Miles Today: 79
Miles to Date: 9,694
States to Date: 25
Bicycle touring is ripe with contrast. I rose with the sun and breakfasted on Greek yogurt with fresh blackberries and excellent coffee with my host Matthew. The sun shimmered off the Pacific Ocean and San Diego skyline when we rode away from his spacious hillside home. By sunset I was grinding the final kernels from a bag of microwave popcorn in my concrete block room at the Ocotillo Motel, the only guest in the four-room compound set in the middle of a dusty trailer park. The Red Feather general store was already closed for the day and it was too early to go to the Lazy Lizard Saloon.
In between, I made the physical and psychic shift from coast to inland, a shift aided by favorable tailwinds and the excitement of turning the second corner of my journey. I’m heading east! The ride was a series of big climbs, over 6,600 vertical feet, with small dips until the end, when I had to join Interstate 8 for a harrowing eight-mile descent. As I moved east, the close-cropped hills began sprouting boulders. Then the mix of soil and rock equalized. By the time I reached the western edge of the Imperial Valley, the mountains were literally gigantic piles of rock.
California 94 is a superb road with fun twists and great views despite the clouds and chill. I figure it’s so well maintained for security reasons: there’s little traffic except for Border Patrol and Sherriff vehicles. It’s quiet except for the helicopter’s tracking the corridor overhead. I stayed off I-8 as long as possible by taking Old Highway 80 through Jacumba, a remnant place within a stones throw of Mexico bypassed by the freeway. I took a break and contemplated the wall. When it comes to nations, I don’t agree with my fellow New Englander Robert Frost that good fences make good neighbors. This fence inhibits our ability to be good neighbors. It may be an obstacle to immigration, but it is not a solution.
Dinner at the Lazy Lizard (home of the Testicle Festival) was a low-culinary experience worth remembering: microwaved sandwiches and soft pretzels. The food hardly mattered since I got to wash it down with Shock Top on draft. I was the last customer when I left at seven p.m. Walking back to the Ocotillo Motel, the night was pitch black, except for magnificent stars.