Apache Gold Casino to Safford, AZ
This morning we decided to eat breakfast at the casino because it was so cheap and would be easier that starting up the stove and cleaning dishes. We ate a huge breakfast and set about to pack up our gear. The wind this morning was calm and we planned on crossing the reservation today.
In general the landscape was rugged and the road had nice big rolling hills which kept us interested and working to see what was over the next rise. This reservation was pretty dismal, with one town, Peridot, that looked to be doing alright, with a nice grocery store. Everywhere else on the reservation was very depressed with run down trailer homes and junk piles around the homes. Some people we saw were very friendly and others wanted to trash talk.
One of the most exciting/unnerving experiences (depending on who you ask) was being chased by rez dogs on several occasions. The first time there were four dogs who bolted for us as soon as they saw us coming. I told Greg, “go! Go!” We started pedaling as hard as we could and I sped ahead as Greg dropped back to get between me and the dogs. I looked back to see the dogs swarming around Greg as he pedaled towards me. We hit around 20 mph and the dogs gave up and ran home. If you can imagine a race up a slight hill with fully loaded touring gear, but your competitor might have rabies and definitely has sharp teeth, that is about what being chased by these dogs was like. They never bit us, but boy did it get my heart going. The second time we were almost off of the reservation when a big Rottweiler mix began running at us. He was much faster than the other dogs and I yelled, as usual when a dog starts to chase “NO! GO HOME!” He was right alongside us and I lifted my leg to the other side of my bike because I was afraid of getting bitten. But so far Greg has been right, the dogs don't seem to want to hurt us, mostly they just like the chase.
Before we hit Pima we hit our wall. Getting on the road after such a long break was breaking us in again. Greg's Achilles tendon had been bothering him all day and wasn't getting any better with the high miles today. When we thought we were exhausted and completely out of steam, we ended up going at least 15 more miles on fumes and conversation. Talking really helps the miles go by. We finally rode into Thatcher, where we thought we were going to stay, but when we got there the place seemed really trashy and there was no one there to talk to about staying the night. We decided to ride, as exhausted as we were, to Safford, 3 more miles down the road. Greg called the campground in Safford but they didn't know if tents were allowed in their park. We waited to hear from them while we were at dinner and they never called back. Because there were no campgrounds for at least 6 miles further, our only real option was to stay in a hotel. So after dinner, we found a cheap hotel and got ourselves a room. We got some good showers and were able to relax in a bed after such an exhausting day.
One final note about honking. As cyclists, it is very startling when people honk at us, especially from behind. It is very hard to tell whether people are honking at you or giving a friendly honk to wave at us. Here is what we think is the nicest way to honk in a friendly was to a cyclist. If you are going the same direction as the bikes, wait until after you pass them and then give a couple of short, light honks. If you are facing the cyclists, give the same short double honk before you pass them. Any very loud or long honks just feel angry or short tempered, and maybe they are. So if you want to say hello, follow our advice and know that when you honk without startling us, we appreciate the friendly gesture.