Phoenix to L.A.: Holy Shit It’s Hot and Let’s Make Big Decisions PART ONE

Where did we leave off?  Phoenix.

Monday morning dawned bright and early, and hot as hellllll!  I had packed my bags up the night before so that I wouldn’t have to worry about it in the morning.  When I came downstairs Trish was making me a delicious breakfast!  John, Trish, Destiny, Scruffy and I ate breakfast together outside.  Afterwards I went to put on my shoes and remembered that I had taken the cleats off of them so I could go hiking.  This was one of the things I liked about my shoes, they’re versatile.  However, I had lost one of the screws I need to put the cleats back on.  John rustled up a screw that fit alright thankfully.  I loaded up my bike and said my goodbyes to everyone!  Trish got on her bike (she was going to bike with me for about half an hour) and we were off! I was heading to Wickenburg, AZ which was about 40 miles away.  It was supposed to be relatively flat most of the way which was extremely grateful for.

By about 9:30 the temperature was already soaring in the 90’s and I was sweating profusely.  The water I had frozen the night before had all melted and was hot in my bottles.  I reached my mid-point around 1130 where the highway turns north up to Wickenburg. There was one spot where I was able to refill my bottles, although the owner of the establishment really didn’t want to let me, but I think he knew the alternative for me was bleak. There is NOTHING between that spot and Wickenburg.  I decided to rest there a moment to eat the delicious sandwhich Trish had made for me for lunch.  =)  While I waited I called a church in Wickenburg and they told me I could camp on their property.  I felt much better knowing I had somewhere I would be able to rest that night.  It’s always a big stress off my shoulders knowing I won’t have to panic when I get to town over where to camp.

A few miles down the road I found an old tractor repair shop and went to use their restroom.  Two big dogs got up and were growling and barking and were just plain not happy to see me.  I talked to them calmly through the whole ordeal and just plunked myself down on the bench outside the shop.  (There wasn’t anyone opening the door so I figured I would rest in the shade for a moment before continuing on).  While I sat there the doors slowly starting subtly sniffing me from afar like I think they thought I wasn’t noticing them sniffing and getting closer and closer.  Eventually the tails started to wag and the y approached me nervously.  I put my hand out and slowly and the smelled my hair and then decided I was alright and would I pet them please?  We sat for a few minutes before I decided I had to move on.  They followed me around back to the bathroom and were waiting for me when I came out!

After that the road was pretty empty for the rest of the day.  It was so so hot.  I think it was 97 that day.  To some people that’s not bad but I’m not used to the heat and it always has affected me and this day was no different.  I would pour water on myself and be totally dry in minutes.  I finally rolled into Wickenburg and spotted a Shell station.  I went into fill up my water bottles and immediately was so lightheaded and cold I knew I was going to faint.  I sat down in the middle of the store and everything was fuzzy and I could feel my heart beating in my ears.  It’s not a pleasant feeling, let me tell you.  That was when I turned my phone on and saw a voicemail from the church where I had planned to camp, they were only a mile away.  They told me that they actually could NOT permit me to camp there but that there was a fairground about 6 or so miles away.  I knew, KNEW that there was no way I was going to make it any farther than a mile.  The girl at the Shell station overhead the entire conversation with the church director and when I hung up the phone and panicked she says ”you know you could just camp out back here if you’d like”.

I was totally floored because it had never occurred to me that she would let me do that.  I agreed because I had no other options and she was nice, very good company.  I sat in the Shell station for the next few hours because the sun was still blazing hot and there was no shade whatsoever.  Finally about 6:30 I went out and set up my tent and then went back inside because it was still SO FREAKING HOT.

Have you ever seen a Sprite this big and only for this price?

Have you ever seen a Sprite this big and only for this price?

That night I slept very strangely.  The gas station is a 24 hour stop so there are a lot of lights on.  I kept waking up and thinking it was morning because it was so bright outside.  Finally in the morning I was up and off because I only had 30 miles to go that day.  I was going to a town called Aguila.  I had to go a little early because the wind was forecasted to kick up in the afternoon.  It was another day of flat biking and the heat wasn’t as bad as it had been the day before.  When I got into Aguila I passed a big group of tourists with their van following them, which was cool.  I was directed to a little church down the road so I headed over there.  No one home.  A man across the street waved me over to his yard and said he used to sell bikes and I was welcome to camp on his property.  So I sat with him and his friend for a few hours chatting.  The neighbor took me to see his horses down the road, which was super cool.

 

Hello Pony.

Hello Pony.

When I got back to where I was camping that night I passed a girl who had seen me when I was at the grocery store buying a banana.   She invited me in for a chat and introduced me to her friend who lived in the town I would be stopping in the next day.  I asked him if I could stay on his lawn and he said sure.  He told me that he worked in the local grocery store in that town (Wenden) and when I got to town I should stop there for directions to his house.

