Date: December 24th
Time Pedaling: 3 hrs. 58 min.
Avg. Speed: 9.1 mph
Max Speed: 21.3 mph
Trip Odometer: 2,196.71
Weather: partly cloudy, windy, 66 degrees (Stanfield, AZ) to (Gila Bend, AZ).
Time of Departure: 11:30
Arrival Time to motel in Gila Bend, AZ: 5:30 (Mountain Time Zone)
We got up this morning not really wanting to leave.
It is Christmas Eve and our time here has been so enjoyable. As much as we were drawn to this little slice of desert paradise, the road draws us also and we have some business to finish.
After taking some pictures with Mash and Robert, we hit the road.
We had a tough day ahead of us. To get to Gila Bend we needed to pedal about 37 miles. It wasn’t uphill in the snow like many of us had to walk to school in, but it was about a third uphill against the wind.
The wind hasn’t been very friendly to us coming west. It has probably been a bit more than I thought it would be. But, we have taken it, and pedaled on.
This was one of those days.
We stopped only a couple of times on our way to Gila Bend. We found a small hotel in town for only $40.
We quickly checked in and headed out on our bikes to eat and get some supplies.
We stopped at Family Dollar and picked up some granola bars and ice cream (a must-have power snack).
We then headed to one of the only places in town that was open so we could eat. The name of the Mexican Restaurant was Sofia’s. It was absolutely delicious. Gail and I had the carnitas plate, Dakota had the California Burrito and Luke had the trusty pancakes and sausage.
We have a favorite spot back home named La Carreta’s. The food is always magnificent. I was surprised that Sofia’s even had carnitas on the menu, but thought I would give it a chance. I’m glad I did. We left filled to the gills and raced with empty bikes back to the motel (Luke and I won).
Forgot to mention the owners of the motel wanted pictures of us. They were friendly and told us that Prince William had once been in town and walked past their motel. We went back to our room and watched Home Alone. After a while, there was room at our inn, and we took down the Edy’s Ice Cream we had bought earlier.
Christmas Eve, we waited for Santa.
Good night friends.
Date: December 25th
Time Pedaling: 2 hrs. 54 min.
Avg. Speed: 10.9 mph
Max Speed: 18.1 mph
Trip Odometer: 2,228.60
Weather: overcast, windy, 58 degrees (Gila Bend, AZ) to (Exit 85 on I-8 in AZ).
Time of Departure: 11:30
Arrival Time to Rest Area at Exit 85 on I-8 in AZ: 6:00 (Mountain Time Zone)
We awoke Christmas morning knowing we had some pedaling to do. We just didn’t know how much.
We packed and rode to the McDonald’s in town. They were open and had a lot of customers. We ate and the children opened their presents. We travel light and so Luke got a deck of cards and Dakota and Gail got a large Hershey’s dark chocolate bar. We sat at McDonald’s and played cards for a couple of hours before taking on the road.
The flags outside McDonald’s were being blown to the east which didn’t look favorable.
Surprise! We had a nice surprise when we got onto I-8; the wind was blowing west at about 10 m.p.h. That was a wonderful Christmas present.
Speaking of Christmas presents, we received ours early by meeting so many wonderful people.
We can honestly say that each of you made Christmas special for us!
We made it to the rest area at mile marker 85 about 30 minutes before sun set. We quickly set up the tent and sleeping bags. We set up the computers so we could enjoy a family movie.
The rest area actually had 2 outlets at each picnic area which allowed us to have power. This enabled us to watch a Laurel and Hardy movie. We snuggled, laughed, and even got some wrestling in (minus Gail).
Christmas may not have been the same on the road, but we spent it together.
This is one Christmas none of us will forget.
I hope you feel the same. Merry Christmas!
Date: December 26th
Time Pedaling: 3 hrs. 47 min.
Avg. Speed: 11.2 mph
Max Speed: 19.0 mph
Trip Odometer: 2,271.12
Weather: partly cloudy, windy, 58 degrees (Exit 85 on I-8 in AZ) to (Tacna, AZ).
Time of Departure: 11:40
Arrival Time to motel in Tacna, AZ: 6:00 (Mountain Time Zone)
We got up after a wonderful nights rest at the rest area. There were many holiday travelers at the rest area. We spoke to a number of them.
One conversation we had was with Brian Hullfish. Brian and his family bicycled across the country in 1977. Him, his parents, and three brothers made the trip on rag tag 10 speeds. His parents had been separated for a year prior to the trip. They rekindled their marriage about 2/3rds of the way through and recently celebrated their 50th anniversary.
We also talked to Kristy and Danny.
