19th – 21st Oct 2018
Blythe – Friday
A rest day is what I needed, my body was rebelling against the world. So we did bugger all, aside from the usual day off duties. We have been hand washing our clothes since LA, so it was definitely time to give the clothing a proper birthday. That was my job. Down at the old coin laundry, I had a lovely chat with an elderly gentleman, who was also on laundry duty. He told me his machine just wouldn’t start, so he thought “phewy!” Wow, I have not heard that for a long time. He said it a couple of times, so funny. I would have said fuck, myself. Will did some bike maintenance, we both got up to date on the old blogs, and just rested. We did the grocery shopping for tomorrow, and went to the Indian restaurant across the road for dinner. It was a nice change from burgers, chicken wings and burritos. We’re changing our MO, and tomorrow we are getting up at the crack of dawn, smashing down breakfast, and heading off before the heat and wind get into gear.
Blythe to Quartzsite 42kms
The bloody dancing monkey alarm went off, and Will sprang out of bed and was getting sorted within seconds. Ugh, I just curled up in the foetal position wishing this wasn’t happening. Somehow I got my sorry butt out of bed and wrangled some clothes on. No coffee making facilities, and the office wasn’t getting any on till 7am, so just the nuts and berries. The sun was starting to show up by the time we were getting the bikes sorted, but the coffee in the office was a no show. Bum, off we go caffeine deficient. This can’t be good.
On the up side, there wasn’t much traffic, and it was a pleasant temperature. Getting out of town and the state of California was very simple, and after 8kms, we were into Arizona, and the beginning of the climbing for the day. Yep, our old mate headwind was at it again, but just moderately, slowing us to 7 or 8 kilometres an hour up the biggest part of the hill. Certainly not the worst we’ve done to date, hey? We spotted a rest area, and pulled in there for a breather. More from the traffic than anything else. The trucks are just one after the other, more trucks than cars, and even though we have a very large shoulder, it is littered with vehicle debris and general rubbish.
Yay, it seemed like we were in California for ages. Nice to get to another state. The Colorado river is a huge river, and here it is again.
After an apple and a drink from the vending machines, we carried on. Did I mention that we are on the Interstate 10, which is the major route from LA to Phoenix? It is the only road for today, there are no rideable parallel roads. So we are stuck with the trucks and debris today. It’s pretty desolate out here, and very few services, so we have planned our riding days accordingly. A short day today because there is nowhere to stay in the next two towns. It wasn’t a bad little ride, and we actually had a glorious (if we pedalled) 8km downhill finish, into Quartzsite. Wow, here before lunch. We rode around town, looking at the quirky gem and stones stores, the ATV’s just driving down the street, and the incredible number of RV parks. We pulled into Silly Al’s for some lunch and to figure out what to do.
Windy, busy, and lots of crap to dodge on the wide old shoulder. Man there is some rubbish here. We even spotted a sex you hanging from a post on the side of the road. It took us too long to process what we’d seen, so we missed the picture. Ha ha ha ha, what do they get up to out here?
So many cool varieties of cactus our here. This one is actually called Ocotillo! Or Desert coral. It can look almost dead, then with a little bit of rain, it sprouts beautiful green leaves, and then will flower with gorgeous red blooms at the top of the stalks. Amazing plants.
So Quartzsite is a prime destination for The Snowbirds, people escaping the northern winter. They love it here, as the temps are mild, the scenery is pretty good, and the town is very accommodating for them. Not for tents though. So we found The Stagecoach Restaurant and Motel. It has recently been renovated and Lance was super friendly. He is obviously very happy with the updates, because he wanted to see our reaction when we opened our door. It was well done for sure. Very nice. It’ll do us, and we should be able to make another early start. Bigger day, more climbing, and headwinds to boot.
Quartzsite is a unique little place. The interstate 10 goes by it, but you exit into town, and everything is different. Silly Al’s is obviously the local drinking hole, and lunch spot, with plenty of ATV parking available.
Quartzsite to Salome 65kms
Yep, Will’s iPhone monkey alarm went off, but do you think we moved? Nope, the sun wasn’t up, and we were still tired. We did manage to shift our lazy butts and get sorted by 7:30am, and ride as far as McDonalds for a Big breakfast. By the time we ate a mega Mackie D’s breakie, had a juice and a coffee, it was about 9am, and we pushed off towards the I-10. It’s Sunday, so we were expecting there to be less trucks, and I guess there were less, but still plenty enough to keep us on the lookout.
It was a beautiful morning, and the wind decided to have a longer lay in than we did. The first half of our day was with minimal wind. Sensational! It was a long slow incline, with all the debris and rubbish, a big wide shoulder, and mega trucks, but no wind. We were both very shocked at the quantity and consistency of the rubbish along the interstate. That was definitely one thing California did better. Arizona, you need to pick up your rubbish!
Highway riding is never fun, but with a big shoulder it can be tolerable. We were looking forward to getting off it.
Thirty kilometres down, one of the two climbs done, as we rolled into Brenda. Originally I’d thought we could have stayed here from Blythe, but there is nowhere that will take tents. This whole area is just one giant RV park, or Boondockers paradise. However, they do have a good store, and we stopped for a break, and a cold drink. Will decided to get us a sandwich to share too. It was good, and we recharged the machines for the next half. While there, a local couple chatted to us about the area, and our journey, and we dilly dallied a bit too long. Well worth it though.
Our old mate, headwind, had finally woken from a crazy night out, and got the shits on with us, because we were enjoying our day too much. For the next 15 kilometre climb, the headwind was right there slowing us down. To add to the issues, whoever repairs the roads, needs to learn how to smooth their tar snakes, because although we had a big, wide shoulder, it was like riding over corrugations. Every two meters, cajunk , cajunk! Oh my god, my butt and bits were copping a hammering.
Riding from Brenda towards Hope. This house just seemed out of place.
I had to stop quite a few times, and in the end we had to ride on the white line, watching super carefully, for vehicles coming behind us, so we could evacuate to the cattle grid style shoulder. On a couple of occasions, vehicles coming towards us decided to pass right as we came together. Now that is frightening. Once we even had to dive off the road onto the gravel, so the car following us could use the shoulder to avoid the crash. Bloody hell, people, can you not see?
Any excuse for a butt break, I’ll take a picture of anything. Look at all the road snakes. Just fix the bloody road.
Finally we made it up the hill to Salome, and straight away spotted Don’s Cactus Bar. All the locals were into the Sunday Session, so we staggered in and joined them. Barbie, one of the older locals, immediately welcomed us, and sat with us for a while, chatting. A couple of other friendly people joined in, they even bought us a beer. Wonderful! Before we really settled in, we dragged ourselves off to the Arizona Sunset RV Park. Steve and Debs, from the UK, had mentioned to us how lovely Maxine and George (the owners) were, and that they let cyclists stay for free. It was true! They were lovely, and they didn’t want any money. They provided a nice area for our tent, a little house with full kitchen and bathroom, and even a bedroom if the weather got too bad. Wow, how cool is that? We felt we had to give them some money, and Maxine reluctantly took it. It was a gorgeous night in the desert, and after a shower and some dinner, we crashed pretty quickly.
You gotta have a Cactus at The Cactus Bar. This is a young Saguaro cactus. They get really, really old, can grow to 40ft. They can grow arms, usually after 75yrs, but some never grow arms. They store water for use in drought, and visibly swell when they do. I just love em.