a burrowing owl!

Another bird we can check off of our list for Our Big Year.

We rode through a town named Plaster City. The town is actually owned by United States Gypsum who operates a large gypsum quarry there. The town (at least what we saw) was the plant with no services. So you have the plant on both sides of this terrible road, and behind the plant you have atv’s, dirt bikes, etc riding the vastness beyond. Good movie location, I guess.

We also passed through a small town named Seeley. The place appeared like it had been hit by a tornado. I later found out that it was strong winds and flooding that did the damage. Even I-8 had been flooded.

We arrived in the small town of Ocotillo at about 4:00 pm. We had been okayed to pitch our tent in an RV park. There are only a few businesses in Ocotillo, and only one motel. We decided on the RV park, and are glad we did.

The name of the park is Jackson’s Hide-A-Way RV Park and had told Dakota earlier that we could camp for $10.00 but there weren’t any electrical hook-ups. Before walking up the sand road, we had her call to make sure there were showers. The road that Google gave us was Opel Rd. The sand was so thick we had to drag our bikes through it for about 2 blocks. After pedaling on that tough road, it was a bit challenging, but teamwork won the day. Luke took turns pushing the trailers behind the girls’ bikes until I got mine far enough ahead and parked it so I could come back and walk theirs the rest of the way. The pulling was well worth it.

Harlene (she and her husband are the owners) told Dakota that it would be cold and we could sleep in the rec room for the night, and yes, there were showers (and outlets).
John (Harlene’s husband) has been in twice making sure we could work the remote for the tv, and to drop off some microwave popcorn. You just don’t get that kind of hospitality at a hotel. Harlene and John are from Iowa. They are in their upper 70’s and doing just fine. Great folks.

The rec room at the Jackson Hide-A-Way RV Park in Ocotilla!

The rec room at the Jackson Hide-A-Way RV Park in Ocotilla!

Another beautiful sky!

Another beautiful sky!

We are working away right now. In a bit, we are going to have some popcorn, watch a movie or two and rest for our climbing tomorrow.

Date: January 2nd

Time Pedaling: na
Miles: na
Avg. Speed: na
Max Speed: na
Trip Odometer: 2,439.47
Weather: sunny, 63 degrees in (Ocotillo, CA)
Time of Departure: na
Arrival Time to Jacksons Hide-A-Way RV Park in Ocotillo, CA: na (PacificTime Zone)
Repairs: None

Hello Old and New Friends!

We know you couldn’t wait to hear about our excruciating climb to Jacumba, but that will have to wait until tomorrow. We decided to bask in the warm sun at Jackson’s Hide-A-Way RV Park one more day.

Not to worry, we have some goodies for you. Some fill-ins. There is another person’s story that I would like to share with you also. Fair warning, a box of tissues will be needed. Her name is Bridget and she has decided after a long fight that the fight in her is gone. She is 29.

After guaranteeing my son that we would see rattle snakes and alligators and seeing none, I was still in the mood for guarantees. I guaranteed him that we would see at least one coyote. 1 for 3 isn’t bad (in baseball). We saw our first coyote on the way to El Centro a couple of days ago. The wild west is still alive in the hearts of the young and old alike. Nothing quite beats a visual though, that says, “Yep, thar’s wild animals out there, be on the look out”. Nothing heightens that sense of adventure like an actual spotting.

When my wife had the migraine on the road to Imperial Dunes, only two vehicles happened across the road. We were within 30 feet of I-8 and in plain view, so most travelers took the interstate. One couple was actually checking the road for their future plans. They are in their 60’s and are planning on crossing the country on their bikes in the Spring. They have hiked Camino in Spain and are ready for the next chapter. No where will you meet more fascinating people than by traveling. There is a natural gravitional force that pulls them toward you, that stories may be passed, that a knowing smile may be shared.

The people we have met along the byways and highways are a contradiction to what you may read or see on the news. I’m talking about your everyday folk that fill up the country that we live in. They far outnumber the ones that are bent on doing evil deeds. We have had very few negative encounters out of the nearly 3 months we have been traveling. We’ve slept on the side of the road several times. We’ve slept in strangers homes several times. We’ve had many kindnesses shown to us by complete strangers. This is the America that we and our children have gotten to see. First hand. I feel privileged to have been born in this wonderful Country. I am thankful that our children have had the chance to meet the people and become intimate with the land.

