Saturday, April 26, 2008

When does a trip become a tapestry?

It happens slowly of course but some where in a month of time and hours on the road together there is a blending of color and light and energy and purpose that begins to feel more like a tapestry than a trip.

Remember the song...Every thread of creation is held in position by still other strands of things living--in an earthly tapestry hung from the Skyline....

Our group is well and just arrived in Austin, Texas yesterday. It was a tough 65 mile ride, with many large trucks -and many small roads with no where for bikers to escape to. Still -I enjoyed the ride. Arriving and riding through major cities via bike still overwhelms me -- but the route we came in on was very cool-- took us right past Texas University and out on to route 35 east to a Days Inn. Today is our first day off in a while, so we are all excited to have some time off the bikes. Althought despite the fact we are not riding there is still alot of fussing around with bikes and gear. Trading of skills comes in to play...I did some hand sewing in exchange for having Andy install new, cool green grip tape on my bike handlebars. I definitely made out on that deal...but don't tell Andy!

Some of the gang did a bus tour of Austin and really enjoyed getting to see the city -- some of us went to a bike shop that had a cool outdoor lounge across the street and had a great lunch.

We are at our half way point now ...and I find there is a lot for me to wonder about. I never could have imagined where this trip would lead me -- and I foolishly thought I was just riding across the country. No life path we veer off on to is ever as simple as we might think. I can tell you that I savor every moment --- that I even hate to sleep for fear of missing a part of it -- that it is hard for me to think about the veering back on to the road of a month ago... but I am well and I think of you all -- I am getting stronger and learning so much. --love, Dee

Every breeze that blows kindly-- Is one crystal breath we exhale on the blue diamond heaven. As gentle to touch as the hands of the healer....the hands with the Tapestry.

Sunday Update from Rob: Return of the sounds like a J.R. Tolkien sequel but it concerns the recovery of a new wedding ring Dee got me last Fall. I only had it for a few days and lost it while mixing cement for a project at my mother-in-law's house. Despite intensive search efforts, it was nowhere to be found. Then, today, a guy cutting & trimming my MIL's grass found it. Dee's brother Chuckie called Dee who got a hold of Kali who called me. Good news travels fast!

Today Jamie and I attended the IUP English Department Awards ceremony. Kali made us proud and received awards for: "Outstanding English Education Student", "Outstanding English Major", and "First Place in Expository Writing" for her paper "The Human Face of Immigration" which will be published and presented at a conference next Fall. It was an amazing day. On a less academic note, Jamie and I had a great time paddling at the Stony Creek River Festival and plan to attend a similar event at the Cheat River next weekend. Take care. Robbie

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Almost in Austin

Dee called last night. They are getting close to Austin. They've had some rain showers but I think the coolness is welcome in the heat. Today will be a shorter day than planned 45 miles vs. 70, as several riders have gotten somewhat fatigued and could use a bit of a break from the pace. Dee said she's been feeling pretty strong but also welcomes the respite of a lower mileage day. Some of these pics are from earlier in the ride but still give a sense of the scenery. Take care, Rob.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Del Rio, TX to Austin..the Road Ahead

I talked with Dee last night. She had arrived in Del Rio Texas which is right on the US/Mexican border directly due west of San Antonio, TX. They have ridden over the Pecos River and the Amistad Resovoir. She said the scenery has been beautiful but the head winds have been brutal. They leave camp early, around 6:30 am to get in as much riding as possible before the afternoon winds arise. Dee said head winds make it seem like you are climbing a grade even if you are on fairly level terrain. Yesterday was also the first rain they have encountered on the trip. I'm thinking rain and humidity will become more frequent companions now that the Gulf of Mexico becomes the dominant weather influence.

They are on their way to Austin which is about 5 days away and then another 5 days from Austin to the Louisana border. They have a layover day in Austin, their first in 9 days which is the longest they have gone without a layover day on the trip. Saddle sores have emerged as an issue with some riders but Dee says she has been doing ok in that department so far. There are a number of 60+ mile days in Dee's near future. While I was talking with Dee, I looked at the map on our kitchen wall and announced that they must be approaching the 1/2 way mark soon.