That night I slept…oddly.  Every time I would move the dog on the fence I was up against would bark, thinking I was an intruder and then the roosters would start going off.  Around 2am they wouldn’t stop until morning.  In the morning I packed up and departed.  It was great, windless riding on flat land all day.  I rolled into the town and stopped for a bathroom at a little shop.  They told me there was a campground less than a mile away I could use, across from the local library.  I thanked the women and continued on my way to the grocery store.  I then met the young man, who didn’t actually work at the grocery store. He was hanging around out front.  This should have been my first red flag, but it never occurred to me to be suspicious.  He told me he liked to just sit and people watch.  I said that I had heard of a campground and that I might just go there.  He said that I could do that but it was rather dangerous in that area because of rattlesnakes.  I said okay, well I think I’ll head over to hang out at the library.  (It was noon and 100 degrees out, I was not going to people watch under the hot Arizona sun for 6 hours).  He nodded and said okay, but there’s a mountain you have to get up to get there.  I stared at him.  ”Really?”  He nodded again.  I decided I wasn’t going up a mountain in the hot, hot sun so I guess I’d just chill there.  So we sat there for about an hour, literally, just staring at people driving by.  I asked the guy, I believe his name was Rene, if I could charge my phone at his house.  He said he didn’t have any electricity but that his sister lived next door.  (Red flag #2) He continued to say that his parents had given him the house as a fixer-upper for free as long as he repaired it.  We decided to go to his house.  It was close and as I drew closer I started getting truly apprehensive.  The trailer had no doors, no windows and no furniture or anything.  NOTHING.  There was one chair in the house and apparently a bed in the far room.

As I sat in the one chair I started texting Kerry about how I was nervous.  As I’m typing that out Rene calls to me:

”So, do you have a boyfriend?”  I’m immediately on alert.

Me: No

Him: I see.  Do you do one night stands?

Me: Uh no. (texting furiously to Kerry)

Eventually he goes to the far bedroom and falls asleep.  I set my tent up outside to establish that I am in no way planning to sleep inside the trailer.  Five o’clock rolls around and a woman and seventy children pull in to the property next door.  I decide to ask if she is Rene’s sister and traipse over.  Immediately I am met with a look of suspicion and an attitude of irritation and annoyance.

Me:  Hi…are you his sister? (pointing to the trailer where Rene is sleeping)

Girl:  Whose sister?

Me: …the guy next door?  He told me you were his sister

Girl:  …There isn’t supposed to be anyone there, that property is abandoned and I don’t have any brothers.

Me: *horror* uh…okay… (My mind begins racing as I decide what I should do next.  Obviously this woman doesn’t want to help me at all but I need to find out what is going on).  Well he told me that you were his sister, do you know who owns the property?

Girl:  Yes I do, I was just going to head over there and ask them what was happening.  I will let you know.

Me: Okay I’ll…just… go back…to my tent and WAIT.

Girl: Yeah, you do that.

I walk back to my tent and am texting furiously with Kerry trying to decide if I need to leave immediately or if this is all one big misunderstanding.  My heart is racing and I’m watching the sun begin to sink.  I know that the campground is still an option but if there’s a mountain to get up then I’m truly concerned about reaching it before sundown.  Not five minutes after I sit back down the girl returns and says ”I figured out what you were saying, that’s my brother but we’re not close and he’s not supposed to be here.  That isn’t his property and there isn’t supposed to be anyone on the land.”

I’m thinking to myself what the hell, you just told me that you didn’t’ have any brothers.  So I approach the fence separating us and I say “Okay, as a woman to another woman, what would you do if you were in my position?”

She backs away and immediately says ”Oh no, I am not going to get in between whatever is going on between you guys”

I’m like ”There is nothing going on between us!  We met yesterday”  Like, why the hell can’t this girl understand that I’m the victim in the entire situation.

Again she repeats that she wants nothing to do with anything going on in this ”agreement”.  I go back to my tent and think it over.  I also have been texting with Trish who poses this question for me:  “Do you feel safe?”  Which at this point I do not feel safe and I don’t trust this guy.  This is finally enough for me to realize that I need to get the hell out of there. I have never packed my tent and belongings so fast in my entire life.  All while trying to be as quiet as possible so I don’t wake up this guy, who is apparently still asleep in the trailer.  I pedal away as fast as I can, thanking my stars that the campground is apparently 12 minutes biking away.  The more distance I put between myself and the trailer the better I am feeling.  I also realize that I’m on completely flat ground.  I’m biking through a beautiful grove of trees and the ground is flat and the landscape is lovely.  NO. MOUNTAIN.  I begin to realize that this creep ass of a guy had been planning from the very beginning to get me alone and do who the hell knows what.  I arrived at the campground and was greeted by a wonderful woman named Sally who invited me in to watch television with her.  She also told me that there isn’t a huge rattlesnake problem at the campground because they don’t like the gravel.  Another lie the guy told me.

