Today Carsten was the sag wagon driver for the first time. He wanted to spend a day with Andy. Nalani and I were excited to have one sister biking day, but as we rode we both kept forgetting that it was each other instead of Carsten with us. I would say something expecting Carsten to respond and be thrown off by Nalani’s feminine voice.
Towards the end of the day, I made a slight map reading mistake. I thought our campground was just west of the Colorado River in California when it was really in Arizona. Nalani and I crossed the stateline and took all our usual border crossing photos, just to realize fifteen minutes later that we needed to cross back into Arizona. Nalani suspected that my mistake was purposeful so I would get the opportunity to cross into our final state by bike.
Tonight we really lucked out with our RV park. They only charge $10 for first time campers and possibly have the best amenities of any RV park we’ve stayed at, including a pool, a ping pong table, and pool table. The park is also incredibly alive with birds.
We spent the evening playing ping pong and pool. Carsten and I came out victorious at pool, despite my only hitting in three balls, including one for Nalani and Andy.
Our preemptive stateline crossing.
Crossing into California on a bridge over the Colorado River.
I-10 had this helpful sign at every entrance just in case bicyclists were tempted to enter 80mph traffic.
We are now biking in the full intensity of the desert sun. Carsten and I had our lunch break today in a drainage tunnel under the road because it was the only thing around that afforded any shade. Cyclists who bike this route in the summer tend to bike at night rather than contest with the sun and temperatures well into the 100s. I reapply sunscreen frequently, but still have trouble not getting burnt. By the end of a riding day my hands are usually bright red; I now understand why so many cyclists wear riding gloves.
Tonight we are staying at a county park that is centered around a golf course. The park has some watered trees, so we were able to hide for awhile in the shade. Andy has taken on the role of trip photographer. He makes the rest of us pause at cooking, dishwashing, etc., so that he can adjust us according to the light and best capture these everyday trip moments.
After dinner, we decided it was time for a sibling poker tournament. Andy fell in love with poker nearly 15 years ago on a family vacation in Utah and poker has been a family staple ever since. By age six, when other kids were learning go fish, Carsten could already play a mean hand of Texas Hold-em. We didn’t pack any poker chips on this trip, so we used risk pieces instead – we bet miniature cannons, raised one cavalry, or called with our infantry.
An evening of poker this these two is a bit intimidating.
Nalani and I doing dishes with “perfect lighting” according to Andy.
Carsten and Nalani biked today, while Andy and I spent the day together as the sag wagon drivers. Andy and I started our day by summiting Phoenix’s North Mountain and then drove on to Horsepitality RV Park and Stables in Wickenburg, AZ.
Carsten and Nalani texted that they were still a few hours away, so Andy and I spent the afternoon walking in a dry river bed to downtown Wickenburg, which boasted numerous wild west themed shops and restaurants.
In the late afternoon, Carsten and Nalani arrived at the RV park. Today marked the finish of another map panel, so we went out to homemade ice cream in waffle bowls before making dinner.Once again our site as tent campers in an RV park was the grassy area next to the restrooms. This grassy area was larger than last night’s, however, so even though we felt on display we didn’t mind it too much.
After a morning spent chatting over coffee and eggs, Carsten, Nalani, Andy and I said goodbye to our parents and continued our trek towards the pacific. Our destination for tonight – an RV park further west in Phoenix’s extended urban area – wasn’t very far. Carsten and I pedaled the distance, while Nalani and Andy stocked up on food.
Tonight’s RV park is not well setup for tent campers. Instead of simply giving us a regular RV site, they had us settle into a small grassy area next to the bathrooms and laundry. It is nice to have grass to sleep on, but we are also in the middle of the park’s activity. A number of campers walked right through our area to access the laundry facility and one man stood, observing us unabashedly while he waited for his laundry and smoked a cigarette. Every exhale sent a billow of smoke into our midsts. For the most part, however, we managed to ignore our lack of privacy and enjoy our time together as siblings.
Carsten, Nalani, Papa and I started our day by going on a hike in Phoenix’s South Mountain Park. With over 16,000 acres, it is the largest municipal park in the United States. A Jack Rabbit scampering across the trail in front of us reminded us all that this is Easter Sunday.
Phoenix, located in the heart of the Sonoran desert, gets an average annual rainfall of only 8 inches, meaning that most of the areas we hiked through were gravely and only sparsely vegetated. But the harshness of the climate made me only more impressed by the species that still manage to hold on. My favorites were the Ocotillos, which look like giant bouquets of orange flowers, and the century-old Saguaro Cactuses.
In the afternoon, we picked Andy up from the airport and finally our whole family is together. Andy is currently on spring break and will come along with Carsten, Nalani and me for our next few days of biking.
Today was all about soaking in the warm company of family. We spent the day cooking, eating, walking, swimming and chatting, but I won’t bore you with detailing our wholesome activities and familial love nor will I betray my family by describing slight annoyances. All I will say is that I feel incredibly grateful for our time together.
Carsten and I had a short riding day today. We were simply biking into Tempe to meet up with our parents who had flown out for Papa’s spring break to spend Easter together as a family.
Carsten still being in high school means that this biking trip left Papa and Mom as empty nesters for the first time. We arrived to numerous warm hugs and a fridge filled with our favorite foods. After an initial bout of catching up, they whisked us off to a nearby farm-to-table restaurant for lunch.
Easter is still two days away, but the easter bunny was feeling impatient, so in the afternoon Carsten, Nalani, Papa and I vacated our rental, so that the easter bunny could do her work. None of us minded feeling like kids again as we searched for incredibly well hidden chocolate bars and Carsten’s college acceptance letters that had arrived in his absence.
We spent the evening eating our Easter chocolate, while looking at photos from our trip and telling stories of our adventures.