Sunday morning. I was catching my breath at an intersection, waiting for the green light to send me on my way north to Las Cruces, NM. A window rolled down behind me, and I heard the words "I know you're riding, but want a ride?" The man's deep booming voice emanated from a large black truck, his outstretched hand casually pointing at my loaded bicycle.
My initial thought was to politely decline, but for some reason I had a feeling that this was meant to happen. I double checked with my gut before I replied, gripping my handlebars with a smile.
"Where you going?"
This is Billy. As we drove, he told me that he was planning on taking his girlfriend out to lunch, and that if I was interested I was more than welcome to join. We ate lunch at a hole in the wall Mexican joint with great fish tacos.
"Have any plans for the rest of the day?" Billy asked, grabbing a handful of chips from the plate on the table. "We're planning on planting some tomatoes, cleaning our fish pond, and maybe even watching a movie this evening. You're more than welcome to join us!"
I woke up the next morning bright and early, had breakfast at a local diner with Billy, then set off for Las Cruces, New Mexico. "Keep me informed about your trip," he said as we both shook hands.
"Lisa! It's Enoch! I'm here!"
Lisa's smile and warm personality brought new life to my aching body, her love for adventure bringing her to open up her home to the cycling community.
"Oh good," she replied, "If you're interested I go play soccer every few days, you want to come?"
"I'd love to!"
She grinned and burst out a chord of melodic laughter, "Just know that this is the Vintage League, just a bunch of us old people having a good time."
When I revisit these photographs, I can still hear the happiness and jovial spirits echo off the grass...
It's always the last month or so of the adventure when you start to be aware of the passing time. Aware of everything you're doing, and everything you're not. It grew increasingly obvious the further and further I got to California, that I needed to fly back to Florida and see Sara again. I purchased a one way ticket from Phoenix, AZ to Fort Lauderdale, FL, and a greyhound bus back.
Finally, I managed to find my way into Deming New Mexico. While the winds threw my body around the road at 50 miles an hour, I did what I never thought I would do, and stuck out my thumb. Intentionally hitchhiking.
With luck I was trying to make it to Lordsberg, around 30-35 miles away. At the current route and speed I was taking, it was going to be another six days to get to Phoenix. I set a timer for twenty minutes, and if I didn't have any luck then I'll try and battle the wind - maybe sleep on the side of the road or something.
Soon as my timer started ringing, a purple van pulled up next to me with the driver yelling through the window, "Hop in buddy!"
"Where you going?"
This is Jeffery. He travels the country searching for and selling modified vans that accommodate wheelchairs, a niche market that I've never heard of until now. It was pure luck that he caught up with me, I was able to roll my bicycle up a telescoping ramp into the space of the van! He was a spirited traveling partner, telling me stories about his childhood and some crazy experiences he's had.
"Where are you sleeping tonight?"
"Well, seeing that hitchhiking got me here a lot faster than I was planning, I think I'm going to get a hotel."
Jeffery laughed, scratching his five o-clock shadow. "I have a place a few miles out of downtown that you can stay at if you're interested. It's a work in progress, but it's free and no-one will bother you at all."
The next morning I set off for Eloy, AZ. My grandmother wanted to pick me up and bring me back to Phoenix to see my cousins for a few days.
"We're going to go to the zoo!"
Still waiting for my flight and suddenly granted extra time to spend in Arizona, my grandfather offered an opportunity to work in Payson, AZ building a large BBQ.
"That's an Elk right there." My grandpa pointed into the forest, his eyes fixated at a hulking creature protruding from the dense foliage.
"Oh, cool. I noticed yield signs everywhere, do you guys have an Elk problem?"
"Not really, besides when they jump through traffic and kill you."
BOOM! I twist my attention from my grandfather and look ahead as a leaping deer clears the forest boundaries, and explodes twenty feet's worth of blood and fur onto the white truck that it collided with. Hazard lights on, the damaged vehicle pulled over on the side of the road, and we continued on.
"Grandpa, how are we going to get these beams up there?"
"We'll raise it up with the lift, then place them on the boards of the scaffold."
I took a closer look at the scaffold, "Pops, how old are these boards? I don't trust my weight on 'em, they look like they'll break."
He grinned. "Oh they're alright, probably twenty years old. Don't put all your body weight on one, step on two at a time."
It was time. I had a midnight flight to Fort Lauderdale, and before I knew it I was on my way to see Sara.
I'm going to be staying in Florida on May 9. Stay tuned, wonderful things are happening.