Happy July 4th everyone! What a great country to be celebrating and what a fun way to celebrate the day by being out on the road meeting such wonderful down to earth Americans!
We left much earlier this morning! Managed to be on the road by 6:15! Yay us! Fueled up on our favorite McD's Egg McMuffin breakfast and set off. It was such a beautiful morning and a perfect time to be leaving Pueblo as the route took us down a main thoroughfare, but being a holiday morning it was almost deserted!
What a difference flat makes! And what a difference an early start makes! We rolled along quite well with nothing to stop us or even hold us up.
This is a good time to mention another road hazard that we tend to watch out for and one I never really thought about until we started seeing them . . . Snakes! Rattlesnakes! They could crawl up on the warm road and lay waiting for us at any time. We have not actually come upon a live one, but a really large 'snake pile' right in my path today just reminded me if this guy had been alive instead of in a toasted and dry heap, it could have been pretty dangerous!
We followed the Arkansas River out of Pueblo. The landscape is so dry and barren and then you see the great slash of green that outlines the life giving Arkansas River, teeming with growth and beauty. It's not like the beauty of The Loschsa River we saw in the mountains of Montana, but the beauty is in the life it brings to this barren land. The thick dense green that details its path as it winds its way thru the otherwise scorched earth! The river provides means to sustain agriculture and the soft green fields again are a sharp contrast to the crunchy brown remains of everthing else surrounding it! I was sad to see it wander away from the direction we were heading.
It feels great to get out and pedal with no resistance like steep climbs or strong headwinds. The only real challenge right now is the heat! Extreme heat, but at least not the humidity . . . Yet.
A few passing bicyclists going the other direction and one guy on his own going east as we are, gave us a chance to stop and chat and catch up on a few stories. We all talked about the heat!
The day was not without a rather dramatic event! It is our first dog encounter for the whole trip! We were riding along only about 5 miles from Ordway, just chatting and Mike drew my attention to a Campground sign! I was about to say something clever about camping on the crunchy ground and he yelled "Get Your Whistle!!!!!" I didn't have to think twice about what he meant, its my dog whistle and all the memories came flooding back to me as I saw this giant great white dog pounding right towards me! Didn't have time to grab my whistle, that's how I fell last time I couldn't grab it! So I screamed with all my might (much like that maniac in the truck yesterday without the F*bombs!!). I screamed and screamed and he dropped back only to go for Mike! That is when i finally got hold of my whistle and blew it until my own ears were ringing!!! Luckily Mike got away too but we stopped because he was sure the dog chomped onto something on his pannier. We couldn't find any damage! It left us both shaking in our cycle shoes! He was BIG! And nasty!!
Well, that called for an ice cream to calm Mike's nerves! And we just happened to have reached Ordway and there was the perfect place to stop and collect ourselves! I was worried about the single guy behind us! But he also showed up in the shop and said he saw the dog walk back and lay down, sort of figured the dog had come after us but said he must have been worn out from the chase because he didn't even budge! A near miss I hope we don't have to repeat.
Nothing like a little vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce to make my boy feel better! I went for the fresh watermelon, a real July 4th treat if you ask me. Feeling better we set off to find our Warmshowers Host for the evening. Gillian has quite the reputation for cyclists accomodation, and then I found out she is from New Zealand, so I was very excited to meet her!
Found the location, down a long gravel road and into the most interesting and unique setting! Our place for the evening is an old caravan set up just for cyclists! We have a porch and the place to ourselves. Right now the temps have touched 106 degrees today and as you might imagine its very warm inside, no AC or even a fan. Its going to be a long night, I am thinking of just sleeping on the porch, but Gillian says it will cool down. (To what? 95?????) We do have full access to the cooler house where we can hang out and chat with Gillian! She is every bit as awesome as the reputation that preceded her! The crazy thing is, she is from Tauranga NZ which is where I lived for 15 years! We were in Christchurch at the same time! I love things like this! We have been happily chatting away, she is so welcoming and generous making it easy to feel at home! So fun to talk to someone who shares things you love and reminisce about things we miss!
Thanks to Warmshowers we have met so many interesting people and made new friends along the way. Travel bonds people when you meet them and no matter how brief your encounter, some people just stay in your life for a very long time!
Hope you are all filled with a great day, hot dogs, baked beans, hamburgers . . . Whatever your traditional July 4th picnic involves! Sleep well and thanks for hanging out with us! This adventure is so fun!