March 12 - 18: Arizona

3/14 - Phoenix (66 miles 422 total)
66 miles from the americinn in wickenburg to best western bell in phoenix, both in AZ
michelle told us last night that we'd have breakfast in the motel lobby at 6:15 this morning, so when we went out at the appointed hour to eat, we found very small containers of orange juice, coffee, & individually packaged danish rolls. that would be a fine continental breakfast for someone traveling in a more conventional mode, but for us bikers, it wouldn't get us to the outskirts of town.
so michelle quickly set out breakfast cereals & all the other breakfast stuff at the van, along with the makings for pnut butter sandwiches & snacks. it was dark as many of us gathered there to eat breakfast & prepare our snacks for the road. we really appreciated michelle going to the extra trouble to provide our breakfast, even tho' that wasn't in the original plan for this morning. besides....most of us are already spoiled by the wonderful meals michelle puts together. we know she needs a break from preparing our breakfasts & suppers, so we realize there are days when we'll have to rely on motels & restaurants....but all that objectivity won't make us LIKE eating anywhere other than michelle's galley diner.
gloria, roma, & i took off around 6:45. roma was anxious to get her bike to the bike store in phoenix, because she thot she needed new shifters. we met up with frances at the 1st sagstop of the day about 15 mi out, but then gloria & roma rode on ahead. i lagged behind; i have photos to take, after all.
today's landscape was again dominated by scrub brush & cactus. here's a photo of a large cactus i came across. this is a suguaro cactus, very common in arizona. a day or 2 ago we saw a similar cactus with a sign nearby, pointing out that the cactus had 47 arms. this one has far fewer arms, but it's still interesting. we've seen hundreds....maybe thousands....of these in all sizes the last couple of days.
our weather today & all other conditions were great for cycling. it was somewhat cloudy, & the temps stayed down in the 70's, i think.
here's another photo of (what else?) cacti, along with a peak at some of the bright yellow flowers that are usually greeting us along the road as we ride. you can also see the beautiful hills in the background. we came thru those hills early this morning as we left wickenburg. today's ride had more hills than yesterday's, tho' none of them difficult.
since i was much further front in the pack today, i saw riders i don't usually see, like these 3: from left, marilyn de haan (we have 2 marilyns from michigan on the trip...this one & marilyn boger, whom you've seen in other photos), carolyn, & gay. i met marilyn dehaan on a 3-week ride i did in august '99 from minneapolis to new orleans. many women on this x-country ride have met marilyn on one ride or another. she's a very experienced bike tourist, & has seen much of the USA on her bike, including alaska.
yesterday, michelle had scouted out a different route into phoenix than the one adventure cycling recommends. & it turned out very well. we started noticing the endless tracts of houses at about 42 mi out, then traffic & congestion got heavier & heavier as we rode east. the route sheet gave very good tips on which turns to take, & i had no trouble getting to our motel without getting lost. a couple of the roads we traveled on had no bike lane, so jostling with the traffic was trickier there, but the large majority of our route had broad shoulders &/or bike lanes that provided us a buffer from the cars & trucks zooming past.
quite a few riders ended up at the bike shop not far from our motel. i walked there with roma late afternoon to pick up her bike (which wasn't yet ready) & found 2-3 frustrated & weary riders there waiting for their vehicles. i was going to take a photo of them there, so you'd have a full picture of today's highlights, but thot better of it when i saw the looks on the riders' faces as i hauled out my camera.
here we have the cheery face of a staff member who joins us today....lennis. she takes over sue's position as the 2nd sag driver, trading off with frances. lennis has sagged for other womantours rides, but only some shorter ones, not a x-country trip. she's standing at the doorway to the luggage trailer. on the open door are important pieces of info: one is a list of our names, where we're supposed to mark a check when we arrive each day; the other is a small dry-erase board where the staff writes notes for us, like the day's suppertime.
tonight's dinner, fixed by michelle, was a scrumptious, veggie-filled marinara sauce over spaghetti, a big green salad with a greek flair (tomatoes, feta, onions, peppers), & bread, then a plate of cookies, leftover birthday cake, & fresh strawberries for dessert. several of the riders are visiting friends & relatives in phoenix this evening, so the supper crowd was smaller than usual.
at the map meeting, michelle pointed out that we spend most all of tomorrow's 48 miles making our way across phoenix. we'll overnight at apache eastern suburb of phoenix. tomorrow could be a little nerve-wracking.
If you would like copies of the original, full-size photos, feel free to e-mail me with your request. Stay tuned....

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