Day 610 – USA (ARIZONA): From Phoenix to Tonopah Valley


Today’s distance / ???????: 57 miles / 92km
Average speed / ????: 9.5mph / 15km/h
Time on skateboard / ????: 6h 04m
Total skateboarding distance to date / ????????????: 3678mi plus 280mi (?) / 5920km plus 450km (?)
Ascent / ??: n/a
Descent / ??: n/a
End-of-day GPS coordinates: N33° 24′ 29.16″, W112° 50′ 9.97″

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Thank you to C.R.I.S. Camera of Phoenix for going well beyond the call of duty and not only giving my camera repair utmost priority due to my ongoing travel arrangements, but also supplying me with a replacement camera to use while my camera is being fixed!

A special thanks to BJ Adams, the Sales and Marketing Director, for his help on this. He came into central Phoenix himself to hand me the replacement camera so that I would have it in time for leaving today.

When I first contacted C.R.I.S. Camera, I thought it was long shot. I had a feeling it would be one of those faceless high-walled corporations. But no, amazing customer support, with real people on the other end of the phone and computer screen. Thanks guys!

All the following photos for the next week or two of updates were taken on a dinky wee Kodak Digital Camera. I still missed my Canon G9, but it was great to at least be able to record the images from the road.

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Cookie cutter city development. Ever heard of that term? Michael Grifka and his mother were wonderful hosts over the last few days as I recuperated from the week or so of tough skating from El Paso to Phoenix. It was Micheal who used this term to refer to the massive malls and all-the-same landscaping of the newer neighbourhoods of Phoenix.

Phoenix, Arizona

My image of Phoenix is wide footpaths, new shopping complexes, smooth roads, and beautiful desert inspired landscaping. All very nice, but I see what Micheal means. All stamped out of the same mold, so to speak.

Cactus near Phoenix, Arizona

It took the better part of half a day to get out of Phoenix, and I started skating on the shoulder of the I-10 freeway once I got to the outskirts. The freeway shoulder was open to bicycles, as it has been on major stretches in Texas and New Mexico where I had no option but to use the noisy character-less highway.

It wasn’t long however before a Highway Patrol Police Officer saw me and stopped to check things out.

He pulled up behind me. I stopped. He got out of the car and walked over to where I was standing off the shoulder of the road. I could tell he was wearing some sort of body armour under his shirt. Locals tell me that officers have been killed on this highway.

“So, ah, what are you doing?” the officer asks.

I give him the low-down. He looks at me sceptically, further acknowledging my feeling that the further on I get on this journey by skateboard, the less people believe that I have actually skateboarded all the way from Florida.

“You know, you’re not allowed to be on this freeway. This is a controlled access highway where only vehicles are allowed. A skateboard is not considered a vehicle” he replies.

I explain that to my knowledge, there is no other reasonable alternative if I am to skate to California. I also explain that Highway Patrol in other states have on numerous occasions allowed me skate on the shoulder of the freeway, acknowledging that I am doing it in a safe and controlled manner, especially considering my overall travel goals.

“I’m sorry, but to be on the highway on a skateboard is in violation of the law, and you’re going to have to find a different route,” the officer replied. “I’m not going to write you a ticket, but I am going to give you a warning.”

He writes out the warning and hands it to me. He then suggested an alternative route. A solid 40 miles or more out of my way, I have no option but to accept it. I need to get to Hemet in California, about 200 miles away, in 7 days. The Lowe Syndrome fundraiser where I am to be the Keynote speaker is on Saturday the 29th. With an extra 40 miles now to add to that distance, I can feel the pressure mounting.

By this time, it is the afternoon, and it is hot. Summer is coming, and I can feel it. Oppressive heat.

The wind and roads were kind today however, and by the end of the day, I had carved out 57 miles, and was still feeling good. I stopped in at the Tonopah Fire Department HQ to fill my water bottles at around 7pm, half an hour before sunset. Before I knew it, I was being given a tour of the facilities by the on duty fire personnel.

Fire truck at fire department near Wintersburg, Arizona

By the time we had finished, it was getting dark. “I don’t mean to put you guys on the spot, but I wonder if it would be OK if I camped on the fire department grounds tonight?” I asked them.

“That’s fine by me,” Captain Jerry said. “But you’re most welcome to crash inside the HQ if you want. We might have a callout during the night, and might end up waking you up, but you’re most welcome. We’re about to put a movie on if you want to watch. Relax in one of the recliners…”

So tonight I find myself clean (they let me use their shower), relaxed (they have some super comfy recliners there), and refreshed (got to watch a movie with the guys), and rested (they pulled out five or six blankets for me to sleep on in a quiet corner of the HQ). A massive thank you to the Tonopah Fire Department!

Fire truck at fire department near Wintersburg, Arizona


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