for the next three days of our trip, we weren't tourists. we were riders. we just pounded out the interstate miles gettin' where we had to go. at our first gas stop out of New Mexico, we pulled off the freeway to get gas and gatorade (the staples of desert riding!) the convenience store operator was also a rider himself and had a fabulous route suggestion that would save us time and miles getting into Phoenix, it bypassed Tucson and covered some prettier miles on the old US highway route. ordinarily, we would both have leapt on the opportunity to get off the freeway, save time, save miles, and see Something Pretty. unfortunately, rose was experiencing an intermittent microphone problem with her CB, and that meant we couldn't take the cool route because we had to go to Tucson.
Tucson, you see, is the headquarters for J&M, the manufacturers of our CB units. so we glued our wheels to the interstate and pushed on into Tucson. it was hot as blazes, but the kind folks at J&M fixed the microphone free of charge and got us back on the road quickly. they even gave us good directions that bypassed the nasty interstate construction and traffic logjam attendant thereon. the directions were perfect, too. as we approached the freeway on-ramp from the city street, we could clearly see TRAFFIC NOT MOVING on the freeway. we figured we had been led astray. we'd have to sit in NOT MOVING TRAFFIC for a couple of miles until we got out of town and out of the construction. i'm not sure i can adequately express how miserable NOT MOVING TRAFFIC is when you're in the desert, straddling a 6-cylinder engine, wearing a black jacket, black gloves, black helmet, and deprived of any mechanism of air cooling aside from the hot exhaust coming out the tailpipes of the NOT MOVING TRAFFIC in front of you. but lo, as we accelerated up the ramp, it became clear to us that the on-ramp joined the freeway about 50 feet past the end of the construction zone. the traffic behind us was still NOT MOVING. we, on the other hand, were MOVING. yea!
we stayed over with friends in Maricopa, AZ which is just south of Phoenix. the next day we stopped off at a really unique little diner in Gila Bend, AZ for breakfast. The place was called "The Space Age Diner" and it was all decorated up to make you feel like you were in a space ship. Or, like you were in what people in the 50's thought space ships would be like, really. It paid tribute to all sorts of space stuff, both the historical and the fictional, the decor was fun and funky and the waitress kept the coffee coming. my girlfriend, the NASA groupie, loved it. i couldn't ask for more, especially at that hour of the morning. i'm literally rendered mute without coffee, and if i'm not i should be.
one of the other staples of desert riding is Getting Up At The Crack Of Dawn.
at that point in the day, the temps are relatively low but you can still see well enough to ride safely. so we did. those of you who know me know that i am more the Getting Up At The Crack Of Noon sort of girl. so mornings are all a little blurry in my head, but they mostly involve lots of coffee and me squinting at the horizon and asking "is that what sunrise looks like?"
sometimes the answer was "no, that's a power plant" or "no, that's a big truck with lots of yellow lights". eventually, i'd get it right. the sun would come up, and then it would be, as my friends in college liked to say "Africa Hot."
so, when you're powering out the miles on the interstate, there's not much to see. it goes like this: "oh, look! a... well, i'm not sure what it was. it went by so fast." but we played silly motorcycle games and we took pictures of each other. so for three days, the ride looked like this:
Riding with friends
Me on the Valk