- Posted by Jan
- On February 24, 2017
- 6 Comments
After 35 more gruelling miles, my exile in the desert had come to an end, and I arrived in Blythe, California.
Although some may consider Blythe to be a small farming community, Palo Verde, the next closest town, has 171 full time residents, making Blythe and its 20,000 residents a large city by comparison.
In Blythe, I stayed with a well-regarded host of touring cyclists by the name of Wayne Pinkerton. Wayne owns a bait and tackle shop, and he lets cyclists camp behind it. Wayne’s Bait and Tackle Shop, as far as I can tell, is the cultural hub of Blythe. In the evening hours the mayor, along with other high standing members of the community, gather to discuss everything from parenting philosophies to local politics.
This journey has been my first encounter with the culture of small town America, and I am absolutely enamored by it. Just the other day, I was passing through an area and stopped to eat lunch at the only dining option in town. The name of this restaurant was “Restaurant.” I don’t suppose one needs to bother differentiating from the competition when none exists, and stating simply what you are is the best way to avoid confusion.
Bob Lee, the founder of Ride for 3 Reasons, told me before I left on this trip that in the 12,000 miles it took him to ride the perimeter of the United States, he never met a bad person. My progress so far through the rural Southwest has proved to be a similar experience. The people here are honest, kind, and self-sufficient.
While staying with Wayne Pinkerton, I met another touring cyclist by the name of Brandon Smith. He has been living on the road for several years now, and on his bike he carries everything he owns. Fully loaded, his rig weighs over 250 pounds. Brandon has a wealth of knowledge on everything from military aircrafts to geology. He has taught me a lot about the legalities of being homeless on a bike and all that it entails. For example, on land that is owned by the Bureau Of Land Management (BLM), anyone is allowed to reside in a single area for a maximum of 2 weeks. Then by law they are required to move a minimum of 50 feet and can live in that spot for up to 2 weeks.
Brandon and I were headed in generally the same direction, so we left Blythe together and road across state lines to Arizona. We made camp at a public park in the town of Quartzsite, Arizona, and I spent the night sleeping soundly on a picnic table. Picnic tables can be a great place to sleep because they are generally under a canopy that provides limited shelter from the outside elements, and you don’t have to go through the trouble of setting up your tent.
I made it to Phoenix, Arizona, today. I am excited to be staying with my longtime friend Kira Okray. Our families first met when we lived overseas in Germany together and have been close ever since. Kira lives and works in Phoenix and today she gave me a tour of the city.
One of the strongest storms in several years has hit Southern California, and as a result there are heavy rains in Phoenix. I have spent another day here to wait out the weather.
When I left Phoenix rains were forecasted, but about six miles down the road instead of being drenched I saw a rainbow. When I arrived in Mesa, Arizona, later that day, my friends Cindy and King Oldin had prepared a steak dinner. You guys are the best!
No steak dinners today. Just lots of mountain climbs that culminated in a flat tire and busted chain. After several frustrating hours, all necessary repairs were made and I am ready for the next week of riding.