1 November - Victorville, California
Just a quick entry to say that I have had a slight change of plan, so that, instead of heading down to San Diego, I decided to go, after all, to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon, to which I am halfway.
I had a couple of nights in LA/Santa Monica, playing the definite tourist by visiting Hollywood Boulevard (walk of fame, hand- and foot-prints' signatures and the HOLLYWOOD sign on the hill).
I have even been cycling along route 66 on the way to Las Vegas, meeting a Swiss guy who has cycled from Toronto down to 66 and all the way across the States along it.
Days, currently, are hot and sunny; nights cold - brrrrr.
See you in Vegas. :-)
12 November - Las Vegas, Nevada
Well, well, definitely worth a visit to experience the glitz and gambling of Las Vegas. It was fun to walk along The Strip and see the dazzle of neon lights on New York, Paris, Monte Carlo, Egypt, Venice, Caesar's Palace. Even having a 20-minute go on the roulette table and coming away with enough to pay the postage for a parcel home was all part of the experience.
Next up was a side trip, that is, travelling by rental car, to visit the rich red naturally-sculptured rock formations of Bryce Canyon; the huge rocks of Monument Valley with recognisable names, such as Elephant Butte, Camel Butte, Three Sisters; the dramatic, mile-deep expanse of the Grand Canyon. Seeing such sights was amazing, as was walking amongst them to gain some kind of greater perspective of their size and beauty. Seems hard to accept that they are naturally formed, they look so crafted, especially th rocks in Bryce Canyon. Also on the itinerary was the Hoover Dam. Such a fantastic engineering feat! Like much in America, it was big. As were the vast plains that stretched for ever into the distance. Oh, and I almost forgot the beautiful, smooth, curvy, walls of the narrow winding path through the Antelope Canyon.
In Bryce Canyon, I met a couple of cyclists, one of whom eventually asked me if my name was Astrid! Turns out they were a couple who had stayed in Shelton, Washington, with the same people
with whom I'd stayed! They had even checked out my website. Philip and Mannu are cycling from Anchorage to Tierra del Fuego, taking about 18 months: www.radausflug.org
Most of the time the elevation was about 6000 feet, but there was a particular pass of 9910 feet - with snow! So, having departed from Las Vegas in the sunny warmth of the morning, I found myself in shorts and strappy top standing breathless in the freezing snow. Although this was the only snow encountered, feeling breathless stayed with me for much of the 4 days of my trip because of the altitude.
Going across State lines and different time zones, some with, some without daylight-saving adjustments, has been totally confusing! I certainly don't understand the thinking behind putting back the clocks so that darkness comes an hour earlier (currently 5pm!). Specifically from a cycling point of view it shortens a travelling day considerably and, when you have big distances between towns, this affects daily distances dramatically.
Now I'm back in Las Vegas and ready to head south towards Phoenix and onwards in an easterly direction.
From Las Vegas the route followed the pretty Colorado river to Searchlight, Bullhead City, Golden Shores, Parker Dam and then struck off along a wide, flat valley, with just a couple of small, easy hills before Phoenix. Accommodation was a mixture of camping and motels. Days are comfortably hot, once the sun has shown its face for a while; otherwise it is cold++ in the night and first thing in the morning.
Cycling has been very pleasant when there have been good hard shoulders; very unpleasant when there were no hard shoulders and fast traffic, some of which was not too keen to share the road with cyclists. Some of the stretches were long with no facilities and strong headwinds - yukky-do. I have had 4 flats along this stretch and my cycling companion has had 4 or 5!! They are either small thin pieces of wire or prickly thorns.
Two days in Phoenix has been a very nice rest to try and catch up with emails and website (still no opportunity to upload batches of photos. Sorry that there's been nothing since Victoria), to spend an hour by a pool (only 10 seconds in the pool itself; the water was freezing!) and to visit downtown Phoenix (which didn't take too long to exhaust the sights!
Cycling through the Arizonan desert has meant seeing a fair variety of (big) cacti, including the characteristic 3-pronged variety. Not only are they on the desert plains, but they also spring up from the rocks on the hillsides, whole groves of them.
Wildlife: one tarantula, on the hard shoulder trying to cross the highway. A lorry came by and blew him towards us - aaaargh! Yes, I know they don't bite, and they are really little sweeties, BUT, it is still a big hairy spider.
Everybody here is gearing up for Thanksgiving on Thursday. I expect the same is happening in Europe regarding Christmas. I hope that the original meaning of Christmas is able to shine through the glitter of commercialism and that it is possible to avoid getting caught up in the ensuing stress. :-)
30 November - Lordsburg, New Mexico
Brrr .... it's bloomin' cold! So much for heading south to keep warm. The cold has come so suddenly! Up 'til 2 days ago (my birthday) the skies had been cloudless and the days hot and sunny (although the nights cold++), but, on waking on the 28th to full, thick cloud-covered skies, the weather has since been cold and wet, the forecast SNOW!! Yikes.
The cycling from Phoenix to here was mostly flattish, with some climbs, only one in any way arduous. Accommodation has been motels or camping in an RV park [gratis :-) ] and behind a shop. For my birthday was 2 nights in a B&B, albeit without the '&B'! Breakfast being taken at Ol' Joe's Cafe. Then onward here to Lordsburg with absolutely nothing in between in the way of stops and cold and a degree of freezing rain with which to contend. The compensation, though, was the most incredibly beautiful, brilliantly-coloured, double, 180 degree rainbow. WOW!!
Now, with the forecast for today being rain and snow showers and a northeast (head)wind, prudence called for a 2-night stopover here in Lordsburg, before trawling 60 miles tomorrow to the next accommodation possibility, with the promise of a westerly tailwind, slightly warmer temperature and only a small chance of snow or rain.
I appreciated the many birthday wishes I received, plus an e-card. Thanks everyone. It was also lovely for me to Skype my family each in turn. Modern technology can be so wonderful.
A friend informed me that there was an obituary recently in the Times for Anne Mustoe, the woman whose book, A Bike Ride, gave me the idea and motivation to undertake my trip. She would have been in her late 70s and still cycling. :-)
BTW, I've at last managed to put up some more photos, but only the leg from Victoria to Brookings.