El Paso, TX to Florida

image.jpg

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?" 

 

image.jpg

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!"

 

Billy's baseball bat collection

Billy's baseball bat collection

Cleaning the pond

Cleaning the pond

Billy and Bunny

Billy and Bunny

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. 

Finally getting out of West Texas!  

Finally getting out of West Texas!  

"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... 

Lisa, with her vintage league soccer club 

Lisa, with her vintage league soccer club 

 New Mexico sunset  

 New Mexico sunset  

The long and windy road. 30mph headwinds, today. 

The long and windy road. 30mph headwinds, today. 

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.

Deming, New Mexico. 40 mph headwinds. Feeling like I was on the edge of sanity and dehydration, each pedal stroke led me further and further into my head as I tried to find ways to deal with this physical challenge. Drink water. Push pedals. Breathe. Repeat.

Deming, New Mexico. 40 mph headwinds. Feeling like I was on the edge of sanity and dehydration, each pedal stroke led me further and further into my head as I tried to find ways to deal with this physical challenge. Drink water. Push pedals. Breathe. Repeat.

My hotel I stayed at for the night. Today was the first day the heat snuck up on me and almost made me faint in the middle of the road. Turns out I wasn't drinking enough water, something I quickly remedied heading forward. 

My hotel I stayed at for the night. Today was the first day the heat snuck up on me and almost made me faint in the middle of the road. Turns out I wasn't drinking enough water, something I quickly remedied heading forward. 

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.

image.jpg

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?" 

"Tuscon!" 

Making our way to civilization! 

Making our way to civilization! 

Jeffery

Jeffery

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.

image.jpg

"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." 

image.jpg

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!" 

Grandma Ann

Grandma Ann

image.jpg
image.jpg
James and Emily

James and Emily

image.jpg
image.jpg
"Enoch, look at these birds - they're so beautiful." 

"Enoch, look at these birds - they're so beautiful." 

 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.

image.jpg
The house, all stonework sourced from local forests. 

The house, all stonework sourced from local forests. 

image.jpg

"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.  

Loading up 1300 feet of lumber for the BBQ rooftop shingles

Loading up 1300 feet of lumber for the BBQ rooftop shingles

Unloading the wood

Unloading the wood

image.jpg
Always eyeing up the project from the windows, my grandfather takes a much deserved coffee break.

Always eyeing up the project from the windows, my grandfather takes a much deserved coffee break.

"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." 

Building the BBQ

Building the BBQ

image.jpg
With cousins: Cameron, Brandon, Julia

With cousins: Cameron, Brandon, Julia

With Grandparents: Susan and Art

With Grandparents: Susan and Art

It was time. I had a midnight flight to Fort Lauderdale, and before I knew it I was on my way to see Sara.

Luggage

Luggage

image.jpg
image.jpg
Taking the Tri-Rail to Del Rey

Taking the Tri-Rail to Del Rey

image.jpg
Fixing up bikes to go to the Critical Mass in West Palm Beach - a "pro-bike not anti-car bike ride." 

Fixing up bikes to go to the Critical Mass in West Palm Beach - a "pro-bike not anti-car bike ride." 

image.jpg
Going to an elementary school Oliver Twist performance

Going to an elementary school Oliver Twist performance

Tickets for Sara and "Sara's Friend." 

Tickets for Sara and "Sara's Friend." 

image.jpg
image.jpg

I'm going to be staying in Florida on May 9. Stay tuned, wonderful things are happening. 

image.jpg