They were visiting family. Danny expressed interest in doing a bicycle tour. After talking to them for about 20 minutes, Kristy offered us some food they had left over from a gathering.
We were happy to say yes. We are limited as to what we can carry, so unless we stop, we rarely have meat on the road. They kindly gave us a small box with ham, steak, potatoes and dessert. Pure awesomeness!
Another family we met insisted we have some of their homemade cookies. We couldn’t turn down sweets, could we?
We left the rest area planning on stopping at the next one (about 29 miles) for the night. The wind was against us but only about 8 m.p.h.
I must mention that we have had only 1 flat tire since Texas. I think it has been only 2 since Pecos County, Texas. The two we have had, were trailer tires. They are the easiest to repair or switch out.
We pedaled about 18 miles and stopped in the town of Dateland. I’m not sure if there is more to the town than a gas station, but as far as gas stations go, this one was good. It had an ice cream shop, Quiznos (no, I didn’t eat there!), a gift shop and gas station all in one building.
We scarfed down the meal that Kristy and Danny gave us (minus the dessert). We talked with some friendly folks and even got a couple of donations for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. The coffee at the gas station was excellent. The rest rooms were clean.
There were signs mentioning their World Famous Date Shakes, but we didn’t try them this time.
We only had about 10 miles to go before we were stopping for the night, or so we thought.
The wind was now about 15 m.p.h. blowing east which made it a bit chilly.
Along the road Dakota spotted a Kestrel in the brush. It turns out that its wing was broke and so it was hopping along. We could do nothing for it, so we continued on.
As we neared the rest area, we noticed a road closed sign. When we got closer, our concern was realized, the rest area was closed. It did seem odd that there were two within 30 miles of each other. Well, there weren’t actually, just according to Google.
Now, we had another 14 miles to pedal and would be racing the setting sun. We pulled into Tacna at about 6 pm. The sun beat us by about 20 minutes.
As it turns out there is a motel behind the gas station. We decided we would stay there rather than pitch our tent behind the gas station. The rate was okay considering it is the only one in town.
We are all catching up on work! We downed the wonderful dessert sent along after a light dinner.
We are looking forward to Yuma tomorrow.
Date: December 27th
Time Pedaling: 5 hrs. 06 min.
Avg. Speed: 9.7 mph
Max Speed: 23.3 mph
Trip Odometer: 2,320.84
Weather: sunny, windy, 62 degrees (Tacna, AZ) to (Yuma, AZ)
Time of Departure: 10:30
Arrival Time First Christian Church in Yuma, AZ: 3:30 (Mountain Time Zone)
Much in life isn’t as hard as we think it will be.
We left our lodgings in Tanca at about 10:30am. That was actually a good time for us. Part of it was that there wasn’t anyone around asking questions.
Sidenote: My children insisted I write about this mishap. I’ve carried mace with on the entire trip. I keep it close at hand in my shorts (right pocket). I have had no cause to use it or even spray it to make sure it works. Well, I mentioned my ringworm, and the Athlete’s Foot Spray right? This morning I was a bit groggy (typical for the morning) when my wife handed me the mace. I mistook it for the Athlete’s Foot Spray and sprayed a little bit on my ringworm. I thought it odd that just a little bit came out and it was red, so I sprayed more on. That did the trick. I started coughing and sneezing, not to mention, burning. My wife was amazed that I did it, the children were delighted. The good news is that I was outside near the tandem when I did it. The other good news is that I know the mace is still good. It took a good 15 minutes for the burning to stop. Who knows maybe the ringworm will now go away…
We got on I-8 and before you ask, the wind was not favorable. It was coming out of the southwest. Again, unless it is a tailwind, no wind is preferred. It was about 15 mph mainly pushing us sideways. We knew we had about 40 miles or so to get to Yuma. We also knew that we had to face Telegraph Pass before we got to Yuma. We did what we could do, we pedaled.
We were warned about the Pass going to Yuma. One gentleman at the rest area even gave me another route that would avoid the Pass. I asked how far out of the way it was. 15 miles. It was tempting because of the wind. We would need to take the exit to Wellton which was only about 15 miles into our day. Gail and I were both for going over the Pass (Dakota and Luke were fine either way). The gentleman at the rest area told us the climb was about 4-5 miles, and that it was hard on his RV.
We decided to climb it. It seemed a bit odd for us to travel over 2,300 miles and then bypass a 4-5 mile climb, even with troublesome winds. We wouldn’t be able to respond to someone who asked, “How was that climb before Yuma?”
Now we can.
The wind subsided a little the closer we got to the mountain. I noticed a sign on the side of the road that read, Slow Moving Traffic Next Two Miles. Two miles? Our climbing was just halved it would appear.
