Route 66 west from Ludlow was paved like this . . .
George said the pavement made driving the truck slow and unpleasant. On our small tires, with only Jeffrey as engine, fuhgeddaboutdit! There being no “Bicycles Prohibited” sign at the I-40 on-ramp, up we went onto the superhighway instead.
We cruised along the smooth shoulder and in moments passed this sign.
We love such signs. They tell drivers that we belong.
WHOOP! WHOOP! A siren was right behind us. Jeffrey jumped almost off his seat.
Officer Salazar of the California Highway Patrol emerged from his SUV.
“In California, it’s illegal to bike on the Interstate,” he said. He asked for Jeffrey’s driver license. (In NYC, non-motorists are asked for “identification”; driver licenses are not assumed. But we are not in NYC anymore, Dorothy!)
Jeffrey showed Officer Salazar the photo Jeffrey had just taken of the “Share the Road” sign perhaps 100 yards (meters) away. Jeffrey was glad that the officer had seen us rather than the sign. And yet . . .
Officer Salazar took Jeffrey’s license and spoke with a supervisor.
He came back all smiles. He said a recent memo describes a temporary arrangement to allow bicycles on the I-40 shoulder between Ludlow and Barstow (Officer Salazar’s hometown, and our destination for the day).
Jeffrey and the officer had a friendly chat about the vastness, variety, and beauty of California. About bicycle safety (Jeffrey displays, under the trike fairing, an 8×10 photo of the x-ray of his left leg as shattered by a reckless driver and surgically repaired in 2014). And about refugees and asylum applicants (of course). Officer Salazar was most solicitous, asking whether lightly clad Jeffrey has a jacket (at the time it was 60F/15C, which the Californian probably thinks is cold) and inviting Jeffrey to call 9-1-1 should we need assistance.
Then we were rolling again. George waited for us 8 miles down the road, at what we thought was an exit but turned out to be just an overpass.
Jeffrey and George shouted back and forth, and agreed to meet at the next exit, another 8 miles away.
We passed cooled lava fields near Pisgah Crater, the remnant of a volcanic eruption believed to date from 13,000-23,000 years ago.
We passed areas that looked like storybook desert.
We saw buildings abandoned after I-40 took travelers away from old Route 66.
A large tour bus that had passed us on I-40 was stopped on Route 66. French tourists stood in the road and pointed their cameras at us. Jeffrey obliged by rolling up to them and stopping. Some cheered the “Human Rights” signs we display. Jeffrey has no photos of them because of the chaos: the guide shouting that the group must reboard the bus, some of the tourists sitting on the road to be photographed next to a Route 66 logo, other tourists taking photos of the road-sitters, a big blue truck approaching and honking, still other tourists standing in the road and pointing their cameras at the truck . . . Jeffrey got us out of there.
We met George near an Indian / Mexican eatery.
George bought the humans some bean-filled samosas, an American cultural fusion food, spiced just right. Delicious!
We passed only the second cultivated field we have seen on this Ride.
A bit later, Richard, a retired diplomat biking Route 66 from Los Angeles to Chicago, stopped to chat.
He told Jeffrey colorful anecdotes about recent U.S. administrations. They traded biking tips and family stories. Richard shares our concern about American policy and practice regarding asylum applicants and refugees.
At Daggett, we saw what we believe is a solar power plant.
Then it was up some hills to Barstow, which strikes us as an ugly town plopped into a memorable landscape.
But people are what matter to us, and the people—from two India-born hoteliers, to the staff at a restaurant, to the pedestrians Jeffrey met on the street—greeted a stranger as warmly as we’ve been greeted anywhere, on seven Rides, in 32 U.S. states and one Canadian province, from coast to coast.