Pat and Sari's Honeymoon Bike Ride
Saturday, April 19, 2008
We had a much easier day today. Marathon was only 56.6 miles away and although it was basically uphill all the way, it was a very gentle climb. We had a late night last night trying to catch up on the website postings but we slept like logs in real beds in a nice motel room. It's amazing the difference in one's mood being well-rested can make. So even though we poodled along at about 9.5 mph most of the day, it wasn't as frustrating as yesterday had been.
Sanderson is in a beautiful canyon which we rode through for miles on our way out of town. The hills were fascinating, sparse vegetation, rocky soil, with cliff edges at various levels. They often had rocky structures at the top that looked like little fortresses in some cases. The vegetation on the hills was mostly small shrubs and desert plants, but changed along the way - some areas were a little greener than others. At some points we saw a row of trees that looked strangely lush for the area. The cliff sides that we rode through were the same sandstone mix that we had seen for the last two days. At one point though, they changed drastically. First, instead of horizontal layers, the stones were oriented vertically. They changed color too, becoming a dark reddish-brown. The soil around them had a greenish, khaki color. We came upon a marker that explained the geology of the area, which we found to be quite interesting (see picture below). The last stretch to Marathon flattened out quite a bit, with rounded hills farther back from the road. We could see higher mountains in the distance, quiet reminders of what was coming in the next few days.
We've been seeing several deer for the last few days and today we saw some climbing (effortlessly) up a hillside. They were grayer than the deer we've been used to seeing and blended in well with the hillside. Today we also saw some buffalo in one field. A few others had cattle and at least one had goats. Other than that, the only wildlife we've seen are birds. The traffic was so light that often when we'd stop for a rest, their chirping was all we heard.
We met two other touring bicyclists today - now that we're following the Adventure Cycling route, it's become an everyday occurrence! Today we met 2 women, Clare and Caitlin from Portland, Oregon. They're camping every night, but like everyone else we've met, they're traveling much lighter than we are. There were no towns on route for the whole 55 miles but we had some sandwiches, donuts and raisins packed and did fine. Tomorrow, we should have it easier in that department - only one town on route again, but we've been assured that it has restaurants that will be open on Sunday. It will be a tougher climb though, so we're hoping to get enough sleep tonight to be up to it.