We have seen sunsets in several states on the road. They have all been wonderful. The one that has stayed close to mind though, is when we crossed the Mobile Bay by ferry. The sun set as dolphins jumped and we headed to Dauphin Island.

Getting back to today. John and Harlene insisted we take our money back and gave a $40 donation besides to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. John is quick-witted and leaves no bullet unfired. He and his wife bought the RV Park back in 1989 and have made it into what it is today. He laid floor coverings for 35 years. He is 80 years young. The park has a sign that says ‘adults only’ as they have an elderly clientele. The ‘clientele’ sits around with John talking about just about anything. Yes, there are 360 degree views of mountains where we are resting. The desert surrounds us. But, once again it is the people that make this place special.

Jackson's Hide A-Way

Jackson’s Hide A-Way
121 Vía De Coyote
Ocotillo, CA 92259
(619) 358-7121

Getting back to Bridget. Her blog is I encourage you to read it, and leave a comment. There is something else you can do that will take very little of your time. Our friend Lucy Adair told us about Bridget and about sending pearls (costume is fine).

I copied and pasted this post from Facebook (you’ll understand more after reading Bridget’s blog):

Each one of us that have been touched are struggling to find a way to honor this woman that has touched our lives so deeply. It is no secret that Bridget loves her Pearls. I am now coming to each of you and asking for you to send ( ONE ) Pearl to me. Each one will symbolize that she has touched a life. She fears she will be forgotten, we know she never will be and want to do something now. Will you join us? Once I get them I will string them together and send them to her so she can see the countless lives she has touched… This is a time sensitive matter as you all well know… Please send your Pearl today. We want to get this to her… Please Tag add & Share with Everyone but Bridget, as we don’t want to overwhelm her. If you want to add a special note please feel free to do so… Thank you for your Love & Support…♥

Like the sender, I want each one to be uniquely from you… You can pick Big or Small, Colored or White, Real or Costume… They all will be perfect as they were sent with Love… Please, just make sure that they have a hole in them as I can’t drill them. Here is Bridget’s Blog address… If you have never read it, I suggest you do so you can have a window into the world of Bridget and her Journey Living with Cancer…
Please mail the Pearls to~ 665 Tall Trees Drive, Ashtabula, OH 44004

Time is an important factor here. They are only taking pearls until the 11th of January. Spend a few minutes to read the blog, and then a few more to send a token of love to a young lady bravely departing.

The kids and I are going to ‘town’ to pick up some supplies and drop off some stuff at the post office. John volunteered to drive us the mile rather than us biking. That really is a day off.

Thanks for being a part of our journey.

Date: January 3rd

Time Pedaling: 3 hrs. 42 min.
Miles: 23.17
Avg. Speed: 6.4 mph
Max Speed: 27.3 mph
Trip Odometer: 2,462.64
Weather: sunny, 66 degrees (Ocotillo, CA) to sunny, windy, 56 degrees (Jacumba, CA)
Time of Departure: 11:00
Arrival Time to our warmshowers host in Jacumba, CA: 4:15 (PacificTime Zone)
Repairs: None

We had to earn our way across the country. Today was no exception. We were warned by several folks…Harlene, John, Jenny, etc. That was just recently. But the day had to come when we had to climb the Jacumba Mountain Pass. There was a sign at one point that read Steep Grade Next 10 Miles. There was some digging that had to be done.

We left the Jackson’s RV Park when it neared 11:00am. We had to back track a mile in order to get to I-8 which was the only way we could take (Evan Hewes dead ends before the mountain pass). Before we left my wife made a wonderful oatmeal breakfast with raisins and the pecans that we still had from Mississippi (Bernie and Barbara’s place). Three of us ate the oatmeal and one of us that is under 10 did not. The under 10 little person ate a breakfast bar. We filled our water bottles and began.

Leaving Jackson's Hide A-Way RV Park

Leaving Jackson’s Hide A-Way RV Park

The frontage road we took to I-8 was downhill a mile out of the way. That meant our day began with a good climb before we got to ‘the climb’. Much of what we faced leaving Ocotillo was difficult even though some of it appeared to be downhill. I was in my easiest gears most of the day. A friend of ours named Gil, who we met way back in Florida, mentioned the climb but also said by that time we would be in great shape. Nothing that man has said to us has been wrong. It’s hard to imagine if we had faced that climb in the first day or two of our trip. I’m reminded of leaving the beach and pedaling 20 minutes to our very first bridge. Again, it was 20 minutes into our epic adventure to cross the country on our bicycles. This nutty family of four from Hammond, Indiana. Flatlanders.