The lesson I took away from this terrifying experience was STOP MAKING EXCUSES FOR EVERYONE.  My issue had been that I didn’t want to insult this guy in case it turned out he really was on hard times and was repairing the trailer.  But I kept telling myself that and ignoring the fact that I was FEELING that he was not right.  The feeling that says something is a little odd and I’m not overreacting.  I learned this very, very important lesson, I feel like, in the best way possible.  Where the point truly was made without me getting hurt or killed.  From now on I’m kind of an asshole to any men that say anything that I find even remotely inappropriate.

The following morning I departed for Brenda and biked all day through beautiful land.  I passed lots of saguaro cactus that were flowering and adorable.

Saguaro! =)

Saguaro! =)

More Saguaro!!

More Saguaro!!

Look at those adorable flowers

Look at those adorable flowers

I arrived in the tiny town of Brenda around 1pm.  I had been told by many people to stop for lunch here so I did.  Brenda is a tiny community on Highway 60 that is said to be a ghost town on the west side and was a popular tourist attraction in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s.  It was named after the daughter of a couple in 1928, Brenda.  Interesting enough, I knew none of this until after I had already left.  Today it’s a town mostly supported by the RV parks and local grocery/deli (which was incredibly delicious).  However I was met with no after no after no when I asked if I could CAMP at these RV camps.  Tents are not allowed.  When I mentioned this to the girls who run the store they told me I could just go right outside of town and camp on the public land without any problems.  So I hung out in the restaurant all day.  As the sun began to sink I said goodbye and biked off to where the entrance to this publically fenced area of land was.  When I got there, however, I discovered that the fence was closed and locked.  I was not going to cross a closed and locked fence.  So I called the girls and asked if they could offer any advice.  They told me to come back and I could just camp on the store property which was AMAZINGLY generous of them.  I am very very grateful to them for this.    I apparently camped right next to the ghosty area.  I was in a graveled area that clearly had been used as camping area previously and I felt very safe.  I walked down and watched the sun set with relief at another safe night of sleep.

Brenda, TX sunset

Brenda, TX sunset

The next day before departing I checked Couchsurfing to see if there was a host in Quartzsite, a town that I had hoped to stop in.  I couldnt’ get a hold of anyone but passed an interesting page about a guy who was walking across America through Quartzsite.  So I had another day of absolutely beautiful scenery while I was biking.  Like after the difficult days of mountains I couldn’t believe how lucky I was getting with beautiful, relatively flat lands.  It was beautiful.

Incredible

Incredible

Sometime in the morning I biked past someone walking on the same side of the road as I was but in the opposite direction.  We nodded at each other and a split second after I passed him I knew he was the guy from Couchsurfing.  I turned around and went back.   I asked if he was on there and he said yes and introduced himself at Nate.  We stood there talking for about half an hour sharing stories and laughing.  Nate is walking to Washington D.C. to raise awareness on the way that veterans are being treated after active duty.  Often I think of Nate  and how he is walking and if he walks then I can bike because damn, the desert is HOT.  (If you’re interested in reading his blog his website is http://www.NateWalks.com)

Nate and I talking about bears

Nate and I talking about bears

It was blazingly hot, as usual.  I had been biking early mornings in mid 90 degree weather and was strangely entertained when I realized that hair on my arms was turning golden from being in the sun all day every day.  (Don’t judge me it was fun).

Look, gold!

Look, gold!

When I passed through Quartzsite (where I stopped for lunch) I called the host in Blythe who I had called a week before and e-mailed only to realize the e-mail never sent.  I knew I was going to make it there that day and wanted to confirm I had a place to camp.  I finally got ahold of them and was told to come on by.  I wasn’t sure at all what the situation would be like but that was the plan!  The closer I got to California the more excited I was getting.  As I crossed a big checkpoint to get into California I was, again, overwhelmed by a feeling of great accomplishment.  I had made it to 4 states!  I was in California!  It seemed very appropriate that I should enter California and immediately see everything green, growing, alive and water everywhere.  The Colorado River greeted me prior to entering the state and after 3 months of traveling through drought and dusty states I was ready.

'Nuff said

‘Nuff said

 

After I crossed into California I missed the turn off that would take me away from the interstate, which is illegal to bike on in California.  I had one mile to bike before the next exit and I hoped the entire time I wouldn’t get stopped and ticketed (although I also hoped that if I did they would be understanding).  I took my exit and headed up to the B&B Bait Shop which was where my hosts were apparently located.  While heading there I knew that the mountains I were seeing in front of me were called the Big Maria Mountains.  I had been looking forward to biking near them for as long as I had been mapping this section of my trip out and as I realized I was biking directly towards them I got more excited.

Big Maria Mountains!

Big Maria Mountains!