We stopped to get a picture of what we had climbed to that point after less than a half mile. We took a drink, and climbed on. About a mile in the girls had stopped for a break, and so Luke and I waited for them. There is a beauty in us climbing together as a unit.
We set out to finish this thing. There was no walking. There was no griping. There was just pedaling.
About two miles in we reached the top. Within a quarter mile of that, the downhill. The downhill was about 4-5 miles with very little pedaling. The GIANT that was before us fell much like it had in the past, one pedal stroke after another. I wonder how we would have felt had we chosen the ‘easy route’. We won’t ever know. But, we can all answer what it was like to climb Telegraph Pass.
We stopped on the outskirts of Yuma at exit 12. It was time for a bathroom break and celebration. We also needed a place to stay the night. We were planning on a Couchsurfers host, but the host had two dogs and my allergies objected. We were sipping some drinks in front of the gas station while Dakota was calling local churches. Several people came up and spoke with us. I want to share one with you.
A guy named Kevin came up and asked where we came from. We explained which caused him to smile from ear to ear. It dawned on me that his smile wasn’t one that was wishful. It was a welcome to the club smile. Kevins’ friend Chris came over and also had a big smile on his face. We talked. Kevin and Chris had hiked the Pacific Coast Highway from Mexico up to Washington. They were on their way back when we met them, from a 24 day rafting trip through the Grand Canyon.
The reason they had smiles on their faces, was because they were already in ‘the club’. They were only too happy to welcome 4 travelers that had braved the elements, the hills and their fears into ‘the club’. I get that, now.
I get that when Gil Wagner showed us overwhelming kindness and encouragement, he wanted us to join him in ‘the club’. When Jeff Ellis left this message, You Will Want To Quit…Don’t, on Dakota’s Facebook for us, he was beckoning us to join.
I’m not sure if my children understand it completely. They will.
The doors were kindly open to us at the First Christian Church. We are going out to see The Hobbit.
Thank each of you for being part of our adventure. There is a club waiting for you. Time to eat.
To the Coast…wherever that may be for you.
Date: December 28th
Time Pedaling: 1 hr. 41 min.
Avg. Speed: 9.9 mph
Max Speed: 18.1 mph
Trip Odometer: 2,337.69
Weather: sunny, 62 degrees in (Yuma, AZ)
Time of Departure: n/a
Arrival Time First Christian Church in Yuma, AZ: n/a (Mountain Time Zone)
We took today off to explore Yuma. Mainly, we wanted to check out the Yuma Territorial Prison. At least an eight year old in the group was anxious to see it. A couple of different people had mentioned it to Luke before we got here.
We checked with Pastor Alan first to make sure we could stay at the church another day. He said it was no problem. So off we went.
The prison was really interesting. It actually served as the Yuma High School for four years. Inmates referred to it as a ‘hellhole’ while outsiders called it a ‘country club’. Women as well as men served time here. Crimes of course varied but there were a couple of surprises. Many were serving time for adultery, others for polygamy.
There was a picture of a 15 year old who served almost a year for burglary. Enough said.
The exhibits were well done, with much in the way of artifacts. Luke was thoroughly impressed with the Gatlin Gun and is convinced that he wants one of his own. I think we can blame that on Corey Burleigh.
After the prison we picked up some supplies and then headed to Subway. After eating we walked next door to Starbucks for some family game time.
Almost forgot to mention, after the movie last night a woman in a car flagged us down. Turns out she works for the Yuma Sun Newspaper and wanted our story. This morning she had a reporter contact us and we spoke for about 20 minutes.
Also, a gentleman that spent some of his youth in Indiana helping farm in the summers, called and invited us out to breakfast tomorrow. We are going to try to fit it in (he was homeschooled, and both parents graduated from Purdue).
Our day off today didn’t mean an absence from pedaling. We pedaled over 16 miles to do our running around. The bikes were empty though, besides tools and spare tires and tubes. No sweat.
Lastly, two separate people asked us today if we had really pedaled all the way from Florida. I guess I can understand. It is a long way. It boggles the mind of some folks. But, we didn’t do it all at once. It has been a day at a time. An hour at a time. Even a minute at a time.
It has all been the only way it could be, one pedal stroke after another.
Good night friends. Thank you.
Date: December 29th
Time Pedaling: 45 min.
