Saturday, July 14, 1984
Prescott to Aguila, Arizona
I’m reprinting the day-to-day journal entries of a cross-country bike tour my friend and I took in 1984. More about the TransAmerica Tour 1984
We’re camping at the City Park in Aguila tonight. We’ve left all the cool, shady mountains behind us, and we’re out where it’s dry, sunny and hot. The park doesn’t have much; just a picnic shelter and a small building for restrooms.
At the back of this building is a water spigot that drips. In the puddle underneath there sits a toad. I noticed him when I went to get water. I didn’t want to scare him away, but he didn’t move when I got my water. It struck me that he’s probably spent his whole life right around here. Where would he have come from? Where could he go? It’s all desert around here. He’s got it all right there in that puddle. When I went back to get water later, the toad was still there.
We were still in the mountains this morning. Bruce mounted his new chain, we broke camp and cycled uphill into the Bradshaw Mountains. As we climbed further, the weather began to break up, trapping fog in the canyons below. As we descended, we coasted straight through these clouds. They looked puffy and white from above but turned gray as we tunneled through them.
We coasted downhill for 10 miles, as the landscape changed from pine to sage. About 20 miles miles brought us to Kirkland Junction at 4,100 feet, then through the lush green and rolling Peeples Valley. We could see the Weaver Mountains ahead and found they were relatively easy to climb. After Yarnell, at 4,700 feet, we stopped just west of town to see what lay ahead.
The overlook gave us a clear view of desert, all brown and dry. We screamed downhill, losing 2,500 feet in 4 miles. We both slowed to a near stop at a hairy hairpin turn about halfway down.
Who should we run into in Congress but Jim. We ate at TJ’s Cafe, where the cook warned us the route ahead to Yuma and Imperial Valley would be hot, desolate and barren. Various types of cacti — cholla, saguaro and beavertail — dotted the landscape. Down the road, in Aguila, center of a huge cantalope growing region, we stopped for beers at the Desert Schooner. The owner said the restaurant’s oaken “bar” was more than 100 years old and came from the Bucket of Blood saloon in Prescott’s Whiskey Row. She pointed to a bullet hole in the wood.
Friends from UK
We rode right down the street to the city park. Shortly after we had our stuff spread out in the picnic shelter, the familiar blue van carrying our friends for the UK pulled up. They had just arrived from Phoenix where they had picked up Widge’s cousin, Harriet, at the airport. She was going to ride the rest of the way to LA. We agreed to meet at 5 in the morning to get started on our next leg through the desert to Quartzsite.
Jim, our resident trail leech, really got on my nerves tonight. The beer made him more obnoxious than ever. I was so distracted by his yammering about the local Hispanic population that I dumped our cooked dinner onto the ground while trying to drain it. We got to do something about guy.
Headline: July 14, 1984 — China announced it repulsed an attack from Vietnam after 10 hours of combat.
I changed my chain this morning just before it rained. Despite of the wear on my freewheel, the chain took. It was like pedalling a new bike.
The rain started heavy as we left White Spar and we had a several-mile climb through the Prescott forest. It was beautiful, even in the rain. The clouds and fog were hanging in the mountains and it made for great pictures. We then descended for many miles, losing a good deal of elevation.
Meet up with Jim
On into Yarnell and then Congress. We came down 7 miles of Weaver Mountain into Congress. Traffic was one-way down the mountain so we could really cruise. We met Jim in Congress and had lunch at TJ’s Cafe. The cook was telling us how hot, desolate and barren the rest of our trip would be to Yuma and the Imperial Valley. A woman in Aguila said it was 107 degrees this afternoon.
Aguila is much nicer than we thought. We arrived at about 2 p.m. and went to the Desert Schooner for a few beers. The bar there was large and oak and so nice that I inquired about it. The owner said it was more than 100 years old and came from the “Bucket of Blood” bar in Prescott on Whiskey Row, where we had been the day before.
Anyway, she showed us where a bullet hole in the bar had almost killed the former owner. We drank several beers and then hit the city park. It’s not bad here. There are toilets, water and a shelter. No showers, but I stripped down and got clean with the spigot.
Tonight for diner: tuna casserole, except Bis just dumped a can of cream of mushroom soup on the ground — second time he’s dropped dinner . . .
Here in Aguila they are in the middle of cantaloupe harvest season. About 400 or so migrants come for 1 or 2 months. They have two harvests for cantaloupes and two for lettuce. The town is in the middle of the desert, but it’s green here because of irrigation.
We ran back into the London crew this afternoon. Jamie’s friend didn’t show, but Geraldine’s cousin Harriet did. They are in a motel tonight and will meet us in the morning (5 a.m.) for the ride to Quartzsite.