Southern Border Ride – Key West to San Diego- April 2018

Days earlier, or did a week go by that fast? Recap: One rider has lost his shifting leg, days later another rider was found by the US Border Patrol passed out in the desert sand with a broken clutch wrist. Such are some of the hazards we have experienced associated with riding across the entire US via the southern border.

Our route as close to the southern border and wall as possible.

One more day and a wake-up is all left for me and then this ride across America is in the books. 3,881 miles. When I wrote these words I was 300 miles from San Diego.

This morning we lost two more of our original group of 11 riders. Thankfully not on account of road injuries or mechanical breakdown. One is riding to his home in Phoenix and the other to the San Francisco bay area.

One rider is recovering well sporting a new short leg and the other took a flight home from El Paso to mend his broken wrist. Both initially planned to complete the ride in San Diego then ride home to their respective states, Indiana and Florida. My how life certainly always gets the last say!

Fourteen days to cross the USA on motorcycles, staying in hotels from a one star to possibly one or two nights in a near 4+ star is not really something to brag about.

Not getting bed bugs in the process sure is. Another noteworthy event is that for the most part everyone got along. None of the 7 brand new motorcycles experienced any mechanical problems or flat tires.

On several nightly occasions our organizer, GPSKEVIN would hold what I started referring to as nightly court.

Kevin would start proceedings by first filling up on his favorite plastic water bottle with a mystery drink and then take out and place his folding chair in a conspicuous location. Soon the other riders rallied around with motel chair and drink of choice.

Those not in attendance were often times the subject of conversation. The tie dye shirts came up just as frequent as both rider accidents. No blame was ever placed and seldom was anyone sentenced.

Televison watching played a very small role in our nightly entertainment except for last nights television entertainment, Survivor, naked and afraid. I fell asleep in the bar while it was on. The fact that we had the bar to ourselves for several hours may have played a role. This morning most everyone is up at 0500, welcoming in west coast time.

Our normal evening meals always included dessert, be it flan, key lime pie, pecan, or just plain ice cream. This road warrior motorbike rider worked up a healthy appetite.

Today I was the first to depart Douglas, Arizona. Russell and I checked out the area surrounding the historic Gladsden hotel. A great historic place to stay.

The most riders I ever rode with was two. Most of the time Scott rode with Tom; Chris rode with Joey and the lost foot accident kept Russ alternating between three riders hoping to find one that cruised to his liking.

My flea market special phone charger gave out and I headed to Tucson to find a Verizon store. While there I called up an Army buddy. He offered up a room at his house but, I declined on account of him still a busy working executive.

I next filled up the bike with premium fuel. In my travels I have yet to put in more than $10 worth of fuel for a fill up. Today premium at $3.04 gallon in Tucson. Tomorrow California high fuel prices here we come.

Since the Verizon store did not open till 10 a.m. and I am now on west coast time I had an hour to kill so….. I got a 90 minute foot reflexology massage. My soorest spot turned out to not my butt but, my poor shoulders.

Today we spent the night in Gila Bend. “Located on an historic route of travel, for centuries Gila Bend has has been a place for weary travelers to stop and rest.

The small town of 1,900 people is in the southwestern portion of Maricopa County, 70 miles southwest of Phoenix.

The Butterfield Overland Stage had a timed stop in Gila Bend. A large Hohokam settlement once thrived here and remnants of their platform mound and canal system remain.

Those that stopped to rest and regroup in Gila Bend include famous guides Father Kino, Juan Bautista de Anza, Kit Carson and Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, the son of Lewis and Clark Expedition guide, Sacagawea.

Well-known groups of travelers that stopped and rested include the Mormon Battalion and numerous 49’ers on their way to the California gold fields.

The Butterfield Overland Stage had a timed stop in Gila Bend. Known as the Gila Station, the stop was built in 1858, burned down by marauding Apache and then rebuilt.

The Oatman family tragedy occurred near Gila Bend. Of the family of nine, one survived the massacre, one died in captivity and one, Olive Oatman, was ransomed from the Mohave’s with whom she had lived in captivity for many years.

When the railroad laid its tracks in 1879, the town moved four miles southwest to its present location to take advantage of the railroads economic opportunity.

Portions of the 1879 Wagon Road and 1920’s unpaved ‘highway’ from Yuma to Phoenix are still visible today.

Travelers in the 1920’s and 1930’s enjoyed rare ice cold drinks and fresh ice cream when stopping at the Stout Hotel in Gila Bend, which had its own ice generating plant.

Gila Bend is memorialized in song, Los Lobos’ The Road to Gila Bend; in film, The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing starring Burt Reynolds and Sara Miles; and more recently was in the international spotlight when Prince Harry of England’s royal family called Gila Bend home for a month while training at the local Gila Bend Air Force Auxilliary Field.

Twelve days ago we began our cross country motorcycle ride from Key West to San Diego. We are now in Douglas, Arizona, staying at a respectable historic hotel.

Things are looking up in all manner. The scenery. We left Texas and briefly rode across New Mexico, then when we crossed into Arizona, a smile fell upon my face.

Maybe it was the blue skies, the cowboy like scenery, the golden grassland, or the fact that we are that much closer to home.

Yes, we are this close riding next to Mexico.

If you think riding cross country on a motorcycle is impressive. Don’t. A group of 70 and 80 year olds left our hotel recently on bicycles.

They left San Diego sometime ago and and are traveling to…….wait for it……….to key west!

It will take them something like 3 weeks to cross Texas. Took us 3 days with only one casualty.

Along the way I learned a little history about each area we visited. For example, Douglas, Arizona was first settled by the Spanish in the 18th century.

Douglas also had a front row seat to the Mexican uprising that began Nov. 20, 1910.

In April 1911, fighting broke out in Agua Prieta, Sonora, just across the border from Douglas. Madero sympathizers attacked Diaz troops as Douglas residents gathered, despite whizzing bullets, to watch.

The rebels defeated the federal troops, a crushing blow to Diaz, who was deposed and fled the country a few weeks later.Madero was elected president and had a loyal general in Francisco Villa, aka Pancho Villa.

In the early morning of March 9, 1916, several hundred Mexican guerrillas under the command of Francisco “Pancho” Villa cross the U.S.-Mexican border and attacked the small border town of Columbus, New Mexico.

Seventeen Americans were killed in the raid, and the center of town was burned. It was unclear whether Villa personally participated in the attack, but President Woodrow Wilson ordered the U.S. Army into Mexico to capture the rebel leader dead or alive.

“My sole ambition is to rid Mexico of the class that has oppressed her and given the people a chance to know what real liberty means. And if I could bring that about today by giving up my life, I would do it gladly.” – Pancho Villa