Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tom Joad - Day 15, mile 3,973.3, Enough Desert! I Need Green!

The day started out very well. I met with my cousin Linda for coffee in downtown Tucson, AZ near the University of Arizona. A very hip portion of town with a terrific vibe and very friendly people. I definitely want to go back and explore it more some day.

It was wonderful reconnecting with Linda this morning. If only for an hour or so. Linda and I lost contact nearly 30 years ago, the usual stories. We both immediately recognized each other. Time has been kind on both of us. We talked awhile about family, careers, and our mutual hopes for a greener, more sustainable society in the future. Linda is much more in touch with these types of projects and efforts because of her work in the Tucson school system and with children. I'd love to spend a week with her just to exchange ideas. Yet another excuse to return to Tucson. This one is on my 'must-do' list. I departed Tucson this morning to a very warm 73 degrees at 9am. I knew I was in for another warm ride this afternoon, so I unzipped all of the vents in my riding suit and proceeded westward for another long, hot desert ride.

As deserts go, and I've seen quite a few, Arizona's desert landscape is the most appealing. Beside its trademark Saguaro Cactus, the rock features, colors, and wildlife seem a bit more interesting than most other deserts. The larger towns such as Tucson and Phoenix are oasis's amidst huge expanses of barren sun-bleached sand and rock. The state of Arizona broke records over the past 5 to 10 years with the largest recorded growth of populations in any American city, surpassing Seattle in the late '80s and '90s, specifically due to the mass migration of greying Baby-Boomers to Tucson and Phoenix's retirement communities. I can see why.

Because of my late departure this morning from Tucson, I rode hard westward to try to get into Los Angeles before sundown. Which meant no stopping for lunch or dinner during my ride today.

My meals today were typically incorporated into my fuel stops, meaning a bottle of water and possibly a couple of beef jerky sticks, (arrrrgh), then back on the road. I'm glad I only do these road trips once a year or so, because my dietary habits go to hell when I'm traveling like this. I'm sooooo looking forward to getting home and one of Marti's healthy home cooked meals.

I crossed the California border today about 1pm to a toasty 86 degrees. As I descended down through the San Gabriel Valley, the wind was fierce and I was again blown all over the road. As I neared Los Angeles the wind tapered off, and I was cruising along again with the normal traffic flow at 80mph. Nearing the city I was caught the the usual rush hour crawl being a regular workday for most folks, and I hobbled along towards my brother and sister-in-laws place in Los Angeles to flop for the evening.

Tomorrow I start north again. I'll head as far as northern California tomorrow, grabbing a hotel somewhere near Redding, CA. Friday is the big push home! I'm ready to run for the barn. My horse is tired, this rider is weary, and my Woman wants me home.

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