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No homemade biscuits, Liz wasn't feeling well, but some fast-food biscuits and gravy hit the spot.

Somehow having the day off after two weeks moving every day was a salve for all my ills. I felt reborn, savored every minute of freedom to do nothing. My worries about the future and regrets about the past were healed, and I could just be.

After the B&G I was still very hungry, so I went into the town to have a second breakfast. I stopped in at Courtesy Coffee for a meal with the best pancakes yet. I met John before going in: he asked about my Surly (meaning my bike's brand, not my disposition) because he was thinking of doing some touring. We had breakfast together. He was on his way to meet family for Christmas in Bakersfield, and had brought his fantastically light carbon bike with him. It was nice to meet someone who spoke the lingo.

I then went to a coffee chain and spent hours on the internet. I was in heaven. Afterwards I walked my bike through town with no destination in mind, just passing time.

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It started to get dark, so I headed back to the bait shop. Some different folks were gathered around the stove, and they all asked me about my trip.

The glowing stove

The glowing stove

One old guy, 88 I think he said, scoffed at my plan to ride through Joshua Tree park. He told me to head back and take a route I'd given up earlier, from Parker to Twenty Nine Palms, and just didn't seem to understand that would force me to do 120 miles in a day with no services. Maybe I misunderstood. He was a good guy otherwise, but I'm sticking to my plan!

People retired earlier that night, so I spent some more time on the internet in my room and went to bed late.

112 km/70 mi

I woke up early today, ready to get moving to try to avoid another dark ride on the interstate at the end of the day.

Liz was in the bait shop, and she let me write in their "register" of bicyclists. They have hosted quite a number of cyclists, one from as far as Belgium.

I was really grateful for the chance to rest. It was a shame I didn't get much time to talk to Liz or Wayne, though, I don't really know that much about them except that they made me feel welcome and pampered. I also have to thank Darcy, an employee who also seemed to run the place when Liz wasn't able: she really did most of the leg work in helping me.

I had breakfast at the same diner and coffee at the same chain, then got on my way. After a bit of riding, I thought of something: why not ride against traffic? Although on other freeways it might be difficult to get off at a certain point, it made perfect sense on the interstate, where access to the highway is limited to off ramps. That way I could have more control over two things I fear most: objects sticking out from vehicles into the shoulder (this happens a lot with oversized truck loads) and negotiating off ramps, where I might cross the path of a car that wants to exit at the ramp. This, plus the obvious: I could see every car coming, and wouldn't have to hope that I just happen to look into my rear view mirror the moment someone swerves into the shoulder.

This worked great! It's the only way to travel the interstate on a bike. In addition to the above safety reasons, I could also see into cars, could smile and wave and be more friendly.

But no. After about ten miles, a moron in a cop car told me I had to go with the flow of traffic. I know that, but I thought it'd be safer to be able to see traffic. Nope. He made me turn around at the next possible place. Stupid.

So I spent the rest of the day looking over my shoulder. Thankfully I'll be leaving the interstate tomorrow; this has not been much fun.

I did see the first tourer of the trip! The irony is, if I had continued on the wrong side of the road we would have really been able to speak to each other. As it was, I just caught his attention, then moved on because I didn't want to cross four lanes of traffic to meet him. After I'd ridden a bit more I regretted my decision, but by then it was too late. Another reason not to like the interstate.

Met this on my side of the road, too

Met this on my side of the road, too

Having said that, today was the first day in two months that I was able to keep a reasonable speed all day. It was fantastic: no wind, flat land. I actually made it to the campsite before dark!

Now, the campsite is a good story. Just off the interstate in Chiriaco Summit is the General Patton museum, complete with tanks sitting out in the desert. I guess Patton set up a training ground here at one point. The great thing is, there is free camping a ways behind the museum, in the desert. It's a bit eerie to pass by the tanks on the way to the sandy campsite, but I'm not going to complain.

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Tomorrow I'm taking my route (damnit!) through Joshua Tree park, camping and maybe hiking along the way.