Are We Having Fun




  1. 1.

    enjoyment, amusement, or lighthearted pleasure.

    "the children were having fun in the play area"


The trick to having fun on long bike trips, as with long dinner parties, is to manufacture internal amusements when traditional, external sources of enjoyment are in short supply. Some people outsource this responsibility to alcohol and chemicals. Weak. Weak and sad. My successful, twisted strategy for self-funnelation involves imagining fairly horrible scenarios and then, when they don't come true, FUN!!!

Here's what didn't happen the last two days along the 150 miles from Safford, Arizona to Deming, New Mexico:

- I wave to an Arizona state trooper driving the other way. He waves back but then realizes that I'm holding a small gun in my delicate Canadian hand so he turns around, drives up beside me, and shoots me in self-defence. Too late, he discovers the "gun" is a tube of hair gel favoured by balding metrosexuals. For a few days, the trooper is a little bummed out.

- We've got the tailwind of our lives and are flying across the landscape. We've never gone so fast. I look back and Geoff has fallen off his bike, dead from a heart attack. By the time Geoff's body is carted off, the wind has died too.

- I stop amid the vast desert landscape, walk off the road a discreet distance and start to pee. I feel a burning sensation. I look down and see that I'm standing on the charred corpse of Bryan Cranston. Bad break.

-  We stop at a rest area and Miss Armitage, my grade 9 english teacher, is writing on a chalkboard behind the picnic table. She hasn't changed a bit. I get tumescent in an untimely way and have to cross my legs while riding the bike. She turns and faces me and...  she's old. Older than me. By a lot. I uncross my legs.

All to say, don't worry about me. I'm having fun. Peace out.


And now, a word from Geoff...


Donald Spoto's biography of Grace Kelly was my first audio book on this tour, indeed my first ever. The narrator was fine speaking in his flat American accent, but in taking the voice of French or Italian speakers in the text sounded Russian. The bio provided a good deal of insider Hollywood history, as Kelly was right in the middle of things, an MGM player who fought the studio system. Most interesting for me were details of her three pictures with Hitchcock. What I hadn't known--the full list is long--is how short her film career was, and how she was only 52 when she died in a Monaco car crash caused by a stroke. 

Our ride out of Safford--mild wind, sunny skies, good vascular circulation--gave me time to mull another untimely death: Stuart McLean at 68. One of my many happy family memories was attending (with Kathy, Rebecca, and Sarah) a Vinyl Cafe show at PDA as my birthday present. Was it 2013? Whatever...great laughs, good music, and a fine time listening to an amusing storyteller...frankly, better to listen eyes-closed, radio-style. If I were the teched-up sort, I would have downloaded some Dave and Morley for the ride that day. Easy, evocative comfort listening. "In a time of plastic water bottles, CBC is the village well." Thanks, Stuart McLean, one of the well-diggers.

But enough about death. Our road through the high desert to Duncan (elev. 3,600') featured a long climb past historic markers for whites slain by Apaches--no memorials for murdered natives (oops, death again)--and a fun, winding descent into Duncan...despite this descent a net altitude gain of 800' from Safford. We have benefitted from Barc's warm showers connections, this night scoring a free bed in a tiny, teardrop trailer (c. 1950) out back of the Simpson Hotel, an off-beat B&B with its back garden filled with religious icons, cats, chickens, and a friendly goat. Our absentee hosts...liberals existing in a land of Trumpish types...left the back door open. Nice. Duncan itself is a typically spare southwest town: shuttered stores, fading paint, and trailers...lots of permanent trailers. But across from the nearby Methodist church was Humble Pie, a one-man pizza shop. Pete is an artiste of the genre: dough and sauce his secret recipes, and toppings hand-picked from his market sources. Cheese? Special order. Barc and I were happy to eat in and chat with Pete--in business there for 19 years--while a steady stream of take-out business suggested his reputation was wide. Our all-dressed special was of a calibre that might compete with Little Italy's better offerings. Next time you're in Duncan....

The breakfast at Hilda's was pleasing for me: huevos rancheros, with a green pepper salsa. Sadly, Barc's lukewarm pancakes couldn't soften the butter. There are worse problems, though, like a strong headwind. But not this day, where we cruised the 100 miles (!!) to Deming NM with a good tailwind much of the way, the speed offsetting the bland views from the wide shoulder of the I-10, unless the hundreds of discarded beer bottles littering the highway scrub are of interest. The moment of crossing the"continental divide"(at least on this route) was as anti-climactic as crossing the equator at sea must be. Even though we were at 4,600 feet elevation, the roadside sign was our only hint of this transitional point.

Deming NM apparently exists because it lies along what was a stagecoach route at the junction of two railway lines. Not much else recommends the town, apart from a record number of motels and restaurants along its three-mile long Pine Street, by odd logic basically treeless. With a healthy respect for strong headwinds and our being overdue for a rest day, we spent our Saturday in Deming, where we visited the local history museum, described by the volunteer greeter as the Smithsonian of the West. Not exactly...but still a good collection of historic odds and ends in a building that originally served as an armoury. Barc was particularly taken with the Braille edition of Playboy...he claims he didn't see it. Mexican tonight at Si Senor (Pine Street), and an early start to Las Cruces tomorrow, ideally with the forecast tailwind. Adios.