Wonder how long it will last.
So I spent the night at Rob and Robyn's in Montrose, CO, and stayed up late to update my blog (which you had better all comment on! I want to know what you think, and also, once I get caught up I might do a Q&A if people want... and/or special requests, like photos of objects or verbs). One of the cool things about warmshowers is that people tend to be very "hands off." We did talk for quite a bit, but at any point you want, you can say, "alright, need to go update my blog!" and people are cool with that. Of course, I think that talking and sharing stories are what really make warmshowers special, but at some point, everybody needs alone time. So I guess this is turning a little big into another warmshowers plug... no, you don't have to "entertain" or "play host --" just be yourself and leave out clean towels. I have been fed every stay so far. Usually I have been cooked for, once I convinced my host to help me cook, and once I "helped myself." But meals aren't required -- just a place to stay. Even a yard is fine.
Okay, enough of a plug. Back to the story...
Rob said pancakes would be out at 7:15. I woke up right at 7:15, as it ends up, but said "5 more minutes..." and then woke up at 8:15. So I did miss out on goodbyes, as R/R left for work at 8, but I did get to sleep in. Anyways, pancakes were left in the microwave for me (thanks Rob!), which I had four of (the big fluffy ones, too). I called K/T, who said I should start without them, so I did. After lubing my chain, which was completely dry from the rain yesterday, I looked back to see where I'd come from:
They look so peaceful from far away.
It was pretty satisfying. I knew I still had one hard climb left (...), but I had done one already, and it was sunny, so maybe this one would be better.
I started a climb to about 8500' and halfway up had to stop to catch my breath. I had also been breathing heavily up the stairs to Rob's guest bed. At first I thought my body was simply expecting hard climbs all the time, but then I realized I hadn't had altitude sickness yet. I was sort of hoping that I had just bypassed that stage... apparently it can take a few days to set in. In any case, that was my hardest climb for the day, and it was done in two hours, so no big deal.
I stopped in Cimarron at a convenience store for lunch, where I bantered with the husband and wife cashiers. It was swell. Anyways, I hopped on for another climb, this one longer, but not as steep. And pretty rewarding to boot.
The views, the views... Colorado, you're spoiling me. And ruining Kansas.
From there it was all downhill to Gunnison, where I was planning on spending the night. I had contacted a warmshowers host who hadn't gotten back to me yet, so upon arriving, I turned on my phone and waited a bit for the data to process. Nothing. I had passed a few viable stealth camping locations headed into town, but didn't really want to go backwards, so I decided to "practice Kansas --" I called the parks district and asked if I could stay in the city park. That was illegal in CO, as it ends up, but Molly the receptionist directed me to some BLM land just outside of town, which worked great.
BLM = Bureau of Land Management = Government Land = Taxpayers Land = Camp there legally for free.
Except oh, the next morning it frosted.
But nothing froze shut so... it's k guys.
Since that night in Nevada when everything froze, I had learned to keep anything I didn't want frozen in my tent with me, so it wasn't too big a deal. The fly opened more like a door and less like a tent flap, which I found comical. I also had to lay it out to dry... sad. But anyways, a good night, and that morning a hot air balloon flew overhead. That's some kind of good sign or something, right? The "I'm alone" part of me worried it was a police balloon, but... well, I can hear you laughing already, so I'll just stop there.
I did have to search around a bit for donuts, but I found them eventually.
About 15 miles out of Gunnison, 5 miles before the impending highest-altitude-of-the-trip, I met North. He passed me and pulled over about 500 feet up. I assumed he needed to check something on his car, but he got out and held up some bottled water.
Okay, I didn't need water. I'm about 85% sure he knew that. It was good water. But mostly it was that good-vibe get-to-meet-people-ness I was going for. North was pretty cool. We philosophized for a bit, talking about the implications of offering water to a complete stranger, and accepting water from a complete stranger, and so on (Matt A., you would have really appreciated this guy). After about 15 minutes of bantering, we took each others' photos, and continued on our ways. It was swell.
Did I mention we did silly poses, too?
