Day Five, Yuma to Dateland, AZ

Yuma to Dateland. Started in the rain but the day cleared up after a while so not too bad. Weaving through farm land with some muddy flooded roads and then onto the I-8 freeway most of the day. Bumpy roads today too. Had lunch at a roadside burger joint that was the highlight of the day. Other than that a lot of farm land and desert. Dateland’s big thing is a Date Shake at the one convenience store truck stop. They also had a cactus shake so we had both. They were both good mainly because we were starving. The cactus was close to a weak cherry flavor and the Date shake was like a weak chocolate flavor. Maybe because one was pink and the other brown. On to Gila Bend tomorrow.

Day Four, Calexico to Yuma, AZ

Today absolutely sucked so bad it was awesome to just complete it. Long sustained up hill and rain rain rain. Then it kept raining. Did I mention it rained? Decent shoulder on the roads except in spots that were scary. Big trucks, rain and no shoulder to ride on was part of the rough day. You are probably thinking no shoulder to cry on. Quit whining and ride. We had no choice so we peddled on. Rain gear held up and didn’t keep us dry (nothing would) but the combination of peddling and the rain gear we were reasonably warm. That made it tolerable. After 4 plus hours of rain it seemed to let up. Sun came out, clouds broke up so now we were hot and sagged the rain gear at the sag station meaning they took it only to be seen that night at camp or in this case an armory. We had lunch at a place some guy declared the Center of the World and put up a huge monument the size of a football field to declare such. I guess if you live in the middle of nowhere a positive way to deal with that is to declare it the Center of the World. Same thing, different spin. The roads today were super rough as the asphalt gets hot and expands and contracts over time cracking up into honeycombs then all the cracks expand upward making the roads extremely bumpy. Since we were on shoulders and less traveled roads where maintenance wasn’t a priority we got shook up pretty bad for a good part of the day. Luckily that wasn’t during the rainy part of the day. We were good for a couple hours then the clouds regathered and dumped hard rain. Even though it was mid to late afternoon it got dark because the clouds got serious. Since they don’t get big rain storms that often in Arizona they don’t really prepare that well so the roads began flooding. It’s also an agricultural mecca so there are constant big trucks driving in and out of the fields harvesting and doing all they do. This turned the roads into muddy messes forcing us to mingle with the cars and trucks in the dark. We got splashed so much we quit feeling it. I remember seeing a truck just flood splash the cyclists in front of us saying to Becky that sucked while we both realized we were getting it just as bad. As the day went on we were cold without proper gear and still not close to our destination. We stopped to look at our soggy unreadable map to figure out were we were and needed to go. Did I mention it was pouring rain. Just then Rick Ski from our group came up. He said he knew the way so we got behind him and followed him threw the dark, super busy traffic, muddy, flooding road to the Armory. We were so happy to see that Armory. We thanked Rick Ski the rest of the trip as our hero of that day. We were on the right track but it was awesome to not be alone through all that crap with people honking at us and the cars that were veering into oncoming traffic avoiding us and have the confidence of a steady rider in front of us to get there together. I will always be grateful to Rick Ski.

Day Three, Jacumba to Calexico, CA

Day three began leaving Jacumba, CA. The fun thing about Jacumba was the giant community hot tub we got to sit in after riding all day. Great people and conversation. Jacumba is a virtual ghost town on the border of Mexico with two open businesses. A convenience store and a Hot springs hotel where we stayed. It was nice and with our sore muscles it was a wonderful thing to enjoy. After the hot tub it was a shower, dinner, prep for the next day and then to bed. We did squeeze in a walk of the town that consisted of two blocks on shut down buildings so it didn’t take long.

The ride today was a climb of 1,100 feet then a huge downhill on the freeway I-8 where we reached 39 MPH blowing past everyone. Lots of fun after being passed by most on the climbing portions of the trip. The bike is solid and stable working well. With close to 340 combined pounds on the bike we are one of the slower riders on the up hill. Hold our own on the level and blow past everyone on the downhills keeping us about average overall. Its nice to have a group all wearing the same safety vests so we can see those ahead to know where we are going. They do a nice job of marking the roads but there were a lot of turns through San Diego that it was really nice to be in the pack.

It was interesting riding along the border of the country. Seeing the fence and the Border patrol. They are very active in watching out with trucks, Suv’s and some even on horseback. They drag tires through the washes to smooth out the sand each day so they can watch and follow fresh footprints. — Steve

Calexico, CA was our first Indoor stay of our trip. We all stayed in the auditorium in our air mattresses. It worked out well. The students hosted dinner and breakfast as a way to raise money for their school. Many of the students live in Mexico and walk across to Calexico each day. Their stories were inspiring of hard work, dreams and ambitions. We walked the streets before dinner and found a cute little restaurant to eat. That evening after dinner we heard from one of their teachers and the principal.