Avg. Speed: 9.6 mph
Max Speed: 22.7 mph
Trip Odometer: 2,345.04
Weather: partly cloudy, 61 degrees in (Yuma, AZ)
Time of Departure: n/a
Arrival Time Shiloh Inn in Yuma, AZ: n/a (Mountain Time Zone)
The road isn’t all fun and games. On the way back to the church last night, Dakota had a slight wipeout. Some scratches and bruises. We were moving slowly getting ready to climb an overpass, so that was good. Mainly she got a good scare. We were on a sidewalk when it happened. She believes she accidentally changed a gear while standing.
We decided to stay one more day in Yuma and let her rest up a bit. It turned out to be a very good thing. Before leaving the First Christian Church we checked emails, and found one from a woman named Lucy (from Yuma) who wanted us to call her. We did and decided to meet for lunch.
There have been times on this trip that have changed us. Times that have opened us to a higher plain. Meeting with Lucy Adair was one of those times.
Lucy owns her own business. She is a hospice nurse. She is the one that we would all want if that was our lot. Her warm smile seeing us off.
We talked while we ate and Lucy even allowed us to video her for our site. Lucy started walking for the Susan G. Komen Foundation about four years ago. The team she walks with has raised tens of thousands of dollars for the Foundation. She has participated in 60 mile walks in several states.
Lucy lost her close friend, Brenda, to breast cancer. Another close friend of hers lost her Mother. She has been warring against this disease ever since. When Lucy takes something on, it has been taken on. She is a fighter that you want on your side.
Please watch the videos of this wonderful woman that has touched our lives. Apart from sharing her life and story with us, Lucy personally donated $100 to the Foundation for our team. That is the highest donation we have received to this point.
Lucy mentioned how happy she was to have met us. It was actually our privilege. Our children (and us) cannot meet too many of these folks; the Lucy’s of the world. The people who make it better for the rest of us. The people who should be on the news but aren’t.
We will remember Yuma for Telegraph Pass. We will remember it for Chris and Kevin. We will remember it for the First Christian Church. We will remember it for the Yuma Territorial Prison. We will remember it for Dakota’s spill.
Most of all we will remember it for Lucy Adair, a difference maker.
In a few miles we will enter California. Thank you Arizona. You have been a friend that we will not soon forget. Your door and heart was open to four travelers who began something uncertain over two months ago. Thank you for smiling upon us.
Good night friends.
Date: December 30th
Time Pedaling: 3 hrs. 16 min.
Avg. Speed: 7.9 mph
Max Speed: 15.7 mph
Trip Odometer: 2,371.02
Weather: partly cloudy, very windy, 61 degrees in (Yuma, AZ) to (Imperial Sand Dunes, CA)
Time of Departure: 12:15
Arrival Time free campsite in Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area, CA: 6:10 (PacificTime Zone)
Repairs: Gail’s trailer tire went flat
We finally pulled ourselves away from Yuma. It wasn’t easy.
We left The Shiloh Inn with the plan of reaching El Centro in a day. The winds had other ideas for us.
We had pedaled less than 2 miles before crossing the bridge into California. For over 2 months we were seeking our manifest destiny. Our little expansion west. Our like-minded pursuit achieved one pedal stroke at a time.
We haven’t reached the coast just yet but not unlike smelling a pot roast, we can almost taste it.
We took some pictures just over the bridge and then a few more in front of a large, ‘Welcome to California’ sign.
We drove into an Agricultural Inspection Station on I-8 mainly to see if there was a bathroom available. We were invited in (sorry, didn’t get a name) to use the restroom inside the inspection trailer. Not only were we offered water and some chocolate, we were given a brief education on the purpose and process of what they do.
There were microscopes in the room used for finding insects on the produce. We got to look at a lime through one of them. The inspector was friendly and willing to answer questions. Talk about home schooling on the road!
We departed and continued pedaling into the 18 mph headwind. It was tough going. Our 50 plus mile goal was quickly falling by the wayside.
We took a break at the Center of the World in Felicity, CA. the town and ‘center’ were created by the owners of the property. It is a long story, but you can Google Felicity, California and be amazed.
We left Felicity and began in earnest seeking a place for our tent for the night. We were just over 25 miles but it was a hard 25 miles.
We had reached the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreational Area which was evident by all the RV’s and ATV’s. We stopped at an RV park which would not allow us to pitch a tent. They did point us to an area about 1 1/2 miles east of there, in which we could set up camp for the night.
It was already dark as we pedaled and then pushed and pulled our gear through sand.
There were at least 100 RV’s (w/trailers for ATV’s). We were the only tent we saw. We also didn’t see any bicyclists in the crowd of ATVers.
Within minutes of setting up the tent and getting inside for the night, it started raining. Nice. We were warm and dry.
Gail read aloud, as we (okay, me first) fell asleep.
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