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"Did I really sleep there?"

I looked back upon my hiding hole kind of amazed that I was able to completely disappear on a flat plane with no vegetation. Imagine driving along in your car down a long straight road with absolutely nothing but desert ahead of you. Maybe you blink once or glance at the radio and when you look back up, there's this kid on a bike that has emerged from thin air. "What? Where in the...?" I love the look on their faces when I come marching out of the blue in the morning with a loaded bicycle.

Life in the mountains is chilly and it doesn't help that I'm simultaneously fighting a cold. Thankfully, I'm not dumb and came prepared, but it's the extreme downhills early in the morning that bite hardest. The voice recorder has a new jingle for descents: "♫ La la la! I can't feel my legs! La la la! HOOHOO! ♫" which is followed by some whistling. If it ever becomes a real problem though, I know to stop and setup camp. Once I'm in the tent, warmth isn't hard to come by. Just put on all the clothing, shove some hand-warmers in the socks and tie plastic bags around the feet. Sweaty feet are better than frozen toes. If it gets real bad, there's always the poncho which will undoubtedly leave me soaked when I wake up. Before I left Kingston, I ordered a 0-degree sleeping bag to meet me in Tempe just for a little more assurance.

Life outside the mobile home.

This guard rail doubled as a wall of signatures and I made sure to add my name to it before leaving the mountain top.

Girl: "Hey man, you riding without glasses?"
[I point to the glasses hiding under my neck gaiter]
Girl: "Want some bananas?"
Me: "You don't want 'em?"
Girl: "I read the back of your shirt and I think what you're doing is fucking awesome. Here have a Crunch bar, too!"
Me: "Thanks but you can hold onto the candy."
Girl: "Nah, just take it. Give it to the next person you meet. I like your eyebrow ring."
[She points to her own eyebrow piercing]
Girl: "I like your legs, too."

I looked down at my legs kind of surprised that someone would say that to me. I look like hell and the hair on my legs is matted together by the chain grease that Shadowfax slimes me with periodically... not to mention the hundred scrapes from the thorn bushes I disregard while hunting for stealth spots. "Uh, thanks", I said, and she drove off. Of course I ate the candy bar almost immediately.

Personally I'm kind of tired of these photos though I'll be glad I took them long after the tour's conclusion. Keeping the journal up to date becomes tiresome and somewhat of a hassle... but I keep reminding myself of how important it'll be to future-chuck in the years to come.

Hill o'cacti

The days are beginning to blur. I couldn't recall events in chronological order if my life depended on it. I've been intentionally running over rumble strips because I heard that someone once placed them in such a way that they'll sing you songs... I'd just get the slow version. I've passed a bunch of inmates in orange jumpsuits who are working on the side of the road and they always stop to holler or give the "strong fist" sign of strength to me. One guy started singing "♫ Keep on rockin' in the free world! ♫" as I rode by... which I found horribly applicable to the situation.

I've seen landscapes that I once thought were only possible with a paintbrush and canvas. We've had many dialogs with the wildlife. Oftentimes I'll get off the bike to snap a photo and then be upset that I have to get back on and keep moving. It's not fair, I shouldn't have to leave. I had a long conversation with a cow where I expressed my envy. She's living the dream. All you got to do is wander around aimlessly across this picturesque world and chow on an infinite supply of grass with your friends. I'd love to watch the sunset every single night out here. Nobody is asking you to do anything. As long as you don't mind the sudden death one fateful day, you've got it made. Hell, I'd be happy to know that my nutrients support the lives of others. Just bring me back as a cow again and I'm not going to complain.

Camp. I'm not nearly as close to the rock as it looks... somewhat of a visual illusion due to the relative size of my tent.

No, I don't know how fast the wind was blowing, but I can tell you that Mary Poppins couldn't have stuck a landing for her life. Uphill and against the wind... with a cold. Awesome. I hit the apex of yet another mountain only to see that there was a much larger one on the road ahead. Let me guess, I have to ascend that one too, and the wind is going to be against me... again, right? Bring it.

These are the first cyclists I've seen that are moving westbound. I caught up to them on an ascent but only biked with them for a couple of hours. They're on a 2-week vacation and chose to bike from Phoenix to Silver City and then back.

Here's the part where I have to wrap up this mess of an entry. Is there a theme? Is there a message? A direction? Nope. Ciao! :-)


Ta da! I made it to Dave and Jen's house with the perfectly timed arrival of my new sleeping bag :-)

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