Dee said there will be a 1/2way party celebration soon. Yesterday, one of the riders had a birthday so they biked to a nearby bar to celebrate. Dee, is a rare and very light social drinker but I'm assuming the chosen birthday bar had no Chardonay as she had a beer and confided that it actually tasted pretty good. Clearly, the trip has not been in vain.

She has been sleeping out under the stars a lot lately, the only issue is unwanted visits from fire ants but so far it's worked out ok. I received a package of extra gear and some little gifts for Kali and Jamie, and one for Dee & me. I think she is finally down to only what she needs. I am reminded of the quote that "Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing left to add but rather when there is nothing left to take away". I'm thinking she's pretty close to this. She had a flat tire, her 9th of the ride and I believe she holds the "most flats" distinction. Other than that her bike has been fine. Two riders had to get to a bike shop due to broken spokes and possibly the need for rebuilt wheels.

Dee said she has gotten pretty dark from the sun and that drinking water is a full time activity during the day and at night. She said she had two bottles of water to drink before bed just to try and keep up to what is being sweated out each day. Chapped lips are a constant problem due to the sun and wind. The only thing I can compare it to is climbing expeditions where you watch your body gradually waste away to a point where it finally stops.

Her spirits are great and she has been doing well. Her biking has been getting progessively stronger during the trip. The West Texas hill country is coming up and I think she'll do well.

I had shared with a dear friend a month ago that you would think that after being married to someone for 30 years, there would be a certain resevoir of "being ok with being part for a while", it seems reasonable to think this would be true but I have missed Dee each day she's been away. I think this is a good way to feel. I can't wait to see her in Florida and bring her home.

On the home-front, things are good. I spent Saturday with Kali,who along with her room mate, were extras like me at the Pgh. Airport movie shoot. I'm glad it's over but it was mostly fun. Much to my amazement, Jamie did a total house cleaning on Saturday - he cleaned the Kitchen, handled laundry and ran the sweeper so that was pretty sweet to come home to late Saturday night... and I didn't even ask him to do it! For three days, he was the classic Latch Key kid...I was gone when he woke up, gone when he got home from school, gone at dinner time as well. He did just fine with out me....I pictured him as a feral skateboard child living on slurpees and end-of-the-day hotdogs at the nearby 7-11. This vision was actually pretty close to the truth. Jamie is excited as we have 2 river festival weekends in a row coming up. Take care folks, Best Regards, Robbie

Thursday, April 17, 2008

More Pics

These pics are from Herb Lee, the focus is on the women bikers. I spoke with Dee tonight, she's doing really well and had a great day. Her cold is abating and she's feeling good. It goes with out saying I/ we miss her dearly but I am so proud of what she's accomplished thus far and envy the experiences and vistas she is privy to.

I spent today where I will spend tomorrow and Saturday.... at the Pittsburgh International Airport as an extra on a movie set. Definitely a new experience for me. I met a lot of interesting folks, about 150, who were doing exactly what I was doing today....hanging out at a gate for 14 hours pretending to be air travelers while the real movie stars were being filmed. Amazingly, a number of the young folks I spoke with today in the 21 to 30 age range, do this work on a pretty much full-time basis. I secretly hoped I would be discovered by a Hollywood director today, but alas, no such luck.

Based on the limited dialogue I heard today, I'm thinking this film "She's Out of My League" will be released directly to DVD or late night cable. There have only been 2times in my life when I actually spent this amount of time in an airport, so I'm viewing this brief experience as a sort of karmic retribution for my past enjoyment of air travel destinations.

Whoops, sorry, it's Dee's Blog, the pictures speak volumes about life on the road with two wheels and no engine. Take care, Rob.

60 miles of sunshine and open road...

