April 3, 2001 - Tacna, AZ 107.1m**

First off, my apologies for being a day late with this (I hope only a day late.). The Chaparral Motel in Tacna, AZ, home tonight, lacks some of the modern amenities, like a phone, shampoo, electric outlets, a working TV so I cant email. Tacna is at mile marker 40 on the 8, just east of the end of this map;

My body slept until 8PM and by the time I regrouped, checked maps and weather online, and called this wonderful motel (it is clean, the guy who runs it- nice.), I didnt leave until 9:30AM. For those of you keeping score, thats 4 hours later than the start on Day 1.

From El Centro I headed south to Calexico (at the 1 on the map above) – our answer to their Mexicali, or vice versa, I presume. Maps show a bunch of roads in the area, but they generally just divide up huge irrigated fields. Calexico is a major border crossing, and 10 miles into the ride (straight south from El Centro) I came across this warehouse. The mural reminds the Mexicans why they came here, I guess.

(At this point, let me point out two things: 1) This is best viewed if you set the format in MSWord to normal. I havent taken the time to size the pictures and format it well for printing. 2) Some of the pictures yesterday were dark. Of course, one reason is that some were taken at night or in cloudy conditions (until about 2 PM). But you can lighten them by turning on your picture toolbar and clicking the more brightness icon.)

Just after this, I turned east, looking for breakfast at about the 25 mile mark. Surprise, surprise – I didnt come across any food, water, gas stations, etc. until 43 miles later, at the 53 mile mark. I did see a number of border patrol guys, doing various stuff like smoothing the sand by the side of the road to check for crossing footprints.

I was averaging about 14 mph on this flatland, past the irrigated areas where the land reverted to the undifferentiated desert, replete with signs of man, that you see above. This was all very slightly uphill following roughly the route of the Great American Canal. After I passed, photographed and caught back up to this border patrol agent, he explained my no water predicament He mentioned that Sometimes groups of Mexicans try to cross this desert with only a gallon of water. Without pointing out the parallels between that and me, he did fill my bottles with water carried, presumably, for the Mexicans.

I got to the end of the 98, ate what I had (Powerbar), and got on my first interstate of the trip.

The prohibition against bikes is meant for I dont know who. There is absolutely no choice. (Note that I have gone low resolution on less important pictures to save file space. There were not a lot of great sights today, so most of the images are low res.) From here, I headed east another 20 miles on the freeway, until I came to a dilapidated Shell 10 miles west of Yuma, where I had breakfast.

Everything here, with the exception of some of the water (went into bottles) and the Gatorade bar (replaces consumed Powerbar) was input into my body in a matter of minutes. This may not seem healthy, but it covers all the major food groups except bread, milk and meat (and maybe a few others.) Its amazing how fast you can drink 50oz+ of liquid. The unhealthy part comes from the way your stomach feels, but thats really only a minor irritant, all things considered.

Then it was 10 mile ride to Yuma, and a Wendys single meal with cheese, for lunch. Its now (then) around 3:30 in the afternoon (did I mention the 86 degree bright sunshine?), and I had only 40 more miles before Tacna. A milestone, first change of state:

And a view of the river below, memorable because it was the only non-concrete lined waterway I had seen all day.

So far, with the exception of some large rolling sand dunes about 20 miles west of Yuma, all I had seen was desert and irrigated field. 10 miles east of Yuma theres a nice little row of things that look like mountains, but are really only 1,500 feet high. Up and down, another 30 miles, shadows getting long, Im in Tacna.

Its now 6:15AM EST (3:15AM local time). I woke up a bit over an hour ago to the sound of one of the giant, fast trains zooming by across the street (4 wails from the, how shall I say it, loud air horns – 2 medium, 1 long, 1 short is the pattern at the intersection a couple hundred feet away.). This didnt bother me much, it happens about every 20 minutes. However, the sound of people chatting, the start-up of a semi, and the bright fluorescent light shining into my room (think daylight) through the unlined curtains, made me think it was time to get up. I had fallen asleep at 9 (local time).

I pointed out to Lisa that all the water here is salty, so there are roadside kiosks selling water for 25 cents a gallon, 5 for $1, by many of the few gas stations around here. Maybe it will be more scenic tomorrow? I picked up 20 miles vs. plan Day 1 and another 20 day 2. This is good. I may (will) need it later.

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