Jim Ray Journal Second Installment

Jim Ray rides across America, Day 5 | May 6, 2004


We left Tempe, Ariz., this morning around 5:45 a.m. and snaked through and out of Tempe, and into the Dinosaur Mountains.  We started with a slight elevation, a climb up to 2,370 feet. The road continued through Gonzales Pass at 2,651 feet then up the side of a scenic mountain to Picketpost Mountain at 4,375 feet.  I'm amazed that Jim was able to handle that climb in the 100-degree heat. 

I (Donna) am just beginning to adjust to this journey after being on the road for eight days. I have been out of my "comfort zone" since we left Cincinnati for California. I was apprehensive and a little nervous about what to expect for the upcoming 28 days. I've come to realize that travel is really a journey within, leaving our comfort zones of home, friends and family and venturing out into the unknown. It has taken me up until now to learn to slow down, be more patient and enjoy the moment. Going just 100 miles a day and taking 11 hours to do it has been maddening because I'm accustomed to a more fast-paced life, more like going 100 mph. I've had to take a step back and look at this journey in new light. I can now say that I am enjoying the adventure, and spiritually I am discovering new things about myself. The destination no longer matters as much as the attention I've given to the understanding that all travel is inner travel and my reaction to it is what makes it a positive experience.

We stopped in Globe, Ariz., by the Besh-Ba-Gowall Archaeological Park for the evening. It appears to be a small mining town.
Tomorrow we climb more mountains. We plan to make it through Pima, Thatcher, Safford and Solomon, Ariz. We are getting close to New Mexico.

We left Globe, Ariz., bright and early this morning around 6:00 a.m. The terrain was good to us today, for a change. Jim averaged 19.8 mph for 75 miles today. He was a biking machine. We had to stop after only 75 miles because the town, Safford, Ariz., was the last town that had a hotel for another 150 miles. We either had to stop or camp. We chose to stop.

We had flat land with some uphill grades, but nothing like the first five days, and it doesn't compare to what Jim has in store for tomorrow. Tomorrow he climbs up to 6,295 feet and we will probably end the day in Silver City, N.M. That's the first town that we come to that has a hotel.  

Planning our next day the evening before has become a ritual. We must examine the map, the terrain, the distance, and find the closest town that has a hotel. After hard days of riding, we're not too keen on the idea of camping.  

Today I had an opportunity to stop for supplies at a local grocery store. It was right in the heart of an Apache Reservation town. It was an interesting experience in that I was definitely a minority. The store had a promotion like our Kroger's where you needed a "card" to get items discounted. I didn't have a card (obviously) but the Indian lady behind me was kind enough to let me use her card. Her name was Dawn Nosie. I thanked her for her kindness, and she never spoke a word, but her action was all that needed to be said. She had a kind, caring face.  

Jim rode ahead while I got supplies since we stayed on the same road the entire day, which was nice–no navigating problems. We are really getting in the groove now with staying in a different hotel and city every evening. We have it down to an art. We can pack and be on the road within 30 minutes flat.

We were fortunate to find a hotel that had laundry services for guests. We really needed to do laundry, especially cycling clothes. It was an all around fantastic day. We look for a hard climb tomorrow.

Today we left Safford, Ariz., and headed toward the mountains. Jim had a 6,295 foot climb. That's nothing compared with what he has tomorrow. Tomorrow will be a very hard day. He will climb up 8,228 feet to Emory Pass. Looks like a 40-mile uphill climb. Today's climb was steady and gradual. Tomorrow it is straight up the side of a mountain.  I know we will both be glad to get out of the mountains. Today's temperature was cooler. The high was just 85 degrees–very nice compared to the 100 degrees we experienced earlier in the week.

We should have some exciting stories to tell tomorrow regarding the climb to Emory Peak. Jim will need to get some rest in order to tackle that mountain. Wish him luck.  

We, again, got some fantastic pictures to send from today. Enjoy the pictures and we'll write more tomorrow.

Wow, we had a fantastic day. We headed up into the mountains. Jim climbed 8,288 feet to the top of Emory Pass. It was 40 miles up the side of a mountain. I was amazed at the pace he rode up to the top of this peak. There was a reward, however, waiting for him on the downhill. He was flying. I waited from him in a valley at the bottom and he flew by me at about 45 mph yelling "Yahoooooooo." I guess the hard work going up was well worth the downhill. It was all downhill from Emory Pass to Las Cruces, N.M., where we stayed for the evening. I think you'll enjoy the pictures from today. It shows the uphill agony and the downhill thrill. I made another friend with a cow today. It was just hanging out on the side of the road.

Las Cruces is a neat town. Unfortunately we were too tired to sightsee. It's been one of the most scenic towns we've been in yet and one of the most scenic (and challenging) rides yet.

Today we traveled from Las Cruces, N.M., through El Paso,Texas, into Van Horn, Texas. As we passed through El Paso, we saw a street sign with the name "Cincinnati."

This was a "scary" day for me because we went through some parts of Texas (by the Mexican border) that were poverty stricken. We didn't see or hear anyone speaking English, it was all Spanish. It's funny, even the street signs were in Spanish. It makes you wonder what country you are in. We passed through miles of pecan tree orchards which was pretty cool. The (Texas) towns we passed through today were Fabens, Acola, McNary and Esperonza.

We were in such beautiful country yesterday, and today was like being in the slums. The highlight of my day was seeing a little dog chasing a runner down the street. I also got to see a pack of wild dogs playing. Other than that, it was not a very scenic day.

We spent the night in Van Horn, Texas. There's not much in that town. We had a nice dinner at "The Western" steak house to celebrate our anniversary. The food was fantastic. Tomorrow we plan to go to Alpine, Texas.

For more of Jim and Donna Ray's journal, go to the third installment.