Hi All-- I never dreamed I would be on line today. I am getting faster in my riding which allows me to get in to camp --and in to town (if there is one)to look around and maybe find a library! There are 4 of us here at the library using each of their computers --and their bathroom--and I am charging my IPOD! We are a needy bunch when we hit a town! I really need my IPOD at night since I sleep less than most of humanity! It is too long of a night in a tiny tent without music. Last night when we were still at Mt Davis state park we were visited by both Javelinas and skunks at the same time! It was comical....all of us trying to move them out of camp....and then the skunk was hanging around near Mattie's tent.....all of this left me wide awake and ready for the day to begin, and it was only 2:30AM.

The ride today was 59 miles long -- and my favorite-- rolling hills and gradual climbs. I absolutely love riding beside trains! I feel like I am in the wild west (OH-I am!)...I always wave to them...and they always sound their whistle.....

Our "rest day" went quickly yesterday ,but we loved having it at the state park ---today was a great ride --after our first 28 miles we stopped in the small town of Alpine and hung out in a cool local cafe. We are a big family group --so these small towns seem to enjoy us. It is especially fun to meet other bikers...Frank met an man in his 80's who had raced in Italy as a young man, and today we met a nice guy who was talking about his son who had done the first 1976 bicentennial ride that Adventure cycling had mapped out.

We are camped in the town of Marathon -- and lately I have been sleeping under the stars without a tent. I love the feeling-- and there has been enough wind to keep bugs off. I am trying to get the rest of the group to do the same ...and tonight Sheryl says she will join me. Andy says if you do this you have to sleep naked --geesh -- where does he get this stuff? I told him it was his shirt that brought the Javelina's to our camp last night -- message--time for a clean shirt Andy!
Also --tomorrow we are on to Sanderson, Texas and that is where part of the film "No Country for Old Men" was filmed!

Well- there is only one food store in this town and since 3 of us on the computers are cooks or helpers, we must be going-- love to you all--Dee

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Lines across my face...

Hey all, I am finally glad to have a moment here to say hi and catch you up on what is going on. I rode for 64 miles the other day with a re-occuring song in my mind --Brandi Carlisle's , The Story. "All of these lines across my face--tell you the story of who I am....." I am getting many lines across my face....sun lines, salt lines, tear lines, lines that make me feel humble, lines from hours of each day that I am smiling--feeling so full of what I am doing--rich beyond expression.

Our entire group is very happy today--for one, we are being rejoined by one of our dear riders named Dave, who was hospitalized with flu and dehydration for 2 days. We have all been worrying about him, and hoping he could rejoin us soon. Once you throw up on this trip it is nearly impossible to get re-hydrated on your own. This is also one of our days off from riding. We are camped at Fort Davis, a beautiful state park in Texas. It was built during the days of Franklin Roosevelts era of the WPA and CCC and it is a stunning example of that kind of building! I was so excited I could not sleep last night much--so I got up early -showered and by then their was a group ready to hunt down real coffee at the lodge. The lodge is so cool, set in to the mountains, beautifully done, and the waitress that served us coffee has a baby due in May she is naming her Ylsa.

One of our riders named jeff who had re-joined us at the Black Range Lodge continues to suffer from some health issues and has had to leave our group! It was a sad morning leaving that church in Fort Davis --and Frank took a sweet poignant picture of Jeff looking at us all as we rode off that morning. Jeff will be missed by us all, but especially by his 2 riding partners Herb and Tom. We called the three of them "the wedge" --and they were an awesome team! Two days ago I rode BRIEFLY in Jeffs position with them -- thats all I could do --but it was for Jeff! As I said before, there is not alot of room for illness on this adventure since we ride so much each day. I have had a cold , but seem to be fine today and otherwise I feel great. Today we are riding without our paniers (since they are at camp)and what a different feeling that is. I am so used to all the weight --it actually felt like my front tire was loose! Last night a skunk was in our camp and all our food itams had to be in trees since this park has a Javelina problem!