Who knows if we'll meet again? Either way, I'm grateful for you, buddy.
So after meeting North I continued on my way to Sargents, the city just before the 6% grade of my highest climb yet. I had lunch, including some food given to me by North and a cycle commuter named Carol earlier that day (thanks!). After some soaking in of the moment, there was nothing to do but start uphill.
I had to stop a few times to catch my breath due to the altitude, but I won't make it out to be a dramatic story. It was 8 miles of 6% grade... nothing I hadn't done before.
After about two hours, I reached the top. Presumably the pinnacle of my trip, not just physically, but emotionally. I was more than halfway done -- the hard half -- had all the big climbs out of the way (one left of about 2000', then the rest of my ride will be below 1500' or so), and was standing on the Continental Divide. Or, sitting (see below). I don't know if it was the pinnacle or not -- we'll see -- but it felt pretty good. And oh, the downhill afterwords... I could have coasted all the way to my next warmshower.
I pedaled a little bit. But really... the rest of the day was 90% downhill. I made it to Salida about 5:30, I think, and to my warmshowers host, Harry and Mira, shortly thereafter. It was uphill to their house. *sad face.*
But Harry and Mira were great! They were both very humble, had a great sense of humor, and had good taste in food -- for instance, Harry had a wine cooler underneath the staircase. Or, perhaps we resonated so well because they shared my Minnesotan roots, having moved to CO a few years ago from St. Paul -- small world, I guess. I didn't take any photos of them or their lovely home, but it stands to be one of the best warmshowers I've had to date. Thanks, you two.
That night while updating my blog I was Facebooked (is that a verb yet?) by a friend of mine from high school, Abbi D., whose blog I had followed last year and who was, apparently, living in town at the moment. She had actually been in Telluride the same night I had, and was hosted by Rob and Robyn in Montrose about a week before I guested. Small world... again. In any case, I decided some catching up was due, so here I am, in Abbi's house in Salida, CA. But wait, there's more!
Aside from exploring the city (where apparently my mom, her boyfriend, and one of my sisters have all been before me, including my sister having won 4th place in a worldwide kayaking competition on the Arkansas River), we stopped at the farmer's market. It was a nice market, but there were some even nicer events. For starters, I was given a wallet made from bicycle inner tube by someone who makes things from recycled bike parts. That was pretty cool. I haven't switched over to it yet, but will probably do so when I return to MN. My current wallet is about 12 years old.
Second, I found the best book in the entirety of the planet. It's called "Practical Encyclopedia of Crafts." It's 500 pages of small print on how to do everything from woodworking to molding plaster to candle-making to copper engraving... the list goes on. For those of you who don't know me that well, I am a DYI-er whenever possible. I would rather have something I made myself than something I bought, even if it requires extensive labor. I've made desks, bed frames, soil sifters, bikes, rings, plaques, and so on. So I am ecstatic about returning to MN and reading this book cover to cover.
Third, this happened:
The guy hiding behind the shield is me.
Yea.. the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) was at the farmer's market. Basically, they exist to re-enact the 17th century... and they had loaner gear you could use for free. I have some experience with fencing ("light" swordplay), so they were impressed given it was my first time as a "heavy" (using a broadsword and armor, that is)... but I still got owned. I jumped between three or four different people, all wearing various kinds of suits of armor (some of which had been made by the wearers themselves), each teaching me something new. Each schooled me. But they were patient, friendly, and in general, pretty awsome. I had a blast. And I'm totally going to hang out with the SCA in Minneapolis when I get back.
Thanks to Abbi for the photo.
So, I'm finally caught up, and I have two more warmshowers in a row lined up... so with any luck, I'll stay caught up, at least until Kansas. There are few warmshowers hosts there, and in any case, I need to stop spoiling myself... sleeping in a tent has its merits too. For real though.
In the mean time -- questions? About my bike, my stuff, the people I've met -- anything is fair game. Requests, either for photos or for things I should do? I'd love to hear from you if you're reading this.
'Till next time, from Salida, CO. K-dawg, out.