Monthly Archives: June 2018

Calling it Quits

After stepping off the train in La Junta I found a place to sleep for the night. The next morning I took off East on Highway 50. I was making good time, stopping every 15-20 miles to get a cold drink and made it to Lamar, CO around 5:00 that afternoon. I had an early dinner at a park along the Arkansas River. I sat down in the ankle high water to cool off and couldn’t help but think about my plans to float the Arkansas from Colorado to Arkansas, uncertain what kind of boat I could get in this shallow water.

From being in the sun all day I could feel my stomach churning the way it does from heat stress. I had already picked out a place along the river to set up camp, but opted for a motel instead. I chose the nicest cheap motel in town. The owners were very friendly. They greeted me with cold water and fruit and when booking my room gave me $10 off the already low price, because of my handsome looks and blue eyes.

The next morning I got a late start and only made it 20 miles down the road before filling up again on water. I went to a local park to hide from the already 97 degree heat. In the back of my mind I have debated going home for a few days. The desert really did a number on me. It sucked the water and will from my body. This morning I had already decided to scratch going North and head straight back to Arkansas. It is only 700 miles away, so about 2 weeks ride. After sitting in the park for an hour, I decided I was finished.

I started looking for ways to get back home. First, the river! Could I find a canoe or kayak that would hold me and my bike? I had been searching for one on different online markets ever since boarding the train. The best I could do is an inflatable raft from Walmart. Next, jump back on Amtrak. Unfortunately I would have to wait nearly two weeks to be able to get the bike on the train. Something about all of the cargo space being taken. Next option is to ship the bike and hop the train. Closest shipping center is 100 miles away. Not too bad. Another option would be renting a car. Nearest rental service is 100 miles away and would cost about $400. Last option is buying a van.

I have been wanting a van for some time. When I first moved aboard the boat I was considering buying a van instead. When I bought my new car, I was considering buying a van instead. I could buy a van here and simply drive back. It would save me at the minimum $200.

On the train ride I finished listening to “Into the Wild”, by Jon Krakauer. Anybody who has ever gone off on their own has probably been compared to Chris Mccandless. The book, unlike the movie, is the author’s investigation into Mccandless’ life. The author compares Mccandless to himself and other adventurer types. Mccandless spent a lot of time in southern California and in the same territory that I crossed. Reading (listening) to the book as I traversed it made me feel more connected to his story. There are many paralells between Mccandless and myself. If you are familiar with the book, I will let you draw your own conclusions. However, the most important difference is our relationships with our families. It is that relationship that I think sent him over the edge. When my dad offered to come get me, a 21 hour trip, I accepted.

It is over for now. My body and mind need rest and A/C before I take off again.

Out of the Desert

I was urged to write, but everytime I sit down to do so I am unsatisfied by what comes out. I prefer to reflect on the events before putting them out there for the my tiny world of facebook friends and family to read. It could be that I felt defeated and wasn’t ready to admit it openly. Here is an abbreviated version of the last few days.

After getting dropped off in Fenner, I spent the night behind the gas station. I was camped along side three other cyclists, possibly the same ones from the earlier that day. They were already in their tents when I set up and long gone when I woke up the next morning. I packed up, refilled all of my water bottles, then set off. I was a long days ride from Laughlin, AZ, where I would take my first day off. I didn’t get far due to the strong headwind, and possibly my dehydration the day before. I was carried back to the gas station where I elected to take my day off. When the temperature got above 100 degrees I had had enough and started looking for ways out. With the help of my justifiably worried parents, I caught a cab to a hotel casino in Laughlin.

I spent two days at the hotel. I was there to escape the heat , so I couldn’t understand why so many people were out on the beach or near the pool. As most people question my sanity, I was questioning theirs. I spent most of my time in the room, only coming out for food. Getting food meant walking through the tar dripping casino, which made me feel nauseous.

Feeling less rested and more anxious, I left on the third day. I rode West for one mile until I could cross the small, dry creek bed that separated California to Nevada. I then rode the three miles to cross the Colorado River, separating Nevada from Arizona. Bullhead City was 15 miles up the Colorado River. I played it safe and stopped at a McDonald’s just before leaving town. After a bagel and a large tea I rode to the next stop, just 5 more miles up the road. It was a gas station with palm frond canopies in the back. I worked on my last blog post there before working up my nerve to start the 10 mile, 3000 ft climb to the top of Union Pass. Not to be confused with the much higher Union Pass I climbed last year.

I remained in my 1st gear for then entire climb. The highway was littered with empty and full water jugs of all kinds. I later learned that a local man collected, filled, and deposited these bottles along the highway for overheated vehicles. I thought they were for me! At one point I even thought my Dad somehow convinced someone to leave the bottles so that I wouldn’t get dehydrated again. I put this out of my mind after seeing 100s of the bottles. They were not just water jugs, but old oil, laundry detergent, anti-freeze, and even mayonaise jars. I chose the actual water jugs to drink from and was happy to have them.

After over 2 hours of climbing I finally made it to the top, but at a cost. I was feeling sick. I drenched myself using one of the gallon jugs. This plus the wind did the job and actually chilled me. After coasting the 7 miles down to the closest gas station my clothes were dried. I enjoyed a few beverages and the A/C while plotting the next stage. I was not yet in Kingman proper, but the residential overflow. Kingman was still about 15 miles away and over Coyote Pass. I coasted through the scattered trailer houses and RV parks to the base of Coyote Pass and then crept up the 1000 ft climb.

Still feeling sick I booked a room at a hotel and went straight there. Later that night I decided to take another day. Apparently, I wasn’t over the heat. Looking at the map and trying to decide what to do, I decided to escape. I was over the heat, the sand, and the lack of water. The morning after my rest day I booked a rental car and then a train to Colorado. Using Google Maps I looked for yellow. Light green on the map is usually a city park or cemetary. Dark green is a national forest or other public lands. Yellow is desert. I went just far enough West to get out of the desert. That put me in La Junta, CO.

I took the rental truck to Flagstaff, AZ and waited there for my 4:37 AM train departure. They just happened to be having a music festival called Hullabaloo. Flagstaff was full of bicycles, vegetarian restaurants, and long haired hippie looking people. Seemed like a good place. I sat outside the fence of the festival for a long while before deciding to go in to check it out. I was hesitant to leave my bike locked up out of sight, but I did. There were micro breweries, food trucks, vendors, live music, dance floors, and bump’n jumps for kids. I lasted about 20 minutes before returning to my bike on the outside. The music was good, but better from my solitary perch.

The music stopped at 9:00 and that’s when I went to the station. I rolled the bike inside and was immediately told to leave it outside. So, I set up camp outside. I stayed there for a few hours, but the frequent freight trains drove me off. At midnight I stripped the bike and dragged my sleeping pad into the station to spend the rest of the time. I was immediately told I could not lay down or sleep inside the station. Where else was I supposed to go? I walked the perimeter of the station and found a little cubby and layed down there. And then, at 2:00 AM the station attendant woke me up and said I couldn’t sleep out there either. I reluctantly went back inside, sat on a bench, and forced myself to stay awake. Besides, I could sleep on the train when it got there. But, the train was two hours late.