It is sunny today and the sky is so blue --all of us riding in to town today--again- just reminds me of a group of wild kids with a day in a small town to fill with adventure! Some folks are going horseback riding, some of us are going for a milkshake (celebrating our first 1000 miles) some of us going to the local thrift shop to look for a birthday gift for Eileen! I have now gone 4 days without a flat ,so we are hoping the tire liners have sloved my problem!

So, despite the lines that leave my face looking like a elderly American Indian woman -- I am proud beyond belief of where I am -- and each and every line! Riding on-- with love -- Dee

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Into the State of Texas - more photos

We heard from Dee on Sunday night. The group was just outside of El Paso Texas. As Dee was talking to us on her cell phone, she was sitting on tree stump, looking down on to fields of cotton with mountain ranges to the west. She said they had been biking past miles of hot pepper fields the day before. They will have a rest day soon and then have a 70+ mile day and a 90+ mile day later this week. She sounded great. They are staying in a church tonight which means they don't have to set up tents. Some church members also cooked a main course for their dinner and baked a cake for them so it makes for an easier evening and the kindness was really appreciated. Here are some more photos from Herb Lee and Dee. I received a memory chip from Dee's camera so the enclosed pics are a mix of Dee and Herb's photos. Take care folks, Rob

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Some Pics from the Trip

Here are some photos from Dee's trip. They were taken by one of her fellow riders, a gentleman named Herb Lee. Dee has mailed me a memory chip from her camera so I will be able to post them once it arrives. I haven't asked Herb's permission to use these pics so I'm hoping he won't mind. They convey a neat sense of the scenery they are biking through and I thought you'd enjoy supplementing your mental pictures with some actual photos. I believe Dee and the group have made it into the state of Texas today. So three states down and five more to go although crossing Texas represents almost a third of the entire trip. I'm hoping Dee will have another post on the blog soon. Take care, Rob.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

In the midst of my movement there is stillness--

Our trip continues and our entry in to New Mexico was spectacular! Flying downhill from the high desert region of eastern Arizona to the pale yellow soft waving grasses, farms,pines,and horses of western New Mexico. It was like entering OZ -- it was breath taking! I continue to hold the group record for 7 flat tires -followed by Mattie with 6. Some have had none- which doesn't seem fair. I hate litter more than ever! That is what causes all our flats!

The constant climbing is still the toughest part for me.I am getting stronger and probably by the time I totally master 6-14 mile climbs (if that's possible) we will be in St Augustine! Today we arrived in Kingston, New Mexico. We are surrounded by the Gila National Forest which is the largest wild area protected in the southwest. It has thankfully been protected since 1899, and became the WORLD'S first "Wilderness Area" in 1924. It will not be long before there will be a hiking trail from Mexico to Canada that will connect with the Continental Divide Trail.We crossed the Continental Divide 2 days ago and it was amazing--big blue sky and high winds...Andy took my and Dave's picture at the sign as I was trying to catch my breath from the climb to it.

Wildlife in this area includes lions, fox, pronghorn antelope, and the javelina--and of course tons of cool birds! Much of the history of the 1800's in this area is about the "fever" for gold ,silver,and copper. Tha Apaches,originally a peaceful nomadic hunter/gathering tribe who later fought bravely to preserve their last stronghold in the Black Range, were run out and minors became instant millionaires.The famous outlaw, billy the Kid loved this Black Range area too --some of his best hideouts were in these hills.

You can imagine how excited we were to be reunited with Jeff and Kristina --our two missing riders --at the Black Range Lodge where we are staying! This is an incredible Bed and Breakfast--and the whole group instantly felt comfortable and at home! Last night the Inn keepers cooked us a turkey dinner! It was wonderful and just what we needed! Today is our "rest day" and we are all enjoying every moment of this time! Mostly we are reading, listening to music, fixing and cleaning bikes, laundry,looking at each other's photos and some are napping. I still have no handle on the art of the Nap--too much to see and neb in to! I would love to have a lodge like this in Ohiopyle--do you think Rob or Mary would be my partner??? Not if I go running off on bike tours huh!?? LOL...Again thanks for all your messages --I love hearing from you all! I feel safe. I am challenged beyond reason. And-I am happy for this day off my bike!

