Barstow/ Calico ghost town

I wish I had better words to describe just how amaizing tonight turned out to be.
Today we had another long hot ride through the desert. The ride was particularly long and hot for me because I was stuck riding sweep for the fourth time this trip. Riding sweep meant that I had to ride behind everyone to make sure they all got in alright. This means that we end up having to stop anytime someone gets a flat towards the end of the pack. This isn’t useally a problem, but today one of our riders had a problem getting alot of flats. I think Chris had three flats before we even left the host site in the morning. We didn’t actually end up leaving until well after a half an hour after everyone else had left. This really set the stage for the day, because with that big a gap between us and the rest of the riders, we didn’t actually see any of the other riders on the road at all today.
The other problem we had with the ride was that it ended up being almost entirely on the interstate. We had a rather short day only having to go 57 miles, however we were only expecting the first 7 miles to be on the interstate. When we got to our exit though we found out that the road we were supposed to be taking that would parrallel the interstate really didn’t exist. So our only real option was to get back on the interstate.
So you can probably guess just excited I was to get into out campsite just to discover that it had no shade, we couldn’t set up the tents yet because of the relentless wind, and everyone had already left our barren campsite to explore the ghost town. After a few minutes of cursing clafornia, and it’s desert heat, I finally decided to walk to the ghost town. I decided I didn’t want to spend a half an hour walking there on the roads so I took a shorcut strait over the nearest hill to our campsite and headed I the direction of the ghost town. This was a bad idea, because I was just wearing my flipflops but I glad I did it, because I ended up arriving in the ghost town just as a group of our riders was finishing a three gallon tub of mint chocloate chip icecream they had purchased. At this point my day really began to change for the better.
After I finished the tub of icecream I learned from the other riders that they had talked to one of the ladies who worked in the ghost town, told her what we were doing, and she invited all of us back to her house in an adjoining town to go swimming in her lake. She didn’t get off of work until 5:00pm so we went back to the campsite to wait and bake in the sun. However while we were waiting, the park ranger drove up and tales to one of the girls, and when she told him about uor group and what they were doing, he ended up offering us the campsite’s bunkhouse for the evening. It turns out
At five we met Janet Jones back at her pottery shop up in the ghost town, and she drove a small group of us back to her house. It was an amaizing change in the day. We had ridden our bikes all day through the heat of the desert, seing few signs of life and even less of water. So it was quite a shock to us to arrive to Janet’s house and see a fairly large lake through her living room windows. Janet gave us a brief tour of her house showing us her garden and her tortise pen, and after that we headed out to the lake. It was really bizarre to be sitting in a lake in the midle of the desert, but at the same time felt really familiar for me, like I could have just been at any of my friends’ lake houses back in Missouri. We stayed and played in the lake for a few hours, before we headed back to the bunkhouse we were staying in. As excited as I was to have a bed for the evening, I ended up sleeping on the front porch of the bunkhouse with a few others once the temperature outside fell below the temperature inside. In all it turned out to be a great day. I never expected it to end nearly as well as it did, but things like this seem to happen on this trip so I guess by now I shouldn’t really be suprized by anything anymore.

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Baker, Ca

We make it to california today. Which means we are now
In our final state.
Baker is a tittle name for this place, because baking is exactly what we did today. We spent the day riding through the Mojave nature preserve to get to Baker, which proudly calls itself the gateway to death valley. Today’s high acording to one local we talked to was 118. Which was much better than yesterday’s high of 126.
After getting to bed around 1am this morning we got up at the lovely hour of 4:30am to try and beat some of the day’s heat. We has two options for the ride today. The leaders were either going to have us go 102 miles on back roads, or 72 miles half of which were on the interstate. Luckually they decided to go for the 72 mile option. So we spent the first 32 miles this morning warming up, and then just before lunch we started climbing the mountains again. We continued climbing and decensing through the mountains until 17 miles outside of baker when everything began to go downhill. We literally had a 17 mile straight uninterupted mile decent into town today. I literally didn’t pedal for the last 45 minutes of my ride today, which was fantastic, because by the point of the day the sun was melting me straight to my bike and I don’t know if my legs would have worked anyway.
As soon as we got in today most of us, espically those who went to Vegas last night, fell directly asleep. We were laying on the un airconditioned floor of the baker community center, but we didn’t care at all. Iwas slept more sountly during that nap then I may have during any night during this trip. I only woke up to eat dinner and then go to the pool so I could shower. After dinner and the pool, on the way back to the community center I stopped at the Mad Greek, which is a Greek truck stop I guess. It was the first time I had seen one of those, so I got myself a gyro for second dinner, and then I headed back to the community center so I could try and get a few hours of sleep before we wake up at 4:30am tomorrow to try and do this all over again.