As Luke and I approached the top of the bridge that took us to Jacksonville (from Jacksonville Beach) I turned around to see my wife and daughter pushing their bikes up the hill. My wife wasn’t pulling a trailer at the time. I was a bit nervous. A few days later we would be moving at a snail’s pace due to sun poisoning my wife had gotten. The day we left Hammond it had gotten down to the 30’s. It was a bit different in Florida. We were all burnt pretty well before we decided sunscreen may come in handy. Who knew Florida was hot?

Everything that has challenged us to this point was really just offering us a bit of training.

I would love to tell you that we climbed up the mountain with no problems. We didn’t. It was hard. Mentally hard. We have to thank the state of Texas for preparing us physically and mentally. Most people that we have talked to on the trip tell us they don’t even like driving across Texas. It isn’t a mystery how we accomplished it. It was one pedal stroke at a time.

Jacumba was the same. We pedaled about 23 miles for the day. We aren’t sure because the computer was reading 0 for a portion of the pedaling. My wife pedaled the entire time up the mountain with a loaded trailer. My 15 year old daughter led the way pulling a trailer the entire way up the mountain. My 8 year old son pedaled the entire time up the mountain.

No walking was done. I can’t imagine any one even considered it. Somewhere crossing the country, this family of four became bicyclists. More than that we became giant slayers. And, we slayed the giants as a unit. It may sound like bragging. It isn’t. But, it baffles even me that we are where we are.

Who will face the giants with me? My wife, my daughter, my son. I am currently in the process of cloning my family (excepting my wife, for legal reasons).

When we got to the sign I mentioned before, we were all panting already. We had taken a couple of breaks and were about 5 miles in. It was cold and windy as we pedaled higher. I peered at another sign that was on the east bound side of I-8 and it read Steep 6% Grade. That was good news, but we still had at least 6 miles of climbing left.

Big Horn Sheep - how cool would that be?!

Big Horn Sheep – how cool would that be?!

The beginning of the CLIMB

The beginning of the CLIMB

We took breaks as we needed, sometimes making it 1 mile and sometimes not so far. As we climbed, the mountain came alive with huge boulders all around us. There were places every couple of hundred feet that read Radiator Water Do Not Drink. There were at least 2 vehicles that were broke down. Another vehicle was smoking down an exit ramp. Some trucks were barely moving faster than we were.

Dakota rests while Luke explores during on official break.

Dakota rests while Luke explores during on official break.

More of the beginning of the uphill climb.

More of the beginning of the uphill climb.

Some of this uphill was beautiful albeit difficult.

Some of this uphill was beautiful albeit difficult.

Taking a break before crossing a bridge.

Taking a break before crossing a bridge.

One of the bridges we crossed on the way to Jacumba.

One of the bridges we crossed on the way to Jacumba.

Can we take a souvenir home?

Can we take a souvenir home?

Almost to our exit. Why doesn't 'almost' encourage us?

Almost to our exit. Why doesn’t ‘almost’ encourage us?

Mental toughness came in handy especially at the tail end of the day. We were planning on staying at a Warmshowers host. When Gail Googled the address, it was supposed to be only 17 miles away. After we had put about 7 miles behind us, we saw a sign that said Jacumba-16 miles. That was our stop. We were planning the shorter riding day due to the strenuous climbing we had to do. Gail is going to figure out what it is that we pedaled, but it was definitely more than 17 miles.

We hit the top of the mountain at about 3:00 or so. We then took Old Highway 80 to get to Jacumba. We climbed a couple of more miles that were a little bit easier and then had a most excellent adventure. WE GOT TO GO DOWNHILL. We got to go about 4 miles DOWNHILL.

Ay Jacumba! What a climb!

Ay Jacumba! What a climb!

It was cold and windy, but most of all it was fast. Luke and I didn’t pedal until we were about in town. The Mexican border was within a few blocks and we pedaled along it into town. Our legs were tired and we were thinking our stop was within a few blocks. We were looking forward to it. A sheriff pulled up next to us and wanted to know where we had come from and where we were staying for the night. We told him and he told us our stop was 2 miles further. Ouch. Mental toughness, kick in.

