Apache Junction, AZ

The desert birds started their usual singing, and I awoke at 5:30. No one else in my room was up. Although technically a co-ed dorm, it was just guys in my room. I saw that a pancake griddle had been laid out the night before in the kitchen, so I plugged it in and mixed up a nearby bag of Krusteauz pancake mix. Also, someone had left 5 sausages and 2 eggs in the FREE bin in the refrigerator, so I cooked those, too.

Elaine got back from a walk, and took a couple pancakes. She was a vegetarian, but not the kind who was fussy about food prepared on a griddle where meat had been nearby. She accepted an egg. Before she left, she gave me a hug and wished me well. Some people just radiate positivity, and Elaine was one of those.

Lise
Around 7:30, Lise (staff) came into the kitchen and started laying out bread, oatmeal, a whole bowl of raw eggs, and mixed up more batter. Lise is French, here for the summer because her partner has an internship at ASU. Her visa doesn’t allow her to work, but she can volunteer at the hostel, possibly in exchange for lodging.
Phoenix Hostel.
This is what the outside of the Phoenix Hostel looked like. As with many of my accommodations, I didn’t get to take a picture until the next day.

If making miles was a priority, I would have left earlier than 9:45 am. But I count it as well worth it to stay and socialize over breakfast. That was the whole reason for going a few miles out of the way to the hostel in the first place.

grand canal path
Keith had advised me to go east on Roosevelt, take the Grand Canal Bike Path to Washington, then follow Washington all the way across the bridge. The detail that I forgot was that I had to turn right to get onto the bridge, and I went several miles beyond it before realizing it.
Tempe Inclusive Sign
After crossing the bridge, I saw this sign on Mill Ave. Think I like this place.
Tempe. This does not look like it, but there’s a bike shop inside.
Tom
Tom at The Bicycle Cellar was very helpful, even though I wasn’t buying anything. He searched for a route to Motels and campgrounds on his terminal, and when he felt my tires were soft, pumped them up, himself. I thought that I had 60-80 psi in my tires, but his digital gauge said 24 psi. He said that tires lose air faster in the desert. I had absolutely no idea I was so low.
Rio Salado
Tom recommended following Rio Salado, then Brown, then turning right on Idaho. It was a perfect route – certainly much less traffic than the University Drive that Google recommended. The road was smooth, and I had a 20 mph tailwind at times.

One thing that I learned on previous tours is that when the road is perfect, and I’m sailing along like a rocket, I should stop and make sure I’m going the right way. Fast and easy is not automatically the same as right. (I once went 40 miles the wrong way with a tailwind). There are larger applications to life in general, which I leave as an exercise to the reader.

At one corner, I met Brenda, a 50-60ish woman looking for spare change. We were crossing the street in the same direction at the light. She couldn’t walk fast on account of a spinal injury. I really wonder if it was an accidental encounter. Had I taken the standard Adventure Cycling route rather than Tom’s recommendation, I would never have met Brenda, and would never have had the chance to help someone in need. I was so thankful for that opportunity to give back, a bit of the kindness shown to me in the dry valley before San Miguel. In the valley, I had a bunch of twenties in my wallet, and credit cards. All useless when I ran out of water in the middle of nowhere. The trail angel that came by gave me a whole gallon, probably at no great cost to himself. But it meant the world to me. When I met Brenda, a couple bucks was no great cost to me. It was a tip for a meal, if that. But it was enough for her to get her bus pass.

Shortly thereafter, I was stopped on the curb, when a walker asked me if I knew where Lindsay Rd was. I told her I was from out of town, and didn’t know. But then, I remembered that I had my route pre-loaded on my android. I zoomed in, and it showed Lindsay as the next cross street. She then said she was looking for Hope (honest, that was the street name). It didn’t show on my map – might have been one of the small side streets. So I couldn’t give her Hope, but told her that I bet one of the students at the High School’s Bus Stop across the street would know.

The houses started to be further apart, and there were various churches. Note the temperature. It didn’t feel hot, though. Not a bit. The only indication was that my mouth was drying out every few minutes between water gulps.
brown and meridian
A block beyond this was Idaho Rd (the blocks are 1 mile each). The houses had really thinned out, and stop lights had long ago vanished in favor of stop signs. Those hills in the distance are what I’ll have to climb, tomorrow.

The Phoenix metro area is huge. Surprise blends into Phoenix, along with Tempe and Mesa. It took me 2 days to cross it. They could have a double metric century just by riding from one end of the city to the other and back.

motel 6
I checked into the Motel 6 that Tom had found for me on his computer. It was only 2.7/5.0 rated on Google, but I found nothing wrong with it. The room was spacious, and I was able to roll my fully-loaded touring bike in without any special maneuvering, while still leaving enough room to walk by. This picture was taken after unpacking, of course. I like that little table by the mirror – it has outlets in just the right place for my laptop.
leaf print
I saw this 1″ long leaf print in the concrete of the sidewalk.
desert plant
I think the leaf print may have come from this kind of plant. When it gets large, it has flowers like small daisies.
storm drain
The storm drains were interesting. They simply dump water into an open area on the side of the road. The water ends up carving a depression in the desert sand.
This is what happens over time as the depression widens into a big hole – and oasis.
waffle house menu
There is only one store near the motel – a gas station convenience store. And only one restaurant – The Waffle House. I smiled when I saw the thing at the bottom of the menu saying I had a choice. To their credit, both the store and restaurant are open 24/7, and the food at the restaurant is decent.

Outside the restaurant, I met the couple that had been sitting in the booth next to me. They owned Apache Junction Flowers, a florist that I had ridden by on the way into Motel 6. I regretted not making conversation in the diner. Would have been fun to talk with locals about the town and the road ahead.

USBR 90
I’m going off-route tomorrow. Keith at the hostel recommended taking highway 60, which is part of US Bike Route 90, as opposed to the 2-3 day detour that is the standard Adventure Cycling route takes to Globe. Sounded good to me. I will have maybe 4300 feet of climbing, so had better leave early.
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