Q: What time is it?

A: You mean now?

I chanced on this WaPo piece on the health effects of being on the west edge of a time zone and it resonated with something I’ve been thinking about a bit. My daily activity is matched to actual sun position; earlier in the trip the question was, “When will the sun be high enough to warm the tent?” and over the past week, as temps have pushed triple digits, the question changed to, “When will there be enough light to break camp and head out before the sun does its inferno thing?” Depending on where I am in a time zone, the sun/wall clock time match can be no big deal, or a bit of a problem. I noticed it most in west Texas because the sun didn’t set ’til extra late (wall clock time) and stores tended to close relatively early, thus I needed to pay attention to resupply concerns well before I was ready to wrap up the day’s ride. And start times were a little jarring, too – getting up with the sun but not being on the road before, say, 9:30 felt odd. It’s worth keeping in mind that standardized time was very much a product of the industrial revolution, especially railroads. As much as I love trains, I have to give the whole enterprise a failing grade There’s an aspect of fetishization – valorizing wall clock time (and the scheduling needs of capital) over the health and safety of human beings. I’m not saying we should throw the clock out the window, but the notion that folk’s schedules should have no connection to their circadian needs is BS. Howard Mansfield wrote a good book about the development of standardized time: Turn and Jump – recommended.

Before I turn and jump to the travelogue, one more time zone note. Coming into Portal, AZ, my phone kept switching time in hour increments. I couldn’t figure what was going on until I remembered that Arizona, with the significant exception of the Navajo Nation, does not observe Daylight time, so they’re effectively on PDT in the summer. Duh. I’m guessing time zone wobble on one’s cell phone is a pretty bike-tour specific malady: in a car one is going fast enough to switch from towers in one time zone to another definitively, hiking one is traveling slowly enough to do the same, but on a bike, especially moving north/south on a boundary, time, um, changes.

Sunset

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Last travelogue ended with me doing some R&R at S & T’s house in Tucson. It was a fantastic stay: great hosts, errands done, bike re-shod. The one fly in the ointment was provided by REI – I’d ordered a windbreaker (lost in Silver City) and sandals (trashed in Presidio) for in-store pickup. I ordered on Tuesday; delivery was promised by Friday. Cool. Wednesday, I fielded a call from REI: they wanted to make sure that delivery to Tucson for a NH billing address was OK. Got that straightened out, but sometime that night the delivery date changed to Sunday. Easter Sunday. Hmmm. I call the store to make sure they’d be open – yes they would be. I called REI customer service (twice) to make sure the stuff would arrive on time, given that I was blowing town first thing Monday morning. “No problem – the warehouse is in Phoenix, we’ll have it there on time.” You can see this coming: Sunday dawned (more like noon-ed) – nothing. “I need to cancel the order.” “We can’t – it’s on its way. Once it arrives, we can cancel.” Grrr. Tuesday, a week after ordering, my stuff arrived and I killed the order.

Monday was forecast to get to the upper 90’s (35C and better) so I left early and enjoyed a few hours of biking on Tucson’s excellent bike path network. I was on fully separated independent paths for at least a quarter of the 85 mile trip to Casa Grande. The trip was flat and fast and ended with more barely or nonexistent Google roads – this time a notional grid for a development of some sort out in the desert.

Tuesday was more of the same – flat, fast and developments in various states of instantiation all along the route. I have some thoughts about the pace of development and growth in this neck of the woods – I’ll share ’em later. Tuesday ended with a strong headwind and a climb to Fountain Hills, then a nice dinner with my sister and brother in law.

I wanted very much to touch base with my Phoenix-based friend S, but she was fully committed elsewhere on Wednesday. NBD – we arranged to meet for breakfast Thursday morning and I took a ride from the east side of the Phoenix metroplex to Glendale in the west. On the way, I realized I was riding right through a couple areas I grew up in: Paradise Valley and Sunnyslope. Sunnyslope seems much the same, though the random blocks of feral orange groves are long gone. Paradise Valley, though? It was the edge of the city and mostly desert when we were there. I have a very specific, hallucinatory memory of making eye contact with a jackrabbit and being transfixed by a white prickly poppy on my walk to school one day (turns out I had an ear infection and a raging fever – mystical experience on the cheap). Now it’s green and suburban. I stopped at O.H.S.O. for lunch – a dog friendly bike themed brewery? Sign me up. After lunch, while riding a bike path along a canal, I saw the S in white rocks on a hillside – Sunnyslope!!! I’ve put together a maplet of my route and blasts from the past; it was an interesting day for remembering things.

Thursday morning breakfast with S was fantastic – much conversation about projects and families and arcologies and… Too soon, it was time to saddle up, but we did. Northwest to Wickenburg – flat, fast and HOT. Happily, it had been an early breakfast so a good chunk of the ride happened before full furnace blast.

Friday’s leg to Burro Creek Campground was also hot, again with an early start. A big surprise was a long stretch of Joshua Trees – the Mojave making inroads into the Sonoran desert.

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Signage.

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Once at Burro Creek, Lotte and I rehydrated and relaxed until it got cool enough to set up the tent. I occupied myself watching the active raven’s nest on the canyon wall opposite and Lotte waited for canyon spotted whiptail lizards to appear so she could lunge at them. Campground neighbors W & C invited me over for a delicious dinner (yay!), we made camp, Lotte hit the sleeping bag and I watched the canyon until full dark, hoping for the desert bighorns I’d been told came down to drink in the evenings. No such luck – there were some folks whooping and hollering close to the river for a while and that may have kept the sheep away.

Friday we continued northeast to Kingman and a stay with my friend L. An OK ride – AZ Rte 93 is not the most bike friendly road – but the destination was well worth it. I write this from a house full of dogs and birds and the occasional tortoise; lots of good conversation with L already, some quiet down time to read more George Herriman bio, and a chance to organize photos, blog. etc.

More (probably bird-related) soon.

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