The last miles were the hardest of the entire day. It was cold, windy. Our hard-earned sweat wasn’t feeling too good. The sun set behind the mountains. It was all heart at this point as we were ready to pull off and freeze in our tent. As it turns out, it was 4.2 miles (not 2). That extra 2 miles mattered. The last 2 blocks were downhill…sweet victory after a hard day of pedaling.

Our host was coming out as we collected ourselves in front and were peeling ourselves off the bikes. We were happy to be there, very happy. Our host is a homeschool family of 6 (including the parents). They set us up in their store for the night because of my allergies. They let us settle and told us they would call us for dinner. We set up our sleeping gear for the night and climbed into our sleeping bags (there is no heat in the store). Gail was sleeping within 10 minutes, Dakota and I within 20 minutes. I think Luke was still up when their son Kyle came over with a flashlight to bring us to the house for dinner. It turns out they were hosting another cyclist named Kevin who had pedaled from the west. After dinner Kevin, Gail and I talked for a couple of hours.

One big happy family!

One big happy family!

By the way, dinner was wonderful and filling. I will fill you in on the family in our next post.
San Diego is close. I can almost smell the salt air. The mountains are beautiful. The stars are spectacular.

Thank you for taking time out of your life to share our journey. We look forward to reading yours, wherever that may be.

Good night friends.

Date: January 4th

Time Pedaling: na
Miles: na
Avg. Speed: na mph
Max Speed: na mph
Trip Odometer: 2,462.64
Weather:  sunny, windy, 57 degrees (Jacumba, CA)
Time of Departure: na
Arrival Time to our warmshowers host in Jacumba, CA: na (PacificTime Zone)
Repairs: None

The main reason we took a day off wasn’t because of soreness. Although, we were a bit sore after the Jacumba Mountains. (The J in Jacumba is pronounced as an H.) The reason is that we were being hosted by an awesome homeschool family. Their father David mentioned that the children wanted to take us to a secret spot in the mountains where there were drawings.

We had gotten in on Thursday around sunset, so, we had to stay over in order to do the hike. We are glad we did. We could have pushed to the coast, but would have missed out on what the trip is really all about…the journey. It is about seeing things, meeting people, and experiencing first-hand what life is like here.

This family photo is missing Tina. We gathered to say our goodbyes.

This family photo is missing Tina.

The family consists of David and Tina (mom and dad), Nolan 20, Kyle 16, David the third 14, Rain 11, and then there is Grandma (and her cat). The whole family runs as a team. They all have jobs that need to be done to keep things running smoothly. David (the younger) cooked breakfast for everyone twice while we were there. Luke and I gave Kyle and the younger David a hand chopping firewood (the only means of heating the home). Our family helped with dishes and anything else that we could.

Grandma and David (the Dad) ran the store on the property and their Uhaul business. Tina worked out of the house and is almost done with schooling to become an LVN (Licensed Practical Nurse).

In between the business of the day, we managed to play a couple of games of touch football (that consisted of myself and all the kids). We also managed to do some serious hiking.

Planning strategy for the next play!

Planning strategy for the next play!

We hiked up several hundred feet to get to the top of the peak behind their home. We then hiked some more to get to a lower peak. At the top of the lower peak there were huge boulders that you could slide under. After getting through we were able to view the drawings that have probably been there several hundred (or even thousands) of years. Unless you know about them (only some locals) you won’t see them. It was a gift from one homeschool family to another.

The hike wasn’t exactly a hike. Boulders make up the terrain. They require jumping, climbing, and even crawling underneath. About a 1/4th of the way up when our legs were complaining, I’m sure my wife and I were wondering what in the world we were doing on our day off. It was well-worth the view and the carvings. Kyle was our unofficial tour guide. He made sure that Luke was safe on the way up and down. I would be close at hand when the climb was too steep or there was too big of a gap to jump. Kyle did a marvelous job of leading the troops and keeping Luke within reach on the trek.

This family was generous in every way. We ate well, slept well but most of all had a wonderful time of togetherness with this warm and hospitable family. This post wouldn’t be complete without mentioning that on Friday night we played Scene It (Disney version). The boys were way behind in the game. High fives were going all around (except for the girls) as we mounted an unbelievable comeback, the likes of which haven’t been seen since the 1980 Men’s Ice Hockey Gold Medal team.

