I can see the Tulsa skyline, but it takes a good while to reach it. There are some nice looking buildings here, with the art deco train station standing out especially. To save time in the morning I try to get as far west as I can, reaching the south western outskirts after dark.
I pick up Rt 66 out of the city but it's slow getting clear of the suburbs. Yukon, is on the western edge of OK city. It seems, from the name of the main street, that Garth Brooks is the hometown boy. At El Reno business 40 ends at the outskirts of town, leaving me no alternative but to take Interstate 40 for 20 miles. This is the first time on the trip that I've had to ride on the interstate, which is illegal in Oklahoma. The highway patrol drive right past, so I presume they turn a blind eye to cyclists on this stretch since there is no other way through. A few other motorists however make their displeasure at my presence known. I'm no more pleased to be there as they are to see me. One more section of interstate before Hydro. I seem to have missed a turn at Hydro, because the road kept heading north. I finally find someone to ask directions. It's dark and cool as I get into Weatherford after my 10 mile detour.
It's sunny but the wind slows me down to 8 MPH. The wind generators I see, confirm my belief that this type of weather is not atypical. At Adrian (which a sign in town proclaims is the half way point on Rt 66) I'm down to 6 MPH, so I decide to stop for the day rather than fighting on. It's only 3pm, but fighting the wind is quite unrewarding.
The wind picks up with a vengeance as I enter New Mexico. The road to San Jon is especially tough, the town being in sight for about an hour and a half. I doubt that things will improve any time soon, so I push on in the afternoon to Tucumcari. There is nothing inbetween the towns, so its too late when I realize that I'm low on water. Rt. 66 deviates from I 40 which makes for a more scenic ride.
I decide to follow the pre-1936 alignment of 66 to Las Vegas NM and Santa Fe. The route should be quieter than the I 40, which doesn't have a frontage road here, and the terrain more interesting. I pick up US 84 about 20 miles out of Santa Rosa and head north. I calculate that I won't reach Las Vegas by dusk, so I begin to think about camping in a field. At Dilia, I pick up some snack food at a bar (there's no general store within 30 miles) and camped at an abandoned RV park. When the land owner returned, he was friendly enough and said he didn't mind me spending the night.
The frontage road to I 25 was very nice and the scenery attractive. The wind, that was concentrated through the valleys only became a problem around noon. The road crossed the Santa Fe national forest and past the Pecos national monument. I stopped to look at the indian and spanish ruins.
I was not making good time and was worried about making it to Santa Fe, however the last 20 miles flew by. The 6 mile stretch of I 25 before Santa Fe was almost all down hill, and the northern spur to the city was a nice ride. I stayed right at the centre of town, which has a unique spanish architecture.
I called the BST office when I got to Bernalillo, where John chastised be for calling in late (There were no payphones on the shoulder of I25! ). For the next 5 hours I had to stop and call back to solve a problem with a camera system we were building for the olympics. It was a nice run into Albuquerque. I was expecting a very steep hill before the city that never materialized. (Later investigations reveal it is on the eastern side of the city on I40). I cross the Rio Grande just south of Albuquerque, and follow the river south to Los Lunas. This is the Rt 66 road which, I can only imagine, takes this meandering path to avoid rough terrain.
I have the best mexican food of my life at a small restaurant here!
Boy, was I pleased to get into town. It was 85 miles, but it felt like 185. After that day, I knew that nothing could stop me.
I rode into Gallup at 1pm, but couldn't make any significant town beyond by sunset, so I had the afternoon off.
There are many indian shops along the route, but I wonder how much of the stuff is made in Taiwan. I guess it's mostly legitimate but it seems awfully tacky.
The road is good, and the weather mild and I make very good time. I get to the petrified forest national park around noon. It's about 20 miles north to the painted desert and 20 miles south to the main part of the forest, so I decide to travel on.
There are some stretches of I 40 that I need to take in Arizona, but here it is legal for cyclists to use interstates outside metropolitan areas. I arrive in Holbrook, and are surprised by how big it is. It looks like a very healthy town, and the old Wig-Wam motel is still in great shape.
Half way to Flagstaff from Winslow, I take a 6 mile detour south to the meteor crater. It is 3/4 mile in diameter and over five hundred feet deep. I remember seeing a picture of it as a child in a Time-Life book, so seeing it in person was a must.
For most of the morning I have been heading towards the San Fransisco mountains. They can be seen for 50 miles. The terrain becomes almost alpine, with many pine trees as I get closer to Flagstaff. I go through Winona and head up some winding roads toward Flagstaff. It has been a gradual rise from 5000 feet at Holbrook to 7000 at Flagstaff.
