Brawley, CA

Desert riding today, a lot of it urban desert.

yuha alternate
In the morning, I started from Ocotillo. There are two paths to Seeley – the regular one through Plaster City on top, which 3 people dis-recommended, and the lower one, the Yuha Alternate, which is longer, but supposedly has less bad road. (The really good road, Interstate 8, is illegal for bicycles in this section.)
hwy 98
The first part of the Yuha Alternate is a 20.5 mile segment through the Yuha desert. The road is good, smooth, fast. No wind in the morning.
mystery flag
I kept seeing these blue and orange flags in the desert, spaced at about half-mile intervals. Curiosity finally got the better of me, and when I saw one near the road, I investigated.
water cache
This is what’s inside. Water. So if you’re ever stranded in the desert, look for the flags.
bad section of alternate
After the Yuha alternate turned left, there were 6.5 miles of bad, torn-up road. It was worse than it looks in the picture. But better 6.5 miles of bad than 19.5 miles of horrible. I have no regrets.
store at Seeley
The store at Seeley was being massively remodeled. It was astounding for a small-town store. I got a Tamarindo popsicle. They also will have a restaurant inside in a couple months.
lunch selection
This lunch consisting of a lot of roasted chicken, tomatillo salsa, roasted pepper, lime, and tortillas was in the heated section of the meat market. $2.65 . Even though it was only 9:30 am, I couldn’t pass up this bargain.
large frosty
By 11:30, I was in El Centro, a large city with multiple commercial strips and all the common chain stores. I went to Wendy’s, where I got the largest frosty. I also checked the weather for Brawley tomorrow. Today 91, tomorrow 98.
dry cemetery
This is actually the driest cemetery I’ve ever seen. There are headstones and plastic flowers.
townhouse inn and suites
This is the motel that Louise and Mike recommended to me. Air conditioned room, iron, ironing board, toaster, coffee maker, kleenex, microwave, direcTV, refrigerator, wi-fi, and breakfast from 5-9 am in the morning. $59.90 including tax.

After my dinner at Carl’s Jr next door, I met Richard, who was sitting out on the chair provided outside each of our rooms. He’s a veteran (navy, Vietnam) on motorcycle, joining an annual rally ride to Washington DC that starts in San Francisco. 1500 bikers (that is, motorcycles) join in over 3 routes, to finally meet on Memorial Day in Washington DC. Richard is from Louisiana, and recommended Cajun food like fried fish, shrimp, and etoufee (sp?) when I get to the gulf coast, there. Thank you for your service, Richard.

Veterans Wayne and Richard
Wayne (L) and Richard (R). This picture was taken the next day.

The 5 am breakfast at the motel is tailor-made for cyclists hoping to attack the desert before it gets hot. I hope to leave at dawn tomorrow. The first 30 miles are a gentle uphill, and if I can make it to the precipice before it gets super hot, I should be in good shape.

This evening, I got enough food to last the day, since there will be 70 miles without food or water. In fact, I have enough so that if I can’t make the whole distance, I can wild camp by the side of the road, and resume the next day. Going to bed now. Pray for me if you do, or at least wish me luck.

Miles for today: 53.7, mostly flat, 90’s heat.

(Visited 183 times, 1 visit(s) today)
  1. I know that on the southern part of the PCT (maybe up to Kennedy Meadows, which I gather is the start of the Sierra) there are trail angels who leave caches of water for the thru-hikers, at least early in the season. (90% of PCT thru-hikers hike it from Mexico north to Canada; 10% hike it the reverse direction.) Even so, those water caches can run out. I’m surprised to learn that they also exist off-trail. Maybe a different kind of angel (highway angel?) maintains the caches.

    1. It’s also really close to the Mexican border wall, so it could be out of compassion for people trying to sneak in who get stranded. Or honeypots that the ICE monitors.

  2. UPDATE: The official Southern Tier route changed, and what was the Yuha Alternate is now the standard route. Except that now, the route goes straight on hwy 98 all the way to hwy 111, bypassing Seeley completely.

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