Mattie says his bike racing trainer once told him to ride with his head first (be safe) and then with his heart. My heart and head have always battled out this concept...but in general I am practiced at the "leap of faith"...and my heart and my head try to comprimise!

I guess I can't speak for every mother who has lost a child, but for me I have spent part of each day in the past 3 1/2 years looking for Ty. It is deep in the sub-conscious-but when it comes forth --I am looking. I see the slant of his young shoulders, or a boy trying to walk on his hands in the park, a BMX rider, a young paddler, a teenager showing off---It's a flash -it's brilliant--it's seconds. Louis Kahn, the poet wrote, Knowledge is a book that is incomplete. It will always be incomplete. and that Wonder is the forerunner of all knowing. So---I wonder, and I accept the brilliant flashes of finding-- and ride foreward.

In the Midst of my movement--there is stillness in a way I have longed for.
Love to you all--- Dee

Monday, April 7, 2008

# 14 - New Mexico and the Continental Divide - Ghost Post

Dee called tonight now that she has cell phone coverage again. They have crossed the Continental Divide and are solidly in New Mexico. The scenery has been among the most beautiful thus far. At times Dee said she has trouble keeping her eyes on the road which I have found to be true whether she is driving a car or apparently, riding a bike. She will send me a memory chip from her camera so I will be able to load some pictures of Dee & company onto the Blog.

They have arrived in Silver City, New Mexico. Yesterday, was a fifty miler but 14 miles of it were a fairly sustained up grade on the way to the Continental Divide. It was a difficult day especially for 2 riders on recumbent bikes which are not as easy on big hills since your are not sitting directly over your pedals. The down hills have been steep and intense. They ride to Black Range Lodge tomorrow where they will have a much needed rest day. Dee is looking forward to getting on a computer and doing a post. I believe she has the unenviable distinction of most flats - she's up to 7 but said today's was caused by riding over a piece of barbed-wire that was unavoidable.

Evenings have been chilly at these higher elevations - a bit below freezing at night. Dee said some riders went to Wal-Mart to get some extra clothing to sleep in but Dee has a really great sleeping bag that, while warmer than she needed on some nights, has been just the ticket in the cooler weather (she also confided that she was too tired to bike to the Wal-Mart at the end of today's ride). She does miss having a real pillow, a fluffy one like she's been used to for the past 30 years.

The group of folks she's with has been great. Even the leader, Andy, said it is one of the nicest trips he's ever led. They are expecting the two missing riders to rejoin them on their rest day so they hope to be full-force again in 2 days.

As always, Dee asked about the comments that folks have left (it's not like she's keeping score) but to tell her that there are over 20 comments waiting for her to read since she last saw the Blog, adds to her anticipation. Thanks for all your support, it means a lot to all of us. Jamie, Kali and I are doing well. Jamie and I are planning a whitewater trip in West Virgina this Friday and Saturday. I'm hoping Dee will have a new post up either tomorrow or the next day. Thanks folks. Robbie

Thursday, April 3, 2008

After a hard day...Starry, Starry Night

I did not think I would get this chance to write...last night when I arrived at camp I was not sure I would make it to morning. Naw-- I'm fine....but it is an an exhaustion like nothing I have ever felt before. One night I laid down to sleep and I was too tired to take my glasses off. But you know me...I hate to miss anything, so in a short time I was enjoying helping the group get our evening meal ready. Many of you wonder about the food --yep-it's true ...the carbs are plentiful...but still I miss my salads. Two "cooks" and 2 "helpers" are assigned each day, but of course many in the group come to help the cook crew if they have no bike repairs and their tent is set up. Sometime at the end of the day we purchase that night's dinner and the next mornings breakfast and lunch. At breakfast we prepare our lunch and depending on the length of that day's ride it is a 3 sandwich day or a two sandwich day --we get 1 or 2 pieces of fruit--and 3 cookies or trail mix . My love of peanut butter is great, because for the last few years I have had to limit it so much. We carry 3 big pots and 2 small ones and whatever you think of to cook has to be done with that. Pasta, rice, with some meat and veggies just about sums it up. We have some spices, but we have to be careful since everything left over has to be carried forward.

