Day 8 (Driving Miss Tom)

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After a spectacular night’s sleep and a delicious breakfast of bacon and eggs, the three of us drove to Dobbins lookout on South Mountain and were the recipients of some remarkable views of the valley. Driving up to the summit was definitely much more relaxing than having to cycle up it. After soaking in all the sights we drove through downtown Phoenix. City Hall had quite a bit of commotion on its yard today as a pro gun rally was taking place. We ogled at the protesters as some signs promoted the safety of guns. I was baffled at the blatant contradiction of such a statement, but that’s just me.

For lunch we ate at a Mexican restaurant called TeePees. It made me think of peepees. Luckily the food didn’t taste like peepee. In fact it was delicious and nutritious. We were the only ones in the restaurant for a while. That’s always a discomforting feeling, but because the food was so tasty, I thought nothing of it.

After lunch, we drove out to Tempe to check out Arizona State University’s campus. That city was riddled with much more young people for obvious reasons. It got me thinking about all the different campuses I’ve biked through on this trip. I’d often fantasize about how different my life would be if I attended one of the universities I investigated. ASU’s campus and surrounding area certainly had lots of appeal, but I’m so glad I went to school in Philadelphia. It toughened me up and Temple was the tits.

From Tempe we drove back home to prepare for dinner. Dutch informed me that we had driven about 100 miles altogether today. I was blown away by that number. To me, reaching the century mark in one day is an accomplishment I’d brag about on a bike. We did that in an afternoon and it felt like nothing. Once again I just reflected on the surrealism and stupidity of the challenge I have set before myself. And then I thought about pizza.

We went to a pizza joint called Nello’s for dinner. Dutch and Gerry go there every Saturday night and the wait staff knows them on a first name basis. I felt like a mob consigliore as they seated us to the designated booth and everyone stopped and greeted us. I was just waiting for them to come over and kiss Gerry and Dutch’s rings. Eventually their daughter Karen, her husband Larry, and their kids (Ryan and Cameron) showed up and we all shared pizza, stories, and a few laughs. I talked with Karen about that awesomeness of Madison, Wisconsin and we all discussed the eerie desolation of West Texas. I am beyond excited to get to Texas after all the scary anecdotes people have told me. Even if we were distant cousins at most, it felt nice to be part of a big family for the first time in a long time.

It will be tough to leave Dutch and Gerry’s tomorrow morning as they treated me with such love and care. I am so glad I got to see them and share experiences while engaging in some satisfyingly intellectual dialogue. they were excellent tour guides and I hope to return to Phoenix in the future to spend more time with them. Next time I’ll try to smell a little better.

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