Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Rawlins – Elk Mountain (October 14)

Day 30

More sun, wind from behind and the temperature nudging into the 40s. Woo hoo! Still mad with myself for 'cheating'. It didn't snow and it wasn't windy on Sunday afternoon. It would have been so easy to ride 15 miles west and then back again. If only I'd thought of it. I bet Chris cheats and doesn't even admit it. Easy riding, along I-80 (where else?) with a couple of big hills, but as the gradient can't be too severe for the trucks, they weren't that onerous. Nestled down out of the wind, by a river, for my lunch break, where I noticed every single riveted section of the bridge had a bee or wasp nest adhered to it. All rivers are flowing east now I'm over the continental divide. And so to Elk Mountain, named after, er, Elk Mountain, which I'd seen way off before Rawlins and rises to 11,156 feet. It is a charming town of less than 200 people, a few peaceful miles from the Interstate, with unmade roads divvying up ramshackle homesteads. Couldn't believe there was a library in such a tiny place; a one room wooden shack with strips of purple tinsel hanging in the inner doorway. There was only one large table for me to type at, around which several children and one mother were engrossed in Hallowe'en craftiness, and one girl had snot that threatened to drip from her nose every time she breathed out, only to withdraw once more. The elderly lady behind the desk came over to me as quickly as her zimmer-frame would allow, to tell me she had been having trouble with her laptop connection too. She suggested I drive by the Senior Centre, where I should get on the internet. This didn't work either and I slowly peddled around the town, with its golden-leaved cottonwood trees, its cats, dogs, goats and children, and took pictures. Later I discovered that The Garden Spot Pavilion used to be here and such artistes as Glenn Miller and Louis Armstrong performed there. Also, that Wyoming is called the 'Equality State' because in 1870 local woman Eliza Swain was the first US woman granted the right to vote in an election. Furthermore, George 'Big Nose' Parrot, an outlaw from these parts, had the unique distinction of having his skin made into a pair of shoes after he was hanged.

Then I checked into the Elk Mountain Hotel, or rather knocked at the house next door, because there was no one at reception. It was a good thing I didn't come here yesterday as it was closed on Mondays and there was nothing else for 15 miles. Chris had been here. I could smell him. It was a gorgeous place (ie expensive) in a Gone With the Windish kind of way – and my room would have been fit for Scarlett O'Hara – all plump pillows, brass bedsteads and frilly flounces. In this slice of yesteryear apple pie, it didn't seem right for it to be run by a couple from Sidcup, and their accents grated. I had been homesick, but only in a fantasy sense, Susan was a sweetheart though, especially as she only charged me $85 instead of $120. Yes, she said, Chris had been here. What was he like? Oh, your build, quiet. Annoying more like. Sat downstairs in what Susan quaintly termed 'the parlour', sipping Earl Grey, listening to Mr Sinatra and other crooners and a grandfather clock's chimes at three minutes past every quarter hour. Dare I even look at the restaurant menu? There was local venison; a snip at $36.95. I had the chicken salad with ranch dressing and a bottle of Samuel Adams beer. It was so nice to relax in my boudoir, where I powdered my nose and rouged my cheeks, particularly after the last few nights. Did He sleep on this very bed? No, he always camped and didn't even have a sleeping bag, only a blanket. Tough as nails he was.

The grandfather clock chimed all night long and most times I heard it. I had a Continental breakfast of granola, sunflower toast and blueberry & redcurrant pastries. Anything cooked was extra.


Neil Keefe said...

It's "pedalled", peddled means something quite different...

keefe said...

Thank you Neil, well said.

Can't you hitch a ride back on a truck and do the missing 15 miles? Or even pay a local to drive you each way?

Polly said...

Adrian, I posted about your trip on the Scrabble listserve CGP. Just got this response.
**Please tell him that if his route to Savannah happens to take him through Wilmington, NC, I'd be glad to have him contact me in advance to arrange some Scrabble. Thanks.

Bruce Shuman, director
NSA Club 611
Wilmington, NC
tel: 910/256-9659

Adrian said...

Thanks for that pedantic Neil.
Thanks for that pedantic Anthony.
Thanks for that Polly.