Grandma has a breed of cat that is a Maine Coon Cat. It seems to resemble a raccoon. I’m convinced that it isn’t all hair. The cat has brought Grandma rabbits and birds and probably a couple of dogs (Grandma wouldn’t say).

We will definitely stop by to visit this wonderful family again whenever we are passing through.

Date: January 5th

Time Pedaling: 2 hrs. 53 min.
Miles: 24.46
Avg. Speed: 8.9 mph
Max Speed: 32.3 mph
Trip Odometer: 2,487.10
Weather: sunny, 61 degrees (Jacumba, CA) to cold, windy, 42 degrees (Pine Valley, CA)
Time of Departure: 1:45
Arrival Time to Pine Valley Inn in Pine Valley, CA: 5:30 (PacificTime Zone)
Repairs: Rob’s bike rack needed to be reattached to his tandem.

It was difficult to say goodbye to our friends in Jacumba. We had such a wonderful time with them. We are glad we get to add them to our story. Kyle was talking about doing a cross country trip.

We hope each of the Weis children find their coast. They have a wonderful foundation.

We thank each member of the family from the bottom of our hearts.

The coast was pulling us, so we pedaled on. We had visions of making it to Alpine which was about 43 miles from Jacumba. Those visions left as soon as we hit the hills.

This is one of many hills we needed to climb before we reached Pine Valley.

This is one of many hills we needed to climb before we reached Pine Valley.

The last few days we have been in higher elevation and it gets flat out cold when the sun sets. We are talking a 20 – 30 degree drop.

We had left the Weis home late due to pictures, good-byes, and a bike malfunction. The malfunction was a bit strange. We had a screw fall out of the rack on the back of the tandem a few weeks back. Just before leaving today my wife told Luke to have me check it. The timing was perfect. It was almost out and on an angle. Both Davids were very helpful in fixing the problem.

Anyhow, it was nearly 2:00 pm when we left. Couple the late start with inclines, and a low mile day is in the works.

A lady named Cherry stopped us after we had gone about 5 miles. She has a publication called Valley Views and asked us some questions and took some pictures. She offered us a place to stay for the night in Pine Valley. We told her that sounded good if we didn’t push on to Alpine.

As it turns out, Pine Valley was nearly 20 miles and wouldn’t be passed by our bikes on this day.

A short while later Cherry called to let us know they couldn’t host us due to a previous engagement.

We were surprised a short while later when she drove up and offered an apology with some cookies.

She told us how much further we had to get to Pine Valley. It was about 8 miles, 5 of which would be climbing.

We passed a sign that read, ‘Trucks Must Chain Tires’. It is always encouraging to see signs like that. Cherry had told us that the incline leading to the Border Patrol Check Point was serious. She was right.

This is a mild uphill compared to the last couple of miles before and after the Border Patrol check point!

This is a mild uphill compared to the last couple of miles before and after the Border Patrol check point!

None the less we needed to just keep on pedaling in order to get it done!

None the less we needed to just keep on pedaling in order to get it done!

Throughout our entire journey, we have been encouraged by the scenery. California has added to that. Even the climbing is made better when the views are so wonderful.

We made it to the Check Point and had a good conversation with the two guards there.

We were cold and tired but had just four more miles to town. The last two were the best as they were downhill.

We stopped at the only motel in town, unloaded our gear and headed out to get some food. We ate at a place named Calvin’s. We recommend it. They had a family special. Salad, hot wings and pizza for $22.95. Perfect. The food was well worth the price and much appreciated. We stopped at the local store to grab some ice cream for some well-deserved dessert.

We sank into the warm beds and rested for what was to come.

We are close now. Very close.

Good night friends.

Date: January 6th

Time Pedaling: 2 hrs. 42 min.
Miles: 31.56
Avg. Speed: 11.6 mph
Max Speed: 25.0 mph
Trip Odometer: 2,518.66
Weather: overcast, cold and windy, 41 degrees (Pine Valley, CA) to cloudy, cold, windy, 50 degrees (El Cajon, CA)
Time of Departure: 11:30
Arrival Time to El Cajon, CA: 2:45 (PacificTime Zone)
Repairs: None

What a beautiful day. Cold and windy, but beautiful.

We left Pine Valley at about 11:00 am. We stopped into the local gas station to grab some muffins for breakfast. There were pictures of some famous folks that had stopped in there. We munched and hit the road. Leaving town was a climb just to get to I-8, then, the real climb began. We were allowed to bike on this part of I-8. That was good as the shoulder was better than much of the road and shoulder that we had on Old Highway 80.

