Day 41, goodnight Utah

This is my last night in Utah and all I want to do is watch the Olympic Games. As this was a completely nondescript day of cycling, save a much-needed trip to WalMart, I'll take the time to answer some reader mail.
Cletus, 42, from Vatican City, Vatican City (the city so nice they named it twice) wants to know, "How do you go to the bathroom when camping?"
This is a fair and valid question. In fact, I hope this opens up an entirely new avenue of scholarship. There are the metaphysical aspects we can skip by -- does the Pope shit in the woods? -- and let's focus on ugly facts. You dig a hole as deep as your forearm, toss it in, and then use any of smooth objects nature can provide to finish your toilet (this is hard to do in the desert). Then you close the hole and bury your secret in the ground.
Mary Kate, 13, from New York says, "What animals have you seen? What was your favorite?"
Wild animals are notoriously fast and tough to see. Luckily, intrepid naturalists and truckers pin them to the road so that cyclists can better see and smell them. I have seen an entire Looney Tunes stable of roadkill: Speedy Gonzales, Bugs Bunny, Foghorn Leghorn, Pepe le Phew, Andy the Armadillo, Tweety, Wil E. Coyote, and Sylvester. Today I saw a heart and lungs with no animal attached, although my suspicions are egret.
I happen to love birds of prey. Today I biked with a condor floating beside me for a small while. I also saw an eagle dive down and pick up a mouse from the middle of the road out of the goodness of its heart. I also like deer. They are graceful, fast, playful, and run alongside of you if there are no cars. Fields of sheep are nice things to pass by, especially the one I saw in Western Colorado where every bell was tuned to a different, lovely note.
I do hate bats. I wish more truckers rode at night. Desert ants scare me, but there is something beautiful about them when they swarm into their giant anthills. It's a bit like a broken beer bottle coming together and reassembling itself underground.
Sleve Pillow, 64, from Detroit is curious: "Are you doing this for a cause? What's the point?"
I hate this question, Sleve. The purpose, I assume, is self-evident. If not, read the blog and you might find some areas that are evident-evident. If it still isn't evident, might I ask you to pause and consider what the purpose of anything is. If, after you decide that there is none and that curiosity is not its own reward, can I then recommend any of the thousands of cliffs I have crossed as a perfect space for further contemplation.
Here is my issue with "are you doing this for a cause?" This is fun. Honest. You can't have your friends and family sponsor a charity for you to have the time of your life crossing the country. That doesn't scan.
I like this subtext. You think you can cross the country but you know there are times when you'll wish you were elsewhere; then, use the fact that you have the Clean Air fund relying upon you to carry you up that hill. Fine. I've done this but I've done this differently (I've brought You along; I told too many people so failure would be too embarrassing). There are some pursuits in life that are inherently solitary, but the pursuit of those pursuits needn't be. We can get by with a little help from...
I hate this subtext. Running a marathon is hard. Chronic fatigue is hard. Do these sufferings equal each other? No. First off: running a marathon is the only time a regular adult can have a crowd of 200,000 people cheer them on. It is beyond fun. Second off: it's not that hard.
So why does "I'm doing this for myself" sound so selfish? It is, isn't it? Is that wrong?
That may be why I'm doing it, but that's not what I tell people. I know when people might find an answer of some value, so I say this: "I'm not doing this for anything specifically, but I hope the people I talk to will want to see more of their State or the Country, or maybe ride a bike somewhere new, or maybe just get to say "You'll never guess what I saw today!""
Cheese McMillan, 28, of the former Luxembourg, offers his two cents: "I wish could ride a bike across country, but you make it seem so hard and awful. Is it? I'm a former Olympic medalist who is training for the Ironman. Do you think I have what it takes?"
Probably not.
Jaime-Lynne Banderas, 74, writes: "What have you found indispensable on this trip?"
The backside of hills. Milk. Sleep. The joy of showering. Coppertone Oil Free SPF 30 Broad Spectrum UVA UVB Odorless Sunblock. Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain. The ACA maps. The big gears on the front part of the bike and the little ones on the wheel. Oh. Water. The kindness of strangers. The Blackberry. EMS' 35 degree sleeping bag the folds down to the size of a credit card. The bike. Lots and lots of hair product, especially in this dry heat.
Darby O'Russell of Tel Aviv wants to know "where the prettiest sky was."
Pretty skies usually come with or before rain. I liked the sky in Kansas a whole lot just before that really long day. It was broad and very rich in orange, probably as a result of all the methane. I liked the sky in Colorado when you were up at cloud height, but oftentimes that was accompanied by hail and lightning. And Utah, colorful Utah, has had the most variety in it's evening sky: one end of the horizon could be pink and pale blue, while the other side is bright red and starry. I do, however, hold out for Nevada on all things stargazing and skywatching.
John Tesh, 18, gets the last word: "So you've got eight easy days left. Give us a sneak peak and let us in on one thing you want to do when you reach the end?"
That's a good question. I want to find a bar with a good jukebox and give that Bob Dylan song we heard at Elaine's in Bazine, KS another listen.
My cellphone reception will be spotty from here on across Nevada. I'll try and keep current, but I can't be certain of anything.

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