Something new & it might involve a crown!…Arizona & New Mexico, April, 2023

Pre-trip chaos
We arrived at midnight back at the airport from our wonderful trip to Californiabut that left only two days to finalize preparations for my longest road trip ever.thats Plan A anyway.  I had been preparing for about three weeks though ending up with five different packing lists, going thru gear, organizing Camper & getting her road ready.

Id also, in crazy thoughts from some other universe, thought this would be a great time to grow out my hair.  Danny, my sister-in-law-Janice (that cuts my hair) & Leiaall shook their heads when I said this commenting I wouldn’t like it.  I persevered going about 8 or 9 weeks without a haircut, but it only took the trip to California for me to "wave the white flag”…it was way too much work.  The great thing about short hair & travel is they go together like peanut butter & jelly…just perfect for each other.  So, I made an last minute text to Jan & she not only knows so me so well, but loves me too, & got an emergency haircut worked in….ahhhh…back to me!

Danny was off one of the two days, so he helped me load up the Thule road box & he washed & waxed Camper.  I will see him & get to spend travel time with him several weeks over the course of my trip.  But I am guilt ridden about my cats…

….& this didn’t make it any better.  (sad face).

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Do you think she’d make a good adventure kitty?

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Day 1 3.31
oops!  No pics on this travel day. The wind was evil the whole way west.  

I left home about 6:30am only stopping for gas & headed to Denver, CO…& here’s why:  A couple of years ago, I was staying at Sherry Otts house, a friend of mine, who lives in Denver.  She told me about this project her Dad had created for himself at age 47 & worked on for about 20 years.  He wanted to walk from Capital to Capital, connecting every state.  He planned & mapped it all  out, taking detailed notes of everything he’d done.  He is 87 now, still spry & healthy, but his walking long distances are over.  He completed 23 Capitals, but there was still over 8,000 miles to finish  Sherry was considering finishing his project, only by bicycle instead of walking it.  She’d started biking during the pandemic & fell in love with it. 

She asked me what I thought & I encouraged herbut I hadnt yet seen the map & probably didnt quite get all the intimidating riding that shed have to do.  But once she commits to something, shes all in.  Last year she completed two of the Capitals that he had started.  This trip would be her third one & I agreed to run SAG (Support & Gear) for her or as she calls it the “Logistic’s Queen”.  

Her father had walked just outside of Phoenix, the Capital of Arizona on his way to Santa Fe, the Capital of New Mexico.  So, for this route, she’d be starting where he left off in Arizona & biking all 450+ miles to Santa Fe.

I’ve never done anything like this before, but I was happy to be a part of her big project.  So, over the winter we discussed dates & ideas.  And now I was on my way to play Queen for a couple of weeks…not sure what I was getting myself in to, but I knew Sherry would make it fun & I can be a good cheerleader when needed.  Also, as it turns out, she liked someone who could appropriately worry….I highly skilled when it comes to worry (don’t ask my kids). 

I arrived in Denver in the afternoon & hauled all my stuff inside to her apartment that I didn’t want to leave in Camper while she’d be parked behind Sherry’s apartment building for the next couple of weeks.  Eeek!  I hate leaving my 4Runner.

Then Sherry took me out for a yummy dinner & cocktails at Stachels on 6th.  After walking back to her place, we spent the rest of the evening going over plans.

Sherry & I have hiked in CB together a few times & I went with her to Merida, Mexico a couple of years ago.This would be an adventure for me of a totatly different kind.

Day 2 4.1
We packed up her car early this morning & took off.  We snacked & talked & talked & snacked.

The mountains are still snow covered here in Coloradono surprise there.

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After 12 hours of solid driving, we ended up in Payson, AZ.  Home of Patty…one of Sherri’s friends who would be hosting us for a couple of nights.  Ive never been to Payson before, but after two days there, I know Ill be going back.  And not only because Patty & I became fast friends, but its a lovely community with beautiful forests surrounding the town, lots of wildlife & some good restaurants.

Patty made us a fantastic dinner!  We met her cat Jackwho wasn’t too happy about us staying there.  Hes a gorgeous cat, but likes Patty best & was very unsure about us the whole time we were there.  

We fell into bed full, tired & wondering what the next days would bring.  Wed driven some of the roads Sherry would be riding & they seemed dangerous & not encouraging for a bike rider.  Sherry looked at other options but there weren’t any.  Tomorrow she would be riding along the Beeline Highway, with a big shoulder but a 4,000’ climb alongside semis, giant RV’s & hundreds of cars. Sweet dreams?  I don’t think so.  Let the worry begin.

