Dave's Cross-Country Trip 2003

Day Twenty-one

by Dave Schultheis


Sunday, June 8, 2003 - Villanueva, New Mexico

I slept okay. I had some wild dreams (it could have been the salsa!), which I cannot remember, and got up about 6 a.m.

By this time of the weekend, there were 8 people sleeping in the house, and there was one working bathroom. So it was necessary to "be flexible," but considering the alternative (a chemical toilet and no sink), it was just fine.

I removed the sheets and pillowcase and put them on the bed to make it easier for our hostess.

I finished packing and loaded the T-Bag onto the Road King, then said as many "goodbyes" and "thanks" as I could, while the bike was warming up. I missed saying goodbye to Lee Petersen, but he has said that he doesn't like goodbyes, and had left earlier.

It was cold as I left Amanda's at 6:30 a.m. Mountain Time. I rode slowly into Villanueva and then south on New Mexico Highway 3 for ten miles, then stopped on the ramp to westbound Interstate 40 for a load check. It was mighty cold, but I was dressed for it.

Just west of Edgewood NM, I expected to find a Bernalillo County sign on the highway, but there was none. There was sunshine, however, about 8 a.m., and as I rode through downtown Albuquerque on the highway, I kept looking for construction areas, but there were none, nor was there much traffic. For the first time in a long while, it was a pleasure to ride through the city. They had done a pretty good job of widening and improving the highway, and it looked nice. Although it was cold, but that's not their fault.

About 8:25 a.m. I stopped for fuel at a Chevron Station west of ABQ, where it was cold and sunny, then continued for more than an hour before stopping at McDonald's in Grants NM. I had planned to get som breakfast, but the joint was jumpin'; just too crowded for me, so I made use of the porcelain and paper towels and then continued west.

About an hour later, I stopped at another McDonald's in Gallup NM, where it was warm enough to remove the soft lowers. I didn't want to buy any jewelry from the Native American woman in the parking lot, but I gave her a dollar. Just down the street, I stopped at Wendy's, removed my lucky green shirt, gave another dollar to another Native American, and called home when I found I had cellular coverage.

[I have been asked why I sometimes stop at two places, instead of getting everything I want at one place. Sometimes I pick and choose, sort of "ala carte" meals, and sometimes it's because breakfast is served at one place and it's already lunchtime at another. In this case, I like one item that McDonald's makes and a different item that Wendy's makes. A Frosty from Wendy's will "keep" in the saddlebag for about 100 miles, depending upon the temperature. I can keep going, but still enjoy the Frosty at a rest stop many miles down the pike.]

After a fuel stop at a Shell Station before leaving (warm) Gallup, I continued another 25 minutes to the Arizona state line, where I took a couple pictures at the Arizona Welcome Center. It was windy and hot.

Although Arizona is in the Mountain Time zone, they do not observe savings time, so I was now operating, in effect, on Pacific Daylight Time, and it was 10:45 a.m.

The first mile marker I saw in Arizona was 358, then I stopped again at exit 311 for a picture at the Petrified Forest National Park, just off the highway, and helped another young couple by taking their picture. They did not offer to reciprocate.

I plodded west on I-40 through the hot temps. It was slightly cooler west of Winslow, and I stopped at a rest area about 12:40 p.m., where I helped a bunch of college-age boys take their picture on a huge rock, complete with goofy poses. A sign said that Flagstaff was another forty miles. I knew that it would be just about time for fuel again, and that it should be a little cooler, because Flagstaff is at a fairly high elevation.

About 1:30 p.m. I rolled into a Union 76 Station in Flagstaff, where it _was_ a little cooler, then continued west, and it was warm again near Williams.

I stopped for a Yavapai County photo, and then near Seligman there were brief sprinkles and intense winds.

At 3:00 p.m. I pulled into the Route 66 market in Seligman for fluid replenishment, and met a couple of riders from British Columbia on Harley-Davidsons. It was hot!

I stopped for fuel another hour later at a Shell Station at exit 48 in Kingman, and since there was a Wendy's right next door, I took advantage of the shade from a billboard and enjoyed the warm breeze for a few minutes.

Back on the highway, I could see Mother Road Harley-Davidson alongside I-40, but it was closed and there were no cars in the parking lot. There was a sign along the freeway in Kingman saying it was 95 degrees F. Surely it was at least that.

I was able to get another 25 miles or so before I had to stop for hydration at a rest area, west of Yucca AZ, between mile 23 and mile 22. About a mile after I got back on the freeway, Steph G. passed me, at about 5:15 p.m. He was in "making it home that day" mode, but I had much farther to go and it would be "home the next day" for me.

As I had been warned for a prior trip, probably by Steph, the late afternoon sun was low on the horizon, in my eyes, and burning my face. It was like riding in a blast furnace.

I crossed the Colorado River and re-entered California at 5:30 p.m. I didn't have to do any lane-sharing, but was glad to know that I could if I wanted.

There was a sign saying that Barstow was another one-hundred-forty-something miles, and my immediate reaction was, "no way, today."

It was hot as I stopped for the Agricultural Inspection Station, and of course it was hot as I got into Needles CA.

I hadn't stayed in Needles before (or it had been a very long time), so it was a little difficult finding my way around, but I came to rest at 6 p.m. at the "Budget Motel of Needles," where I saw that they had vacancies and it looked like I could park right by the door, in the shade. I was helped at the front desk by two very young (pre-teen?) east Indian girls, who checked me in to a room near the shady spot, and told me about the laundry across the street.

So I rode back to the shade and unloaded the bike. The room had a refrigerator and a microwave oven but no clock or radio. A radio would have been nice, but I don't need a clock. I put a few things down, then walked across the street and started a load of laundry. As long as I had down time, and laundry facilities were available, I might as well take home clean clothes.

While waiting for laundry, I went in search of fluids, and found an AM/PM mini-market just a few blocks away. Back from there, I put the drinks in the refrigerator, checked on the laundry, checked messages, called home and returned a few calls. On one of my trips back and forth, I saw the thermometer at the motel. It was 109 degrees F. in the shade. Aah, Needles!

I had to make two more trips across the street to put the last load of laundry into the dryer, then folded and brought it back when done, took a shower, turned on CNN for a while, then went to bed around 9:00 p.m. I figured that if I went to bed early, I would probably wake up early, and could get an early start.

Miles for the day = 628. Miles for the trip = 6429.

Tomorrow: more warm temperatures, more miles, and home again!


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Created on January 9, 2004. Updated on January 31, 2004.
David W. Schultheis, San Josť, Silicon Valley, Santa Clara County, California, USA