I have been nervous about this trip since I booked it, especially the last two days. But I made the choice to take this journey alone to prove to myself that I could do it. I generally have a pretty confident view on life and I am not one to walk away from a challenge. However I think this long distance solo ride is about as challenging as when Barry bought me a drag bike and asked me to race it! I don’t openly talk about my fear too much, especially since I feel obligated to show a confident strong front as a leader of a company. But what the hell, I am a woman and I was nervous! I shared my feelings when people asked about my trip and I think that this openness helped me deal with it. Ok, enough with the thoughtful BS! Lets ride!
My flight left Anchorage at 7:00am this morning (May 28, 2014). I was happy to see our family friend Carol was my flight attendant and that helped soothe my nerves. She embodies kindness and was so sweet. That little comfort made my first flight a breeze. My second flight from Seattle to Tucson was also pleasant, as I was surprised to find I had a first class seat. Apparently I booked my ticket with miles that way, but I had forgotten so it was like a bonus! I was sitting next to a nice woman who had to take her cat to the pet ER that morning so her husband had to stay home and fly out later to make sure the cat was ok. Understanding her pain we bonded and chatted about our kids (aka pets). We chatted about my journey and her visit with her mom who lived in Tucson. When we landed the heat was like a furnace blasting as soon as they opened the door to the gate.
My bag was one of the first unloaded so I trudged with my two bags out to a cab. The driver was an older guy with long grey hair. I immediately pegged him for a transplant from CA and I was right. W chatted about my journey as we headed toward the Harley-Davidson of Tucson. He was a little bit of an odd character, sometimes interjecting comments that were inaudible and I was unsure if he was talking to me or the traffic. We made it to the shop in good time and I unloaded my stuff. I headed in and saw Romello, who was the service advisor who had assisted me when I dropped my bike off there. They were great to work with. They stored my bike and even washed it for me! I hung out and chatted with the staff for awhile hoping to come up with a plan and hoping the heat would subside. Eventually I decided I couldn’t just hang out in Tucson for the night (which was my original plan) so I loaded up my bike and started heading north.
I didn’t really know where I was going but I figured when I got closer to Phoenix I would find a place to stop for the night. I made it about 24 miles before I was literally melting! I was near Red Rock where I pulled off the freeway into a little Shell gas station with a store. I figured I would hang out here for a bit and get a cold drink. When I came in I was greeted by the manager with a big smile and as I told him I was a suffering biker from AK he told me to hang out in the AC as long as I needed. I bought a Gatorade and walked over to the large counter area that was a square of large glass cases with all sorts of jewelry, knives and other cool stuff. While I was perusing we chatted about my journey and a local trucker jumped in on the conversation. They pulled out a big map to show me the best routes to take for the rest of my night and tomorrow. I checked out some knives, but decided I didn’t see one I could see myself carrying with a straight face (Can you imagine me with a big knife in a sheath hanging from my non-existent belt?! Yeah, me neither) So, I opted for some jewelry and out of the 50 rings I tried on there was only one that fit me. So I bought it. I was entertained listening the the manager tell me about all the tribes and different artists that made all the different pieces. He knew where the stones were from and who made them. It was pretty impressive, although the pessimist in me still think it all might have been made in China 🙂
I put ona white long sleeve while I was there since the sun was still high enough to burn me. I headed north, still on the freeway toward Casa Grande. It was still pretty hot and I was considering stopping for the day. I saw a couple bikes parked at the Holiday Inn, so I stopped to chat with the guy still unloading his bike while I looked up the distance to another town. He was riding from California to Texas and seemed to be pretty interested in the amount of bikers from the north that keep bikes in the south….clearly it is because of our winters, but I guess in CA it is always so nice they just don’t understand. It was nice talking to him, he thought I was pretty “ballsy” for taking this trip alone. I agreed 🙂
From there I decided I would keep riding to Avondale where I had googled at least had a Best Western. The town of Avondale is mostly a giant distribution center. There were all sorts of big buildings with trucks coming and going as well as some type of stinky industry that was not pleasant to ride through. I took a back road off the freeway to get to Avondale and although it was nice to get off of the freeway, there wasn’t much scenery difference. It was great to get to watch a beautiful sunset as I was getting closer to my destination. The sky had some clouds and as the sun set they turned all sorts of pink and purple. I settled on a Holiday Inn Express and was greeted by a super nice receptionist. At this point I was starving and so hot. I got checked in, she even gave me a discount and got me a room really close to the lobby so I didn’t have to lug my bags really far. Without much thought I went next door to eat at the Mexican restaurant, it was alright and I got a discount for being a hotel guest. All in all my first day was great. I am excited for tomorrow, I am riding through Prescott and Flagstaff on my way to the Grand Canyon!