Excerpts of the journal from the handwritten section in Arizona as I get try to get nearer to California:
Had breakfast yesterday in the Free Lunch Restaurant. If it had been my birthday they’d've given me one (with proper ID). I’d woken up feeling nauseous. I still wanted to throw up. I certainly didn’t want to eat so I just ordered some French toast and a muffin. The French toast was a struggle, the tea was warm, and I didn’t attempt the muffin.
Harcuvar is Mojave for “sweet water” not that I could see any. It used to be a station on the Parker branch of the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe railroad. It’s also known as “Mountain Pass” after the mountain pass truck stop, which used to be very busy when Highway 60 was the main route between Phoenix and L.A. (before I-10).
I couldn’t see anything that might lead to the Indian petroglyphs so I just cycled on through the pass. It was downhill and through a heap of gravely hills with Saguaros all around. This is Granite Wash Pass. When you come through you drop into the town of Hope. I say town but like all the others it’s just a couple of buildings and an RV park which makes it look much bigger. I stopped and loaded up with water and some chocolate.
[The rest of this post, is continued below the fold]
Leaving the town on State Highway 72 a large sign said “Your Now Beyond Hope” - funny but why do they write “your” when they mean “you’re”? They do that a lot - I haven’t worked out if it’s a genuine Americanism or just bad spelling.
Pure desert. And it got purer. 3 miles up the road was Vicksburg. Named after Victor Satterdahl as Satterdahlsburg in the 1890’s. It was simplified in 1906. It had many active gold mines and at it’s peak had a population of 108. Then I crossed a canal.
Water. It was completely fenced off to prevent anybody getting near the water which must be so enticing on hotter days. Yesterday was in the mid-80s again. The wind was supposed to be from the south-west but instead I had a big wind on my back from the south-east. I flew.
With no shoulder it was dangerous and I found myself turning off the road for protection a bit too often. Getting back out of the sand was a nuisance. Only two vehicles waited behind me rather than blow me off the road and one of them was a truck.
Again there were mountains not too far away. The Harcuvar mountains were still in sight as were the Bouse hills. To the south was the Plomosa. I spoke to a large crow (in crow of course) and got a response.
“Welcome to Bouse, home of at least 874 friendly people and 4 (3 crossed out) grouches”. So said the sign. Still feeling sick I went into a bar called “Somewhere, Arizona” and had a coke. Mel’s Diner was up the road and that’s where I had lunch. On the basis that the previous day I’d seen a nice looking BLT I ordered one here. It contained the 6 slimiest greasiest rashers I’d ever eaten. The coke was a struggle. I didn’t finish my lunch. Back to the wind.
It was actually turning a bit so I didn’t keep up the 17mph and when the road turned due west I had a bit of a struggle. I had gone past the area where General Patton did his tank training for World War Two. Now to my north was Cactus Plain. This was the only place in all the desert I’d been in that there wasn’t a single cactus! Dunes with very little grass and only the odd Paloverde.
The road was joined by Highway 95 from Quartzite to the south. I could see bits of it for miles as traffic made its way through La Pasa Plain peeping through the dunes. A foot of broken shoulder I made my way carefully as the road dropped down to Parker.
It was a pity it was so cloudy and grey. With all the surrounding mountains I could tell this was a beautiful spot. I could see a large chunk of the Colorado River Indian Reservation and all its fertile flat lands on both sides of the river.
The reservation was established in 1865. The tribes represented there are the Mojave, Chemehuevi’s, Navajo, and Hopi. Parker is the biggest town on the reservation which is approximately 264′000 acres. It’s now 9 in the morning and their tribes museum opened an hour ago. I want to go there and onto the Poston Memorial monument (for the relocation of Japanese Americans in W.W.II) and still get into Blythe early enough to pay for the Amtrak ticket and check out the tourist info for lodging in California.
Looking at the 5-day forecast (could it really be my last?) I’m in the 70s ’til the coast and might actually have rain if I make it to the coast as scheduled on Tuesday.
Spoke with friends on the phone. Feeling as sick as I did (not hungry and unable to finish a single Whopper!) it was good to hear friendly and encouraging voices. Perhaps I’m getting too dependant on the phone. Time to pack up and eat breakfast even if I’m not hungry.
It was between Bouse and Parker with no traffic around as I sang about Potato Cakes (The Black Family) that my odometer clocked five thousand miles. I raised both arms, cheered and then whistled the Marino Waltz as I made the bike do a slalom to the music.
California is only a couple of miles away so please God I should make it to that 24th state no matter what my legs do. The left one is still very sore as if I wrenched something but I can pedal so I’m happy.
Every morning for the first 10 miles or so I still get that pulling pain in my left buttock into the thigh - resultant from the crash. In all the pain of the last couple of days I could feel a twinge in my left shin. That’s the old injury from England that had me limping for 6 months 5 years ago, so I was a touch concerned there but with only 5 days to go I’m not in the mood for quitting.
In the Chamber of Commerce an enthusiast of cycling spoke with me and took a photo of me with Long Grass as he said he wants to document cyclists coming through. He offered any help I might want and asked if I could write to him at the end telling him of my success (or not?). I think I can do that. Time to meet some more Indians.
Read more from my Cycle Across America
The excerpts forming Part 77 were written in Parker, Arizona on the morning of November 15, 1996.