TRIP 2006

Update #33 - December 01st
Phoenix, Arizona
9,732 miles ( 15,571 KM) since March 27th,
10,234 miles ( 16,374 KM) since Jan 01st

After about ten days of riding without a break, I'm able to take a few days off the road here in Phoenix, Arizona. It's been a bit of a roller coaster not with the terrain but the emotional roller coaster I have been on also. From Las Cruces, New Mexico, I headed west along the shoulder of I-10. I haven't tried this in around 9 years. I was surprised at how good the shoulder was.

The ride to Deming, New Mexico went okay and I got into town around 2:30 p.m. There wasn't anybody at the First Baptist Church. Being a Monday, I really didn't expect to find anybody in a church office. I did find the secretary at the United Methodist Church. The pastor was out. The secretary told me that I might be able to find a place to stay at the Agape Christian Center on the west edge of town.

I had a bit of a hard time finding it because it was on a dirt road. I had about a two hour wait before the center was opened up. There was going to be another guy staying there. It seemed to be a nice place. The individual bedrooms were small so I wasn't able to take the bike into the room. I was told that my bike and gear would be safe and nobody would touch it. It was stored in the living room area. I just took what I needed off the bike into the bedroom.

The night was okay and I got some rest. I got up early because I had some distance to ride to Lordsburg. About twenty miles out of Lordsburg, the rear tire went soft. I had a really hard time getting the tube fixed because I was running out of patch material. I got into Lordsburg around 5 p.m. I was fortunate in finding the Catholic priest home and he allowed me to stay in the guest bedroom. The priest told me that I could possibly buy a new inner tube at a local hardware store.

Wednesday morning, I found out that the money that I had hidden in a secret pocket in the clothes pannier was missing. I was saving the money from one of my last love offerings that I got at a church in Texas. From what I think might have happened, the other guy who was staying at the center in Deming must have gotten up during the night and sneaked into the living room and gone through my things.

What got me was the guy had been good at it since nothing seemed out of place. There was nothing that I could do about it. I was almost 70 miles from Deming. This was the second time that I had been robbed while I was staying at a Christian center. The last time that it happened was back in Kansas. I had some money in my wallet and I spent nine dollars of it to get a new inner tube.

I didn't get maybe twelve miles out of Lordsburg when this inner tube went flat. It took me nearly three hours, eight tries to get the tire inflated, a piece of patch less than a quarter of an inch square, and some electrical tape that I wrapped around the tube to keep the patch in place to finally get the tire up. I also had to inflate the tire about fifteen psi below the recommended pressure of the tire.

I was surprised that the tube didn't explode with the electrical tape wrapped on it but it held (actually for five days). I arrived in the small town of San Simon, Arizona right before dusk. Since it was a Wednesday night, I was hoping to maybe find a church in town that had an service but there wasn't. The First Baptist Church was dark. It turns out that the minister commuted around a hundred miles from a small town back in New Mexico on Sunday morning. There were two other churches in town (Catholic and Methodist) but the ministers commuted from Willcox about 40 miles away.

I tried maybe for an hour to find somebody that took care of the churches but being that it was the night before Thanksgiving the town was basically a ghost town. I did run into somebody who told me that there would probably be no problem with me camping out behind the high school. I found a somewhat secluded spot to camp out on a concrete slab behind one of the buildings of the high school complex. There was water nearby from a spigot at the bus barn. I was surprised at getting some sleep even though I was less than a hundred feet from a railroad.

It wasn't too cold when I crawled into my sleeping bag but it got colder and colder before daybreak. Before getting on the road, I put on two pairs of socks and every warm thing I could think of so I had at least four layers of clothes on. The ride to Willcox went pretty good. The rear tube held.

I got into Willcox around 1:30 p.m. I stopped at the police station to see if they might know of a minister that might help me find a place to stay for the night. The officer on duty said that I might find a pastor at a church on the far eastern edge of town. I had gotten off the interstate on the east edge of town and I didn't recall seeing any kind of church.

The address that I had was actually of a bar that a church group had taken over and turned into a cowboy church. A small group of the church members and some of the local citizens were gathering for a Thanksgiving dinner and I got to join them. After the meal, the pastor said that he had a special guest that he wanted to bring in.

His special guest was actually his 12 year old female horse. He brought the horse in through the kitchen. The little kids were given the chance to sit on the horse's back and have pictures taken. The horse was pretty well mannered and it didn't have any accidents. It did like gobbling up some of the leftover rolls in one of the bowls on the table. Before everybody disbursed, a pinata was hung outside on one of the trees and the kids swatted at it to break it for the candy and coins inside. The pastor offered to go into town and get me a room at one of the motels and he also slipped me $5.

From Willcox, I had a good ride to Benson the next day. I was a bit concerned that I would have a hard climb riding up through the Little Dragoon Mountains and climbing over Texas Summit. I had been told some bad stories about the trip. Other than dealing with some bad shoulder pavement the ride went really well. I was over Texas Summit and starting to ride through the Texas Canyon area by 11 a.m.

