22 August 2012

Arizona to California

Failing to find a real state line sign, we chalked our own.
Greetings from Barstow, CA!  We've made it to the Golden State and here's a round-up of the last week or so.

Payson, AZ – Riding from Heber, AZ, we climbed to 8,000 feet then descended a 6% grade for over ten miles. We stopped for an extra day in the small town of Payson to volunteer with Habitat and to help paint and renovate a transitional women’s shelter. 

Sedona, AZ – After our build day, we rode about 90 miles into the town of Sedona – home of the world famous “Red Rocks.”  A strange local told me many quotable things about Sedona, including that “God may have created the Grand Canyon, but he lives in Sedona.”  He also recommended that I go and see one of the famous Sedona Vortexes, where “this reality touches the next.”  We showered for free at one of the town’s many resorts and prepared ourselves for a day of climbing to come.

Flagstaff, AZ – Although our ride into Flagstaff was one of the shortest of the trip (just over 30 miles), it was nearly all climbing.  Along the way we made one of the most memorable pit stops of the trip, at Slide Rock State Park, where we enjoyed natural waterslides and a 40 foot free fall of a cliff above Oak Creek.  Cliff jumping was absolutely exhilarating, but led to many bruises.  Poor Cassi even ruptured an ear drum.  Once we got to Flagstaff we stopped for a day of volunteering with a local organization called Bothands. One of our riders – Nick A. – departed the trip early after our build day to get to grad school and we sent him off with a night of karaoke. 

Grand Canyon, AZ – After 70 miles into the Grand Canyon we enjoyed our third and final “day off” of the trip.  Four other riders and I decided to descend into the bottom of the canyon and back by foot – a voyage of 18 miles of trail and nearly 2 miles of elevation change (down and up).  Park signs and rangers highly recommend that nobody attempt this hike in a day, but having only one day off, we all felt compelled to give it a go.  We made it back safely and it was 100% worth it. 

Williams, AZ – We were all sad to leave the Grand Canyon behind us, but Williams was not a bad place to end up.  To shake things up we organized ourselves by height and broke into riding group accordingly.  I rode with three other very tall riders and we called ourselves the “Four Pack of Tall Boys.’ We got into town early and enjoyed beer and live music at a café on Route 66.

Meg and I admire a very large saguaro
cactus in Cal Nev Ari, Nevada
Seligman, AZ – Our next stop was in the tiny town of Seligman, said to be the inspiration behind Radiator Springs of the Pixar movie Cars.  Our sleeping quarters here were a little cramped, so I tried to sleep outside and enjoy the dark night skies, but midnight rains pushed me back indoors. 

Kingman, AZ – Arriving in Kingman, we knew that we were getting close to California because we found our first In & Out Burger.  Most of us went to bed early in Kingman to rest up for our 4:30 a.m. wake-up and our night out in Vegas to follow.

Searchlight, NV – Our trip only spends one night in Nevada and naturally we tried to make the best of it by chartering a bus and taking a 6-hour trip to Vegas. I would elaborate more about this mini-trip, but what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.  Also what happens in Denny’s, stays in Denny’s.

Baker, CA – After returning from Vegas around 1 am, we slept for four hours and then rose to set off on the final century ride of our trip.  Fortunately nobody in my riding group (nickname: “The Centurions”) was hungover and we made good time in the morning, at least until we hit the Mojave National Preserve where 105+ temperatures and crappy roads slowed us down.  We were ecstatic as we entered California, but disappointed to find no state sign to greet us. Instead we just chalked our own and made the best of our entrance into San Bernardino County.

With just five days left of our trip, we are really starting to feel short of time, but also proud of the accomplishment that is nearly complete.  Next comes the trip back… but more on that later.

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