Saturday and Sunday July 18 and 19
It’s catchup time. We’re sitting in a small park waiting for any of the following: the wind to change direction, the wind to stop blowing, or the temperature to drop 20 degrees (unlikely). What I wouldn’t give for one of those cold rides we had on the Coast of Oregon! In the meantime I’ll fill you in on what has transpired since I last wrote.
We left the State Park at Pueblo Lake Saturday morning July 18th, and barely managed to avoid paying for the priveledge to camp there. We attempted to pay a ranger who was talking to someone at the entrance gate, but he told us to go to the self registration place and leave the money in a self pay envelope. When we located the self registration place, we discovered to our dismay that they were out of self pay envelopes! So we turned around and got out of there as fast as we could!
The ride into Pueblo was short and uneventful. We stopped for a tex –mex breakfast that Donna and I enjoyed and that Lewis found unpalatable. We’d feed him later. The first stop of the day was at the Pueblo City Park and Zoo. The entrance fee was forked over for all of us and this set me back a bit over $20. We spent the better part of 2 hours walking around before we’d seen everything.
We departed the zoo and headed for the old part of Pueblo where we had an appointment with a bike mechanic. Both wheels on Donna’s bike needed work as the front wheel had been bent when the bike tipped over while parked in a bike rack with loaded panniers on. The rear wheel had suffered a broken spoke sometime in the previous two days that needed to be replaced. The bike shop also had a couple of tires that I needed for the badly worn tires on the tandem. We spent almost 2 hours there while the guy worked on Donna’s wheels. In addition, we were able to replace a splintered fiberglass tent pole as they had an extra one that was laying around. The broken one was still able to hold up the tent, but it was only a matter of time before it failed completely. We left the bike shop a hundred dollars poorer but with a llittle more confidence in our equiipment.
Our next destination was the Super 8 Motel that was located on the busy outskirts of Pueblo where so many other businesses were also found. Once we located the place and checked in, we didn’t leave again except to grab a burger from Carls Junior located next door. The TV was turned on to a movie network and 5 consecutive movies were viewed by Lewis and Donna. I spent some of that time doing some of the journal from the previous couple days before joining them in front of the TV. That concludes Saturday July 18. We only rode 15 miles but managed to get a lot of things taken care of, saw a bunch of movies and saw a bunch of animals!
On Sunday morning, the 19th, we once again gorged on continental breakfast at the hotel. We packed up and headed out by 10:30. It was a promising start to an easy day. The mountains are now history and we are officially in the plains. The winds were light and variable all day and the temperature topped out in the high 80’s before afternoon cloudcover brought the temperature down just a bit. A couple of small communties were cycled through before pulling into Ordway Colorado, our stopping point. We barely managed to do some shopping for dinner before the local grocery store closed for the evening. As I was preparing to pay for some hotdogs and buns and some pork and beans, I inquired about the campground and was rewarded with a pass to camp for free in the city park. We had hoped to stay at Hotel Ordway as I was sure that we would get a great deal there being bicyclists. I had spent the night there during my journeys 13 years ago and had the pleasure of a room for $5. The same deal that all bicyclists received. The proprietor of the Hotel had been the same person who had agreed to accommodate bicyclists back in 1976 during the Bikecentennial. Unfortunately at some point in the last12 years, Hotel Ordway has changed hands. Bicyclists no longer get special priveledges. Dang!
I had left Lewis and Donna at the park. Donna was relaxing on a bench while Lewis was enjoying the community water fountain. I joined him once I returned from the grocery store and took my shower with my shorts on. This was a very refreshing way to rinse the dried perspiration from my body. Donna chose the sponge bath method of personal hygiene. The one thing we would be lacking overnight was a restroom. But with free camping, one has to make concessions. I fixed the dinner of beans and weenies which we finished just before the sun was about to set. At this point we hurriedly set up the tent and went to bed prepared to be drenched overnight with sprinklers. We’ve learned that green grass means sprinklers; and this park was green to the max. I even went to the trouble of locating the sprinkler heads in an effort to minimize the amount of the impact. Lo and behold, the sprinklers never came on!
We got up this morning with a couple objectives. The first one was to find a café which we failed at. The town of Ordway has a couple but one of them is closed on Mondays and the other just wasn’t open. We found out that there is a truck stop just outside of town so that’s where our breakfast would be. Next we needed to pick up a package at the post office compliments of Katie Doyle. This we managed to accomplish. Katie had obtained forms for Donna to replace her stolen drivers license, and had also included a few things for Lewis. A pair of robot boxer shorts and some kids flavored Cliff Bars. Bravo Katie! Finally, we had a package to send back home. This would be accumulated trinkets and gadgets and things we just didn’t really need but didn’t want to throw away.
We left the Post Office behind and made our way to the truck stop for breakfast. It wasn’t bad! And the price was right! We haven’t had a breakfast this affordable in some time. That completed, the riding began. We rode right through the first community after Ordway as it was only 5 miles distant. Subsequent communities for todays ride were few and far between.
This mornings light and variable winds became headwinds and stiff. Combined with the intense burning sun and high temps, our reserves were exhausted. All of our water was either consumed or else had been converted to near boling, rendering it unacceptable as a fluid for consumption. We had placed a couple bottles in our panniers which prevents the sun from cooking them, hence they don’t get quite as warm. But when we had consumed the first of these and had only one left, it became imperative to find replacement liquids. With 15 miles remaining to get to a town with services, we pedaled into Arlington Colorado. There are no stores, no gas stations, no nothing, except a ‘park’. There are exactly 3 houses here. We chose the sensible one and managed to obtain permission to refill our water bottles from their garden hose. That taken care of, we returned to the ‘park’. This is the same park that I mentioned at the very beginning of this entry. The park has a pit toilet, a picnic table and nothing else. The table is shaded with a few trees so that has allowed us to get out of the sun but the winds have intensified if anything during the two hours we’ve spent waiting for conditions to improve. There appears to be some thunderstorms brewing to the west but I don’t know if they will make their way here. How weird is that. We’re sitting her hoping for a thunderstorm! But anything is better than this wind! Perhaps I’ll write more later if we get a chance. Adios!
It is officially now later. We ended up spending nearly 3 hours at the ‘park’ before finally deciding to pedal away. It never cooled off, the wind was just as intense, and the rain never showed up. We just ran out of time to wait for any of these occurances to happen. With it being after 4:00 our grand plans for the day have been modified. Instead of riding another 35 miles and ending up at Eads Colorado, we headed off for Haswell. This blip on the map was only 12 miles distant but the services were limited. It took us 2 hours to pedal there and the thunderstorms never materialized while we rode. The total distance covered on this hot blustery day ended up being a modest 40 miles.
The lone establishment in Haswell had closed before we arrived so we were on our own as far as dinner was concerned. That means that it’s Ramen Noodle time! The city park that we would be staying at had a nice covered picnic area where we unpacked our belongings and went about fixing a dinner fit for a chinese emperor (or a starving college student). The remainder of our fresh fruit was devoured along with several peanut butter and jelly burritos. It doesn’t get any better than this.
Just after we finished our meal, the first thunderstorm hit. Miraculously, the tent withstood the gale force wind but it was blown almost flat before springing back up. I expected to find another broken tent pole later but didn’t. The rain that accompanied this huge blast of wind was minimal and subsided within 20 minutes. We retired to the tent at this point as the sun had set and we were tired of swatting mosquitos. The real thunderstorms came in the middle of the night and early in the morning. There were massive amounts of rain and thunder and lightning which woke me up a couple different times. But we survived.