Reaching our elevation of 4000 feet makes for awesome views!

Reaching our elevation of 4000 feet makes for awesome views!

The wind was strong against us and the climb was steep (guessing 6% grade). The pedaling was quite difficult. The climb to the top was about 6 miles total. The high temperature was about 41 degrees (in Pine Valley) with a headwind (including gusting) at about 25 mph. We were over 3,000 feet in elevation and climbing higher. That made for a cold journey.

Another milestone to celebrate!

Another milestone to celebrate!

We ARE champions!

We ARE champions!

Despite the cold and wind and rain, we made it!

Despite the cold and wind and rain, we made it!

This flag was flapping!

This flag was flapping!

At one point there was a bridge we crossed. The drop was at least a couple of hundred feet below us. We stopped and took pictures, but mainly to rest and warm up.

The view from this very high bridge.

The view from this very high bridge.

Another view from the bridge.

More of the view from the bridge.

We really didn’t know how long the climb would be while we were doing it. Frankly, it didn’t matter. Whatever it was, it would be climbed one pedal stroke after another. We stopped at a few of the signs to take pictures, but the best one was the one that read…6% Grade Downhill Next 13 miles.



You never saw such a happy bunch of frozen cyclists in your life. Luke had his facemask on that he had gotten from Roy in Livingston, LA. We all had our gloves on. Glasses would have been helpful for me. I think most of the tears on the downhill were caused by the wind.

A couple of miles into the downhill we were flagged down to stop by a couple of gals in an suv. It turns out that they were from Arizona and had read our story in the Yuma Sun. They donated $20 to the Susan G. Komen foundation.

We had been planning on stopping in Alpine at a Starbucks, but since we had another 5 miles of downhill and it was still very cold, I rallied the troops to press on. I’m glad we moved on.

As we were racing down the grade it began to rain on us. It may sound strange, but it seemed about right. California protects its coast with a large wall. Actually, a few of them. If you want what’s beyond the wall, you must climb the wall. In order to do so, you might have to brave the elements a bit. But, just when you think the wall has given you passage, it has a bit more in store for you, even on the other side.

The wind was actually helpful as it slowed us down when we were descending. We did some more climbing after the steep grade ended, but it was nothing compared to what we had faced the last few days. To our friend Jenny in Tucson…WE MADE IT! The giant has fallen.

We have been told distances of places on our entire trip. We have also been told about uphills and downhills. I will give you two recent examples.

From lady at motel this morning, “It is all downhill to Alpine”.

From Border Patrol Guard at checkpoint last night, “It is only 2 miles and it’s downhill”.

Neither was accurate. That has been common in each state we have traveled  Most people don’t ride a bike. They are thinking in terms of driving a car. You may not feel an incline or a decline in a car. You may think a couple of miles because it takes you a couple of minutes in a car. You feel each and every decline and incline on a bicycle. You feel each minute on a bike especially at the end of a day. That has aided us in becoming stronger mentally.

We were flagged down on the side of I-8 once again near Alpine. It was by a woman named Karmel. A woman we would have never met had we stopped in Alpine. A woman who had left work early because of a cold (or else we wouldn’t have met her). It is especially hard on her when she coughs. She happens to be a statistic. She is one in eight. She is a wife and mother of two. She has been fighting breast cancer for over 8 months.

Karmel wanted to make a donation. We wanted to hear her story and video tape it. She allowed us to. She mentioned how wonderful her husband has been through all of this. Some guys get it. Karmel left us a message and she and her family wanted to pick up our room on the ocean when we get there tomorrow. In honor of this woman, we are dipping our tires on the beach she has chosen for us on Coronado Island.

We are staying in El Cajon at the Quality Inn. Warmshowers didn’t pan out for us so far in this area. Neither did churches.

That’s okay. We are here. Nearly three months of being on the road and we find ourselves in San Diego County, CA. Supposed to reach 60 degrees tomorrow. No chance of rain.

Sounds about right.

Separating time mentally isn’t easy. This three months from that three months. I think each of us will separate this time just fine.

A heartfelt thanks to each one of you for taking this journey with us, and even more, becoming part of our journey.

Our story.

As we dip our tires tomorrow, we will be thinking of how special you have made the trip for each of us.