I got to the Bait shop and pulled in.  Immediately a man named Wayne walked up, welcomed me, told me he’d gotten drunk waiting for me and here have 6 beers on me.  This seemed glorious after a nice hot day of biking, after all it was about 5pm.  Wayne showed me into the bait shop and introduced me to the people working there and a few of the people hanging out around the shop.  He then walked me to the pond in the back of the property and said that most of the cyclists would camp on the dock there.  Wayne said I was welcome to shower and that he would talk to me after I got set up.  I asked him about the canal that I had to cross to roll into the driveway of the property.  He said I could totally just jump in and swim in it, that current would just float me down to the bridge where I’d just have to hop out.  I did just that.

My Set Up, with the Big Maria Mountains in the background!

My Set Up, with the Big Maria Mountains in the background!

20140426_135314 20140426_135816 20140426_135932The water was FREEZING COLD and so glorious I could have stayed all night.  However, the canal was very deep and a little terrifying because I had no idea what kind of critters swam in it.  Because of the strong current I had no control and just had to relinquish all to the water carrying me.  So it was exhilaratingly scary.  Afterwards, I took a nice shower, washed all the dust off of myself and went to visit with people.  There were a lot of people there and everyone was so friendly.  Apparently this was a little community of people who daily would come and drink beer together and just chat and share stories.  Some of them had grown up together and some had stumbled upon the shop in their travels and continued to return.  Some of the men I chatted with where hysterical.  They would tell stories and bounce exaggerations off of each other so amusingly that I laughed much of the evening, a refreshing thing after a week of stressful evenings.  I mentioned to Wayne that I wanted to look over a map with him about my next route through the desert.  Darcy, one of the women who worked at the shop told me that she works at a border checkpoint along the route of where I would be going.  The highway I planned to bike on is notoriously treacherous and dangerous.  About 90 miles through the desert with no stops for water, low visibility and literally no shoulder with drops offs into canyons.  I asked if she might take me some of the way so I wouldn’t’ have to camp multiple days in the desert (I was worried about how much water I could carry) and she said yes, she could.  After some chatting Wayne told me he was going down to Mexico on Tuesday (it was Friday) and that if I could stay until then he could take me until he turned to another highway, then I’d only have about 40 miles to bike before hitting the next big town.  I immediately was in.

And this is where I will leave you guys for tonight.  I am at a library writing up this blog and have run out of allotted computer usage time.  I’ll try to get back here tomorrow and finish up the last month of journey.  Enjoy!  I leave you with this photo.  I’ve had a few people ask me what my tent looks like from the inside and here it is!!

The inside of my tent!

The inside of my tent!

 

 

 

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Midothian-Lueders: Did you know that wild hogs eat people too?

I suppose I should take up where I left off hmm? WELL.

The night I left the Sheehy’s I made a wish on a flying Chinese Fire Lantern like the ones in the movie Tangled. That was SUPER cool!!

Thursday

Thursday I spent with my cousin Julie who had come to pick me up from the Sheehy’s. We spent the day running errands, going to the store, enjoying lunch and dinner together and trying out all the different flavors of Angry Orchard’s Hard Cider which is delicious by the way. I think my favorites are Cinnamon and Crisp Apple flavor.

Friday

Friday Julie had to go to work so I had the day to myself to explore the area she lived in. The nearest town is called Waxahachie and about 20 miles away. I decided to bike over there and explore for the day. All I needed to bring with me was my electronics bag with my solar charger, phone, ipod, blah blah blah. I have two bungees that hold that on there in a criss cross. So I’m biking along and everything is great when I encounter the first dogs I have met. Two big Chows running to the entrance of their property and there’s no fencing and they are NOT happy to see me. I managed to bike past as fast I could to their satisfaction where they didn’t feel the need to give chase but the relief I felt was short lived as I realized I would have to go past them again on my way home!! I decided to think about that later. So I continued on my way and at one point I took a wrong turn so I corrected myself and continued on. Just as I’m about to start getting onto the highway I realize that one of the bungee cords holding my bag on is missing! So I circle back retracing my steps and am basically just heading home (I’d been out for about an hour). As I’m going I pass a really beautiful field that I wanted to take a picture of my first time going by so this time I pulled over into the field and took a photo. I then continued on and five minutes later I realized that THE OTHER BUNGEE CORD WAS GONE AS WAS MY ELECTRONICS BAG. The one with my passport, key to my bike lock, keyboard, solar charger, phone and basically all my important things in it. SOOOOO I circle back on my circling back and as I’m passing the field I stopped to take a photo in I see my electronics bag in the field. At the same time I notice this out of the corner of my eye I see a movement from the road. I look back and see two enormous German Shepherds racing across their yards (UNFENCED, UNTIED I might add) towards me barking. I think to myself that at least I know where my bag is and bike away thinking they’ll lose interest but NOPE. They begin chasing me down the road. At this point I’m having a panic attack because I have no idea where I am and there is no one around me it’s all field. A van is coming down the road behind the dogs and attempts to slow them down so I can get away but they don’t realize that I’m panicking about my freakin’ bag! I’m sure they were thinking to themselves “what is this chick DOING we’re trying to help her and she’s just sitting there with her hand on her head” because that is literally what I was doing. Well so I bike off in hopes of stopping the first car I see and asking them if they know the owners of the property with the dogs but no one comes. So on I go until I come across a man working in his garage. I give him a run down of the situation and he offers to take me back home and scoop up my bag. So we load up my bike into his truck and are off. We stop for him to hop out, grab my bag and then continue on our way. That’s when I realized I don’t know what house is Julie’s! The houses are kind of similar around her so I don’t know her house number! I call Julie who gives me her house number and the man drops me off with my bike. I wave goodbye and go inside to read for the rest of the day, a very danger-FREE activity. Later that night it occurred to me that this would be an issue I might run into more often. Julie brings it up to her husband, Jim who gives me a couple of mace like bottle of spray called Halt! It is specifically for aggressive dogs and sprays up to ten feet. This makes me feel better and I put one in my basket and one in my bags. We closed the night out by watching a movie that of course I can’t remember the name of now but it was about a man who does the Camino del San Gabriel I believe is the route name. It’s a two month journey from France to somewhere I think in Italy. (Really, I’m terrible with details) Anyways it’s with Martin Sheen and was just fantastic and I highly highly HIGHLY recommend it.

