Day 8 on the Southern Tier Route

Up at 6:30 A.M. to the motel breakfast of industrially produced food-like materials. We began our biking day at 7:30 A.M. heading east on US Hwy 70. In four miles, we entered the San Carlos Apache Reservation, and a few miles later passed by a casino. After 20 mostly downhill miles through desert scrub vegetation, we arrived at Peridot and a Basha's grocery store. We bought some Gatorade and filled our water bottles for a 35-mile dry stretch. The highway trended slowly downhill for 22 miles and crossed the Gila River, which flowed a trickle. A forest of invasive tamarisk shrubs covered the broad floodplain of the Gila. In three miles, we stopped at a highway rest area at Bylas. Unexpectedly, it had water so we ate lunch under a canopy. In four miles, we left the Reservation, and the desert shrub land changed to irrigated cotton farming on slopes in the Gila River valley. Anglo communities replaced the Apache communities. Thirteen miles from Bylas, we reached Fort Thomas and got water at a Family Dollar store. Onward for 11 miles past more cotton fields to Pima and in four more miles to Thatcher. We stopped at Taylor Freeze, a soft ice cream place, for a treat. Two walls were decorated with photos of Southern Tier bikers (see photo). Our picture will soon adorn the 2017 portion of the wall. Onward for three miles to Safford where we expected to camp at the Sunrise RV Park. But the office was locked and the community room was locked. We biked back into town and rented a room at the Economy Inn. The place had seen better days but was clean and quiet. After showers, we ate dinner at Casa Mañana two blocks away. Back at the motel, Betsy borrowed a bike pump from one of the other patrons. A good day with temperatures 10 degrees cooler than yesterday plus a few clouds . Another 79 miles in the books.

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