After delaying my departure for as long as possible (check-out wasn't until 11) it stopped raining. When returning my key, the blowsy blonde at reception told me she originated from Vegas and that she went back there occasionally... to play bingo. Had a quick flick through the local paper, in which the cartoons were in the religious section. Uphill for the first few miles and the weather was comparable to Scotland in early October (in the 50s, overcast and damp). Like Albion, the next miniature town I happened upon also had a British connection, as it was called Malta – and then I saw a Mini Cooper drive by. Popping into one of the two small grocery stores, the man serving asked me to stick a pin in a world map to show where I lived. Someone had already stuck a pin into Glasgow, so I pretended I came from another part of Scotland. He said his wife was always on at him to take her to Scotland and then he conversed with some Latinos (the pc term for Mexicans) in fluent Spanish. I had a sandwich made up here (my God it was good) but no fresh fruit for sale. I tried at the other store and they didn't have any fruit either; they only had it in the summer the young woman apologized. So many of the women here have very pretty eyes, and their smiles are warm and natural.
Didn't need to escape the shade for my lunch-break today and I would have liked to have stepped into a pool of sunlight instead, as it was so gloomy. Sat on my folded-up waterproof jacket on bare, stony ground (which has been its only use so far) and listened to the silence beside the quiet road. The only sound was soft hammering from somewhere across the valley. I spoke too soon, for half an hour later I needed to put my coat on, as well as my leggings - which was awkward as there was nothing to prop my bike against except for me. The following 30 miles were the most desolate so far encountered, a headwind and hardly any cars or even a sign to read. The map showed two towns between here and Snowville, yet I didn't even see a house. The road was straight, it was flattish, with sagebrush in the foreground and misty mountains beyond in all directions. The road was so monotonous that I slalomed for a bit, to jazz it up.
Then a bullet-ridden sign announced Utah and also promoted the 2002 Winter Olympics. Things changed for the better here, as it stopped raining, the road kinked away from the wind and there were signs! I liked the Utah logo on its Highway signs, which seemed to be a beehive. Idaho's had been the shape of the state in white against a black background, and as Montana has a wiggly edge encroaching on northern Idaho, it was like a man's face in profile looking into a doorway.
“Attention sage-grouse hunters”
one sign shouted and it went on to ask the hunters of this bird to deposit a wing in this here barrel, as a local university was conducting research on the species. I read every word voraciously and all the other signs too. At length a few farms popped up and then, in the distance, tiny rectangles seemingly moving across a field. It was the Interstate! Hurrah! Three cheers for trucks and wide, asphalt superhighways. Crossed it and soon arrived in desultory Snowville. The lady at the garage/grocery store said they used to stock fruit, but it just went bad because no one bought it. She said I should try Tremonton, a half hour drive away. The motel was unmanned and a lovely, wordy sign requested me to fill in a card with my credit card details and I could take a key. All the remaining rooms were 'smoking' unfortunately, although once in there I didn't really notice it. I wondered if people tried to get away without paying, but obviously not, as half an hour later a lady came to my door to explain my credit card had not been authorized. However, I was able to pay with a Traveller's Cheque. Walked across the road to dine at the Ranch House Diner, served by the comely Shanna. The beefburgers are so juicy and meaty in this country, it's no wonder I keep ordering them. They had blue 'Play Dough' ice cream, although I opted for the safer almond fudge, that actually tasted more chocolatey than anything else. Leaving, I saw the sign, “Tractor books are free”, relating to glossy magazines filled with photos of second hand tractors and nothing else. Back at the motel I heard the couple in the next room talking about going for dinner as they left in their car. I watched them through the window, saw their car drive across the road (less than 200 metres away) and park.
Woken in the morning by car doors slamming a million times. Peeked through the blinds to watch one mature lady with goats in the back of her covered pick-up truck say to ano0ther :
“Why don't you help me?”
“I'd like to help you, but I can't because of my heart condition; you know that.”
“I know that.”
“You know f***!”
Beautiful light and soft clouds during my short walk to Mollie Cafe (I think an S had been missed out of the neon sign). I was served by an 80+ lady with thick make-up and a 'Utah beehive' hairdo. You could get an 8 oz sirloin steak for breakfast, but I had eggs over hard, bacon, toast and the best strawberry jam I've ever tasted. No more pancakes. Everyone knows each other in these places and they trade banter across the room. I asked Polly, who also worked there, why people are so happy in rural areas. She said they didn't have the stresses of folks in Salt Lake and they could see the mountains. Polly's age of 27 came up in conversation and she referred to Mollie as her mom, so maybe she looked older than she was. Polly had lived in Snowville all her life and explained how it was named after Lorenzo Snow, the founder of the Mormons, who dispatched settlers here in the 19th century. Polly gave me a bumper sticker with the slogan 'Hit the spott'. That other cross-America cyclist had stayed here a week ago and he'd got a free breakfast! Chris, was also 27, has ridden across the country twice already and has been on TV. Show off.