Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Day 36: Pueblo, CO to Guffey, CO (89.5 Miles)

It feels strange falling asleep in the same place twice, but it was a comfortable sleep nonetheless. Much like the prior morning, I was greeted with another large breakfast. As I dug into the waffles and eggs, a groggy Nate came down to join me for breakfast. This was an unusual time for Nathan to be awake and moving, but he got up so that he could drive me back down to Pueblo. I said my goodbyes to the family and, most importantly, the dogs. I was sent off with a "crowd wave" by Greg and Leslie... it was invigorating. As we drove south, Nate and I jammed to some Yes and folk music. During the ride back to the Trans-Am, I must admit that I didn't want to get back on the road. I had enjoyed the comforts of a home, so much so that it actually made me long for the end of this journey. This feeling was diminished almost immediately after I gave Nate a hug and rode towards the beautiful Rockies.

The morning was spent in pure, unadulterated heat. Pueblo was having "near-record highs" and I was feeling the heat, even in the early hours. I went through my water very fast and was in dire need of more H2O. I stopped into Wetmore, and not befitting to it's name, had no place open and no dripping faucet in view. I stopped at a local diner and as I was checking the store hours (which said: "We open around noon, and we close later") and a piece of wood fell from the awning about two feet away from me. I snuck around a back alley to find the town library. It was closed, but I snuck into a side door and found a conference room with jugs of water near a coffee maker. I helped myself to this would-be-bad-coffee-water and hit the road again.

I spent the majority of my day looking behind my back and expecting to see the "lads on tour," but I never did. I rode into Florence, an area lousy with prisons and correctional facilities and got myself a cheap lunch. The heat was borderline unbearable, but I kept pushing on. The worst part of today came in the form of US Highway 50. It was a slow, hot crawl upward and my lungs were filled the exhaust of the numerous RV's flying by me at high speeds. I later found that US 50 feeds to the Holy Mecca of plastic camping. Yogi Bear's "Jellystone National Park" looked like a Disney Land camp site for fat tourists with Hawaiian shirts. "Hey kids, want to go camping?" "No? They've got mini-golf and astro-bowling!" Feel allergic to Hummers and funnel cakes, I decided to keep on riding into the mountains. I did a lot of climbing today.... more than a vertical mile, to be exact. Thankfully, the grades are more gradual than the Appalachians, but the ascents are still very challenging.

I set my eyes toward the town of Guffey, where I've heard they had elected a cat as the town mayor. It was getting late and the sky was growing dark due to afternoon storm clouds. Thunder ricocheted amongst the mountains around me and I knew I had to maintain a quick pace to get into town before dark. During one brief downhill section, I saw a deer running at full speed clear two barb-wire fences and dart across the road in front of me... it had to be going at least 30 miles per hour... impressive, to say the least. Anyways, I pulled into Guffey around 6:30PM and was instantly taken with it's unique charm.

Guffey is the home of about 30 people, but attracts many lost tourists who were looking for astro-bowling. I asked around for a place to camp and I was told to visit Bill, a local shop and hostel owner. Bill turned out to be the nicest person in the world. He set me up with a bunk in a small cabin, fully equipped with an outhouse. After hanging with Bill for a while and sharing stories, I walked down to the restaurant to catch some grub before they closed. There I met Iain, a self-proclaimed Scottish "Fat Man on a Trans-Am." Iain started his trip in Washington and will be finishing in Boston in September. A good place to end, if you asked me!

I'm going to bed early because today was exceptionally exhausting. I will also need to have the energy to climb Hoosier Pass, the highest point on the Trans-Am. Maybe the Brits will catch up with me tomorrow? In any case, I really enjoyed riding alone and seeing fields full of grazing alpacas and the mountains... oh, the mountains. Did I mention how gorgeous they are? I'll save you the inevitable hyperbole and just go to bed with this following quote by Ansel Adams:

No matter how sophisticated you may be, a large granite mountain cannot be denied - it speaks in silence to the very core of your being.”


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