the Great Arizona Ghost-town Adventure

in which Clinton and Karen visit absolutely no ghost towns, but ride bikes and sing lady gaga in the middle of nowhere, arizona.

i cannot possibly narrate this excursion without taking up more of your time than i actually spent biking. i shall attempt to summarize everything in the form of a timeline. this will be difficult because i didn’t use a watch, phone, calendar or computer for the whole trip, nor have i really made habits of using them for the past five weeks. i wake up when the coyotes howl.

the FIRST day: we went to see twilight (speaking of coyotes….). i am definitely “team jacob.” i had never given it much thought, and i still haven’t really, but i’m announcing it to internetland regardless. have you seen the website mylifeistwilight dot com? i can’t even tell if it’s 4 billion people mocking 4 billion ridiculous fangirls, or if there are actually 4 billion ridiculous fangirls. it disturbs me. Anyway…. enough with the bicycle-irrelevant material. After Twilight it was twilight and we FINALLY left (roughly 36 hours after our scheduled departure time). chariots of fire played in our heads as we rolled out of tucson, ready to take on this whole desolate state. we had 500 miles worth of unplanned plans.

We slept on the top of a hill overlooking the old pueblo. thoughts that night and morning included (these are both clint’s and mine….we shared them. like a pack of werewolves):

why is the ground so uncomfortable?          oh shoot, my sleeping bag is broken. is a snake is going to crawl into bed with me.      OH MY GOD THOSE COYOTES ARE FIVE FEET AWAY.  we’re going to be EATEN.           why is the sun out already? i’m still tired.           whose are those voices? oh god, other cyclists! don’t move and maybe they won’t see us….               hey, look we slept next to a snake hole.         oh wait, a hornet of JURASSIC PROPORTIONS just crawled out of there. and ANOTHER.         …maybe we should get out of here…      the ground is shiny. apparently we slept on shards of broken glass. lets not wait till dark to pick our next campsite.           how long did we spend unsuccessfully trying to hide from those cyclists behind a rock? do we care how ridiculous we looked?          yes. no.

we started biking midday (great idea, yeah? i hear mid arizona summer day is awesome if you’re into dehydration and sun poisoning) and stopped around 2 for some cheap mexican food (we get up at noon and start to work at one….take an hour for lunch and then at two we’re done. jolly good fun!). then we kept going. it was all uphill.

after about 45 miles, clinton was sunburnt like a white person in arizona who was too lazy to put on sunscreen. which is exactly what he was. (is it still a simile if you compare something to itself?) he could literally no longer be in the sun without searing pain (much like a vampire of the non-glittery variety) so he decided we MUST get a motel and let his skin rest. and we’d get up early the next morning. really. seriously. EARLY.

le sigh. so many great ideas reduced to nothing after the comfort of a real bed instead of shooting range debris.

early wednesday morning: we were still asleep. we woke up at eleven. gah! decided we had to get out of there anyway, so we made our way to the mexican restaurant (again) for lunch and really truly sincerely-from-the-bottom-of-our-excercised-hearts INTENDED to go to the nearby ghost town…but it was so hot. and the pool at the motel was so cute and had a nice view and we were the only tenants and sure, there was a cockroach in the shower but who needs showers?

so that day we didn’t make it past the conveniently placed convenience store where the clerk saw us and asked why we were still there.    small towns are small.

we bought tequila. too much tequila. and watched a lot of television. and it would have been a great idea if we didn’t have intentions of biking up what was a fifteen-mile 7% grade hill the next day.

friday morning: we woke up hung over and completely demotivated dehydrated and deodorized (the latter being a complete falsification). we went to the mexican restaurant again, making absolutely sure that we had officially spent more time sitting in mexican restaurants than actually on our bikes during this bike trip. and then we left what had been our home for nearly two days for the last time. dearest mammoth, arizona: you’re lovely. maybe i’ll come back to you someday. some winter day. in a car.

we were four miles up the hill when we started to believe we’d have to go back to mammoth, never to leave. ever. elevation is a horrible thing. so hard to gain, so quickly lost. though we had been apprehensive about hitchhiking before, being out of water in 108 degrees with 2000 feet and 11 miles to go makes it a LOT easier. i started to hold it personally against every driver who passed us, staring straight ahead. humanity is vile! don’t they have sympathy for a couple of hung over non-arizonan stranded cyclists?

apparently not.

eventually, My New Best Friend Anthony showed up and gave us a lift. I really wanted to tell him that he was my new best friend since he just saved our effing lives, but i didn’t want to freak him out and have him not take us all the way up the hill, so I restrained myself and left it at “thank you so so so so so so so (11 miles of so) much.” there are moments when i think there is a god. because it’s so much easier to believe in god than in luck and the kindness of strangers, don’t you think? the air conditioning in his jeep felt holy.

from the top of the hill it was only 35 miles to tucson. clint really didn’t want to sleep outside again, citing rain and poisonous reptiles, so we decided to head back. we watched the sun setting on the catalinas and monsoons miles away all around us. there were rainbows. there were cool breezes from afar. there was a cute but very empty hamburger place. there was only one flat tire.

then there was tucson: post desert rain, steaming and glorious.

it was not what we planned at all, but it was totally completely worth it.


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