Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Point of Rocks – Rawlins (October 13)

Day 29

I left the 'motel' with some trepidation, for although it was sunny, there was plenty of snow, and where was the wind coming from? It seemed to be coming from the west. Thank you wind. The cafe part of the bar, bizarrely closed at weekends, rustled up a splendid feast comprising :

4 plate-length rashers bacon
3 eggs over hard
2 slices toast
Hash browns
1 coffee + 2 refills
1 orange juice

The waitress, who was unbelievably attentive and polite, had written “whimpy” beside bacon on the bill, as I had requested it not to be crispy. It was a good thing I'd slept well again and was wide awake, as she gave me change out of 20 when I had given her a 50. So, today then, another biggie, psychologically more than physically, as I had lost confidence as a result of being picked up by Tammy and I hadn't peddled one inch in nearly 48 hours. I had also cheated. Point of Rocks was about 15 miles east of the pick up, so really I should have cycled west for 15 miles first. Of course I didn't. It wasn't like anyone cared. I was only cheating myself. I will have to tell people, yes, I cycled across America, except for 15 miles in Wyoming. Today's ride commenced with a classic Adrian blunder. When Tammy had taken me to her power station, we had driven along a frontage road (short access roads parallel to freeways) and she had pointed out where I could turn on to the Freeway further up. I did this and it turned into a dirt track. The Freeway was getting further and further away. Finally I carried my bike (a few feet at a time due to the weight) across snowy sagebrush – I didn't want to push it in case of thorns. Then I had to take off all three panniers to get it over a barbed wire fence.

I had also been stressing about the state of the shoulder, yet I needn't have worried, as it was as snow-free as the rest of the freeway. I think the reason snow disappears must be something to do with the dryness of the air. Pedaling uphill was noticeably tough because of the cold, thin air; however, it was mostly downhill today and the wind licked me along. By the time I'd reached Rawlins my average was 18.4 mph! I crossed not one, but TWO continental divides today, which makes no sense to me. What REALLY confused me though was that the first divide sign gave a height of 6,930 and the second one, 7,000. These two signs were about 50 miles apart and it seemed like I was going down (the landscape opening up in front and not behind) for 90% of the time. Anyway. I had crossed the backbone of America and it was to be largely downhill from here, in both senses of the word. There doesn't seem to be a Wyoming logo on the road signs, which is probably due to there being no graphic designers here. “We'll pay you double the salary you get in Denver if you move to Wyoming.” “No thanks.” “Triple?” “Thanks, but I have my mental wellbeing to consider.” There was a truck whose every side was plastered with the words “Jesus Christ is Lord not a swear word”. What were they transporting? Bibles? If the truck was being used as a billboard alone, how could spending money on gas instead of helping the needy be a sensible use of resources? In Wamsutter, where I had planned to spend a night, there was a man in the Subway cafe with gold caps on every single tooth. He might have to be careful not to smile in big cities late at night. There was no more snow on the ground at, what I had thought to be a lower altitude, although there were football sized lumps of brown ice in the shoulder, dislodged from trucks, but thankfully none fell on me.

And so to Rawlins, which I'm sure was a really nice town (it had a gentrified Wild West feel with many of the old clapboard houses turned into shops with all the original features intact) except it was mighty cold, especially with that icy wind and I headed straight for the cosy confines of the library. There was an email from Nate in Twin Falls telling me Chris had been in the news AGAIN, in Cheyenne, where the police had given him an escort through the town. I bet everyone loves him. I bet God loves him too. Then to the Best Motel. Yeah right. How long does it take to run vacuum the floor once in a while? It was run by a silver-haired Asian man, and his wife who couldn't speak a word of English watched me the whole time. When her husband showed me the room, she stood at the back door of the office. Later, when I couldn't get wi fi, he made phone calls, called people in, and then we went up to his bedroom, where his wife was in bed, to look at the router. We got it to work eventually. Tonight I broke with tradition and had Spaghetti al Salmone at the Rawlins Buffet, where, unlike all the truck drivers, I was too mean to fork out $13 for the 'eat all you want' buffet. One such trucker asked where I was from (I just have to open my mouth and people start conversations) and he invited me to stay at his place in Colorado! Mac picks up old tyres from garages and his company shreds them for reuse in playgrounds.Today was Columbo Day, yet how come none of his programmes were on TV? During the night I was woken a few times by the freight trains as usual, which criss-cross the land. They sound their horns three times when approaching railroad crossings, as unlike in Britain, there are often no automatic barriers.

The next morning I dined at Square Shooters Eating House, where I watched a man describing a woman's curves with his hands to a friend. He was doing no such thing – he was describing the size of some animal he'd shot. In the local paper there was a photo of a rodeo rider called Keefe Rice; didn't he know Keefe was a surname, not a Christian name? The idea of life in The West appeals to me on many levels, but if I was to emigrate here without a woman I'd die a lonely man, as all the womenfolk are married off at 20 and progeny fly out of them like rabbits.

No comments: