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Day 7: Salome, AZ to Buckeye, AZ

70 miles - Salome Highway, Cycling on Interstate 10, Meeting Ben in Buckeye - February 15, 2017


A Good Morning in the Salome Cafe Salome Cafe

I had breakfast at the Salome Cafe and got to chatting with a group of retired folks. Most of them were snowbirds who live in Idaho and Washington outside of winter. They talked about me and my bike across America trip like I was just another cyclist, as Highway 60 gets a plethora of cross-country riders during the winter. They were friendly though, and I was glad to get a picture of them. :)

Salome, Arizona

Photos

Outside of Salome, a sign indicated it was 30 miles to Interstate 10. That would be about 45% of today's planned mileage.
Salome Highway

Cycling Alone

As I biked, a little voice crept in and asked, "Why the heck am I doing this a third time?" It was an unnerving question. I was already adjusting to biking alone once more (with John gone) and feeling intimidated about a 70 mile ride to Buckeye. The last thing I needed was doubt.

Then issues related to being in my 40s (midlife issues) boiled to the surface as I pedaled. Things that bothered me. Things I wished were different. Sad memories replaying over and over in my mind.

My mood reminded me of a child who didn't want to head to the bus stop to go to school. I just didn't feel like riding, and yet the adult in me forced myself to go.

Arizona Scenery

Arizona Scenery

Saguaro Cactus

Maybe my mood wasn't the greatest early on, but wow, there were plenty of amazing saguaros to capture my attention.

The scenery abounds in Arizona for sure.

Arizona Land For Sale Looking to buy land in Arizona? :)

Interstate 10 Arizona My plan was to take the Salome Highway all the way to Buckeye. However once at Interstate 10, I noticed the the road ahead looked rough similar to other abandoned frontage roads that receive little maintenance.

So I decided to hop on Interstate 10 and head east. The Salome Highway runs adjacent to the Interstate with about 2-3 miles between them, and I figured I'd meet it later on.

Interstate Arizona

Bicycle Interstate Highway

Riding a Bicycle on an Interstate Highway

For those joining the journal late, yes, it is legal to ride a bicycle in this part of Interstate 10. In the Western USA, the general rule is if there is no alternative route for a bicyclist from Point A to B, then it's permitted for someone to ride a bike on the shoulder. That's what I did here.

Riding on the Interstate ...

Palm Trees at Gas Station I stopped at a few exits off the Interstate. I loved those palm trees surrounding the Chevron gas station.
Exit 103 Exit 103. A random sign.

It just seemed like an unusually large one.

Interstate 10 Arizona I ended up staying on Interstate 10 for longer than I thought, taking it 35 total miles to an exit for Buckeye. I kept watching my map, and it never seemed practical to make a hard 90-degree turn and head south to the Salome Highway.

Buckeye, Arizona

Buckeye, Arizona

I'm sure there is a debate over whether Buckeye is considered a suburb of Phoenix. If you see the houses and neighborhoods right off the Interstate, then you'd likely say "yes." However, I biked south and went through isolated farms roads to reach the downtown area. The main drag of Buckeye (MC 85) felt more like an old and sleepy desert town that has seen better days.

Whatever the case, I was overjoyed to be in Buckeye and stayed at the Ranchouse Motel.

Ben Simo and Steve
Ben and I at the Chipotle.

An Unsung Friend, Ben Simo

Please meet a long-time friend who deserves recognition. This is Ben Simo, a guy I originally met on Twitter and over the past 7-8 years, we've met in person numerous times. For a while, Ben and his family lived in Colorado Springs, but now they're in Mesa, AZ (east side of Phoenix). Ben had been tracking my progress online, and when I arrived in Buckeye, he made the effort to drive 50+ miles to see me! :)

It was great to reconnect with Ben. He took me to a Chipotle restaurant that evening, where I was equally exhausted and elated to be there. Among so many friends who would help on this trip, Ben would be an unsung hero who'd make crucial appearances on Day 8 and Day 10 as well.

You are welcome to stay connected with me on my author page.

In Loving Memory of Rick Rud

I don't have a picture of Rick, but here's an Arizona desert and mountain scene from Interstate 10 in his memory.

I met Rick Rud of Chicago, who became a Team Garufi member in 2014, when I was planning to do a third bike across America trip that fell through. At the time, Rick too, was also planning a southern USA cross-country trip and there was a chance we could have met somewhere on the road. When Rick made a donation to me, we began to correspond by email and talked once on the phone. We discussed route choices out of Salome. Commonly, most cyclists head east on Highway 60 towards Wickenburg (or perhaps Prescott, if they're crazy), but he and I intended to take this Salome Highway to Buckeye. Well, in February 2014, Rick followed through on his bike tour and began in San Diego. He texted me a couple of times, including right before he embarked on this route. It would be the last text I would get from him.

About two months later, a relative obtained his phone and contacted me, informing me of the story: Somewhere on this route, Rick crashed off of his bike. He ended up in the intensive care in a Phoenix hospital where there was concern he might die and that if he lived, his spinal damage was severe enough that he might not be able to walk again. Well, within about 10 to 14 days, Rick had recovered impressively and had been demoted to a less intense level of care. It was there that by a freak chance he caught pneumonia and died.

Again, I don't have a photo of Rick. I never met him in person. I just got some texts, had a phone conversation, and received a generous donation. Still, I thought a lot about Rick on the road today. There is a camaraderie you feel with others who dare to face their fears and take on this dream, whether they make it to the end or not.

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