Douglas AZ: Through McNeal
What a hot room! Even though my heater was off, the air got stifling. I finally touched the walls and found them very warm – the heat was radiating in from the office or some other source. About midnight I reached over to the window air conditioner and cranked on the fan only. With it being 40°F outside, I soon had a nice equilibrium 70°F, however inefficiently obtained, and so ran the fan all the way until 5AM.
I met Jesse at 8AM. We rolled again to the old west main street (Allen Street) and found the OK Café for a morning bite. Inside we found plenty of denim, shoulder fringe, and cowboy hats, and I guess our cycling leotards brought a few wary stares. The coffee was really good and I enjoyed 2 eggs, bacon, and French toast, while Jesse had 2 English muffins.
Finally back out onto AZ80 headed south. My knees were better but still weak, and I lowered the seat yet another 1/8”. I figured it’d be OK to lose some power as long as the knees quieted down. Ten miles of climbing and mild rollers greeted us out of Tombstone. The skies were much sunnier, the winds only about 2-3 mph (although still headwinds out of the SE) and the scenery incredibly dry.
At the Tombstone municipal airport, we found Davis Road and headed due east. I’d been concerned about this road being passable for us, but it turned out great. Except for the occasional Wal-Mart semi, the traffic is very light, so that the lack of a shoulder is not a problem, and the views were really nice. Jesse later told me it made him feel like a Part of the Earth.
We rode 25 miles east, very gradually losing elevation as we went, with the mild head-breezes the only detraction. At AZ191, we found the McNeal Mercantile store and went in for a break. There Jesse found a Gatorade, I found a Snickers, and we both found Eileen the owner at the register.
Eileen is a very friendly lady, originally from the Pittsburgh area. In only a short time, we learned that her husband is a retired Pennsylvania state trooper, now working at the Douglas prison as a guard and counting the days until retirement. They moved 11 dogs and 9 horses all the way from Pennsylvania, which cost a lot, and now live on an 80-acre ranch east of the store. They’re considering moving to Fort Meyers or Ocala Florida and wondering how they’re going to get the animals there. We enjoyed talking to Eileen tremendously.
In one corner of the store was a Dwight Schrute poster, which wasn’t really very funny, but I liked the big picture of him there. Next to it was a big “Shit Happens” poster. A few of the phrases got me laughing – examples below. If you want to see more of them just double-click and/or zoom in on the photo I took of it.
Atheism: “I don’t believe this shit”
Agnosticism: “Can you prove that shit happens?”
Catholicism: “If shit happens, you deserve it.”
Rastafarianism: “Let’s smoke this shit.”
Disneyism: “Bad shit doesn’t happen here.”
Satanism: “Sneppah tihs.”
A customer came in, greeted Eileen, looked at us, and abruptly proclaimed Oscar, his dog tied-up outside, to be the prettiest dog in the world. I went out and found a big thick hybrid sort-of dog, and learned he was only 5 months old. Judging from the size of the feet, soon going to be huge.
AZ191 heading south had a great wide shoulder with only a thin rumble strip – a very bicycle-friendly design. There were lots of expansion cracks and wrinkles but I found that by riding on the furthest right edge of the shoulder, they were generally much flatter. We rolled along for 20 miles, continuing on a very slight downhill and into a mild headwind.
Approaching Douglas, I started feeling dizzy, a light bonk, and so stopped a few miles out. The sugar rush from the Snickers probably wasn’t the best thing, but it sure tasted good. As further insult, my knees were twinging AND my butt was getting really sore. This hadn’t happened during my touring this summer, and so the seat position was still suspect.
I finally caught Jesse stopped just west of Douglas talking with another cyclist – a Douglas resident on a mountain bike just out “farting around,” as he put it. We learned that he was originally from Lordsburg, NM, but moved to Douglas in 1978 and ended up teaching elementary school for 30 years. He said that today 75% of Douglas residents were on welfare because the mining industry had dried up. I asked about visiting Agua Prieta and he advised against it, especially at night. I found this particularly sad. I like Mexico and its people, and here was a long-time border town resident advising me not to go there.
We checked in to the Motel 6. My first assigned room wasn’t clean when I entered it, and my second room’s key did not work, and so it probably took a full ½ hour to finally get settled in.
Jesse and I then jumped on the unloaded bikes and rolled around Douglas, finally stopping at the historic Gadsden Hotel, since it would be one of the few places to be serving beer on a Sunday afternoon. The lobby is really impressive, with Italian marble stairs and columns and a Tiffany stained glass mural, with additional vaulted stained glass windows that run the length of the room.
The bar was really great – old dark wood and a comfortable feel. It’s called the Saddle & Spur Tavern, and the walls were painted with hundreds of different cattle brand symbols. We turned on the Chevron Challenge golf tournament to watch the heated duel between Tiger and Graeme McDowell. We both were rooting for Tiger, too bad he lost. No matter, because in the process we both knocked back a few magnificent Amberbock drafts, along with Fritos and hot Cheetos.
Our server brought us a dinner menu from next door. Jesse and I both found it much more comfortable to continue sitting in the bar rather than move to the stuffier dining room. I ended up with a delicious sirloin, baked potato, baked beans, and albonidgas soup. Jesse enjoyed roast beef with brown gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans, and the soup too. Good food, service, vibe, and company – one great stop.
We returned to the motel around 6PM, already past sunset so we had to use lights. I spent the rest of the evening watching Top Gun, and then Grease, while writing in this journal and making further adjustments to my bike seat. Unfortunately, my butt had some pretty good early signs of saddle sores. My apologies, are you still reading this?
Miles today: 51.1
Climbing total: 620 ft (Jesse’s Garmin)
Trip miles: 124.4