Monday, September 14, 2009

Day 55 3 Counties - Fremont Co., Custer Co., Pueblo Co.

Breakfast at The Ruby Cafe in Florence, CO...Oatmeal with pecans and bananas for Mom and enormous pancakes (there are two) for Gregory

These squash are growing all alongside the road for miles and miles

Learning about the Hardscrabble trading post

Black-eyed Susans grow all along the route in Colorado (and Kansas, according to our field notes)

Team Triple Salute (We conquered another hill.)

James, John and Neil headed westbound and into the mountains...

James is carrying a small Plains Cactus or Prickly Pear (Opuntia polyacantha) that are growing all along the roadside in Colorado.

Another "screaming" downhill...Hooray!

Camping on gravel at Pueblo Lake State Park...Thank goodness for good air mattresses

Dave, Doug and Dennis give us delicious barbecued beef sandwiches!

Date: Sept. 12, 2009

From: Canon City, CO (pronounced canyon) in Fremont County

To: Pueblo Lake State Park

Route: Hwy. 115 to Hwy. 67 to Hwy. 96


Miles Today: 46 miles


Top Speed on this trip: 54.1 mph

Weather: Gray with lots of clouds and chilly

License Plates Collected: 5 Montana plates, 8 Wyoming plates (2 motorcycle) and 1 Idaho plate (found in WY), 2 Colorado plates

We were up early and rode 9 miles before 8 o’clock putting us into Florence for breakfast. In front of The Ruby Cafe we met a large Mennonite family vacationing from Ohio. They checked out the bike and informed us that breakfast was good. Just outside of Florence we had the pleasure of riding next to our second correctional facility in two days. This state has a lot of prisons. Someone we were talking to said it was a good thing too, in this economy.

Our elevation profile deceptively made it look like an easy downhill day but there are always undulating hills and the last 25 miles we were fighting a headwind with a light rain and cold. The entire day was gray and chilly and the clouds were socked in the mountaintops and hovering all around us. Mike likes the cloud cover and prefers a cooler day but I’m a sunshine girl. Gregory and I like being warm and I wore my balaclava all day plus my long sleeved jersey, fleece and rain jacket, tights and long fingered gloves.

We rode right through the small town of Wetmore because the convenience store was a mile and a half in the opposite direction and we just plopped down outside of town to eat our apples, Wheat Thins and peanut butter. This is where it started to get chilly and when I asked Mike for my tights we couldn’t locate them. I was sure that when I’d peeled them off in the morning to put on my knee brace that I’d handed them to him and assumed he’d put them in the front pannier as he held up the bike. He said no, that he couldn’t load the panniers while holding up the bike, so we thought maybe they were on the side of the road somewhere. We unloaded all the panniers and still couldn’t find them. By this time I was shivering and frustrated and was ready to just wear Mike’s tights and right off mine. Fortunately, Mike decided to check the front right pannier one more time and found he’d tucked the tights up under the flap rather than putting them down in the pannier. I was polite and didn’t say I told you so but I was thinking it! On top of that when I went to relieve myself a car pulled around the corner and I just had to hunker down in a ball before I could get dressed. Then, upon getting up I lost my balance afterwards, stepped in my wet spot and leaned against a barbed wire fence in my new shorts. I had a little rant, threw down my partial roll of TP, adjusted my tights and stomped around, picked up the TP and mounted the bike in a huff. At this point the boys know better than to talk to me for a while so we pedaled in silence until I composed myself. (I didn’t snag the shorts by the way.)

Just down the road we met up with James and John from Atlanta, Georgia and Neil from London whom they’d just met today. They were really nice guys and we chatted for a while and shared in Neil’s chocolate cake before they headed off to Canon City. James and John were already running late to meet James’ parents. We were a little concerned for them as they still had Hoosier Pass ahead of them and a storm front was predicted. We are happy to be through the mountains but at the same time sad to leave this beautiful part of Colorado.

I made the mistake of calling out, “License plate!” while we were fighting a headwind in the rain and Mike was in no mood to stop. He made the mistake of not stopping to collect the plate and I knew Gregory was going to be upset. Pretty soon I heard the sniffles behind me and when I reached around to touch Gregory’s hand it turned into a full cry. I think it was partially the unclaimed license plate but also that we had all just hit the wall between the wind, rain and cold and the fact that we’d been watching the reservoir, where we’d hoped to camp, for hours and kept climbing hills and wondering when we’d finally get there! I asked Mike to stop so I could calm Gregory down and this is where our idea of how to deal with the situation differed. Mike thinks I baby him too much and that he should toughen up a bit yet I still say he is nine and sometimes these days are even tough for me to deal with. The bottom line is we got through it, Mike apologized to Gregory for not stopping but made him realize that he already had lots of license plates and that there would be plenty in the future. We were fighting a headwind and Mike was concerned about us getting to camp before the storm. This is another example of the ups and downs of our day. One moment we feel great and the next we can’t agree and the next we are happily in camp and Gregory is off making friends and playing on the playground. It is and emotional rollercoaster but we are also learning a lot as a family and keeping the communication lines open in the process.

We were also pleasantly surprised that as we entered Lake Pueblo State Park we flagged down an exiting car to ask about the campground. There were no “tent signs” and we wanted to confirm before riding way back off the route. These friendly folks assured us that camp was just around the corner and because they chose to leave due to inclement weather they offered us their site that was paid until noon tomorrow. We checked in with Jack at the office and he said that would be fine. He gave Gregory a Pueblo Lake carabineer and free postcards as well as change for the showers and laundry and sent us on our way.

It even gets better. We waved at a couple of guys on the way in and later we were greeted by Dave and Doug who offered us cold beverages and dinner depending on what Dave’s brother Dennis was cooking (the guy we waved at). We had already started a batch of soup and ate one helping when Dave and Doug brought us barbequed beef sandwiches, Tostitos and green beans. We ate it all and were extremely grateful to have full bellies and yet more cold drinks. Gregory enjoyed the playground right next to our “free” campsite and we also got hot showers and clean laundry. It is the simple things that keep the touring cyclist happy. We’d forgotten the drama of the day and at the end fell asleep content with the day and ourselves.

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