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Searchlight (vegas)

We made it to Nevada today. We are staying in searchlight Nevada tonight. It is our one and only night in Nevada, and it is only 60ish miles away from Vegas, so we really had no choice but to stop in and say hi to Vegas while we were in the neighborhood.
In all actuallity it was fairly difficult to make our little side trip to Vegas. Searchlight, the town we were staying in was far enough away that we couldn’t change our route and just ride to Vegas instead of staying in searchlight. Also we had to ride 76 miles to get to searchlight, so it wasn’t like we could just ride to Vegas once we got in. The leaders tried to think of all different ways we could make this side trip happen. At one point they were considering flying in one of their parents to rent a van to shuttle us even. However what we ended up doing was a bit more simple. We caught a ride on a bus that normally runs between a casino in searchlight and the same one in Vegas, and then we rented a party bus to drive us back. Considering the large group interested in going it didn’t end up costing too much, however it did come with a fairly major time constraint. The bas was leaving from Searchlight at 1:30pm which meant we all had to be in, and showered by then if we wanted to go. Considering it was a 76 mile day it seemed like a tall order to fill, but we did what we needed to to make it happen including getting up at 4:00am for the first time on the trip so that we could leave with the morning’s first light.
I found the days ride to be very enjoyable, though also very challanging. The best part was the first six miles. We were on a back road that was just a little hilly with some good curves, and since it was 5:30am when we left there wasn’t much traffic to worry about. After that we had a short climb and then a long decent until mile 20 when the mountains started. We were trading off long climbs and decents as we crossed the Colorado river into Nevada, and continued with more of the same through lunch when the decents dropped off until we hit highway 95 where it was just straight as an arrow with a very slight incline and a great tailwind all the way into Searchlight.
I made it in sometime right around noon which isn’t bad for a 76 mile day. Showers were provided for us at a local motel, so once I got in I quickly showered and got myself to the casino where the bus was going to pick us up.
The bus ride in was nothing special and took a bit longer than I would have liked, we didn’t getting off until almost 4:00 pm. We got dropped off at Cesars palace and the first thing we had to do was get food. We decided just to walk around and find something so we went into the forum shops and ended up going to Max Brenner which is some kind of chocloate shop that also sells food. My dinner was good, but the desert was great. It was a little chocloate cake with rasberry filling with a side of vanilla icecreal and a shot of chocloate milk.
Once we finished dinner we headed off to treasure island casino for our show. Our large group or riders all split off once we got to Vegas, all wanting to do different things without time there. I want off the group who wanted to see a show. We saw mystere, which is one of the cirque du soleil shows showing. We all really wanted to see Love which is the beatles cirque show but it doesn’t show on Tuesdays si we went to mystere instead. None of us were disapointed at all in the show we got to see it was amaizing. The things the preformers were able to do was just stunning and beautiful, in ways I just can’t do justice to describe to you here.
After the show ended we still had some time left before the bus picked us up, so I went and saw the fountain show at the bellagio and then lost my 5 dollars to the slot machines there. Since I didn’t win a new car on the slot machines I then packed it up and made my way back to the bus. The bus picked us up at 11pm. We had to make one stop at a 7/11 because one of our riders enjoyed vegas a bit too much, but we all made it back to Searchlight by 12:30am, when we all proceded to pass out.
It was a late night, and a difficult journey to get there, but in all it was another fantastic day on bike and build and I wouldn’t have and it any other way.

