Monday, February 25, 2013

Road Trip to Tuscon, Arizona

Friday morning started bright and early (well, actually it was dark and early) at 4:15am. Mamma made her triple latte, I brewed my Pacific Blend coffee and added an espresso shot, we loaded up our three bikes (Veloce, Tej and Trekky), our suitcases and my 36 homemade oatmeal-coconut-quinoa-chia seed-chocolate chip muffins and we were off! Less than 1' later I was pulled over on Queen St., checking my bag to make sure I had my passport (I did). So we got back on the road and, a few hours later, crossed the border at Sarnia (no line up!), where we had a would-have-been-cute-if-he-wasn't-so-uptight customs official. We then made our first US gas stop in Michigan. I had to laugh when I stepped into the grossest washroom ever and someone had written on the stall door "most ghetto washroom ever." I guess other people share the same sentiment. In Michigan we battled through a crazy snowstorm. At first it wasn't so bad, as the wind was making sure that the snow didn't accumulate much on the road....but before long I was driving on a snow covered highway while the falling snow turned the sky around me into a white fog. I was barely able to see 50 meters in front of me at some points. The trucks that were intent on driving side by side did not help matters, either. Mamma and I were very happy when the sky, and then the roads, cleared and the highway started turning south into Indiana and then Illionois. In Illinois we came across some of the weirdest billboard ads ("Vesectomy: simple, safe, and effective") and signs ("Kill a worker: $10,000 and 10+ years in jail", "My daddy works here" and "please don't kill me" in the construction zone, "watch your speed or die" .. or something like that) I wish I could remember more of theml! Another highlight of Illinois was passing through the town of Normal, Illinois. Hahaha. About 1300kms after the start of our journey we were passing through St. Louis. We were really ready for some wine at this point, which is probably why the remaining 250kms to Lebanon, Missouri seemed to take FOREVER! Eventually we made it. We checked into the hotel, unloaded the bikes and looked into where to go for dinner. We liked the sounds of "The Madison Street Grill", although, we were a bit hesitant after the receptionist told us it was a bit "fancy" ...because we were in jeans and lululemons (guess who was wearing what! lol). We decided to go any way and, well, the way Mamma described the experience was: "bad food, bad wine, good company" :) After dinner we decided to check out the local wine store with "the biggest selection in town" to see if we could find some good wine. We had a little chuckle about the sign outside the store warning us not to bring in any guns and then an even bigger chuckle when we saw the "selection" of Italian wines...which was maybe 2 or 3 bottles. Oh dear. So we headed back to the hotel empty handed and went to bed.


Mamma and I with our coffees at 5am

Normal, Illinois

Welcome to St. Louis!

Bush Stadium - for Timm Hughes :)

Only in the USA

Saturday morning we got to sleep in a little (5:30am) ... I had a pretty decent sleep actually so probably did get in about 8 hours. Mamma and I took turns getting in a short bike ride on the computrainer to loosen up the legs. Next, we headed to Starbucks for our pre-road trip coffees. Our first giggle of the day was definitely because of the barista at Starbucks who was for sure stoned and looked and talked exactly like Crosby from Parenthood (my current favourite TV show).

Our barista looked like this

We left Lebanon just before 8am and, unlike Friday, had clear skies and smooth roads for our drive. I took the first shift of driving, through the rest of Missouri and Oklahoma. I must say that I absolutely HATE when trucks take 10+ minutes to pass another truck. I am convinced that they do it on purpose to piss people off. There was not much excitement on the road today...It was kind of exciting getting a preview of what Peter Oyler (cyclist/friend/the co-owner of WattsUp Cycling),will be facing when he conquers RAAM (a bike race across america, in June. I am tired just driving the distance and he's going to bike it! That makes him the toughest cyclist I know. Mamma took over driving once we hit Shamrock, Texas and she drove through the rest of Texas and New Mexico, which is the "land of enchantment". We made it to our destination in Los Lunas by 8pm, checked in to the hotel and then headed out for dinner. We had Rikki check out the restaurants in the area online so as to not have a repeat scenario of the previous night. This worked well as we ended up at Teofilos, a nice mexican restaurant. The wine was better, the food was much better (my first time ever having a Taco salad!). We even found a good selection of Italian wine at the local Walgreens (go figure), where BOTH me and Mamma were asked for our ID. It was a long day and I think Mamma and I were both asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillow.


Early morning ride on the Computrainer


For Rikki: shot glasses for all the places we've been!

Welcome to New Mexico

New Mexico Scenery

Sunset in New Mexico

Sunday morning we woke up refreshed and excited for our last day of driving. I followed Coach's orders and headed out for a run before we packed up the car and got on the road. It was a little chilly, windy and there we even a few flurries, which felt a little strange since I was running in the desert. The run was beautiful though..I could see the snow covered mountains in the distance and I was able to watch the sun rise up over them. I definitely felt a bit sluggish though...I was at what felt like an easy effort, but my heart rate was much higher than normal for the pace I was at. I couldn't figure out why at the time and of course was worried I might be getting sick. Looking at the Garmin data later, I realized I had been running at an altitude of 1,500m/5,000ft! No wonder my heart rate was higher than normal. My heart needed to pump faster to get enough oxygen to my muscles. It all made sense :) After a quick Starbucks stop, Mamma and I were back on the road: on the I-40, heading South. This was the most scenic part of the drive. The surrounding desert and the mountains in the distance made for quite the backdrop. We were especially excited to pass through a few towns, with VERY funny names...."Truth or Consequences" and "Elephant Butte". Also, it was nice that the roads were pretty empty and I was able to drive on cruise control almost all the way to the next city (Las Cruces). Then we ran into a bit of construction and a "spot check" by border control, which caused us a bit of a delay :( With 250km to go, Mamma and I switched up driving. After a few sand storms we were finally in Arizona! We got to the rental house at Skyline Country Club just after 3pm. The house is beautiful and the scenery is spectacular. The house is right on Mount Lemmon so you can see the entire city of Tucson lit up at night. We unpacked, I did a short ride on the trainer (I did not have the energy to take my bike on the roads of Tucson, yet), then had dinner at the Clubhouse, watched a bit of the Oscars and went to bed.


The Car is PACKED!

New Mexico

Hmmm...tough choices

Finally in Arizona

Arizona Mountain

Arizona Rocks


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