Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wickenburg, Arizona

 It's still hot here with record breaking temperatures--108 degrees!!.  Just before we reached Wickenburg, Arizona today at noon, Ann is enjoying a little shade we found along the way and trying to hydrate herself,  We have learned to drink often as we bike in this heat trying to avoid getting into the difficult situation we found ourselves when we first started.

This shows a stretch of the road we have been traveling on the past couple of days.  The surface has been good and it has an adequate shoulder with not to much traffic.  The scenery is mostly desert type vegetation with a variety of cactus and plants such a Creosote Bush, Sagebrush, and lots of small Palo Verde Trees.

We have found the best biking for us is to start about 6 a.m. when it is just geting light and try to be finished by noon.  Before leaving we eat a light snack of energy bars/yogurt/cheese sticks and around mid morning we try to find a cafe to have breakfast.  That has worked well for us in this heat and may be the way we will continue as we travel east.  One of the best things about starting early other than the cool temperatures is the beautiful sunrises which almost take your breath away.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Seeley, CA to Quartzsite, Arizona

We have added these photos to update the blog entry you may have already read.  Hope you can figure out the sequence, but it doesn't matter if you can't.
On Sept 26, these guys (Capt Ernesto, Wes, and Jose) rescued us from a hot day and made us feel like we were the most important people in the world.  As we were looking for a cool library, we passed the fire station and noticed an ice machine inside.  Not finding anyone around, we helped ourselves to some ice and water.  Someone then showed up and it turns out the fire chief, Ernesto, wants to ride across the U.S. when he retires.  Showers were taken in the station before they took us for lunch in the big fire truck and we sat in his air conditioned office the rest of the afternoon until the day cooled a bit and then went another 15 miles.  This day was our most, 72 miles total!

A road kill we found along the way.  Big guy, at least three feet long.  ID someone?  Joe?

There two pictures (above and below) are of the "Wall" that you hear so much about between us and Mexico.  It goes for miles and miles and reportedly cost one million dollars a mile.  Interesting site.

This part was written Sept 28 in Quartzsite, AZ.
We has a serious day yesterday. The temperature was 110 degrees in the shade and we had a 70 mile ride across a stretch with very limited assistance from Brawley, CA to Blythe, CA. We knew we could not make it as the distance was to far and we could not ride in the heat past noon. We finally decided to take a bus to Blythe then pick up the missed section at another time. The bus station was in El Centro 15 miles back the same way we had just come. Catching a transit bus to the station worked but it was an adventure with all our panniers. At the bus station, the lady said we would need a box to ship the bikes and they didn't have any boxes. She sent me around the corner to a bike shop, but it was closed. No way were they going to let us put our bikes on the bus without boxes. A new biking friend we had met along the way, John, called and suggested we try to find a ride with someone with a pick up. The only person we knew was Jim, the Warm Showers Host we had stayed with the previous night. We called him and he said I'll be there in 30 minutes. So, off we went across the desert. We wound up spending the night with John, who is a faster biker and did manage to bike the 70 miles from 6am-1:30pm, sharing his hotel room as there were no other rooms available (actually it was not that the rooms were full, but that the season has not begun yet and no more rooms were made up), We left this morning at 6 a.m. and biked to Quartzsite where we are again sharing a small trailer with him. It's hot, hot, hot so much that we can't even think of biking past noon. Maybe it will cool off in the next few days. The library is closing. Time to go!

Monday, September 27, 2010

A note from the Webmistress

Hello! This is Ann and Bill's daughter Shelly at the keyboard. As an experienced Blogspot blogger, I offered to be Mom and Dad's technical support for this blog so they can focus on pedaling, not picture formatting.

Did I mention I'm incredibly proud of my parents for undertaking a journey like this? It's not just their stamina -- although they're some of the most physically fit people I know -- it's their attitude. They decide on a goal, usually a big goal, and then they are resourceful and dogged and willing to seek help from strangers to make it happen.

When my parents were partway through their first big bike trip -- a tour down the West Coast, from Anacortes to the Mexican border in 2005 -- I asked my mom in a phone call just how they did it. I mean, they didn't really train before setting out on this particular adventure. "Well," she said, "We just start pedaling, and when we're tired, we stop."

So there you have it. The proverbial "one foot in front of another." And when you're biking up a hill, at least you know you get to coast down it.

So, back to my role in this blogosphere. If you are browsing past posts, you might notice I'll occasionally go in and tidy up an entry or re-order the photos. If I feel an editorial note is in order, I'll add it in brackets [like this].

I may occasionally write a post after a phone call check-in, if Mom and Dad haven't been able to get to a computer.

And I wanted to share with you some helpful websites for understanding this trek. The first is Adventure Cycling's map and summary of the Southern Tier bike route that Ann and Bill are taking. They haven't just set out with any old road map. They are following a well mapped and documented route, the southernmost of three well-traveled routes across the U.S., and the one best tackled (weather-wise) in the late fall as they are doing.

