Day 76 –Yuma, AZ to El Centro, CA – 60 miles

November 13, 2009

I thought I had woken up relatively early, as the sun was just beginning to rise, but by the time I packed up and got to the grocery store to stock up on some items, it was already after eight. The grocery store was a real find. It was a whole store that had expired items from other grocery stores, it seemed, and so everything was super discounted. The best thing about this was that almost everything I purchased was organic. I was in heaven! Also, I love that I can purchase avocados and pomegranates on the cheap. Back east, these items are a fortune.

I got going and jumped back on the interstate. Yuma is the very last town in Arizona, so I was almost in California before I even left. I felt like I had been in Arizona for a very long time, so when I saw the sign welcoming me to Cali, I was relieved. Not that Arizona was a terrible place at all, I don’t want to give that impression. I was ready to move on.
I took an exit about six miles from Yuma, as a sign informed me bicycles were now prohibited. I checked at the gas station to see about an alternate route, but the clerks looked confused. They did, however, point me to the highway patrol office. I made my way over there and an officer there told me which way to go. I informed him that on my gps, it looked like the road he was telling me about ended. He assured me it did not, it would take me straight to where I was headed, Holtville. I would have to jump on the interstate as well, and he let me know where that was acceptable.

I followed his advice, and the road he told me about was on the other side of the highway, even though he let me know it would be on my side. I took it, as there was no other road. I took it until it ended. Yes, my gps was correct. That road stopped and became a sand pit. That whole area was designated for OHV’s, which stands for Off-road Highway Vehicles, or sand dune buggies. The road was not rideable anymore. Thanks, highway patrol! There was a Border Patrol jeep coming towards me, so I flagged him down. He told me that there was also another road I could get onto on the other side of the highway, but I would have to walk about two miles ahead through the sand and climb some sand dunes up to the overpass. I should have taken my chances on the interstate!

As I pushed my bike, and made up a delightful song about how much fun it is to push one hundred pounds of bike through the sand. It had a catchy refrain.  In my head, there were OHV’s riding around me in synchronized circles to the song, so it was like I had my own nice little musical number going. Then, I saw a break. I had walked about a mile and was nearer to the interstate, and I could see a sign from where I was that said “No Median Crossing.” That sign told me that is was possible to cross the median, it was just not allowed. So I climbed up and sure enough, there was an open spot. I ran across, hoping I did not appear like an illegal immigrant to the many border patrol vehicles that I saw pass.

Whew. I took the first exit I saw, and saw another Frontage-type road. It said it was “closed,” but I could see nothing up ahead that would make me understand why. It was in terrible condition, so I figured that is why it was closed.  So, should I try to go back on the interstate, where I know I am not allowed, or take my chances with a potential closed road? Potential closed road seemed like a better bet. I could always get back on the interstate, I reasoned.

About eight miles down this very bumpy road, I could see the construction that was happening. There was no longer a road. Twice today, my road ended. There was no other way for me to go except back, and I didn’t feel like it. The headwind was pretty bad today, and I’d already battled to get this far. So, I leaned my bike against a big piece of machinery and stood out so I would be visible to the workers.

A few trucks went by without paying me any mind, but then a woman stopped. I told her my story, and she said she would ride beside me through the construction, about two miles. I thanked her and went to get my bike, but was pretty certain I would have to walk much of it, from the looks of the terrain. Then, another vehicle stopped and I heard her tell him what was up, and he said he would drive me through instead. That was certainly preferable.

This man, Scott, hauled my bike in the back of his truck and took me first to get some fresh water, and then through the construction zone. It turned out Scott had also escorted Marvin, the other cycle tourist I had met a few days ago. That made me feel better, knowing I was not the only one. Scott had lived in Alaska prior to moving to Yuma. He was going to take his wife on a really long vacation to Alaska once this construction project was over to make up for all the time he spent away from her. Swell guy!

I was back on the bumpy path in the right direction, and not far now from my meeting spot with my traveling companion. I rode for about an hour and thought I saw another cyclist up ahead. Nah, I thought. Maybe it is a mirage. But as I got closer, I could see that it was, indeed, a cyclist. Could it be? Yes, it was – Sam! Samantha, my travel companion to San Diego from here on out. Hurray! She had figured I would be on this road, and had pedaled out to meet me. We had the road to ourselves, so we chatted and got caught up. She said she thought I was a mirage as well. “How was the ride from San Diego?” I asked. “Completely uneventful,” she responded. But not so. She had climbed up the mountain, and now she was going to climb up the other way with me. Sounds pretty eventful to me!

Sam and I decided to keep going and see how far we could get. With the headwind, that meant that we got to El Centro, which is where she had stayed the previous evening. We stayed in a cheap motel room in town, and ate really boring Chinese food for dinner. I felt like a real tourist.

As we were falling to sleep, there was a knock on our door. I stupidly went to see who it was. Curiosity killed the cat. I opened the door, and a very drunk man was sitting in a chair in front of our room. Okay, I said, and closed the door. He commenced knocking, and even kicked in the door a little (which I noticed the next morning). Sam called the office, and they sent a security guard around. No one bothered us again.

I’m so glad Sam decided to meet me.



One Response to “Day 76 –Yuma, AZ to El Centro, CA – 60 miles”

  1. Kelly Williams Says:

    Wow! You have made it! Good going! What an adventure! I have been following you with interest – and,also, once in a while with a bit of concern – but now Congrats on your achievement!

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