Enough on meals -- the stars are beyond description when we are in these small towns. Last night we camped at Superior, Globe Arizona...and then on to Safford, which is a 79 mile day.

Yesterday was a tough day --a huge mountain pass to get through and lots of construction going on. Just getting out the Phoenix/Tempe area was a 30 mile day. Well--I did it ,but not without a bit of a cry. Honestly this type of exhaustion (and I needed to eat something probably) brings you to a fairly emotional level. What a sight --me riding up this big mountain pass in tears-- really -a couple of the construction workers looked like they were ready to leave their post and give me a ride ...It all ends up making me laugh and my mini breakdowns are very mini --so don't worry! At one point Andy rode up and said, "why are you crying, you did it, you're only 10 miles from town. I had to laugh...10 more miles- after 50 grueling ones is just too funny!

Yesterday was Nick's birthday. He is our second youngest rider at 43. Doug's favorite saying is,"It's all good" --so--the goofy bunch that we are made it our job to say that as much as possible yesterday. Corny I know -- but we thought we were so funny...again, I blame the exhaustion. No cake, but we did have a pack of Oreo's to celebrate! He is a great guy from California...and loves touring. He takes every opportunity he has to go to a museum or art gallery....or stop and take a cool picture.

This is rattlesnake country and you have to be very careful --especially this time of year. We are in Globe, Arizona camped at a cool community center. Our colorful tents are all pitched on a grassy area in front of the center. Looks like nice showers are in order tonight! Tomorrow is 79 miles, so I am already mentally preparing myself for this journey. It is such a beautiful area--we are at about 3000 to 4000 feet in elevation and climbing. The sky is big and blue today and I didn't think this town would have a library that I could ride to, but Jan and Shiryl and I all rode back in to town to explore a bit. We are now 3 days away from New Mexico.After tomorrow's big ride we will be in Stafford, Arizona --just off of route 70.

The owner of last night's campground lost a son (Luke) and she and I were talking about this loss and I told her about Ty. Her son was killed by a drunk driver. I showed her my little tiny photo's I carry on a chain that Maryann Reiger made me and "Anonymous" paid for. They are very special, and I love having them with me. Thankyou Anonymous (whoever you are).. it is a gift that I treasure.

Last night was very cold --once the sun goes down the temperature drops quickly. I love sleeping in this weather. My chain broke yesterday and a sweet guy named Doug helped me put on my handy little replacement link which I had luckily just bought at the last bike shop we were at. Doug's bike is black and so are his panniers --I threatened to make him listen to Johnny Cash songs on my ipod as a thankyou for helping me with my chain. He is a mountain biker mostly I think...but is loving this type of bike touring. The guys play a game where they hide a door knob they found on the side of the road in each others someone at the end of the day finds they have been packing this stupid doorknob. We girls have threatened their lives if they try to involve us and so far they have repected the warning.

Back to the community center now-- nice grass to set the many colorful tents up on. We look like a traveling circus of sorts...and at moments thats how it feels. We can still often hear coyotes at night and soon we will be in "wild pig" country. They are called havalinas I believe. I have to go love ,Dee (my time is up again!!!)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Post # 12 - Ghost Post

The leisure of the rest day is behind them now. They left the Phoenix/ Tempe area this morning. Dee said today's ride was long and quite hot - about 65 miles - and involved riding in a lot of heavy traffic and construction areas for the first part of the day which was at times unnerving. They got to the campsite on the late side which often means making & eating dinner in twilight or the dark. One of the riders has come down with an infection and will meet up with the group in 4 days in New Mexico if the antibiotics work.