This was hanging in their school – it reads: I want every girl to know that her voice can change the world. Malala Your power is your radical self.

Today we cycled 51 miles. Making our total so far — 136 miles! Although we’ve cycled more miles in a row … three days is the longest we have ridden back to back days! We are so grateful for this experience.

Day One – San Diego to Alpine, CA.

After dipping the back wheel in the pacific ocean and then getting our group picture we were off! Suddenly, we were doing the bucket list item we had prepared for many months. It seemed a bit surreal as we started off! The first miles were recognizable places cycling through as we had visited Natalie many times in the San Diego area. Many of the first miles were on trails and it was just so fun! Our first SAG stop was at a beautiful rest stop in the mountains a bit. I needed to go to the restroom and one of the other ladies in the group offered her elbow. At that moment I knew we were going to be just fine! We stopped for lunch at an amazing Taco place. Steve had a shrimp burrito and I had a chicken taco. Amazing! We arrived at Alpine, CA to our beautiful hotel. I needed some new sunglasses so we walked over to the CVS. As we were walking over there Kendall called to tell us the Utah State Aggies had won the basketball tournament. Yay this really was a great day!! Dinner / bed time and back on the bike in the morning!

Introductions – Our Team

Introductions – Becky sharing that we are so excited to start this bucket list item!

Friday we arrived to check in at the beautiful Ocean Villa across the street from the Beach / Pacific Ocean! Meetings started at 12 and we enjoyed learning a lot from Bubba and the staff of what is to come. We all introduced ourselves! Such an incredible group … Let’s do this!

Steve introducing in his red/white stripe shirt that has been a part of his wardrobe for years and so many travels!! Its tradition that it goes now!

Meeting everyone was fun as we introduced ourselves. Luckily we all wear bright safety vests with our names on the front and back every day so names weren’t a problem. We quickly found out we were the rookies of the group. They all have been riding week long and month long rides some for decades. They have ridden across the country and europe. A whole new cycling world has opened up. We are collecting info and are excited to enter this world of cycling the world. Everyone was very nice and excited to meet each other.

On our way to San Diego!

Immediately after staff meeting on Thursday, March 5th we left to start this ride! We rented a van to take everything to San Diego, CA including our tandem bike that fit nicely – thankfully without having to take the wheels off in the Dodge Caravan. We needed to be to San Diego by the next day before 11 AM. We got on the rode – hoping we had remembered everything both in leaving our house /business for almost two months and had with us everything we would need for this adventure! My mom was riding with us to St. George so it was nice to get to visit with her on the ride down. We stopped in to drop her off and check on our house in St. George before continuing on the drive. We hoped to make it a few hours out of San Diego, CA. Steve was feeling good and we continued on making it to Temecula, CA! What a day! We would only have an hour left to go the next morning.

So much to think about and questions were creeping in — could we do this? Were we really going to cycle across the country!! We had talked so long and prepared so much for doing this and now here we were!!

This was a culmination of massive preparation. Fulfilling equipment checklists, food we like to eat while cycling took up one of the seven duffle and luggage bags we had. One duffle full of bike equipment, Extra tubes, tires, chains, tools, cleaning and lube, etc. Another full bag for my biking clothes, another for Becky’s, Then another each for our after cycling clothes, One huge one for bedding when we camp and then camping supplies. Some stuff we hope to never have to use such as dog spray and other stuff we will have to replenish along the way. Ready or not here we go! Super Excited!!!!!!

Next Step: Taking my guide dog to PDX to Debi

What would I do with my guide dog for almost two months? Thankfully, my dear friend Debi had volunteered to care for her! It was so wonderful to know that she would be in incredible care while we were gone. Then, it was super exciting to learn that they planned to come to the finish line in St. Augustine, FL when we arrived April 27th!! So exciting. Then, after we returned home, I would fly to pick up Georgie from another friend in Portland. The many logistics and support to make this dream happen were coming together. So grateful. Today – March 3 I got on a plane with Georgie my guide dog to meet Debi at the airport. She was at the gate and we had lunch and enjoyed visiting before she departed with Georgie girl and I flew home with my cane in hand. I had my harness to return home and had some people ask me what happened to my dog! I definitely felt a little empty handed not having my dear guide of six years by my side.