Wednesday, July 05, 2017
Trip West - Day 5
I started heading back home, first by turning toward Fort Collins, Colorado. I thought if I could get the bike repaired there relatively easily, I could still tool around the west for a bit. And, Colorado would most certainly NOT be a bad place to do it.
Quick - think of the weirdest place you have been. If you didn't say Thermopolis, Wyoming, there's a good chance it's because you have not been to Thermopolis. In a 2 minute span, I saw about half a dozen rock/crystal stores, the crazy cat lady to conquer all cat ladies (I counted 24 cats in her back yard), and this guy, just rolling through town, and happy to be alive.
I wondered if I stayed in this town, would it get increasingly stranger, or would it seem less so by degrees, over the time I spent there. Stay weird, Thermopolis. Stay. Weird.
Coming out of Thermopolis, I dove straight into the most beautiful ride of this entire adventure. The Wind River Canyon twists and turns, the road following the cuts made in the gorge by the river. Nature's skyscrapers lifted to the heights on both sides of me, and when I paused, the river roared her lullaby to me. My photos do it no justice.
Somewhere in this canyon, I hit a pterodactyl. At least, judging from the wingspan, that's what I think it was. The insect was so large, it actually scarred my shield. I am really glad I had it snapped down at the time, because I don't think eating that much protein in one sitting would be good for anyone.
I reached Casper, Wyoming and pulled over into a gas station to call the Ducati dealer in Fort Collins. After explaining my issue, he came to the conclusion that it was something between the slave and master cylinders, as I suspected. It would take him 4-7 days to get the parts in, and he assured me I was doing no harm riding the bike as it was. He advised me to figure out where I would be in that 4 to 7 days, then call ahead and have them order parts at that dealership.
I was glad I was going to be home, honestly. I broke east from Casper, my westward progression halted. I could have been angry, or disappointed, but I reflected on all that I had already seen, and began looking forward to all I would see. My trip was not over, it was half over, and I was not going to spend the second half sulking. I went in to pay for my gas and get a cup of coffee.
I brought the coffee to the counter, and the woman behind the register asked me, "Didn't you just fill up?"
"Yes, ma'am," I said. I don't know why, but I have a tendency to use ma'am and sir when I leave the northeast. It's always been that way.
"Well, the coffee's free if you gas up, here. It's Miss Jenny's way of saying thank you."
"Tell Miss Jenny I said, 'Thank you'. It's the nicest thing that's happened to me this morning."
She smiled and wished me well.
I passed through a lot of small towns, none of them particularly remarkable in any way.
Wyoming, into Nebraska (where one of the local hobbies seems to be blasting road signs with shotguns. I did notice how Nebraska built their signs to withstand these percussives).
And the coal kept rolling...
...and the hay got baled...
...until I reached Mitchell, South Dakota. I checked into a cheap hotel, where the Chinese girl, who spoke no English, and I tried to work out room rates and wifi passwords. It was comical conversation, and we got it worked out by pantomiming and pointing until we were both understood. She was a student, and trying to learn English by doing the late shift at the hotel; I hope she does well.