Good night friends.

Thank you for bookmarking and shopping through our Amazon link. It helps us pay the light bill. 😉 You can find it on any page of our site. Just look for the Amazon Search box on the right side of the screen.

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21 thoughts on “December 31st – January 6th On Our Cross Country Bike Trip

  1. Dear gang I got a egg. It is my new pet dinosur. I can’t wate for it to hatch. It will be cool!! Did you get the picture of the dog? How are you doing? Love, Katerina P

    • Hi Katie, (or is it Katerina now?)

      Sweetie, I miss you so much! 🙂 I’m glad you’re excited about the dinosaur! That does sound cool! I’m sure it’ll be exciting to watch it hatch.
      No, I don’t think we got the picture, but I’m sure she’s doing great and being loved!
      We are doing great, and I can’t wait til we’re back and we can see you! 🙂

      Lots of love!

  2. You’re about to the hills that I mentioned at Starbucks. Grind it out and know you are amazing. You are almost there!!!


    • Hey Aaron,

      You said it. We have come through a tough stretch. Very challenging, but we’re still standing. Almost there. Thanks for the encouragement.

      Looking forward to hearing about yours…

      The Adelphia Family

  3. Just two months after the San Diego 3 Day, my friend’s walking for a team bearing my name: Karmel’s Kupcakes – I see you on the I-8 west. I hope you have a wonderful stay at the Coronado Marriott. Relax and enjoy the wonderful world we live in. Coronado is pretty close to heaven….

    • Hey Karmel,
      Hardly seems like a coincidence, huh? It was the icing on a most wonderful cake to have met you. We look forward to keeping in touch, and being inspired by your courage. We are all made stronger by people like yourself.
      We thank you and your family, and we look forward to the little piece of heaven.
      Rob, Gail, Dakota and Luke

  4. Hi, Luke, Dakota, Gail, & Rob–Glad to know you’ve made it to San Diego safely and without too many problems (other than the “usual” flats, etc.) although migraine headaches are a real pain. Those run in the better half of my marriage, and can be, as you well know, extremely debilitating (my daughter has been completely incompacitated by them–by age 12). I hope you are feeling better, Gail. Do either Luke or Dakota exhibit signs of migraines?
    I had some unexpected extra time and was able to take a (truncated) Winter biketour East on US62-180/Montana Boulevard (same road that the fabulous Crazy Cat Cyclery is on–Mo & all those fine wrenches had repaired your vehicles while you rested at the Holiday Inn Express, El PasoTX-USA), with my turn-around point being Dell CityTX-USA. Amazingly, the weather forecast was correct–2-5 inches of snowfall during my second day out. After a rather cold night (despite my extensive biketouring experience, I had somehow neglected to pack my complete cold weather sleeping bag!) some 10miles/16kms West of CornudasTX-USA. Reluctantly, I turned 180 and was stopped at a picnic area some 40miles/64kms East of El Paso when both the snow and temps dropped.
    Fortunately–I know you’ll relate to this–a good Samaritan (L.Carlos Martinez) had also stopped in Tri-state pickup truck and offered me a lift back home. I hesitated because I knew my route, vastly superior for bicycles, was primarily downhill, especially going down the escarpment of Hueco Mountain.(Similar to coming down Van Horn or Sierra Blanca mountains.) However, Carlos had 20 years experience working with the roads and knew how hazardous the snowfall could be; I relented and quickly realized how correct he was–the conditions worsened as we moved West, especially on the escarpment. I am so grateful for people like him! Two wheels on ice would only exponentially increase my already strong ability to obey gravity, and then the chance for hypothermia/death likewise goes up!
    I hope you’ve been able to make contact with the Knickerbikers of San Diego County. It was a fantastic, supportive club when I was a member in the mid-70s, particularly when we put on the national LAW “Coastline 79” convention, and treasurer Ken has ensured that tradition continues.
    I know you are long past it and went way South anyway, but if you had gone through BirminghamAL, I’d recommended stopping in at Tandems Limited. Susan & Jack Goertz, owners, sold me my Doublevision from their outstanding shop, as well as other critical items for it over the years. Besides, they are great people–as you’ve found most people (especially bicyclists!) are. I wish all of you well, and look forward to more of your blog. Do take care–John Eyberg aka Juanito Hayburg aka BIKERJOHN

