Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Things are not always as they seem
One thing Adam and I have learned is that things are not always as they seem.
Leaving the comfy bed in Brian's house in El Centro, CA, we decided upon a short day, 20 miles or so, to what looked like camp sites on our way to the town of Glamis. As we biked, the land became increasingly sandy with only some bushes, until even those scarce bushes gave way to beautiful sand dunes. Uphill, then down, then back up over the dunes. The hills were fun and we took out the camera to capture the scenery.
I guess what we were expecting was the crew from Spaceballs, lugging those huge boxes over every hill, but what we got was very different. As the sun was setting, indicating to us that we needed to find a place to camp, a white jeep pulled over on the side of the road and out walked a cute young woman in a white dress, all dolled up. Right there in the middle of nowhere, this bride-to-be walked up a dune and posed as her photographer snapped shots. Even though Adam is on vacation from wedding photography, we couldn't resist and caught a few.
As the sun continued to set, we pushed on a bit farther to find RV heaven. There was a road off the main road into the dunes filled with RV's camped out with their toys. We were wondering where all the buggies, dirt bikes, and quads on the back of all these trucks were headed. We walked cautiously into the RV park, not sure how they would react to two spandex-clad cyclists. Our tires sunk into the sand and we were forced to push our bikes to find a place to camp when we hear, "Aren't you supposed to be riding those things, not pushin 'em?"
And that's how we met Jim. Apparently this RV-driving, buggy-hauling, sand dune-searching group has a soft spot for cyclists in need, and Jim offered for us to camp beside his self-built, RV and trailer combo rig (16 wheels on the ground, as he described it) so we would avoid the $90 permit fee. He and Gina offered us a place by their fire, marshmallows, hot cocoa and the works! And the next morning, he even offered to take us in his buggy. One of the coolest experiences of our lives, even though the buggy broke in the middle of the ride.
Onto the next stop, our goal was to ride through 60 more miles to Blythe. Unfortunately, our map doesn't explain the 20 miles coming to this place was nothing like the 60 miles leaving it. We were greeted instantly by head-winds which slowed us right down and pretty quickly we realized the 60 mile day was a dream, so we settled instead on the little town of Palo Verde only 40 miles away.
The rolling hills from the day before became scary dips where you were lost between hills... You couldn't see traffic and they couldn't see you. The shoulder grew smaller and smaller until there was nowhere else to ride but on the actual road. The traffic grew heavier and heavier as more RVers made their way to the dunes for the weekend. The wind picked up in big bursts from time to time and we were forced to pedal hard downhill or else be pushed back. We cursed out Adventure Cycling Organizations route maps, not understanding how they could ever put a cyclist on a road like this. Not at all what we were expecting from the day.
And finally we rode into Palo Verde... A reprieve from the day? Didn't seem so much. We rode on treacherous roads all day long into a town that was only trailer parks, a gas station, and a pub. We were even a little nervous to leave our bikes outside as we ate and asked to bring them inside with us, but looks can be deceiving. We were immediately greeted by the warmest, nicest people who set our minds at ease. We had a fantastic burger and a even splurged on a beer to wash away the craziness of the day. This view didn't hurt any, either.
When we first reached Palo Verde, we had followed the sheriff's directions and took a look at the campsites that were available behind the trailer park. One couple assured us we could camp there and we told them we'd be back after dinner.
As we pulled up after dinner, Joe had made a fire at our campsite for us. He and his wife Denise and their little dog, Little Bit, shared a few stories with us before heading back home. Joe even admitted to yelling after us earlier when we first met because he wanted to invite us to dinner. Certainly not what we were expecting from people in this town, but we left 'Green Stick'(Palo Verde) the next day with our spirits rejuvenated.
We chose to ride another easy day, only 20 miles to Blythe where we heard there was a Bluegrass Festival. Yes!! Good old fun! We were so excited to stumble upon this on our journey, and made our way straight to the fest. It took a long while to find it, but you knew it when you were there. The smell of fried foods filled our noses and the sounds of banjos filled our ears.
I still can't believe we paid the $15 per person entrance fee (lived off of $15 the next two days in order to get back on budget), but we did and spent a bit of the afternoon walking around the whole 5 booths there. Apparently we excited the soup guy enough with our story, that after we bought a bag of soup to prepare for dinner that night, he told us to come back around 4 and he'd be throwing away all the samples so we could fill up a bowl and have that for dinner. Good stuff this Souper Dips, they called themselves. Although the smell in the tent that night didn't agree.
Adam and I were both thinking back to bluegrass fests we have attended in the past. How did the Blythe fest compare? Basically the lamest bluegrass fest we could have imagined. The music was slow and depressing, and instead of the people in the rows of RVs with fires and chairs everywhere playing bluegrass music, there was hardly a peep. Except for the campers next to us who were inviting and even ended up playing some music, we weren't really impressed by this so-called bluegrass fest. Where was all the bluegrass music???
Of course we met some good people at the fest, Suzanne, Rich, and Wayne came right up to us, took pictures of us on the bikes, but it makes me laugh how excited we were for the fest when the night before we had a better time with the friendly people in Palo Verde.
And the next day we hit state #2!!!
Tonight(Sunday) we are camped in a dry wash in the little town of Brenda in Arizona. Meeting our first resident of Brenda, Anne says to us in an English accent, "Well, haven't you heard of Brenda?" No, never heard of Brenda, Arizona but what a welcoming! Anne took it upon herself to find us a place to stay for the night and after calling numerous RV parks, neighbors and even asking the grocery store clerk, she had no other ideas and left for her own home. Within two minutes, Anne comes driving back up to us happy to announce that she forgot there is a place right down the street from where she lives that people camp at and she proceeded to show us the way, driving really slow for us to follow, then getting out of her car and walking us to the camping area.
What friendly people you meet when you don't expect it!
We couldn't resist when we saw the name of this road.
And on we go....
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