Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Toto I Don't Think We're in Colorado Anymore

Sunday, 8/22, Haswell, CO

Well the grasshoppers are quieting down as I wait for the cyclists. They are just out of town. No cell service, no internet—but a fully charged laptop—hence a few minutes. They are cycling from just down the road apiece. Annie will be first. The others are basically together. A call was made from Vernon when they were in Sugar City saying there were no services. This we, Cynthia and I, took to mean that they had no food or water and that we had to hurry to get them sustenance.

So there was concern, but the concern was mitigated or suspended because we had to get Cynthia to the airport to go home as her house had been burgled the night before. What exactly had been taken we didn’t know, but seems her new laptop, hard drive (with her book on it), a big screen TV, and a CD player from her son’s room, but not the peripherals to some of those things such as new and expensive cables, likewise speakers. It will remain to be seen what exactly is gone, seems some lights in the house weren’t working either, but they may be just non-working bulbs.

Anyway two of the cyclists have arrived and we are talking about the Obama and the CIA. And they are talking about the merry-go-round at the Haswell City Park. Now they are all here and talking about heading on to Eads for the night; perhaps the Travelers Lodge, maybe the city park.

Tuesday, 8/24
, Leoti, KS

Well more time to catch up. We crossed into Kansas yesterday and into Central Time. This past evening we spent at the High Plains Motel in Leoti, KS; a nice place with a full complimentary breakfast. I got up with the cyclists to have breakfast and to make sure I didn’t sleep in as I had yesterday to the “late” hour of 9:00 AM! By the time I finally left Eads, CO Scott and Annie had made it to Tribune, KS and they also beat me to the hotel in Leoti, but that was just a block and bikes are faster than cars in town.

Vernon and I went to the Mexican restaurant in town (Charlie's Mexican Restaurant). I had gorditias with homemade gordo tortillas. They were wonderful. The excitement happened when a lad leaned his chair back into the lattice screen sending it into our table, twice. No Tecate was spilled in the process, but a few bits of dried plant material ended up on Vernon’s beard.


I have gotten some chances to ride. I rode the first bit to Monarch Pass from Gunnison, CO (a town with another Toggery—like my home town Bishop, CA) on Wednesday, August 18th as we thought we were just going to Sargents, CO that day. It was a very nice ride and wonderful to be cycling with Vernon again. We originally thought we'd "take" Monarch Pass the next day, but with the weather so nice it was decided to go for it. So the cyclists headed up and out. And Cynthia and I continued in the vehicle to Poncha Springs were we booked in at the Rocky Mountain Lodge. After unpacking the car, settling things into the room, and getting a few celebratory six packs of microbrews and a bottle of wine; I got back on my bike to meet the riders. Well they were just about around the corner at Mimi’s an Eastern and Western Food and Ice Cream Stand at the corner of US 285 and US 50. Vernon bought me a green tea ice cream cone. Yummy and we rode back to the hotel.

Vernon and I had a nice cabin with a kitchen. It was so wonderful to have a space to ourselves (other than the tent) and a real kitchen. I think the latter is what I miss most about home. As to the former; we try to keep expenses low for all so many times we’re in a room with all six of us (or five as it is now). Many times tho the hotel/motel owners/managers will not let us be in a room with more than five due to fire regulations. And when Vernon sets up the tent, he always sets it up facing east. Hence the sun does get me up early, not only with its bright light, but with its heat. And he does this even on rest days, as he did while we were “resting” at Celeste’s in Pueblo.

And I rode part of the way to Pueblo, from Westcliffe to Wetmore. In Westcliffe we stayed at the Grape Creek RV Camp in two cabins (missed making a real dinner that night as the thunderstorms started in just as I was about to cook). It was wonderful to go to the Visitor’s Center/Chamber of Commerce in Westcliffe and have the woman working there assist us in finding a place to stay. They regularly keep track of what is available and she even called around for us. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case in Gunnison, where I had to make all the calls and I wasn’t even afforded a place to sit down to make them! Such service faux pas are particularly frustrating to me as that is my profession. And they lost the sale of an apron there at that Visitor's Center in Gunnison. Alas.

The ride from Westcliffe to Wetmore was wonderful—the uphill part that is. The downhill was a bit scary; many twists and turns (nothing like downhills on highway 34 from Alsea, OR or on Carson Pass—those I like). At one point I felt like I was going to slide out. And I took seriously the slow downs of 30 and 35 mph on some of the curves. Now Vernon kept insisting I get off my brakes, oh well honey, I didn’t. He’s been riding longer and knows his bike more. Sorry if you were burning your brakes out following me—there’s a spare set in my now non-handlebar bag along with the clothespins and the line.

We had arranged to meet Celeste at the City Park in Pueblo, Yeyo and I found our way there (Yeyo being sick that day had decided to join Cynthia and me in the car). I went too fast over a speed bump and dislodged the bike rack—the bikes were fine and Scott readjusted the rack, but I was a bit nervous about putting anymore weight on the rack so I left my bike chained up to the fence at the entrance of the park before I went to get Cynthia and Vernon. Yeyo rode on to a Mexican restaurant at the corner of Pueblo and Thatcher where we decided the new meeting place would be. When I got to Cynthia and Vernon, Bob Kinsey (running for Senate for the Greens) had caught up with them. He’d come from Colorado Springs.

In Pueblo, we were hosted at a potluck by the Colorado Greens at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Pueblo. We got press from the local paper (Ex-lawmaker takes on new venture). Both Bob and Gary Swing (running for Colorado District One’s Congressional seat—also on the Green ticket) were at the potluck. Gary’s line is to solicit the “swing” voters. I love it—who says Greens don’t have a sense of humor! I also had fun, perusing the UU and gathering their information to take back to the “office”. I did get a chance to ride in Pueblo. Vernon, Annie, Scott, and I rode from the Mexican restaurant to Celeste’s house after retrieving my bike. And from Celeste’s Yeyo, Vernon, and I rode back and forth to the potluck. Each time we got lost in different way—but we ended up where we were going by following the canal.

Continuing Thoughts

Each of these towns that we pass through, seem to be facing challenges of staying afloat. Many boarded up buildings, some towns with only one restaurant or hotel where there had been many. I still see the similarities between the shuttering of rural America and the shuttering of places like in Oakland in the downtown and along San Pablo Ave. What will come to all these places? What will come to your town? What will we all do about it together?

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