Seligman turns out to be a fun place. For one thing it's not a dead Rt 66 town. It has survived, probably because of the Grand Canyon tourist trade. It has a number of hotels and general stores despite being in the middle of nowhere. This it turns out was the birthplace of the 'Historic Rt 66' movement. I meet the founder of the Arizona Rt 66 association, Angel Delgadillo, who runs a combination 66 souvenir shop and barber shop. I add my card to his wall, which is filled with thousands of others from earlier 66 travelers. I get alot of good information from Angel. There's a malt shop, done up like a xmas tree in town. The proprietor is full of practical jokes and laughs. (The door to his establishment has a knob on either side!). I have my evening meal at a 50's style diner, thats one of the buildings that gives the town its charm.
The 40 miles from Kingman went very fast because I had dropped 3000 feet in the process, but now it was up and down along 95. Lake Havasu City has the air of a construction site (with only a little more charm). Winabago's everywhere. I can't see why anyone would choose to live there. Without irrigation from the Colorado river it would be just a rocky desert. It's pretty much the same thing all the way to Parker. Parker is in an indian reservation, and there are some indian casinos in town.
The indian owner of the hotel I stay in lends me a copy of his newspaper with stories of the Pakistan/Australia cricket dispute. Yes, he is an east indian, not a native american!
I come across a guy trying to get his pickup out of the sand, 5 miles before Rice. He had driven off the road because he thought it would be be interesting to drive along one of the many dry rivers (washes). He'd gotten about 20 ft before being stuck. He was from Baltimore, as it turns out and was on his way to Pasadena. A little help and he was out of trouble.
The area I was going through was a desert training ground for the WW2 troops before they went to north africa. The army had put in the roads initially to support the maneuvers. According to a historical marker sign there was a giant relief map of the area built that was still visible. However, from my vantage point I couldn't make it out. It was getting slightly tough to ride along because I was rising up from the low desert towards Twentynine Palms. I stopped to take a photograph of the Danby dry lake . When I turned around I saw another cyclist coming toward me. This canadian had been kicked out of Joshua Tree national park because of the government shutdown. The road just keep going toward the mountains with seemingly no way through. Although as I got closer I saw there was a pass through the Iron mountains on the right and the Granite mountains on the left.
I stopped for lunch at the junction of 177 and 62. As I looked up 62, I was thankful that I'd decided not to take the road up to Palm Springs. 177 was a great downhill run for 15 miles. It was getting quite hot now, and I was getting very thirsty. The hot water I was carrying didn't seem to quench my thirst. When I got into Desert Center I drank litres and litres of soft drink! Unfortunately there was no accommodation at Desert Centre, so I moved on to Chirocco Summit, where I'd heard rumors of motel like cabins. A sign at the on-ramp to I10 warned that pedestrians were not permitted but said nothing about cyclists. I cycled past a highway patrol car that didn't give me a second look, so I guess its OK to take the freeway if there is no other way through. Chirocco Summit is nothing more than a truck stop (and General Patton museum), but they did have accommodation.
I had to head around the Salton Sea, before resuming my westerly path. The road into the Anza Borrego state park, S22, was steep, and very, very barren. Unlike the desert, this landscape was totally devoid of vegetation. It was more of a moonscape than almost any other area that I'd been in. I had flown over this area many times and had wondered what was down there. Well, now I know - very little! Upon entering the park, I had also crossed into San Diego county. I felt that the end of the journey was indeed close. Borrego Springs is in a valley within the park, and a popular tourist location. After consuming much lemonade at the airport resurant, I continued on to the resort that I had arranged to meet Marcie and Jim. These friends had decided to drive down from Santa Monica to meet me. I arrived at about 1pm, but the drive for Jim took longer than expected. We had a very pleasant evening. These were the first familiar faces I had seen in 5 weeks.
From Banner, it was a slow but scenic 7 mile climb up to 4000 ft.
Jullian, an old mining town, was full of tourists on this Sunday. I wasn't going to wait 30 minutes for a seat in the coffee shop, so I moved on. From that point, about 40 miles from San Diego, it was pretty much down hill all the way. I got some good directions at a bike shop in Romona, for the rest of the journey into Mission Valley. There was one incredible downhill before Lakeside. I couldn't have stopped on the way down without doing some serious damage!
A woman at Santee told me that it was a long way into Mission Valley. I replied that after 3000 miles, 10 more miles didn't seem too arduous! I was unfamiliar with this area of San Diego, but as I got closer Mission Gorge Rd. became Fryers Road which I knew well. As I went passed the Stadium and crossed under the road, I heard what I thought was someone with a megawatt car stereo. Instead, it was a drummer, practicing in the road tunnel!
My last obstacle, was a cruel hill - Texas street. I had been thinking about this for days, but there was no way to avoid it. Texas street from Mission Valley to North Park was a 15% grade, the steepest of the entire journey! By now I was in peak condition, and even this trial turned out to be no problem.
I replaced the water bottle on my bike with french champagne and rode the last block to Sybil's house. To my utter delight Sybil had not left for work, so we spent the rest of the night celebrating! (she never did get to work!)