Saturday

Saturday Julie and I explored Fort Worth and kind of historical areas of town along with a beautiful water garden. I wish I had a way to upload the photos I took with my real camera not on my phone but when I have access to a computer I will I promise! That night we went to the movie Winter’s Tale which I loved. It was right up my alley with it’s magical fantasy-like story. We went to Walmart afterwards where I got heavy duty tent stakes because the ones I have that CAME with my tent were just not doing the trick. That night I packed up everything and went through a few things that I could afford to lose from my bag. I mapped out my trip for the following day which apparently would end with me still being in Forth Worth and not in the greatest of neighborhoods according to Julie so we planned. The New Plan was that she would drop me off the next day in Cleburn, TX where I would then bike 30 miles to Granbury, TX where I had a host family I could stay with.

Sunday

As planned Julie and I departed for Cleburn and of course as soon as I headed off I had to pee. I had nothing but open country road ahead of me and no signs of life. The first house I stopped at there was no sign of a dog so I went up and knocked hoping to beg for the use of their bathroom. As I’m knocking who comes around the corner of the house but a a big collie dog. I think my heart stopped functioning for a second as I grabbed my Halt. I opened with ”hi doggy!” (more like hi doggy? as I was basically asking if the dog was nice) because I really don’t WANT to spray a dog with Mace unless he’s hell-bent set on ripping my throat out. The dog wagged his tale and limped to me. That’s when i noticed that he was a very old guy. We became friends and he followed me as I walked to the other side of the house knocking. No one was home so I bid my new little friend goodbye and biked away. Finally after about 5 miles I couldn’t wait any longer. I couldn’t just go on the side of the road either because pretty much all of Texas property is fenced in and even though I was on a pretty much abandoned stretch of road I didn’t want to risk having a truck pass me while my pants are down.
I very VERY cautiously approached a house and knocked. When an old man answered I explained my situation and he let me in to use the bathroom. Off I went feeling much better.
So, concerning dogs. In the days before the problem arose I would be super bummed if I couldn’t find a property with it’s gates opened. Now I spend my time praying that the gates will be closed and tightly dog proof. I made it to Granbury around 3:30 which was the best time I had made so far on my trip. I rolled up the host house and was greeted graciously by Rick and his wife Jeanne. It was their daughter’s 18th birthday that Tuesday so they were having a birthday dinner for her. I hurried to shower and change into presentable clothing. Dinner was delicious, a spinach burritos (they weren’t burritos but of course I cannot think of the word…not empanadas…uhhhh something with an E darnit.) Anyways we had chocolate mousse for dessert which was SOOO good. Jeanne’s mother and her mother’s friend were also there and they made great company! The bed I was in was SO comfortable that I ended up sleeping in the next morning and starting a few hours behind schedule. I was really sore though from being back on the bike after 4 days rest so it was fine.

Monday
Monday was pretty quiet, I was biking to a town called Stephensville. I was exhausted from the start, however and only made it about 12 miles. First I knocked on the property of a big house and company that specialized in making Chicken Coops. They had a phone number up so I called that. (Mind you as I’m standing at the gate I have my mace in my hand like a crazy person but I’m just not taking any risks with dogs.) The woman I spoke with on the phone rolled up in her golf cart and was VERY nice. She told me that she was going out of the town that night or else she would have let me stay but that I could try the neighbors. I did just that and they were very gracious and let me camp. They also had three horses (a baby!) and a puppy. (a chocolate lab!) I befriended the puppy and worked on the pony. She was super sweet with blue eyes. I think I was more nervous than she was. If you know me than you know I’m not a huge horse fan because once when I was little I went on a horse tour and my horses started running with me. …Ever since then I’ve been afraid. But this little girl was sweet and let me pet her nose which was really soft. I set up my tent and went to sleep.

