Greg acting like he is passing out at the top of the pass. It was steep and the wind was blowing like crazy.
Superior to Apache Gold Casino on the San Carlos Apache Reservation
Day 58 35 miles
This morning we woke to strong winds gusting and buffeting against our tent. Laying inside I couldn't really tell what direction the wind was coming from, but as soon as we got outside, we realized it was blowing from the East. Good thing we are heading East, headwinds are so much fun. We ate a whole loaf of carrot zucchini bread and then packed up all of our stuff for the first time after our Christmas break.
When we were ready to leave, a man named Tim living at the RV park introduced himself and gave us a few muffins from Trader Joe's! He told us about some of the history of the Superior area. Apparently all of the empty buildings in town and the handwritten signs about copper mining were due to the mine being brought to a standstill. The copper vein crosses into ancient Apache burial grounds and onto public land. The Mine, obviously, wants to pursue the vein but it is very controversial. The governor of Arizona and John McCain have visited this little town because the issue is so divisive and so important. Supposedly the mine could become one of the biggest current suppliers of copper in the world. It was good talking to Tim about this issue, he was pretty well versed.
We headed out of town and instantly began climbing up a pretty steep pass. This climb was the worst overall riding we have had so far. Beyond the steep hill which isn't too bad on its own. The wind was blowing 20-30 mph straight into our faces. The road had virtually no shoulder, but was very busy and even had a fair amount of truck traffic. Then we had to go through a tunnel the was probably close to a half mile long that had no shoulders and was very dimly lit and all of these vehicles were screaming through. We had to walk on a small walkway not much wider than a curb with our bikes to our side on the road. When we finally reached the pass, we had gained about 2,000 feet in about 10 miles. That 10 miles took us three hours of riding because of the headwind. It was so frustrating, going down the other side to Miami, AZ, we still had to pedal pretty hard just to go 10 mph.
When we reached Miami we were both very hungry after putting in such a hard effort. We found a little diner and much to our liking they served breakfast all day! So we ate breakfast for a late lunch and then kept riding. After getting our bellies filled we felt much better and cruised on flatter grades to the city of Globe. Dani noticed that Globe was very similar to Butte, MT. It is next to a big mountain pass, is a copper mining town, and surprisingly the vegetation and rocks look very similar. After Globe the wind started to die down and we actually made decent time onto the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation.
We stopped at the Apache Gold Casino on the Reservation because they have a campground at the Casino. A tent site with showers was only $10 and it was actually a pretty nice place. We got in before the sun went down, so we decided to walk around and check out the casino. When we walked inside, the atmosphere was unreal. The building was actually pretty nice with a dome shaped ceiling. The floor was jam packed with gaming machines. The air smelled somewhat of cigarette smoke. There was one huge open room with dim lighting that is overcome by all of the flashing lights of the gambling machines. The hardest thing to believe was the sound. It was deafening, just constant dinging, whirring, and chiming from all the machines. We walked around and Dani told me she had never gambled, so I decided, being the first day of 2010, we should change that. I put a dollar in a nickle slot machine, and in less than a minute she had lost it all. She looked at me like “is that all there is to this.” I said “Pretty lame isn't it?”
Rather than cook our own meal after such a hard day, we checked out the prices at the casino restaurant and they were amazingly cheap. We went and took showers and came back for supper. We both had huge Indian tacos and hot chocolate. With the tip included our whole meal was $10. We sat in the restaurant and stayed warm and drank water to kill some time before we went to bed. Pretty good end to a really stressful and difficult day.