A shift has occurred. I got tired of riding my bike and decided to donate it to charity; a Catholic priest graciously accepted it. It had a blown out tire. Angel #28.
I will continue east by horse to Florida and then I may or may not go to Great Britain and Ireland. (Just kidding; by train. ?)
I suddenly feel done. I feel ready to get on with life on life’s terms, which are not as I would have them be but are as they are. If I have learned anything from this “walk-about” (or “ride-about”) it is that there’s not much I can do about the outside world. What I can do is to mind my own business and my own small corner of the Universe. If I am to have a positive influence on anything beyond that, it will be as a result of my good personal stewardship. As my good friend Nazneen shared with me recently, “charity begins at home.”
I’ve gotten some good feedback about the restless legs syndrome that I have been experiencing–that it’s likely the result of dehydration and electrolyte imbalance, or electrolyte insufficiency. That makes sense to me. It is a constant challenge for me to drink enough water, and on long days of riding and pushing my bike uphill, dehydration is especially difficult to prevent. I don’t usually take an electrolyte supplement and minerals are increasingly difficult to get from our modern food supply. Thanks to Michaelia and Carole for your sage advice!
Another recent angel was an accomplished, retired woman named Paula Cotterly who is spending her golden years traveling all over the world. She took one look at my bike and said: “You rode from Carmel to San Diego on that? No wonder you’re tired!” She pointed out that it is a much heavier bike than most modern touring bikes and encouraged me to let it go.
I had been thinking the same thing myself. I have been tempted more than once to pass it on to someone else who could use it. That moment has arrived, and Paula helped me to make it happen. She drove me and my bike to the Catholic Rectory in Winslow in her 1995 Chevy Van, which is decorated on the rear end with decals from all the many places she has visited. She was camping in the site across from mine at Homolovi State Park, near Winslow, when we met.
Paula carries a nice bicycle on the back of her van, and her whole set up looked pretty darn appealing. She provided cheese, crackers and cherry tomatoes that evening and would have made me a cup of tea but a storm was coming our way
and we were driven into our respective shelters until morning.
I have nearly made a circle in my travels in Arizona–I’m not far from where I started in Flagstaff. To avoid the Sun Valley heat I came back up and over the Mogollon Rim
with a little help from yet another angel, a lady massage therapist and caregiver from Forest Lakes. Just as I was walking up the mammoth mountain she stopped her car and suggested she take me to the top. It was getting late, and once at the top it was a few miles more to Canyon Point Campground, so I accepted her kind offer. The view of the White Mountains from the lookout was spectacular!
I shared a FaceTime call with my sister Ellen, who lives in Japan, at this lookout point, which was surreal. What miracles of invention will be next? For all I know we will find the answers to our environmental and social problems.
Who am I to say that we won’t?
At the campground that night I met a kind family who stored my food in their truck overnight. There were bear warnings posted at the campground but no bear lockers. I tried to tie my food up in a tree but it was getting dark and I couldn’t manage it. I asked them what they were doing with their food and the truck was their solution. (They weren’t really concerned about the bears.) They were an older couple (about my age) with their two grandchildren, Ben and Ashley. (Adorable 8 and 9 year old cousins.) They go on extended camping trips with their grandchildren every summer. They told me what they knew about the roads and campgrounds to the east and warned me about storms headed our way the next morning.
So many are the people who want to help me. I have never been threatened by anyone in any way. I have met only nice people. That just goes to show that the vast majority of people are really very good. And this is true of each and every one of you. Since I left my house in Pacific Grove at the end of September, 2016, I have been the recipient of so much kindness.
After leaving Canyon Point Campground the next morning and heading east along highway 260 towards Heber-Overgaard, it started to rain (sound familiar?) I stopped at a general store to inquire about the routes heading east–which one would have the most amenities, etc–when it really started to pour. I took shelter under the building’s considerable front porch and studied a map of Arizona. While there, a kind man asked me what I was doing, where was I going, etc. I told him in a general way what I was up to and I guess he took pity on me; he ended up putting me up for a couple of days. I saw the property where he plans to build a house
and we shared some stories about our lives. It’s always good to make a new friend,
especially when on the road and in a strange place.
After saying farewell to Roger I decided that trying to ride my bike east from Holbrook, Arizona, to Gallup, New Mexico would be risky. There was no water and no grocery store or restaurants for nearly one hundred miles, or so they told me at the Holbrook Visitor’s Center. That distance takes me three days to ride on my bike, especially when carrying enough food and water for three days. That’s when I decided to go back toward Flagstaff on Highway 40, or the old Route 66, to catch the train in Winslow.
Route 66 is another historic Camino of a different flavor.
Shortly after leaving Holbrook my tire blew out. I had about 22 miles yet to get to Winslow. I started walking, which I don’t mind doing. I passed the Geronimo Indian Store
and soon thereafter the wind picked up and it began to rain. I saw a sign for a campground in Joseph City just a mile or two down the road, and I was relieved that I wouldn’t have to “rough camp” that night. However, I could not find the campground. I found an RV Park, but they didn’t allow camping.
There was a small, grassy park next to the RV Park with a bathroom and covered picnic tables. There was no one anywhere around, and it was getting late; I decided to set up my tent. Someone came around a bit later to lock the bathrooms and I realized why city parks are not campgrounds. They didn’t shoo me away, though.
Joseph City was the first Mormon Community in Arizona, colonized in 1876. They have a sign saying as much, decorated with petrified wood from the nearby Petrified National Forest.
The next morning I packed up before 6 am and headed west toward Winslow, once again. I walked about 6 1/2 miles to another Indian Store, the Jack Rabbit Trading Post. As I approached the store I was hoping to find a picnic table at which to eat my breakfast and I also said a prayer that I could contribute something at this place, rather than just receive something. I went into the store and bought a pair of silver and turquoise earrings–small, simple curved half-round silver earrings adorned with turquoise. I thought it would be nice to have a souvenir from this Southwest Indian Country.
I don’t remember how it came out that I had a flat tire, but the owner of the store, Tony, ended up taking me and my lame bike into Winslow–a distance of 15 miles. He first took me to Walmart to see if they had a replacement tire (they did not) and then to the Homolovi State Park Campground that I mentioned earlier. Yet another angel sent from Heaven.
I spent that hot day in the shade of the campground bathroom building (what trees there were did not give sufficient shade) researching train rides and places to stay in Winslow and Chicago. I was shocked to learn that to get to Florida by train I have to go to Chicago! Train routes are quite limited in these United States. I also learned that I could not take my bike on the train at the Winslow stop because there is no checked baggage of any kind allowed at this station. I wrestled with this and possible solutions.
When it got cooler in the evening I walked to see the Homolovi I ruins
which didn’t appear to me be from the 14th century, as stated. But I do believe that that is the period during which the Anasazi Indians lived there, on the banks of the Little Colorado River.
That evening I met Paula, who, as I have said, took me into Winslow the next morning (which is proud of its mention in the Eagles’ song “Take it Easy”)
first to unload my bike, then to Safeway for groceries, and finally to a motel, where I am writing this post.
Winslow is a small town, with many Native Americans in residence. I have seen signs of distress among them
from poverty, to alcoholism and obesity, to insanity. I pray that their future will be brighter.
My Southwest Chief train leaves from the historic La Posada Hotel at 5:30 a.m. tomorrow morning.
Let’s see what angels present themselves on the Southwest Chief, and more importantly, let’s see how I can brighten someone else’s day.