Day 3 4.2
Making our lunches for today while Sherry interviews me, & all three of us laughing & chatting trying to not think about todays ride.

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Pattythe BEST hostess EVER!  She had everything we might need & opened her home to us so generously.  We had so much fun staying with her.  Shes holding Awesome sauce a spicy mayo.  We both fell in love with this yummy sauce!

Caught Sherry in a moment of laughteryou couldnt tell that all three of us were kind of nervous on Day 1.

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Taking photos of the surrounding mountains while Sherry is getting ready for her ride.  Every morning, she attaches lights, an emergency bag, her bike computer, lathers herself with sunscreen, puts  on reflective gear, etc.  Lots to do for these big rides.

I was also hoping that the Wander Woman, two adventurous women that I follow on youtube & IG, are currently hiking the Arizona trail & I thought they might be close to this spot that also crosses the trail.  I am an eternal optimists thinking we’d show up here at the exact same time.  No sign of them on this trip.

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We were both nervous to see how the first day went.  As it would turn out in the end, every day brought something new to be nervous about.  But, for Day 1shes off & riding!

And off she goes, starting this ride at the exact same spot her Father last stopped.

Me constantly trying to keep that little yellow jacketed person in my sights.

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The three of us meet along the highway before Sherrys last few miles.

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Fantastic Mexican food in Payson at El Rancho with Patty, her brother Bill, one very hungry Sherry & margaritas too!

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Sherry had never ridden this big of climb before or ever ridden on a highway….She crushed both “firsts”! But she was tired & sore & tomorrow would be another big climb.  After our dinner we stopped at a local dispensary to buy this stick that Patty swore was great for sore muscles & aches & pains.  They were out of the exact stick we went for, but Sherry found a similar one by the same manufacturer.  I passed on buying the same onea decision I would regret later.

Sherry hit the sack super tired, sore & wondering what Day 2 had in store.  I was wondering the same thing.  Id lost her once.on Day 1 & was frustrated at myself, but neither of us could figure out how shed passed me.  All went well todayI was just hoping all the following days would go well too.

Day 4 4.3
So great to meet Patty & her brother Bill.  Patty & I enjoyed a hike near her house one afternoon & it was wonderful.  I consider us friends now & hope to meet up with her to hike & camp in the future.  It was a sad good bye, but Patty & I would remain in touch throughout Sherry’s whole ride. 

Sherry trying to make friends with Jack, Pattys cat.

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Javelina!  The only way that we even knew what this agile, huge, aggressive animal was, is that Patty had showed us a video & some pics last night of 11 Javelinas (one was a baby) on her porch during a storm a few nights previously.  They stayed there for hours until dawn.  

Sherry had just peed along the road, we moved the car a bit & this huge one came running out of the same road Sherry had just dropped her pants on…it ran up that hill, then turned around & ran back…YIKES!  That seemed like a close call.  But as long as it hadn’t killed us, it was pretty cool to see.

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Ready to take off on Day 2!

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Here she comes!

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We both thought I’d have more opportunity to hike, but that never really happened.  I was able to walk into the forest for a tiny time on this road while waiting for her to ride by (& to pee…there’s not much opportunity to do that either!)

A pretty little snow-waterfall at the top of her climb.

I’d hoped to get out walk around here…but that wasn’t going to happen without a pair of snowshoes & I didn’t have any!

Lots of snow still in this beautiful forest.

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We met at the top of the climb & I’d made her a sandwich to restore her energy.  Now she would ride on the part we both were nervous about…a narrow snowy road with NO SHOULDER.  This is what we’d dreaded.  But onward she goes.

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Another 4,000’ climb today & the winds picked up as she neared the end of her day.  But, she biked an extra six miles today in anticipation of tomorrows crap weather forecast.  Day 2 in the books & she did great!

A fact I didn’t know about Sherry….she LOVES Dairy Queen!  We found one in the small town of Heber that we would be staying in tonight.

Our condo was wonderful…not as great as Patty & her lovely place, but it was nice.  The wind began to howl & the temperatures plummeted as the day went on.  We ate our leftovers from our Mexican dinner last night & discussed all the possibilities for tomorrow.  The forecast was horrid.  But for this evening, we were well fed, warm, out of the wind, sitting in front of the fire, drinking some beer we’d brought & just relaxing while we could.

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