Pro rider climbing 4000 feet on I-8 through the lower Rockies in his yellow safety vest. Crazy, but I-8 is the least elevation for a bike route across those mountains and into the desert. GPS showed 60 miles to the first sign of civilization east of the pass – El Centro. An hour for us; three or four for yellow vest. Better now than in July!
El Centro to Tucson is 296 miles of terrain change. With gas at $3.50 a gallon in Cali, we stopped in Yuma for a $2.23 fill-up en route to Sheri’s Uncle Tom’s recommendation for a Date Shake in Dateland, AZ. Dateland was also a WWII training base for many a GI in the army. The proprietors of Dateland figured out that nothing goes better with a plaque dedicated to those soldiers than a cold date shake.
Dateland is a Travel Center 67 miles east of Yuma with gas, bathrooms, Pizza Hut and of course, dates for sale. It felt a little Bubba Gumpish, with date syrup, date muffins, date cookies, date bread, date jelly, date ice cream, date pie, date hand lotion … We were here for the World Famous Date Shake, as were dozens of other RV and Sunday travelers. We pulled up next to four other bigger RVs across the street in the gravel lot of the abandoned diner. The fools thought they could compete with Dateland. Not likely!
Eric chose the Medium to share while Sheri tried on astroturf flip flops in the gift shop. We immediately went to straw sucking and by the time we got back to Betty, it was gone. It was the best Date Shake we had ever had.
There’s nothing else between Dateland and Tucson, other than Sheri’s beloved Saguaros and Eric’s nemesis, Picacho Peak, the almost summited difficult to daunting to dangerous to deadly mountain we had attempted just a month before. Now that we are more hike-fit, do we dare to double-down? We let Pikachu go this time. Next time we will catch’em all.
We pulled into Davis Monthan around 2:30 yesterday and as we expected were subject to overflow, aka dry camping, as all 200 hook-up spots were full. We’re on the waitlist but not optimistic. With Betty getting new tires on Monday and a rear sway bar on Tuesday, we might be doing a shakedown trip Wed if we don’t move up the waitlist ladder.
Stoked from tennis in El Centro, we grabbed the tennis gear and set out to find the Air Force courts. From a distance they looked fabulous – fenced, lighted, backboards. Up close, not so much. The surface cracks were deep and plentiful, the concrete hard on our feet, ankles, knees, back – heck – our whole bodies. After 30 minutes we tapped out and went in search of the golf course.
In the vicinity of the golf course we spied disc golf baskets. Could it be? We saw no sign of our arm flinging fave on any outdoor recreation list for the base. Riding the bikes along dirt paths through the fields, we found 6 baskets but no tees. Maybe the golf course clubhouse had a map. But where was the golf course? We rode through open space and realized we were in an abandoned field of burrs and thorns. Mother Nature is serious business in the desert. From snakes to spiders, most things you step on will kill you. For Como’s, its the thorns. The Como’s went down hard.
So Eric spent the rest of the evening changing 3 of 4 tires, gooping tubes, trying to get the Comos ride ready for Monday since Betty was getting her new shoes. Not having a car is awesome when you have bikes. Not having bikes is terrible when you don’t have a car. We didn’t have cable, internet or electricity anyway so it gave Eric something to do.
Up at 5:30am, flat again, changing 2, at Purcell’s by 7am. No coffee, no shower, no food, and its freezing cold. And the refrigerator feels warm. Dry camping anyone?
Leaving Purcell’s the bikes looked to be holding so we rode 3 miles in 38 degrees to a highly rated breakfast spot that turned out to be closed so we did a five mile reverse to the Ajo Cafe. With our body core temperature dipping into the danger zone, we committed to eating at the first place that was open, that wasn’t fast food.
Bars on the windows and every parking space occupied by a pickup truck, it had to be good, right? Don’t judge a book by its cover applies here. Ajo is a locals diner where the waitress knew everyone’s name but ours, but recognized us from riding our bikes on the highway. The cook came out to check on his work. The waitress was born with a coffee pot in her hand. We liked this place.
Two hearty house specials, finished with a homemade cinnamon bun. While very delicious, the coffee cake at Hob Nob Hill still holds the title of best breakfast bakery item – in case you were keeping score.
Leaving the diner, we were greeted by another flat. Pumped enough to get back to Purcells, Monday is all about the tires. Time to find a Specialized store and stock up on tubes. Tucson is the right kind of place to get work done. It is a bit of a gritty town. Folks have grease on their hands. Proud of his work installing Betty’s new shoes, Michael brought me out to show me his improvements to the valve stems and how they worked. We bought the tires with the FMCA (Family Motor Coach Association) discount and the labor went to Purcell. Big rigs and motor homes were lined up with a 4 hour wait making us glad we showed up at the open.
After a stop at Sabino Cycles for 5 tubes, a bottle of chain grease and a set of disc brakes, Eric will be doing his own Como tune-up tonight and getting us road ready for Tuesday when Betty is getting her new sway bar. With the big trip to Zion coming up in May, we need all vehicles in tip-top shape, which also means passing MD Emissions testing by end of May. Since Betty won’t be back on the East coast til mid-summer and we’re all extensioned out, we visited an Arizona testing facility to see if she’d pass, and she did! Now to figure out how to get MD to take AZ’s pass …