Spirit Traffic is the story of the 10,000-mile motorcycle trip the author C. Jane Taylor took with her husband, John, and son, Emmett, to celebrate Emmett’s college graduation. They were all new riders, and it was their first trip. In May, Jane and John took Spirit Traffic back to the road on their BMW 650 GSs for a 97-day national book tour. Below is her ninth installment of Postcards from the Road, which will be published every Monday.
Related Story: C. Jane Taylor Rides 6,000 Miles on National Book Tour
Friends and family have expressed concern about our riding into the Mojave Desert in July. Thank you. Your concern is well founded.
It’s too darn hot and there is no doubt that the sun is trying to kill us. There is no beating the heat, but we do have strategies: riding at dawn (for real), ice-water-filled CamelBaks, and water-soaked t-shirts and bandannas. I’ve mentioned these before. They are all still important members of the Free Rangers Motorcycle Club. We also stay in air-conditioned motel rooms rather than in our favorite tent.
On July 6, we rode out at 5:00 a.m. The early morning was magical in the desert. Despite the post-apocalyptic landscape, there was beauty and life everywhere; the slight changes in temperature and humidity were sublime. Until the sun took over.
As the sun reached its apogee, I started noticing the quantity, state, and nature of the roadkill we rode past – a cow, a dog, a mountain lion, a cat, several gophers – all hideously dehydrated and shriveled – my fear started to rise along with my heart rate.
It was time to stop.
We’d been joking about a restaurant in the emptiness. Until one appeared: Don’s Cactus Bar (“Good food, Great people, All are welcome”) in Salome, Arizona.
We pulled off the hot road and opened the door to a dark barroom from another time. Everyone at the bar turned to see who was entering. Deer in the headlights of a tight community of desert misfits, we shyly waved our hellos.
A fast game was breaking on the pool table, country music was crooning from the jukebox, and the Westminster Dog Show was playing on the TV above the long wooden bar. An authentic Mexican restaurant was just through a side door. We ordered a cheese enchilada and a bean chimichanga delivered to the bar, where we sat and drank two non-alcoholic beers (Coors. Surprisingly good. Exquisitely cold.) – manna from heaven.
After lunch we rode an hour more to Parker, Arizona, to the blissful A/C of the Best Western.
Day 53 – Instead of Fourth of July fireworks, we looked at scorpions under black light in the back yard with our hosts Ann and Alex in Tucson.
Day 54 – I gave a reading at Tap and Bottle in Tucson. John’s brother Tommy and his wife Carol came. Dave, a Vermont kayak buddy, also came from Silver City.
Day 56 – We rode through Joshua Tree National Park on our 23rd wedding anniversary and arrived at Ed and Miriam’s in Palm Desert to find cold beer, a swim, great food, companionship, and conversation.
Day 57 – I gave a reading at the elegant Palm Desert Tennis Club.
Day 58 – On to Ventura!
Keep the rubber side down.
Spirit Traffic can be purchased on the author’s website. It is also available on eBook and as an audio book read by the author.