The mountains of New Mexico are steeper and more sustained than the ones they encountered in California. Dee figures she is definitely better prepared and more in shape than she was during the first few days of the trip, but there are clearly some hard days on the near horizon. I think that while you do get in better shape and more used to the routine of daily biking, this is somewhat offset by cummulative fatigue which is not necessarily cured with 1 rest day.

She loved the rest day and if she had her druthers, I think Dee would opt for having the trip last two weeks longer to afford more time to chat with locals and lessen the mileage of some of the longer days. I think she is eager to get through New Mexico and into Texas and beyond as the terrain will be less intense as far as long hills.

She really loved the chance to read all your comments and is eager to get to a computer to read the new ones and write another post. Thanks folks. I'll post more as I hear from Dee.


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Tempe Arizona...let yourself anticipate the bliss...

Finally a chance for me to catch up with all of you. Your messages are so incredible--and make me feel so supported-thankyou--- thankyou all...

Tempe is a great place. Very bicycle friendly --they have over 165 miles of bike trails and some of the trails go under roads and major intersections which is very cool --blasting through an underground tunnel of sorts. more than 3.5 percent of Tempe residents ride thier bikes to is a great area.

Every day of this journey is filled with wonder. I ride for hours lost in thought and find myself laughing, and at moments crying-- Our 2nd to the last day in California was incredible. It was 72 miles of sheer desert--huge heat- huge mountains- huge expanses of sand. I felt like some kind of wild run-away desert princess flying along on my bike. OK --there are occasional moments of groaning and moaning related to my sore butt! One set of mountains we passed were called the Chocolate Mountains, made me think of that great old kids game Candy Land!

The desert has a beauty not everyone appreciates--but nestled among the dunes of the Imperial Valley are amazing small towns, farms, and many cool unusual irrigation systems. Huge crops of hay, cotton, onions line some of the roads we ride beside. I am drawn to the people and love every chance I get to talk to folks along the way. Our leader, Andy, asked me if I was running for office or something. This is his way of saying --get a move on!! He cracks me up, a bunch of us were talking in the middle of a highway division yesterday and he rode up and said "Unless you are having sex at this intersection, get the ---- out of the middle of the road!! He and I go round and he said a swear word at Breakfast and I only had to look at him and he stopped and laughed. Thalya --is that what you did to Rob and the guys way back when they got out of control?? No-- Andy is doing a great job --but thinks I am from another planet! He teases me about "Curves"...and I told him to be careful or I would have him knocked off about 200 prayer lists! Any time we pass a Curves I get 16 reports( from my fellow bikers) of the "spottings" --it's funny!

One young boy (about 8) asked us, "what are you doing?" -- we told him, "riding our bikes across the country"....he thought for a moment and said "Why don't you just drive a car?" -- and then on further thought added-- or you could fly in an airplane! Funny huh??

On Saturday March 29th we rode out of California and in to Arizona. I was bursting at the seams. We all stopped for photos, but then moved along quickly with so much uphill (50-60 miles)time to put in before we made it to our campground. So--I now have 2-3 70 mile days under my belt. These are tough physical days on this terrain with loaded bikes. The guys assure me they are tired and sore too, but most of the time they make it look pretty easy!

Two nights ago we camped on a grassy area outside a recreation center at a campground. this grassy area was too small for all our tents, so a bunch of us all stayed in the rec room. It was one of those "ageless moments" I could have been 12 at a big sleep-over or 20 on a camping trip-- or are we now 40 or 60 -- there was lots of laughing and teasing, poker, Ipod sharing, beer,tea, --a wonderful moment to forget what year it was and to remind oneself of how unimportant age really is...oopps...I am out of space and library time I guess.. By 4/6 we will be crossing in to New Mexico. This "down day" feels wonderful. I am well. More later.. love, Dee

Let yourself anticipate the bliss- remember the unforgettable. Let yourself go....