Monday, August 3, 2009

Day 34: Eads, CO to Pueblo, CO (105 Miles)

Callum likes his toast. It seems that it's easier for me to delay the waking up process when I have others around me who are doing the same thing. When I sleep alone, I shoot up out of my sleeping quarters the moment my wristwatch begins to exalt it's morning song. Like four confused bears waking up after heavy tranquilizing, we slowly made our way towards dressing ourselves and speaking in complete sentences. Being the "morning person" of the group, I walked over to the nearest gas station and brought back some donuts. I found that there was a diner opening at 6:30AM, so we walked over to this establishment for more calories and carbs. We knew today was going to be a long one (113 miles in total), so we promptly took in all sorts of greasy diner breakfast food.

Today was a long, long day. Luckily, Chris lent me an audiobook version of "A Walk In The Woods" by Bill Bryson. It provided for hours of entertainment and giggles; however, I was filled with a sense of melancholy... I had a sobering realization that I will never be able to write with such wit and charm as this man can do with such ease and prowess. Knowing my limitations, I'll just stick with internet web logs for the time being. I made the decision today to not murder my left knee and let the Brits go ahead at their triathlete pace. So, the good part of this morning was filled with complete desolate isolation... oh, and head winds too! The problem with these high plains, is that there is not a single tree, hill, or man made structure to resist and/or subdue the wind from gaining momentum. A single puppy fart in Eastern Colorado can perpetually grow and turn into a ravaging tornado in Western Kansas. Oh, I finally saw a few prairie dogs in a field to my left and I got far more excited about this fact than I should have. I stopped into a small gas station in Haswell ("Home of the World's Smallest Jail Cell") and as I was grabbing a few drinks and a candy bar, the station clerk shouted, "That's enough, Blake!" It took a little bit to figure out she was addressing her son about using a remote toot machine, juxtaposed to chastising me for my dietary habits...

I spent the rest of the day just riding along an adjacent train track filled with Union Pacific freight cars. I'm assuming they're either abandoned or just seasonally used. In any case, there had to be at least 20 miles worth of cars sitting idly on those tracks! I saw a lot more interesting breeds of road kill (or as I heard one TransAm'er lovingly refer to them as "sleeping animals with bad breath") today than I have in any other stretch of my trip. A baby owl was the worst of them and I had to compose myself not to break into tears in the middle of Nowhere, CO. On the topic of road kill, I stopped in for some lunch in Sugar City and had a few laughs with the snarky owner, mailed some post cards kept moving forward. As I got closer to Pueblo, the majestic Rocky Mountains came into view and then immediately obscured by ominous storm clouds. Most of the storm cells missed me, but the winds kicked up towards 40mph and I had to stop for 10 minutes during one section and just sit down in a ditch. I could barely keep my bike up, let alone move forward... so sitting amongst discarded fast food containers sounded like a better option.

(Courtesy of Leslie Ralphe)

On the outskirts of Pueblo, I was ecstatic to see some more familiar faces. My aunt Leslie and cousin Amelia had driven down from Colorado Springs to relieve of my frantic peddling in high winds. I had been in communication with them for some time and I decided that it would be a nice reprieve of riding and spend a rest day amongst family. Also, I had planned on taking my bike to be serviced at a local shop and this works out great too! Nevertheless, I've arrived into Pueblo 2 days short of my target and this will make me pull in some more 100+ days when I see the opportunity to do so. Leslie and Amelia helped me take off my panniers and load my bike onto their car rack and, for the first time in a long time, I was riding at high speeds in a car. It felt so odd to be traveling so fast... I think driving all the time really makes you trivialize and depreciate the time and effort it takes to travel long distances. I can only imagine what it felt like to see the first Model-T driving through downtown and startling your horse and buggy, let alone yourself. In any case, I was grateful to be traveling at high speeds and in the company of family.

Leslie drove us to their hometown, Colorado Springs. It seemed like a very nice progressive city, filled with cool businesses and restaurants. The city also overlooks Pike's Peak, an impressive display in mountain design, if I do say so myself. I then was treated to a wonderful dinner at one of their favorite pub/restaurants in town. We took in some delicious food (this is one thing I can't recommend about Kansas: Their food. It's horrible... drippy... and just plain bad. And this is coming from a non-picky eater!) And after dinner, we drove to their homestead on the outskirts of town and was lovingly greeted by Uncle Greg and their adorable dogs. I'm feeling really pampered right now and, normally, this would send me into throws of guilt... but I think one pampered day in Colorado Springs won't hurt my pride too much! Cheers and g'night!


Grandma said...

One of your best blogs yet--Bill Bryson has nothing on Blake Marshall! And how wonderful to see a picture of YOU--as well as two of our favorite Colorado Springs ladies. Have a great rest day--store up on Geronimo and Buttercup wags and licks! Love you - Grandma and Gramps

Momma said...

Hey Blake,
Great blog! I am so grateful to the Ralphe family; Please give my love to Leslie,Greg,Amelia and Nathan!! I hope you have a wonderful rest day and that all gets fixed on your bike that needs to get fixed. Love,Momma

Dad said...

Did you actually write that you are not a picky eater? That must have been written in a state of heat exhaustion and dehydration....
Rest well my son.

may said...

Nice to actually see your face :)

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