Tuesday

On Tuesday I was determined to make better time than the previous day. I decided that it was faster to go North instead of continuing on to Stephensville. I had no problems that day with dogs except at the end of the day when I was turning up Hwy 281, noticed it was about 4pm and I needed to stop for the day. I approached the first big property. Of course a dog came out and by this time I hd already dismounted my bike and walked up to the gate. (Mace in hand) The woman who finally came out told me that I could NOT stay on her land but I could try Natty Flat. …What’s that? I was like okaaay and knocked on the the next door neighbors house. No one home. I really had to pee. I kept going. Then I approached a huge property with a GIANT rocking chair in front of it. There was also a sign stating that this was Natty Flat and Texas Hill Country Furniture and Smokehouse. …I assumed this is what the woman had been talking about. I leaned my bike up on the wall and entered the store. Laid out my situation and the girls thought I could camp there. They called their grandfather in to confirm and he asked me a few questions about myself and trip and then said yes. I was exhausted and very grateful. Once I put my bike away we looked at the map and routed out the way I could take next with the least amount of hills which was great because I’d heard that I would have had some big ones if I had gone the way I planned previously. There were a lot of very friendly dogs on this property including little puppies which I cuddled up of course. One of the girls bought my dinner that night which was very sweet of her and it was delicious. I had fudge for desert which I could have eaten forever. After the smokehouse closed one of the employees, Colin, came over to my tent and said if I wanted to I could climb the giant rocking chair which is apparently the largest cedar rocker in the world and they built it there themselves! I know I’ve seen photos of it but I love that I came across it purely by accident! So I got to climb up into the chair which was about 25 feet tall!

20140224-164604.jpg

Colin told me that for breakfast I absolutely HAD to eat something called a fried pie. So I went to sleep and the next morning woke up to discover that I had a flat tire.

Wednesday

After I discovered the flat tire (thankfully before I had loaded up my bike, and I believe my Grandma had a hand in that so THANKS) I decided to eat breakfast and then deal with it. I had gone a good distance the previous day so I didn’t really need to go until about 10:30. I went into the smokehouse and ordered a fried pie, peach and apple. I honestly think that the peach fried pie is the best thing I have ever bitten into. Like…ever. My mouth is watering just typing about it. It’s basically a pie except that the pie crust is like an empanada (that word just keeps coming up doesn’t it? lol) and then deep fried and glazed. DOESN’T THAT SOUND LIKE HEAVEN!?!? HOOOO. I’m not joking it was just so. freaking. yum. …Now that I’ve devoted literally an entire paragraph to the pie I will move on lol.

I changed my tire VERY successfully (be proud of me Brands be proud) only to realize that…my bike pump sucks. At first I couldn’t get it to be the right tire valve (Shraeder is my tire) I picked up my phone to call Kerry, my dad, my sister, my mom…anyone who I could whimper to. And then I thought to myself okay, none of those people are going to be able to help you right now. They’re all going to say that sucks, that’s too bad, what are you going to do? Who can you call etc etc and that will get you nowhere. Whoooo could I call…Perfomance Bike! So I called the Dallas Performance Bike (since I’d bought the pump in a perfomance bike) and the guy walked me through my bike pump ( I felt really stupid afterwards.) Well so after I hung up the phone and start pumping I then realized that my pump does inDEED suck. It would only pump so much air into the tire, so little that it doesn’t even register on the gauge. Luckily one of the guys at Natty Flat had a pump that was electronic and ran off of his car!! Later, upon discussing it with my sister I realized that my Grandma totally had to have a hand in all of that. Off I set onto the road 2 hours behind schedule but determined to make some headway since it was supposed to be a long day.

