We are now in Payson, Arizona, a medium sized town in the middle of Arizona, connecting east to west and north to south. We decided to continue a little farther south from Oak Creek, taking 89A to Highway 17 and following that down to a town called Camp Verde.
Here, in an out of place Natural Foods Store, we had a great conversation with the enthusiastically gun toting owner and a regular customer, Virginia. Both were on a first name basis with James Ray, who has recently come under national scrutiny after two people died in his sweat lodge. Virginia, a vibrant and allegedly psychic older woman with a tattooed band encircling her forehead in a blue ink crown, was under attack from the federal government for having her own sweat lodge. Apparently its illegal to have a sweat lodge if you aren’t a native american. She craftily installed a dial which switched its official designation from “sweat lodge” to “sauna”.
Check out Virginia’s website at http://spiritwhisperer.com/
From what she saw of our journey, she said, we were to encounter no major obstacles, it was a blessed journey. Once outside she encouraged us to ignore the shopkeeper’s ardent opinions that we should carry a gun. ”You will be protected by the good energy you create.” She said. We agreed with everything she said!
Then we were on our way east on 260.
We camped several miles out of town.
The next day heading east it was a grueling 4,000 foot climb.
The sights included cacti, butterflies and towards the top, a lot of pine trees.
Unfortunately right when we arrived in Payson we discovered that Rasham’s new rear tire we had just purchased in Oak Creek Village had a serious defect!
It was lucky again that we were in a town with a bike shop! We walked the last mile to our hosts house, Devin and Laurel Wala, some the most generous people we have met on this trip who encouraged us to stay two nights and made us two amazing dinners. We even enjoyed the Daily Show each night in their miniature movie theatre!
The Walas have been couchsurfing for about ten years all over the world. It was great to meet a couple that still fulfilled their passion for travel while having kids and even thought that their travel experience was enhanced by the presence of their young ones.