Day 30, part 2

If you are a fan of the posts where I go through extensive suffering -- versus talking about how nice everyone is -- please enjoy my afternoon.

I am in Sargents sitting in an genuine teepee, just like the Indians before me. There are traditional Indian paintings, there is the standard, miniature flap door, and there is the traditional propane-fueled fire ring. I couldn't have celebrated my anniversary any better.

Well. After I washed my clothes I got to talking to a beautiful and charming Salidan girl with dreadlocks (note: Sal-EE-Dan). She started telling me about all the neat things in town, was polite enough to laugh at my jokes (and not my unfortunate outfit) and wondered if I mightn't rest in Salida and hit up the hotsprings. The next lines of dialogue would have been the smart thing to say --

G: I wouldn't know where to find it.
X: I could show you.
G: I haven't got a bathing costume.
X: That won't be necessary.
G: I love you.

What I ended up saying was that I'd always have Monarch pass scaring me subconciously and that it would ruin the bathing experience. I made to pedal off, she wished me luck with my trip, I wished her luck finishing her laundry.

I then went to one of those combination maternity wear/gun shops, went into a darkened alley, and proceeded to strangle myself with a 7-month dress. Cheating death, I went into a coffee shop and had the first latte of the trip. Note this conversation starter:

G: Good morning.
Y: Good morning.

From here the whole places makes like I've returned home from war a hero. Everyone's talking, everybody knows your name. If you have the option to work from home, move to Salida.

I biked up towards Monarch pass (elev. 1,312 feet). With my height at 6 feet flat, that makes the highest I'll climb this trip. Things are going swimmingly until it starts to rain.

I have forgotten rain as I have forgotten hills. The last time I was rained on I spent the night in a men's room. This time, I spent it riding up a winding road into thunder-and-you-know, around landslides, and then high enough for rain to become glorious hail.

I believe the bike helmet is nearly useless. You'd have to be pretty naïve to think a plastic hat would save you from a jackknifing manure spitter. If you've ever seen a smushed armadillo then you know how worthless a hard exoskeleton can be against a harder Mack truck.

That said, my helmet came in handy twice today. A bird made a nest in it yesterday night, and it made for a great hail shield. Hail is hard. Getting caught in it is like being stoned to death by Lilliputians. Death will happen, just be patient.

I climb, I freeze, I near the top, I near the lightning, trucks spray me half to death, I use what little ESP I have to do the same to them. I make it to the top. Bless Colorado, there's a gift shop.

I order a large hot cocoa and 10 dollars worth of fudge. I couldn't stop shivering. I had my arms wrapped around my chest and slowly tried to raise my body temperature. I wrote some texts. I stared blankly and talked to some (motor)bikers from Missouri ("God the water managed to get through my rain pants." Eat shit. I'm dying here. And I'm in shorts). The proprietor says another front's coming. Now is my chance.

I make for the bike, fumble with my gloves, put on my golf-inspired windbreaker, bite down on my teeth to stop them chattering, and point us downhill. Two massive trucks with massive fans are lumbering down the hill. I pass one to get down faster. The storm is on me. I'm blowing downhill at 40 miles an hour, everything is freezing, my eyes can't squint any smaller and still hail hits my precious eyeballs, and I can't move my hands. Sections of the road have become rivers. The whole thing was terrifying, zero fun (well...), and even when the air got warmer I refused to. I could not move my legs. Things began to flatten out and then the truck I passed took his sweet revenge by passing me with a millimeter to spare. I loudly wished him well.

I saw a small cafe. I couldn't move my knees so I rolled up to the wooden front and keeled over. I clicked out from the ground. I swung the saloon doors open and made straight for the hot coffee. I had four cups. I spilled half of the first one on the floor I was shaking so hard. The waitress took pity on me and brought me some chili. Another woman gave me a towel she'd warmed up. Some (motor)bikers told me to go into the gift shop, try on a fleece for an hour, and then return it. I passed on the latter.

I was in the Pacific half of the country. I had crossed the Continental Divide in a month. I was also, unknowingly, in the campground I planned on staying at.

G: I called earlier about pitching a tent.
Z: Oh you're the guy. That'll be blah blah blah.
G: Where is the lot?
Z: Over there by the teepees.
G: Teepees?
Z: Yes.
G: Sign me up for that chief.

I showered. For an hour. I got ready. I went back for more food. I met a nice man from Kansas City (Go Broncos!) who was there dirt bike riding. Last year, he rode his (motor)bike to the see the ocean for the very first time. Riding south on 1 on the California coast, if you look down you see the ocean. He was pleased. He dreamed of a trip to Alaska, but the guy he was planning it with hurt his shoulder skydiving. I do hope he makes it work somehow.

Minor annoyance. Bill O'Reilly was on the TV. Dan, the man from the paragraph above (Go Broncos!), likes him. He says it like it is apparently. I don't want to debate that here or ever. (Sometimes, SF, there isn't enough vomit in the world.) I did have the privilege of meeting Bill O'Reilly at an amazing concert and can say this empirically: he's boring. And sometimes that's worse than being wrong.

This fire is amazing.

1 comment:

Jewels said...

Hi Geoffrey, We really enjoy reading your blog and wish you could have stopped by our house in Colorado, but it seems to be off your path. I personally think you're a bit insane for doing this but hope you are having the time of your life. Stay safe and healthy and know we are thinking of you and living vicariously through your ride.
Love, Aunt Julie, Brennan & Kristen