Day 14: (0 miles) REST DAY! 🙂 We got to “sleep in” today which meant 6:00am. We took advantage of the continental breakfast by noshing on some Danishes and stuffing some oatmeal in our pockets (for future camping). Rest day really means catch up day; sink laundry, blog posting, email checking, letter writing, etc. Most of which was done by 11:00am. We walked down town and had a few things to print at the local library, and then to send off at the “Secretary/Shippers” office. We originally had our hearts set on lunch at the “best Sammich” place in town (5-star yelp reviews) but when we arrived, we were turned away due to a private party (thanks a lot Volvo meeting for dashing our sammich dreams). Fortunately, less than a mile away was Nana’s Café- which you know had to be good- and it was! They had sandwiches and they hit the spot! We stopped at the Dollar General to restock some supplies and were surprised to find some great deals and more than we needed. We made it back to the hotel to enjoy a dip in the pool/Jacuzzi, and had dinner at Denny’s since we got a 20% discount for staying at the hotel. With our dinner needs met, we fell into the last night of a comfortable bed, and rested for our 2,000+ ft elevation climb that was to come in the new day.
Day 15: (24 miles) The alarm went off at 5:50 am this morning and with it we knew our 24-hour vacation was over. We packed our things extra tight to protect our items from the forecasted rain, took advantage of the hotel’s ice machine and drinking fountain for cold water to fill our bottles, and then sat down to a light breakfast of coffee, crumb cake, blueberry muffins, and a banana. With our bellies full of processed buttery goodness, we hit the road. We knew our day would be short in miles, but that our climbing would be extensive. What we didn’t expect is that the first 20 miles would be a pleasant flat to mildly inclined ride, and that the last five miles would make up for it by rising nearly the entire 2,000 feet to our destination, Yarnell. Since Shayna climbed the entire mountain without walking or getting frustrated we stopped for a tasty treat of drumstick and snickers bar ice cream on our way into town. Less than a mile down the road we turned into Oak Park RV Park & Motel. Where we had called ahead to ask about camping. As soon as Leslie (the park receptionist) greeted us at the office door, she praised our determination and speed in attacking the mountain. Before we knew who she was, she passed us on the mountain, rolled down her window, and shouted “I’ll see ya in Yarnell!”. The park feels more like a backyard, but it’s quiet, the rain has held off so far and it was a short walk to the town diner where motel guests get 10% off. Over stuffed with warm food, we’re back in the tent where the wind has picked up and rain continues to threaten, but we’ve got our books and or warm bags and we’re ready for the night- we hope!
Day 16: (40 Miles) Last night was undoubtedly the worst night of the trip. Our hopes of being ready and prepared for the storm were soon dashed when we quickly realized our 10-year-old tent had lived its life and was unable to shield us from the storm that would not quit. It started with one side getting noticeably wet, and continued to escalate until Chris was in the fetal position to avoid the continuous drip and the end of his saturated sleeping bag. When the morning came, there was a puddle at the end of the tent. Since Chris could not sleep, while he pruned up in the middle of the cold night, he found a few stores that would hopefully be able to replace the tent. When morning finally came we soggily marched on, said goodbye to Leslie, and stopped at the diner again for a hot cup of coffee and a short stack. We knew again we would have some climbing to do, and although we had wished away the hot temps, the wet night had us chilled to the bone, and made it a bit harder to cycle. The beginning of the ride was quite nice. Again, mild inclines, through some well established ranches. Once the climbing started it seemingly never ended. Switch back after switch back, mile after mile, our legs kept churning while our minds tried to focus on the ever expanding view, but our legs grew more and more tired until we finally reached 6100 ft. our excitement over reaching our highest elevation so far, was chilled by a cold breeze that intermittently threw sleet and snow at us. It was like mini daggers at times. As we began our much anticipated decent we took in the surrounding view of the towering conifers that so drastically differed from the landscape our last two weeks had made us accustom to. Relishing in this change, we soon found ourselves rolling into Prescott, the town we wish we had more time to explore because it looked like lots of fun. However, we were on a mission to get to Manzanita Outfitters to find ourselves a new tent. As we walked in the door we were enthusiastically greeted by an employee who we would soon know as Margaret. She asked us questions and shared our excitement over our trip and also told us that in a couple of months she too would be touring, but in the opposite direction, on the Trans America trail. She then showed us to the tents where we carefully weighed our options. As we narrowed down our choices, Margaret returned to see how we were doing and asked if we would like to stay with her for the night. We quickly jumped on the offer as she felt like a very friendly person and the sound of a warm bed and a place to dry our things sounded amazing. We finally decided on the Marmot Tungston 2P tent, made our purchase, and swapped it out for the soggy one. Shortly after, Margaret’s shift ended, she changed into her cycling clothes, grabbed her bicycle, and the three of us pedaled off towards her condo. Passing gorgeous views of Willow Lake and Granite Dells Rocks we eventually arrived at Margaret’s. She made us hot cocoa, gave us a tour, and made us feel right at home. She shared some chicken, muffins, and various other treats with us for dinner. She even went out and bought us some ice cream. We chatted, showered, laundered, and dried out our equipment from the night before. As we settled into our cozy bed, it was clear that although last night had been the worst, this night was one of the best of the trip so far.