Charley’s ride across America 36. Wind, heat, trailer town


Day 73.  April 10.  61 miles 7:30, Charley two flats, finish 91f, mixed, good and bad roads, end Calexico, CA

Day 74 April 11. 34 miles 4:30, good shoulder, headwinds last 5 miles, very tired, end in Ocotillo, CA

Total miles 2891

Dear friends and family,

After six days in a row of hard cycling, when the wind came up yesterday afternoon, the boys both realized they were worn out. The last five miles we rode into the center of a wind turbine field and could understand their placement. Only about fifteen miles per hour, the headwind, but forecast to blow steadily 25-30 and gus5 to 60, so we limped in to the Ocotillo RV park and motel. The motel office was locked, but a phone call rousted the owner from his broken down trailer to let us in. Recently remodeled in about 1974, the room was clean and had the requisite two double beds and room for the bikes. Seems I didn’t pay extra for hot water, but with close to 100 degrees outside, we made do. That’s  what you get for sixty bucks in the middle of the desert.

There appears to be four businesses active in this town and we visited them all: gas station convenience store for fluids, snack bar for lunch, bar for a pizza dinner and I guess you could call our three room motel a business too.

No way can we cycle up 4500 feet into that headwind, so it’s either move here or hitchhike up the hill. Gregg used his salesman skills in th3 bar to tell our story and ask for a lift. The bar tender offered to find us a pickup truck and if she failed, offered to take us up herself. Distance is about 45 miles to the top.

That left us feeling obligated to listen to multiple conspiracy stories even though “ I’m not into conspiracies” was her intro.

It appears that where she lives, on top of the mountain, aliens appear with bib overalls and no teeth. It was hard to follow, but she’s armed against them, unless they appear needy and she gives them food and water and let’s them pass. The Mexican guy sitting to my right was going on also about aliens and the US Government. I was never sure whether the aliens were from across the border from another galaxy, as both the bartender, the Mexican  guy, and certainly Gregg and I were struggling to sort the intertwined conversations out. She said she’d call us later about the ride and we scurried out.

We needed to also avoid the guy who was pouring down Budweisers after being stopped by the local police for a suspended license for 400k in back taxes. He showed us a picture of his Eastern European wife in a bikini. “ She was a swimsuit model before she married me” he offered. He “Swam with sharks” he told us as he let us know we would need big balls to do what we are doing.

Back in our trailer park a young man introduced himself as a long range bicyclist and showed us the scar on his face from the bear attack on his Pacific Coast ride a couple of years earlier. He offered us an early breakfast in his trailer, but we moved on quickly, hearing a woman next door cursing  to the sky about something and having our weirdness quota for the day being overfilled.

If you think my writing about it is confusing, being there was worse. One can’t buy this kind of entertainment.

We snuck into our concrete walled bunker and locked the door. Put desert, high heat, wind, trailer living and probably drugs and alcohol together for a long time, mix well, and get this result. 

I’m drinking coffe, sleeping in ( it’s after five AM already) listening to the wind gusting outside. Hopefully our bartender calls soon, or it will be hitchhiking along the freeway. If we stay here much longer, we could get sucked into this lifestyle even though I’m “ not into conspiracy theories”. I hear Hollywood is preparing to stage another moon landing…

Michelle, the bartender, just called and offered us the ride herself, picking us up at 0845. Should be interesting😁

I am feeling very mixed about nearing the finish. I compare it to getting to the end of a longer sailing passage. Once at sea, there are clear issues to deal with daily and the routines get set. Doing watches, calculating navigation, changing sails for wind and weather, inspecting everything on the boat for wear and chafing.

As the land nears, the routines start to change. Study the charts of the entrance harbor, time the speed to approach during daylight, or if a reef, with the sun behind ( you can only see the underwater reef that way), get the anchor gear out and ready. I’ve been accused of getting ready with fenders out or anchoring gear halfway across the ocean, but I think that’s an exaggeration; probably we were  three quarters across already.

Thoughts of next steps: in sailing it’s checking in to customs, finding food and supplies. What sort of mechanic or assistance with boat projects might be needed? 

At sea, it’s another form of meditation, long hours of staring at waves, feeling the motion of moving gracefully through salt water, disconnected from the rest of the world. A kind of bliss.

With bicycling it’s logistics of getting bike to bike shop, flight back to Seatac, shuttle to PT, even medical appointments booked  during planned brief stay before heading to Alaska.

Giving up the single focus of biking west is a loss. No longer will I have ( or be confined to) five to seven hours per day outside, pedaling and thinking. Stores, crowds, masks, non-bike clothing, all coming.

Sending love,


We don’t spam! Read our [link]privacy policy[/link] for more info.