It didn’t take me long to get up the highway to Interstate 20 which I actually loved because the service road was separate from the actual interstate and basically deserted with the occasional truck. I am getting very paranoid about dogs. I’ve mastered this kind of equivalent to tiptoeing past a dog. I have also started seeing dogs where there aren’t dogs. I had a panic attack going up a horrible hill because I saw two fluffy short tails wagging and then I realized they were goats. Go ahead and laugh because I sure did (crazily and with a lot of relief).
So that day about 15 miles down the road I stopped for lunch leaning up against a road sign. I saw a park ranger in a truck just chillin’ behind me and decided to ask him how far the Gordon exit was which was where I was heading. This guy man…I could just shake him. Allow me to explain. Once he found out of my bike trip he had all kinds of depressing information. 1. Rattlesnakes. He says oh you’d better be looking out for them!! They come out onto the road and if you don’t buckle down at night they’ll come into your sleeping bag with you. You’ll start seeing them every 20 feet or so. I spent the rest of the day looking out for not only dogs but rattlesnakes. Greeeat. 2. He started lecturing me on how I should be using a bike trailer instead of carrying my bags on my bike because I’m wearing it down. I’m trying to be as nice to him s I can but I really felt attacked like, hello dude, I’m in the middle of TEXAS FROM NEW YORK. I’M HERE ALREADY, would you like me to just quit so I can go get a trailer so I don’t wear down my bike? A bike I bought FOR THE TRIP MIND YOU. I was very irritated but just made conversation and went on my way.
5 miles down the road I took the Gordon exit and realized it was about 4pm (stopping time). I was approaching a big property with a truck idling in the entryway so I pulled up to the truck and asked the man if I could camp on his land. He said “I don’t see why not!” and drove off to town. As I pulled my bike into the property I realized my luck. This was a huge field of land a pond and a boat in the pond! It was just gorgeous. I set up my tent and by this time Donny (the man) had returned. We sat in front of his trailer and discussed my trip, football and life over cans of Coke. I asked him about rattlesnakes and he kind of stared at me puzzled for a second before saying “…it’s winter, there aren’t any rattlesnakes out yet” I told him what the park ranger had said and he told me the guy had been trying to scare me because the rattlesnakes wouldn’t be out for another month and a half or so. I felt better but still nervous. I ate my Clif bar dinner floating on my back in the rowboat in the little pond and watched the clouds of the setting sun.

It was my so serene, my favorite day! There was a power pole across the field from my tent near the entry to the property so I plugged in my ipod. Later that night I needed to go and get it but it was pitch black out and I was terrified. II had my Dad on the phone with me the whole time while I babbled on about rattlesnakes while keeping my ears perked up for a wild pig Donny had said he kept seeing. I have never been so scared, even with two flashlights. I glanced up at the sky and realized that because I was so in the dark the stars were ENORMOUS and so bright, but I only enjoyed them for a second before going back to Rattlesnake duty.
That night the wind blew like I had never experienced and I was so thankful that I’d bought my extra strength tent stakes because surely I would have been uprooted and blown away. In the morning I had NOT blown away but it was chilly so I slept in a little.

Thursday

So I departed from Donny’s about 10:30 in the morning and I knew it was going to be a rough day. The wind had not died down much since that night. Every single pedal was a battle directly into the wind. It was a pretty quiet uneventful day except passing through the town of Strawn for lunch. I met several women who were very interested and curious about my trip. The woman who worked at the place I ate helped me find a place to stay that night, about 5 miles away). I had confirmation from the local Sheriff as well that I could camp there so that me feel better. Up Highway 16 I went until I found the historical old schoolhouse that would be my campsite. I picked a place far enough from the schoolhouse that I wasn’t creeped out (it was old and a little spooky) but still hidden from the traffic of the highway which was right on the front stoop of the schoolhouse’s property. I peeped into the window of the school and all the old desks were cobwebbed and…it was very eerie seeming. I had been warned about coyotes being out and that they wouldn’t bother me so I wasn’t TOO concerned … until I found some coyote poop near my campsite. I got a little nervous but decided once I was in my tent to just not leave ever again. Ass I was drifting off to sleep I heard the coyotes begin to howl for the first time which was beautiful sounding and also very spooky considering my location. I slept a little nervously about being so close to the highway but knowing I was hidden unless someone stopped in the middle of the night to see the school which I knew no one SHOULD be doing.

Friday

I woke up on Friday morning FREEZING cold and able to see my breath. There was a light frost on the ground. I was cold dangit. I knew that I had a relatively long trip ahead of me. The next town was Breckenridge and it was at LEAST 30 miles from Highway 180 which I hadn’t even reached yet and since I had literally no phone reception I didn’t know how close I was. Once I turned onto 180 I saw that I had about 32 miles ahead of me. No town to rest at. It was gonna be a warm day and I needed to think wisely with my water. To make a long day short: I did great and arrived in Breckenridge around 3:30 pm. I had no issues with dogs, I didn’t run out of water and I wasn’t exhausted and dying! It was a 36 miles day for me, which is the best I have done so far . I got permission from the local parks department to camp at the city park. It was an utterly uneventful night broken only by another frozen morning.