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Kingsman, Az

I don’t have much time to write tonight, because we have a 4:00am wakeup tomorrow, so I’ll be breif.
Today was hard. We rode 86 miles into Kingsman Az, which was more than twice what we rode yesterday. Today’s high also happened to be 102 so it was hot, real hot. But that wasn’t even the worst of it the hardest part of today’s ride was the wind. I can’t tell you exactly how fast it was blowing but it was hard enough to seriously slow us down. Overall today we lost about 2000 feet of elevation. So even though there were a few good climbs we spent the majority if the day going every so slightly downhill. Normally this sounds like a fantastic prospect, but the addition of the heat and the wind managed to take any joy out of what could have been a rather nice descent. Instead I spent most of my day in gears normally reserved for climbing the largest of hills. I didn’t even look at what my average speed was for the day, because I know it would just make me sad, but I really don’t think I hit 20mph for more than a few seconds during the last 20 miles of our ride.
As if the weather conditions weren’t enough to make for a rough day, I also managed to get two flats today. That’s twice as many as I had gotten during the entire trip so far. So it was a bit of a rough day. Everyone made it in safe however so it could have been worse I guess.
I hoping for better conditions for tomorrow’s ride, because we are planning on going to Vegas tomorrow. That can only happen tomorrow if we make it into searchlight by 1:00pm, two and a half hours before I got in to the host site today.
That’s the reason for the 4:00am wakeup tomorrow, and that’s the reason I have to go to bed right now, so goodnight.

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Seligman Az

Today was a great ride day, because it involved a very minimal amount of actual riding. We were supposed to ride something like 60 miles today, however our leaders discovered that our origional route involved taking a dirt road for quite awhile, so they rerouted us. The problem was that there aren’t that many roads connecting things together out here in the southwest, so their only option for the reroute was to put us on the interstate. While this is quite a bit more dangerous than the roads we normally take they figured it was safer than the dirt road. The nice thing is that it managed to take some 20+ miles off of what would have already been a fairly light riding day. Our entire ride today was only 40 miles. Making it one of, if not the shortest ride we have done so far.
Since we had such a short ride it might have been a good opportunity to sleep in a bit, but our host was making breakfast for us to be ready at 6, so we still needed to get up at 5:30am. ( breakfast was delicious buly the way, they made us French toast with blueberries, and had sausage and melon on the side mmmmmmmm) sice we couldn’t sleep in, we decided to find other ways to fill our time, so that we didn’t get into the host site befor 11am. We started out by going to a coffee shop right after breakfast. I didn’t get anything to drink, but I did sit around and play apples to apples for nearly two and a half hours. At 10am we decided we should probably ride our bike for a bit, so we rode 20 or so miles and then stopped for lunch at 11am. We went to some local greasy spoon off Interstate 40. It was great. After lunch we decided we should probably get to our site, so we rode the next 20 or so miles to town we were staying in. However instead of going right to the campsite where we were staying we went into “town” and got icecream. I ate 2 strawberry shakes and then walked around town for
Awhile before heading to our campsite. It ended up being 3:30 before I actually made it in, which was fine because I still had pleanty of time for swimming and showering and setting all of my stuff up before dinner.
In all it was a fantastic day, it just happened to involve a lot of things other than biking.