The sixteen mile ride from the top of the Summit to Benson was pretty well downhill. In some stretches, I coasted around 20 mph. I got into Benson around 1:30 p.m. According to the phone book, there should have been a bike shop in town but it had been closed for almost a year. A new Wal-Mart had been opened several months ago on the west edge of town so I was able to buy two new inner tubes.

I spent the next two hours or so trying to connect with a minister but I wasn't able to. The dispatcher at the police station didn't any of the local ministers. At the nearby fire station, I met some friendly people. They told me how I could get to the home of one of the local pastors (Evangelical Lutheran). He wasn't home. I had to break down and use up almost 2/3rds of what I had left in my wallet to get a cheap motel room for the night.

Last Saturday, I had a pretty good ride from Benson to Tucson. There were about a dozen members of the Warm Showers Cycling Association in Tucson and I hoped to maybe connect with one of them for a place to stay the night. I was able to connect with a member who lived just north of the downtown area on N. 6th Avenue. Phillip and his wife lived in a 15 member community in three adjoining houses. I had a pretty good night.

Sunday morning, I got on the road early around 7:30 a.m. and I headed north along some good frontage roads along I-10. About sixteen miles out of Tucson, I stopped to help out a guy who was walking north along the frontage road. I gave him a little food.

I got into the Marana area around 10 a.m. Thought at least to see if there was a church there. I stopped at the small Community Church (Disciples of Christ). This was the new pastor's second service at the church. I got to speak for a few minutes at the beginning of the service. Afterwards, I was surprised at getting over $85 in "green handshakes".

Betweem Marana and Eloy, I met up with a young couple from Casa Grande, AZ who were on a short trip to Tuscon and back on a Rans tandem recumbent. We talked for about ten minutes. I got into Eloy around 4:30 p.m. Stopped at a grocery store to get a few supplies. There was a young guy, who might have had some mental problems, squatting by the store entrance. I gave him a pack of donuts that I was planning to eat later. His jacket was pretty torn up so I made the decision to give him the extra light weight jacket that I was carrying on the bike. He was pretty appreciative to give him.

From the store, I had a bit of a time finding the First Baptist church. I had about a 40 minute wait before anybody showed up. The pastor had only been there about two months. I had a good time talking with him before the service. At the beginning of the service, the pastor gave me the chance to talk to the small congregation. Afterwards, the pastor told me that he had made reservations for me at a motel near the interstate close to Casa Grande and he gave me $60 to pay for the room and there would be some left over. The only problem was that there was no truck available to transport me there so I had to ride there in the dark using my lights. The ride went okay because there was a wide shoulder to ride along but I did have somebody through something out of a car window at me.

Last Monday, I rode from Casa Grande to Florence. I spent about three frustrating hours trying to connect with a minister who had a bit of compassion. I did meet with two ministers but they were not helpful. I just wanted to see if I could sleep on the floor of one of their church classroom using my sleeping bag.

The Presbyterian minister was downright rude and upset for the fact that I took the chance in disturbing her on her day off. The other minister at an independent Baptist church gave me one excuse after another on why he couldn't help me out. I was told that there might be a bed and breakfast with reasonable rates in Florence but after well over an hour of riding around town I couldn't find it. There wasn't a sign for it. Since it was getting dark, I broke down and used about half of the donations that I had gotten the day before to get a room at the motel across from the state prison. I was getting no where with trying to save a little bit of money. I was hoping to maybe get that needed haircut since I had gotten my last haircut back in late June in Algona, Iowa.

From Florence, I had a pretty good ride to Apache Junction. I was hosted by a member of another group I'm involved with called "CouchSurfing". This was the first time I ever used the CouchSurfing program. I had a pretty good night. I was surprised the next morning at finding an envelope from my new friends with some money in it that was about two-thirds of what I had to pat for the motel room in Florence.

Two days ago, I had a good ride between Apache Junction and downtown Phoenix. Another member of the Couchsurfing program is hosting me. I'll be hanging out over the weekend so an important letter can catch up with me from Georgia. It's supposed to arrive here in Phoenix on Monday.

From Phoenix, I'll have an eleven day, 460 mile ride to San Diego, California. The end of my 14th crossing of the United States is almost here. I'll be riding along the shoulder of I-8 if there isn't an alternative route. This will possibly be one of the hardest sections.

Because of the scarcity of cities and towns along the way, I'll be spending a couple of the nights in my tent. There will also be two long and steep climbs through some mountains. They will be right before Yuma, Arizona and between Ocotillo and Jacumba, California just west of El Centro. This climb will be at least twenty miles long. After that, it will be pretty well downhill on the way to the San Diego and the Pacific Ocean.

I haven't really planned what I'll be doing when I get to San Diego. The option of turning around and heading back east across the desert isn't going to happen. It wouldn't be feasible to try heading up the California Coast, especially north of San Francisco, until at least March or better yet April. I do have some connections with a Messianic Jewish congregation in the San Diego area. I also learned about a church in Chula Vista who was quite socially compassionate orientated that has a bicycle ministry. Hopefully, I'll be able to find a place to stay for a few months.

I'll try and post an update as often as I can if my plans change. The next update should be posted between December 08th and December 15th.



Bicyclist in Sunset



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