November 13, 2015 – Sun, 70 degrees
Miles Today: 76
Miles to Date: 9,897
States to Date: 26
There is no way to champion the wind. It must be accommodated and respected. Seventy-five miles with a moderate grade through gorgeous desert could be pleasant. But when you’re facing the prevailing wind the entire day, all you can do is plan for a slow-go and endure.
Fortunately I planned well. I was up before down. My couchsurfing host Michael made the most exquisite breakfast. I was on the road by seven, before the sun peaked over the mountains. The only malady I’ve had this trip has been a persistent scratchy throat, the result of so much air rushing through me. I try to ride with my mouth closed, but my throat is still coarse at the end of each day. This morning, after two days in the desert, my scratchy throat turned into a full-blown cold despite ten hours sleep. I had runny nose, clogged head, and whisper voice. Fortunately, it wasn’t flu – no achy legs – so I pedaled off.
The light breeze from the north turned into a steady wind by nine and a flag stiffening current by ten. The invisible force came at me strong and consistent, but I kept moving. I hit the halfway point at noon and sat for ten minutes on gravel in the sun, downing a bottle of water and finishing off a bag of trail mix. Ten miles further on I came upon the day’s only services – a seasonal burger and ice cream stand. I enjoyed my first date shake and rested with the proprietor, a man of many stories. Feeling the sun begin to descend, I pulled myself away for the final thirty miles.
I reached Quartzite at five. Surely one of the oddest places I have been. Quartzite’s a tiny town along Interstate 10, but in winter the population swells to a hundred thousand with snowbirds who camp inexpensively. In Yuma, a place to park your RV for a winter month costs several hundred dollars, which includes the social center, shuffleboard, and a pool. Folks park their RV’s in the desert around Quartzite for an entire season for $125. They aren’t connected to anything. Freelancers refuel generators and empty sewer connections. You make whatever community you want. Closer to the freeway, RV’s sit on paved lots, like a drive-in theater, with posts for electricity. No trees, no green; just a field of concrete for motor homes.
Quartzite is just coming alive this time of year. Portable buildings and big tents will become hardware stores, vape shops, even gun permit stores. Snowbirds flock south, Quartzite swells, and next spring it will contract again.
I stopped at Love’ Country Store before heading to my Super 8 for the night. The place has absolutely nothing country about it, but it’s a fascinating view of Interstate America. Traveling families, gangs of guys, homeless people in cluttered cars. I decided to celebrate my success in navigating the wind, and soothe my scratchy throat, with an ice cream dinner. Excellent choice.