Don and I enjoyed a late dinner of soup and salad last night at Essence of Tranquility. It was good catching up with him and comparing where we had stayed and what we had seen since we were last camping together. Our meal was accompanied with cervezas and some medicinal agave juice. I thought the combination of this and a day soaking in the hot springs would lead to a good night’s sleep, but that did not come to pass. Instead, I was awakened frequently by coyotes, donkeys, roosters and dogs. I tracked the progress of the night through the movement of Ursa Major overhead and at first light, I headed off to Safford for breakfast and then on toward Globe.
The initial portion of today’s route was through the agricultural area around Safford, Thatcher and Pima with their freshly plowed fields ready for cotton planting. As Mt. Graham fell behind me, I rode into the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation. It was here that I had to deal with my first dog in many weeks. He was a very large rottweiler that took off after me from the opposite side of the highway. Given his size, I normally would have been confident that I could outride him; however, on this particular morning I chose to have the “Lumberjack Special” at Denny’s for breakfast and was feeling extremely weighed down. This was one frightening dog and I was growing concerned about how I was going to respond when he caught up to me. But, my dog karma held, and after about a 100 yard chase the dog was blocked by oncoming traffic and I was able to make my escape.
In Fort Thomas, I stopped at the local store – the first of several water breaks today. It was one of those fascinating places that attempts to have one of everything from live minnows to used tires to rifles to stuffed rattlesnakes to nail guns to movies on VCR. It was also a gas station, mini mart and restaurant. A bit later, I also stopped in Bylas where I noticed several cars parked in a dirt lot with signs that said “Food Sale”. One of them offered a favorite of mine – Indian fry bread. I bought it for lunch from a woman who was as expressive as a moai. I’ve heard from others that the people on this reservation are not friendly and I did get a sense of that today.
The next fifty miles continued through the desert. In the cool morning air, lizards shot out from in front of my wheel like sparks. The colorful wildflowers continued their show with yellow marigolds, white daisies and purple lupine, in addition to the sage and mesquite. Later, as I started climbing toward Peridot, I saw my first saguaro of the trip. By the end of the day, they were everywhere. The other thing you see quite often are silent memorials to the dead. They come in the form of a crosses made out of wood, rebar, PVC pipe, ceramic or plastic. Many are decorated with garlands and flowers or contain offerings to the dead whether it be a personal note, an empty shot glass, a stuffed animal or a can of beer. It’s at once heartening and haunting.
I continued on through the remainder of the afternoon trying to stay hydrated in the rising heat. In Peridot, I went into a local store and bought a few bottles of beverages, the local Navajo Times newspaper and an ice cream, which I enjoyed on an outside bench while watching the locals. Feeling more refreshed, I arrived in Globe in the early evening. I rode downtown thinking that I could stay in the old section, but as with most of these small towns, the hotels have moved out to the highway. This is always disappointing to me. I hoped that I would be able to occasionally stay at an old local hotel in the heart of the town, but that seems to be a thing of the past.