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November 25, 2015

Day 3 Chambers, AZ to Gila Bend, AZ (Wed 11/25/15)

Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully in a motel by the railroad tracks in Gila Bend, Arizona.

Starting Odometer: 33,880
Ending Odometer: 34,251
Miles Driven Today: 371
Miles Driven This Trip: 918

Like, I dunno what's wrong with my brain. Somehow, I plan out my daily ride and I think "Sure...going 500 miles is no big deal." And somehow, last night I came up with a plan to drive from Chambers, AZ to Rocky Point, Mexico, going through Flagstaff and Phoenix, which is not the most direct route, and somehow I missed that there was a high wind advisory for that route. And it wasn't the most direct route.

At this point, I'm very close to death. Not from the motorcycle....from exhaustion.
Going over 300 miles in a day on a motorcycle is a huge deal. Anyone that says it isn't is a fool, a liar, or worse.

I wake up this morning in Chambers and, for the first time, I decide I don't need to wear two pairs of gloves. I've checked the temperature forecast. It's not supposed to b all that cold. And, although there are shorter routes, on the interstate, the speed limit is 75 mph, and the cars are all going 85-95 mph, so it seems like maybe taking the interstate makes sense on some level.

So I head out of Chambers going west. Temperature seems tolerable. What could go wrong, right? About the time I get to Holbrook, 18 wheelers start flashing their lights at me, presumably warning me of some dire emergency ahead. Ahead, I see dust clouds crossing the desert. The wind begins to blow in great gusts, the worst I've ever encountered in my life. A smarter person would have pulled over. But no one ever accused me of being overly bright.

Like....the wind is blowing so hard, that I take the GoPro off of my helmet. It would seriously make my neck bend in an undesirable manner. I adjust the GPS so that it's as low down as it will go. Then, I lean over on the bike, with my chin touching the GPS. I have to lean the bike like 10-20 degrees into the wind. I'm going west, and the winds are from the south, so I'm leaning the bike to the left about 10-20 degrees, and gradually I move my head out from behind the windscreen, as the bike is leaning too far. So now, my head is poking out to the right of the visor on the high side, as I race down the interstate I-40 westbound at 80-85 mph.

The gusts threaten to blow me off the road. I can't believe that 18 wheelers are not blown over. I'd stop, but there's really not any place to stop. There's no shelter. The sides of the road are flat, and mostly a sort of sage-brush grasses.

And now, an enormous something comes darting out in front of the motorcycle and I'm going 90 mph with a death-grip on the handlebars and it's crossing the road right in front of me. About the size of a dog or a small deer and I've only got a second to react and I just decide to hit it, because dodging it would be suicidal. As it turns out, it was the first of many countless tumbleweeds.

But if you've never had one pop out in front of you it would scare the daylights out of you and I promise you people have crashed trying to dodge them.

Just east of Flagstaff, the winds die down and I start to think that maybe I'll live. Only, now we're climbing again. Apparently Flagstaff is a ski town...who knew? So now, I'm freezing cold again. Somehow, I went west when I should have gone south, obviously. Now, I'm freezing cold again. And I really can't even use my arms at this point, because I've just driven the last 100 or so miles fighting for my life against the winds.

I stop somewhere in Flagstaff for lunch and gas. The other people are wearing ski hats and gloves. It's freezing cold. There are no words. I think it was like 46 F.

God as my witness, I never saw a single motorcycle on this journey so far except for I saw a KLR 650 with a desert take some time (I think it was today, but I'm not certain).

People see that I'm riding a bike and stare at me like I'm an alien in a spacecraft.

So, after lunch and gas, I roll out south, heading towards Phoenix.

After about 40 miles, as we steadily drop in altitude, the trees fade away to desert, and the air warms, and I start to feel like I might live to see tomorrow.

I was supposed to meet my buddy Robert in Phoenix, but I'm a day late getting there and he's already gone back to Lake Havasu.

So I decide to just make a run for the border. I'll roll across the border in the dark and I'll be at Rocky Point, Mexico when the sun comes up.

But somehow, I get down to Gila Bend, AZ and it's solidly dark. We're close to the border. It's shady down here. Like, you know that there's a lot of untowardly transactions going on down here. Who knows what they're into? Prostitution? Drugs? Smuggling immigrants?

I've been running well over the speed limit all day. Now, I'm so tired I don' think I'll live. In Gila Bend, I stop at a gas station and ask a stranger walking by for directions to Rocky Point. He tells me how to go, but slowly it dawns on me that I really don't need to cross the border into Mexico in the dark.

I have a long history of surviving 3rd world border crossings and, as a rule, I never cross in the dark.

Plus, I'm not clear how far it is to Rocky Point. I think it's further than I'd assumed. So I pull over, check into a no-tell motel by the railroad tracks. She claims it has WiFi and warm water showers.

The water is lukewarm and the wifi is spotty at best. It does have flies though, so there is that. The temperature gauge at the office says it's something absurd like 72F. Like, finally, I've driven out of the snow, it seems.

Every night when I get to the hotel I want to die. I'm sick as a dog. I've basically lost my voice. A
I convinced myself that Rocky Point was only 60 miles south of Phoenix. Now I suspect that's not correct.

Posted by Rob Kiser on November 25, 2015 at 7:19 PM


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