Interstate 81 was all that was on offer, at least until Tremonton, 34 miles to the south. This being Sunday, it wasn't too busy and there was a good shoulder all the way. A thick white line divides road and shoulder, usually followed by : a rumble strip, about eight foot of tarmac, gravel, desert. One truck honked as he was passing and the deep, loud boom caused me to almost jump out of my skin. There were a few other beeps and honks, and whether it be a “hello” or “get off this road you idiot”, I'm not quite sure, although I'm pretty certain it's not a violation to cycle on freeways out of metropolitan areas. While resting I was befriended by my first mosquitoes, who must have mistaken me for a cow, as they only sucked on my black jumper. It was cool again with large, luminous clouds lolloping overhead.
In Tremonton I went into a supermarket and there was fruit in plentiful supply. Nearly bought a 3 lb tub of grapes for $2.99, yet as this would have practically filled one pannier, decided against it. Had my first less-than-delicious sandwich today and I was pretty cut up about it I can tell you. It was cold, watery and flavourless, like a British pre-made sandwich. Should have chosen the beef 'Poorboy' instead. Good to be back in a proper urban environment though, even if most of the shops were shut. On to Deweyville and then a right towards Honeyville along the Bear Valley. It was nice here, away from desert plants, with a rich variety of deciduous trees and houses that looked as though made from brightly painted cardboard – yet often in a sea of dirt. A lot of people don't seem to care much for gardening; some have tarmac from here to kingdom come, others have a hundred old cars and other clutter, and others are lost in a weedy wilderness. My only job was to try and weave between the grasshoppers, sunning themselves in the road, in greens, creams, greys, browns and oranges. These were no people to be seen - maybe they were in church - and I don't recall seeing a single pedestrian for 30 miles, until reaching Ogden. This fair-sized town is burgeoning with estates of identical brown houses and austere, red-brick, slender white-spired churches. As an outsider, I couldn't help imagining non-believers would either feel compelled attend religious services or they would be press-ganged into doing so. I spoke to the first person I saw, a lady of indeterminate age :
“Excuse me, I'm looking for the centre of town.”
“I've lived here 25 years and I never heard of that place.”
“This is Ogden isn't it? Well, where is the middle of it?”
“Oh, you mean downtown.”
Found a Days Inn, which seemed reasonable. The young woman at reception sniffed constantly as I was filling in the registration card. It was allergies, she said. What kind? I asked. Oh, just about everything, she replied. The accommodation was roomy and well-decorated, although I couldn't get the TV to work. It had a bussinessy feel, with a desk, green fake leather chair and brass lampstands. I dined at Dee's Restaurant, next door, waited on by a very sweet girl who looked to be about 15 (even with the addition of a tongue piercing) yet she told me she was 20 and was a single mother to a three year old. Studying forensic science and working most evenings and weekends to pay for childcare, she came from Virginia to be with her Air Force boyfriend, then they split up and she had stayed. Utah was half Mormon and half non-religious people she told me, and also it had the highest teenage pregnancy rate, which she believed resulted from rebellion against strict upbringings. I had a Californian Salad. It's true! Although of course it was as big as my head, with heaps of meat (chicken and bacon), garlic bread and one million calorie dressing. Another waitress said “I like you, you're cute.” I was a little scared of her. When relating my cycling challenge they thought I was Chris! Was I to play second fiddle to him for the rest of the journey?