    We are so proud of each and every one of you. We think about you daily and try to catch up on your blog when time permits. Time, isn’t it a funny thing…?? You’ve made time to travel across the counrty and I can’t find time to fix my bathroom sink for weeks! 🙂
    We talk about you guys often and it seems like you just left. It feels like yesterday that we sat at the restaurant for hours right before your journey. Priceless to us.
    Rob and Gail, you’ve given Dakota and Luke something that cannot be bought, read about, or shown in videos or pictures. You guys are an inspiration!
    Dakota and Luke, you guys are AWESOME! I can only imagine the stories you’ll be carrying with you for a lifetime.
    It gives us faith in mankind to see you meet so many wonderful people along your trip.
    Thank you all for sharing your story.
    Love you and miss you all!

    • Hey Family,

      It was only yesterday wasn’t it? That was a wonderful time. Should have asked me about the bathroom sink (I’ve got lots of experience!).
      Everyone should have friends like yourselves, we are fortunate to. The people on this trip have been wonderful, in so many ways. They have been kind and generous to our family and allowed us to rest peacefully.

      We look forward to breaking bread soon…(our treat!).

      Love to your family from ours,

      Rob, Gail, Dakota, and Luke

  6. My bestie, Konnie, said that the Marriott really hooked you up. It is amazing what a little begging and harassment will get you. One of my good friend messaged me and said that she has been crying for two days based on my postings of our meeting. Funny that she is the one to reach out, because your Dakota and her Sierra seem to be a lot alike. Innocent, couldn’t care less, see the good in everyone…. Please enjoy tonight! You ARE amazing, giving, loving people.

    • Hey Karmel,

      What a wonderful bestie you have. Birds of a feather. This place definitely added some icing on the top of our finishing, but all along it has been the people (like yourself). You are part of our journey, our story. We thank you for that. We thank you for being brave. We thank you for inspiring others.

      From Our Family to Yours,

      The Adelphia’s

      • Birds of a feather…. My bestie and I could not be more different, except for our love of each other and our children. We couldn’t stand each other in flight attendant school- more so her not caring for me. A few weeks into our training and we have been friends every since. We never lived close to each other until the last few years when we needed each other the most.
        She adored meeting your family and your cause, and is trying to see what she can do to help with your family’s needs.
        My word of the past few years has been “FAITH”. God made all of our lives cross, of this I am sure.
        Talk to you soon.

        • We had planned on stopping in Alpine the day we met you. Had we stuck with our ‘plan’, we would not have crossed paths. Had you stayed at work, same thing.

          Faith has been the culprit of amazing feats. Daily tasks to walking on the moon have been enabled and empowered by the spirit of that five letter word. We have faith that this wrecking ball of a disease will be put to rest, and that it will be from stories that are told.

          It will be because friends and families alike decided that enough was enough.

          That is why the stories have been so important to us to tell and share. Long after our journey has been completed, people will read the stories, the lives, and say to themselves, “What can I do?”.

          Karmel, thank you for sharing your story with us. Thank you also for all the kindness and generosity.

          To a Bright Tomorrow,

          The Adelphia Family

  7. It was so great to hear from you tonight. So happy you made it to the end. Roy was happy to know that his bag came in good use.Hope to get to see you soon. Maybe on the way home you can stop down south. Well enjoy your time there.

    • We are trying to reach out to many who have impacted our journey, obviously you and Roy did. Luke carries the pouch like a trophy, and loves showing that knife off to interested parties. We would love to stop in and do some fishing in the Bayou with your family.

      Until then…
      Thank you so much,
      Rob, Gail, Dakota…and especially Luke!

  8. Good morning and congratulations! You are all such an inspiration! We have been reading the blog and praying for your safe arrival. We have been blessed to be a part of your journey and your spirit has been exhilarating.

    • Thank you so much, Yvonne. Your family truly is a part of our journey, our story. We cherish that. We hope to encourage other people out there that many things can be accomplished ‘one pedal stroke at a time’. We hope that it opens doors for others to say, “Why not me? Why not now?” We aren’t talking about biking across the country, but something.

      Your students and family are blessed to have you. We were blessed to have met you and your family, and to have broken bread with you. Please let your Mom know that water eroded the mountains so it was flat from Arizona all the way to the beach in San Diego. She has to come with next time.

      From our hearts to yours,

      The Adelphia Family

      P.S. Can’t wait to hear about Makani and RAGBRAI!

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