Saturday
The next town was 30 miles away (Albany, TX) and while I hoped to get there I wasn’t very optimistic because once I got up and moving I realized something was wrong with my left leg. As I biked I felt it pulling oddly but figured it wasn’t warmed up yet. It didn’t really HURT it just felt weird. At some point I realized it was just straight up injured because it had started to really hurt and even after putting icy hot on it and having no result or change I looked at my leg and the muscle was actually swollen. I started walking my bike. I called Kerry and asked her to google how far I was from the town. 11 miles. Crap. No sooner did THAT happen but I found myself across from a property where I was suddenly being confronted by two big white German shepherds. I thought to myself it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay…they’re behind a fence. And then I watched in horror as they WIGGLED UNDER THEIR FENCE. So at that point they’re preparing to cross the highway barking angrily at me the whole time and I’m starting to call to them to keep back and then they’re still coming so I start screaming for help from their owner who never shows up. So THEN I start trying to flag for help. A truck stopped thankfully and I explained to him about my leg and the dogs who had of course since wiggled back under their stupid fence. Well the truck driver ends up being even more gracious than I could ever hope for and gives me a lift into the town I’m heading to, Albany. I exhaustedly pedal to the library to see it’s closed, so then I just go down the street hoping to find something and I happen upon a methodist church. As I’m rolling my bike up the front ramp the pastor comes out and asks me how I am. I explain myself and ask if I could camp on the church’s property for two days to let my leg (which at this point is KILLING me) heal. He says to me that if they were (the church) to put me up somewhere would I do that? Of course I said (I haven’t showered for 5 days at this point haha so the thought of a shower was enough to have me dying for water) So the Albany, TX United Methodists Church put me up in a motel (a very cool looking one, very old fashioned looking on the outside, I have a photo on my camera so at a computer I’ll post it). II took a glorious shower, and then promptly fell asleep while icing my leg. Eventually I woke up and organized myself for the next day where I had told Pastor Tim I would speak at church about my trip.

Sunday

Sunday morning Betty, Pastor Tim’s wife picked me up for church breakfast. During the service I got up and told the story of my trip and how my Grandma inspired me etc etc. After service I got to speak with several nice members of the church all of whom told me I should be prepared for the three hills outside of town. After service we went to lunch at a different church where I stuffed myself with coconut cake haha Later I was dropped off at the motel where I had a pretty low key evening and an early bedtime.

Monday

Monday morning arrived much too early. I had tossed and turned all night with worry and nightmares about dogs attacking me. I had hoped to leave at 10 and didn’t depart util 11. Pastor Tim was kind enough to bring me breakfast and coffee which really helped get me going.
The first hill was IMMEDIATELY as soon as I started up the road. I was really hurting within 5 minutes. I was grouchy, I was scared of dogs,it was gloomy and I was angry with myself for being so slow. I did something I never do while riding because I don’t want to run my battery down: I called a friend. Kathy picked up and told me she was babysitting her niece but she could still talk. She stayed on the phone with me and chatted with me, made me laugh and calmed me down about basically everything for all three of those huge hills until I lost signal. By then I was in a much better mood, I had changed my playlist to something more upbeat and my leg was feeling a little better. Thank you Taco for cheering me up and making me remember that I want this trip to succeed. I only was going 25 miles that day to a town called Lueders. Monroe, a man in the congregation in Albany had told Pastor Tim about his friend Cindy who lives there who I could stay with! It was about 4 miles north of Highway 180. Once I got out of my funk I was flying down the highway and enjoying myself again. efore I knew it I saw the turn off to go up to Lueders! I called Cindy and made my way to the camp which turned out to be a large motel-like facility with a fun looking lake and summer christian camp for teens! A friendly woman named Jodi told me Cindy wasn’t back yet but she put me in a room and let me settle in telling me that dinner was at 6pm. ….OOOOH DINNER.
I changed my clothes and went exploring, befriending one of the local dogs on the property named Woodrow. He is a chocolate lab with golden eyes like my sister’s dog Ben, who I adore with all my heart.

That night I walked up to the dining hall for dinner and was introduced to an entire mission group of seniors who were there for a few weeks to help repair things around the camp. Everyone was very friendly and curious about my trip. Towards the end of the meal a woman came up to me and introduced herself as Cindy. Immediately I felt like it was seeing an old friend, we hugged and she sat right down. After dinner I helped clear the dishes and clean the kitchen. That night we agreed that maybe I could stay for a few days in exchange for helping out cleaning rooms and stuff Cindy would give me a ride to Snyder a town about 4 days down the road. This would be perfect for me because I could then let my leg get all the way better AND it was supposed to get REALLY cold the next few days.

Tuesday–Wednesday
So friends at this point I am still in Lueders, TX. I’m enjoying myself immensly as I get advice from everyone on the mission team. Cindy has been putting a fear of wild hogs in me. Did you know that if a wild hog catches you IT WILL EAT YOU. STRAIGHT UP EAT YOU. And wild hogs are, apparently, QUITE prevalent in Texas, NM and AZ. So, if I don’t die by dog or rattlesnake, I will die by hog if not that mountain lion and then bears. A woman asked me last night about if someone were to come into my tent and I used the term ”breaking into my tent” and she goes how does one ”break into” a tent. I think I choked on my food from laughing so hard, because it’s true. Everyone here is so funny, they all banter and joke amongst themselves which reminds me of how my grandma interacted with the people at her church.

Until next time! …unless I am eaten by wild hogs.