Friday, July 6, 1984
Window Rock to Keams Canyon, Ariz.
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 started riding across the wide expanse of the Navajo Reservation this morning and added to our tribe.
Just a few miles outside of Window Rock, we overtook bicyclist Geraldine Onslow, a spunky Brit from south of London, and her troupe.
Her’s is a tale of tragedy and determination. She and her sister collected pledges for a cross-USA trip back home to raise money for cancer research after their father died of the disease. Geraldine, her sister Jane, and a cousin, James, who drove the support van, set out from New York City.
In West Virginia, an 80-year-old motorist ran into the back of Jane’s bike. Both legs were broken in the collision, and she spent three weeks in a Morgantown hospital before returning home. Geraldine persisted, however, and a number of friends and relatives have ridden portions of the route with her.
Now, it’s a friend, Annabelle. They’re getting close to the end of their journey and they’re glad for more company. So are we. Although it will be tough to resist the temptation to strip all the gear of our bikes, chuck it in the van, and go lightweight. We renewed our pledge to carry all our gear all the way to the Pacific coast.
Bruce and I got a good laugh out of Geraldine’s cycling clothes. She found regular cycling shorts too uncomfortable, so she’s wearing men’s boxers and using a lamb’s wool saddle cover.
We stopped at the old Hubbell Trading Post, the oldest trading post on the Navajo Reservation, to eat on picnic tables, then continue along nearly deserted Route 264 to Keams Canyon in the Hopi Reservation.
The landscape is all reddish brown. Very few dwellings or other places to stop. We have to take care to fill our water bottles and carry extra water, as there aren’t the frequent country stores we’d pass earlier in the trip.
Late in the day we hit gusty winds. Although you could see for miles, the town of Keams Canyon was invisible until we dropped off the lip of the canyon and into the sort of oasis. The Brits stayed in the town’s only motel, and Bruce and I camped at a city park, where sand had piled in drifts.
Jamie dropped by for a while. He’s been driving the van the whole way and is starved for some male companionship. Later, I walked to the top of a small hill and watched the sky turn red from the sunset.
Headline: July 6, 1984 —Vyacheslav M. Molotov, 94, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister under Stalin,
has been reinstated on the Communist Party …
Rough terrain Route 264. Lots of roller coaster hills. Just outside Window Rock, we ran into a cyclist and her sag wagon. Geraldine Onslow of London, is cycling across country–east to west–to raise money for cancer. Her father died of cancer the year before and she and her sister wanted to do something in his memory.
Unfortunately, her sister was hit by an 84-year-old motorist in Morgantown, W.Va. She broke her back and was forced to go home to London in a body cast. But Geraldine and her driver, Jamie, 19, (a family friend) continued on. The group had only been on the road for two weeks or so when the accident occurred.
We traveled all day with them (Annabelle, a friend from London, is also on the trip for a week or so) and it was enjoyable for all of us to have a diversion on the road.
It was a tough day, but we made Keam’s Canyon–some 70 miles–by 5 p.m. Actually, it was 6 p.m., but on the Hopi Reservation, where we now are, they recognize Pacific Time. It’s confusing, but that’s the way it is.
Our campground was nothing but sand, and the wind was blowing everything around. Still, we made spaghetti, with the blown sand an unwelcome ingredient and crawled into our tent, dirty, sticky and gritty.
Day 56: Ritual and conflict in Hopi-Navajo lands