Clouds clung to the pinnacles of distant mountains like silk, as I continued to travel southwards through Colorado. It was a good road, lined with glistening-leaved brilliant yellow, red and green trees, landscaped shrubberies, water features and rock gardens. Down to a T shirt for the first time in a week and today must have been over 70 degrees, with a gentle breeze. Stopped in Loveland for to pick up a copy of the newspaper, where Phyllis and I were shaking hands on page 2. It was a good picture and the photographer had cleverly hidden the word PORN on the board with our hands. Stopped at Panera Bread, a chain cafe, in Longmont, where they give you a plastic device that bleeps and flashes when your sandwich has been made up. This afternoon a four inch grasshopper gave me a fright when it landed on my leg and I saw lots of gophers – mini fat otters – squeaking from their burrows, like housewives gossiping. It had been going well until I neared Denver, as although still on the edge of the city, the highway became busier and the shoulder disappeared. For the first time since my arrival I experienced cycle rage and disabused cars driving disrespectfully close and fast. They had two other lanes, so why did they have to go in mine? Often they would beep their horns and shout at me - but only when they were whizzing past and I couldn't make out a word of it – and not when we were stationary at lights. Maybe I wasn't supposed to be there, yet there were no signs to this effect and in America if there isn't a hundred signs telling you not to do something then in must be OK. Talking of signs, it amuses me to see real estate ads (plastered all over streets and press) usually with photos of smiling, attractive women. I wonder if some men choose agents on their looks and if this ever causes arguments with spouses.
I was also mad with myself for rushing, as today's Pixie Pit host had asked me to try and make it to the school she taught at by closing time at 3 pm, because the children would love to see me. I arrived in Littleton, a suburb to the south of Denver, at 3.15. It was a big place and it took me ages to find a library, with various people's bad advice and/or my inability to follow it. The little, old library lady gave me a map of Littleton which didn't have the street in question, even though it was in Littleton. She then gave me a huge map of Denver and much to my consternation tried to find the street herself – without using the index. She couldn't find it and then looked on an internet map site. We found a street with the same name, but she said it wasn't the right street because the street number was too high for that neighbourhood. I took down the directions anyway and made me way to this street, six miles to the west (still within the same massive suburb. So, I found the street – South Miller Court – however the numbers didn't go up high enough. I spoke to people living there and they said that was the end of the street and there was no other section. They also looked up the exact address I had on internet and drew a blank. I phoned my hosts and they said I must be in the wrong place. I followed their directions (another few miles along nasty beeping roads) and they came out to meet me in their car and shepherded me to ANOTHER South Miller Court in Littleton. There are two South Miller Streets as well. Who in their right mind...
I was hot, flustered, thirsty and exhausted when I finally sat down in Judy and Tom's cavernous house (they said it was a pretty small house) and fixed me a tasty meal of meat-stuffed peppers and Californian white wine. Tom had owned a bike shop and had a whole host of bicycles, including a titanium one. He was aghast at my footwear and insisted I try a pair of special shoes with 'cleats' that lock into special pedals, the merits of which he was so convinced in, he fitted a pair to my Trek. Judy told me about the half-sister she has recently discovered in Yorkshire, from a union between her father (before he met Judy's mother) when he was stationed in England during the War. Now deceased, her father hadn't told anyone about his other daughter or her mother. Once again this couple had lived in various locations throughout the US and their politics were split along typical gender lines (ie she was Democrat and he was Republican). Tom was very clued up about the Middle East and American foreign policy, and I was shot down in flames when I tried to criticize what I saw to be its 'bully boy' tactics. Tom believed (and made his points with articulacy) that Uncle Sam 'sorted countries out' for no gain or political leverage and rebuilt their economies just out of niceness (I'm paraphrasing). On a gloomier note he was convinced that if/when troops pulled out of Iraq and Afghanistan that Iran would start to throw their weight around and possibly even deploy nuclear weapons. Make words, not war - that's what I say – and that is exactly what Sheila and I did. My armies of letters soon had control of the board, with two early bingos (GREEDIER & REPUTED) and Judy's arsenal suffered from poor capability, as I had all the incendiary devices (both blanks and most of the premium tiles). Then it was time to head upstairs and I saw what Tom had meant about their fondness for soft beds, as it was one of those mattresses that sinks underneath you like jelly; not that I cared, as I'm always so tired that I could sleep in a broom cupboard.
The next day it was predicted to reach 80+ and I changed my plans to only go as far as Castle Rock, which was where the truck driver who had offered me accommodation in Rawlins lived. Tom and Judy plied me with breakfast and maps before a late start.