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Williams, Az

Today we road 59 miles out of the Grand Canyon to Willima Az. The morning started out heat becuse it was a short day a large group of riders decided we wanted to get real food in the morning, so after we packed up our campsite and got on the road, we stopes at the first diner we could find outside ofthe park’s entrance. I split the lumberjack breakfast with one ot the other riders. It and three pancakes two eggs hash towns and a choice of meat. I really enjoy it. It provided a fantastic start to the day.
The ride itself was nothing special. We
Spentthe first 30 miles becktracking down the same road we took two days before to get into the park. The terrainwas mostly falt and the wind was fairly gusty but I still managed to make it into Williams but 1:30 or 2.
When we got here we discovered the twown was hosting an annual cat show this weekend which I guess is a fairly large deal around here. We meat the runner up miss willans route 66 girl, looked at some cars, and enjoed some icecream. All before making it to the host site.
The evening itself was fairly typical though busy with alot of buisness type stuff. We had showers, laundry, grant stuff, dinner, town hall, and Michael and I did a photo dump and worked on t shirts. So it was a very busy evening. Now I’m heading to bed so I can get a good start on wherever we are going tomorrow. Maybe if I am lucky some people will ant to go to a diner tomorrow morning as well.

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Grand Canyon part 2

The best part of my morning was that it did not begin at 4:30 am. Some of the other riders had made a plan to get up at 4:30 so that they could watch the sunrise when they started their 20 mile hike. This plan fell apart quickly however when people stayed up to watch the metior shower. So on my third and final day off on the trip I managed to get to sleep in until 7:30, which was great because it was a good two and a half hours after we had normally been getting up, but I still could have used a few extra hours. So when we did get up we went and and breakfast at one of the canyon shops. It wasn’t great, but I got eggs and bacon and a biscuit so i really enjoyed it as a break from cold cereal and a bagel.
After breakfast we got to hiking. Originally we were going to do the bright angel trail, but we were starting later than we had wanted to, and someone heard from someone that the Kaibab trail had even better views, and was a shorter hike so we decided to do that. We took the shuttle to the trailhead, and started down the path. And we really did start DOWN the path. You could just look down and see the path and all of it’s switchbacks. I don’t know how this trail compared to any of the others in terms of popularity but there certainly were a good number of hiker on the trail with us, though it wasn’t so many that I ever felt like it was too crowded.
Our first stop on he trail was ceder ridge. It was only about a mile and a half long but the elevation dropped well over a thousand feet so it was a fairly steep hike down. When we got to this point we met a park ranger who told us that it was her job to discourage people from trying to go any further down the trail. This kind of irked me, and made me more resolved to go on farther, however I guess she was good at her job because of the group of 9 that I went with only 5 of us kept going down past ceder ridge, and three turned back after about a half a mile leaving only two of us to go down to skeleton point. The hike down didn’t seem that bad to me. It’s true that it was getting hotter and their wasn’t much shade at all, but any other day of the week at that time I figured I be physically exerting myself out in the blaizing sun. So at least when I was hiking I didn’t have a miserable head wind. When Chris and I got to skeleton point we stopped for a second snack, and were suprized when two of our other riders actually showed up. Max and Emma joined us which was unexpected because they weren’t a part of the origional 9 riders we had started with. They had come completely independently with their own group, most of whom had also been scared off by the ranger. So we joins up with them and had a nice little group for our hike back up to the top. The hike back up obviously took alot longer than the hike down because we had to climb back up the thousands of feet we climbed down, but considering all that, I really didn’t think it was a difficult hike at all.
After we climbed out of the big hole, chris and I decided it was time for a proper meal so we went back to the canyons grocery shop and had sandwitch. Once our bellies wer filled we both decided the best thing we could do with our day was to take a nap. I went back to the campsite to take my mid day slumber, but when I got there Gillian said she was heading up to the rim for a nap so I decided to join. I’m glad I did because when we got up to the edge there were a few guys playing their guitar which made the whole napping experience even better. The only reason we left was because we had told people we would meet tem for dinner at 5:30. So when quarter of 6 rolled around we decided we had better go. The problem was however that while we were gone our friends decided they wanted to wait on dinner until after sunset, so we decided to go right back to the rim to see if the musicians were still playing, and then wait for sunset. Unfortunately by the time we got back the free concert was over and the guys had left, so we just sat around and enjoyed the views until the sun went down.
After sunset we went and got a late dinner, headed back to the campsite for the evening’s campfire and a few beverages, and the turned in because we knew we would have to ride again this morning.

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