March 12 - 18: Arizona

3/15 - Apache Junction (51 miles 473 total)
51 miles from best western bell in phoenix to the express inn in apache junction, AZ
it was the usual snack/sandwich-fixing routine at the van, then we went into the motel for our complimentary breakfast. they had the basics, including those individually-packaged one-serving "bowls" of cereal. one serving for whom? they always seem so small; i had two.
we had very comfortable weather all day, overcast & never out of the 70's. the route thru phoenix was quite painless. we had been encouraged to travel in slightly larger groups so that everyone would have help keeping on the route. it took lots of attention to the map & route sheet to negotiate all the turns correctly.
early in the day we rode along the arizona canal bike path for 6 miles; it was beautiful, as you can see. here are, from left, roma, elaine, rita, marilyn boger, & frances. we came upon a few other bikers plus some joggers & dog-walkers.
for several stretches along today's route we rode through nice residential areas. some homeowners actually irrigate their lawns so they can have (& mow!) grass. the majority, however, choose what seems like a more environmentally sound practice & utilize landscaping methods that don't require water. we saw some beautiful cacti & palm trees in various lawns, often surrounded by a "yard" of colored rock that matched the color of the stucco on the house.
roma & i had set out this morning with the goal of finding a good place to have a muffin along our way today; we figured if we were going to be riding thru the city, we'd surely come across a muffin spot. but not in our wildest dreams did we realize we'd come upon THE muffin spot to end all muffin spots....the java garden at the corner of 40th & campbell. they had all sorts of fantastic baked goods & lots of other stuff.
here's a lineup of bikers along the ledge in the outdoor patio: caroline, becky, loralee, sandy, & karen...with patty way down to the right on her cell phone. i had a sticky blackberry bran muffin.....a real cadillac (or should i say litespeed) in the muffin world.
lo & behold, a few doors down from the java garden, was another treat for us bikers---a tanning salon. what would we sunburned souls want with a tanning salon, you ask? it turns out that the very kind woman who operates the salon (in this photo with roma) was very generous about allowing us to use her bathroom facilities, & she did the same for the womantourists on last year's ride. we're grateful to her for providing us a clean, indoor restroom. needless to say, utilizing the roadside for potty stops didn't work in the city....except for the porta-potty that roma used at a construction site.
besides sandra day o'connor elementary school, another notable place we passed today was fitch park, winter home of the chicago cubs. i don't know if those were actually cubs practicing inside the fence or not. there were 2-3 young fellows standing alongside the fence with catcher's gloves on so they could snag any balls that flew over the wall.
the smells along our route today were magnificent. we think it must be all the orange trees in bloom. some of the riders found a wall with heavily-laden orange trees hanging over it onto the parking, so tried some. here are marilyn boger, frances with her head down, elaine, & rita.
supper tonight was scrumptious. here are michelle & catherine opening the foil packages of salmon they had just grilled. with that we had rice steamed with sun-dried tomatoes, steamed fresh broccoli, green salad with all the trimmings, delicious fresh cantaloupe & watermelon, & bread...with cookies for dessert. you can see the riders hovering near the tables there in the motel parking lot anxious for the dinner bell to ring.
at the map meeting, michelle described the route we'll face tomorrow...about 60 mi to globe, almost all on US60. we'll be doing some steep climbs, riding on roads that michelle calls "canyon roads" (which evidently means no shoulders & immediate steep dropoffs at the pavement's edge), & will also go thru a tunnel. she says this whole tour was arranged timewise so that we would traverse tomorrow's route on a sunday in order to minimize the amount of traffic we'll encounter. some have heard that we'll get rain tomorrow, which will definitely be a complicating factor on steep climbs, & even moreso on steep downhills. i guess we've had it too easy for the last couple of days.
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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