The website's route description offers this: "The route offers challenging terrain right from the start, with some longer climbs leaving San Diego all the way up to In-ko-pah Pass, about 70 miles east of the Pacific coast." That pass (4,000', I think) is where Mom & Dad were camped when I spoke with them Saturday night. They were definitely feeling fatigued from all the elevation gain and loss, which they said was more challenging than their recent shake-down on the North Cascades Highway! They were also noticing it got darker earlier than it did in our more northern latitude.

Their other piece of news was that the temperature in the desert (which they were about to enter on the other side of the mountains) was predicted to be a high of 100 degrees for the next few days. So they were planning to bike early in the mornings and find air conditioning midday. Yikes, that's HOT.

If Ann or Bill throw out a cycling term that baffles you, reference Wikipedia's Glossary of Bicycling Terms. Hopefully they won't be complaining too much about chain suck or false flats or -- heaven forbid -- endos.

And when they praise their Warm Showers Hosts, know that these "angels" are not just providing free bathing opportunities, but also home-cooked meals, soft beds, computer access, and peer support for Ann & Bill's bicycle journey. Read more about this web-based hospitality "community" here.

Lastly, if you're interested, you can check out my two family-related blogs here -- not that they're all that up-to-date, but with a two-year-old, what in my life is?!?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Catching up, with an Amtrak cameo

To recap the beginning of our trip, Ann's dad Gerry sent us off on a foggy Vashon morning at the passenger ferry terminal.  The ferry dropped us off in downtown Seattle and it was a 10 minute walk to the train station.  The night before we  had boxed up our bikes and checked them at the station, before going to visit Gerry and spend the night on Vashon Island.  Pretty slick.  BTW, this was the last cool weather we have seen since departing our home state!

The train photo above is for grandson Soren, as he has a love affair with trains.  It was a long trip but was nice to let Amtrak doing the driving.  We would recommend a sleeper car if you are interested in getting a good night's sleep.  (Did we mention we "slept" in our seats in coach??!)

The above photo is of Dennis Richardson, who was our first Warm Showers Host.  He and his wife Julie and son Trevor were great to take us in when a flat tire slowed us down.  This was after our first day of biking.  Thanks, Dennis!

Second day out, seems like a MONTH

Here we are at the start of our second day after spending the night at a Warm Showers Host in Lakeside, CA. But it feels like we have been traveling much longer, with what all we've been through.

On our first day we had our first flat (from goatheads, or plant burrs) which slowed us down. We started late and had a horrific day as Ann's blood pressure dropped (below 80, we later discovered) and she got dizzy, nauseated, and weak. We finally limped into Alpine and stopped to check her blood pressure to confirm what we suspected. We called our doctor and got some advice which included lots of fluid, salty foods, and stopping the high-blood-pressure medication she'd started taking until we finish the trip. Finally got to our campground in the dark and had a restful night. Now, we are trying to figure out how to ride through this heat and survive for the next few days.

Backing up, below we are at Ocean Beach Park, the official starting point of the bicycle trip.  The thing to do is put your rear tire in the Pacific Ocean and then the front tire goes in the Atlantic Ocean, eventually.  It was a nice day with gentle breezes.  We hated to leave but had a big day with lots of climbing over the coast range ahead of us.

We spent our first night off the train in this hostel in Old Town San Diego.  Arrived there at 2:00 a.m. from the train station and slept like babies, even with the street noises.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Getting ready to leave

It seems that "getting ready to leave" is often the hardest part of going on a trip.  In other words, it's not the "getting ready to go" but the "leaving" that gets us down.  Anyway, we are almost there.  Monday will come quickly and then it will all be behind us with just the nuts and bolts of the trip to look forward to. 

Another adjustment will be the weather.  Here is cool and rainy and we will be looking at hot and dry weather in California for the first couple of weeks. 

There are some things we will miss.  One is our grandson, Soren (pictured above).  He is really in a great time of life right now (two years old) in that he can pretty much communicate what he wants to do and the interaction is just great.  The other will be our friends here in Anacortes that we do a lot of activities with.   The time will pass rapidly though and first thing we know, we will be back.

Testerman Travels......We're off to bicycle the Southern U.S.

Well, as the subject says, we're on the road again.  This time we are biking, not walking as you might have guessed.  We are excited but a little stressed as the day arrives to leave.  There seems to be a mountain of tasks to do before leaving, but we are slowly checking things off the list. 

 This coming Tuesday, the 21st, we will board a train with our bikes and panniers in Seattle and travel to San Diego.  From there we will start pedaling and arrive about two months, and 3,000 miles, later in St. Augustine, Florida.  There we will travel to Tennessee via bus to visit relatives then fly back home around the first of December.  We are planning a side trip to see Big Bend National Park in Texas  and perhaps the  Cliff Dwellings in New Mexico.  Other that that we will just be pushing those pedals and enjoying the people and places along the way.

We have equipment for camping, although we may stay in hostels, hotels, and with Warm Showers Hosts to freshen up. There will be many challenges to tackle but the weather across the desert has our attention the most right now.  We'll hope the bicycles create enough breeze to keep us cool.

We'll see everyone in a couple of months and share some stories of the adventure.

Picture below was taken on a recent bike trip with Von and Betty Kuehn as we climbed the east side of the North Cascades on an early morning.   That's us pondering the beauty of the mountains.