(June 2 – 4)

Coming down off the plateau, I descended gravel roads for hours in the early morning light, pulled in for breakfast at Naturita, ordering the deliciously gut-churning, mouth-watering, appetite for breakfast lunch and dinner rolled into one: gravy and green chili hash & egg omelet.

After checking my elevations and schedule, I set my gear to the side hoping to hitch a ride, and catch some precious time, locked into my San Francisco July 10th arrival. My highway after the turn off was the most sparsely vehicled of any paved stretch I had yet met. I passed my friend the ambling hitch-hiker who I had spotted twice before in Colorado, very introverted, indicating he was good on water. After a few miles I saw a pickup drive by with him in the back, and it stopped ahead of me.

In the cab, what looked like a clown car of attractive teenage girls all jumped out, and a couple of lads in the vehicle behind them, offering me Swedish fish, and helping load my gear to the truck bed. I was extremely grateful for the ride, and climbed in next to my quiet hitch-hiking buddy. Turns out he was from San Francisco, and was happily spending the summer roaming the mountains by hitch hike, no particular destination or goal in mind.

We raced past a couple gorgeous desert ridges, and climbed 5,000 feet over 50 miles, would have taken me two days. They dropped me off at Dove Creek, CO where almost to the highway, I was approached my a very fit looking 40-something dude, who was very happy to meet a cycle tourist, and when I asked, told me he had made the Maine-Los Angeles ride, and the continental divide (Canada to Mexico) twice. Cheerful beyond words, I shouldered my camelback and set my face into the wind for the ride to Monticello.

The miles really took it out of me, and I was a hobbling wraith of strength by the time I got to Monticello. Just one block from the RV park I intended to pitch camp, an old bearded mountain man on a bike pulled up along side and asked me if I was familiar with Warm Showers, the hosting community for bicycle tourists. Having just setup my profile in Montrose, I informed him I was, and gladly accepted his spontaneous offer of hospitality.

After showering up and unrolling my sleeping bag on his guest room floor, I wandered into the kitchen, and listened to his stories about a lifetime of working in the forest service while he made some shrimp curry with rice. We had a great chat about wishes to tour Europe and Asia by bicycle, as we ate. He told me to my shock the who’s who of Monticello had no interest in tourism and the business it would bring. The heavily Mormon town was quite happy with its middle of nowhere, us three and no more feel.

Well fed and tired, I stretched my aching hamstrings and called it an early night. After a good rest, I awoke bright and early to coffee and a nutritious mix of oats, flax, blueberries and yogurt.

I packed my bags and hit the road uneventfully for Blanding, pulling in for an early 11am stop at the Prospector Motor Lodge for a day of rest and attempting to explore options my next career move at the end of the tour.

Hours of brainstorming, and a particularly grad-school-required-ahead path charted, I lumbered out the next day around 11:30, with all the water I could carry, for the second time since Montrose.

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