My odometer hit 30,000kms somewhere in Colorado, and the feeling of being back in the United States was bittersweet. On the one hand I was happy and excited to have made it so far. On the other, I was sad it would all be coming to an end. The friends I met along the way reminded me the adventures weren’t over yet though, and for that I was grateful. I wasn’t ready to face the end quite yet.
The highway north of Aspen was flooded, and fresh August snow lined the banks. Lightning struck nearby as dark thunderclouds rolled in and heavy traffic roared by, sending small tsunamis my way. The smaller cars crept by, and white-knuckled I navigated the stormy terrain. I hadn’t felt so tense on my motorcycle since my adventures across the Andes. The next 350 miles had scattered showers, varying landscapes and beautiful bright lightning.
Stopping for gas, I met an old man an hour out of Aspen. “Look at you- you are one tough lady aren’tcha”. I been around a long, long time. I seen a lot of things, but you just really made my day. Yeah, you just made my day didn’tcha. I seen a lot, and I been sick a long time. A looong time. But that’s okay. I know Jesus. Yeah, we been negotiatin’. We been negotiatin’”. For a homeless man he was dressed nicely. With great dignity he wore a felt hat with small feathers stuck in the side. A woman passed smiling and waving, and I could see he was a town establishment. His scraggly beard hung on his thin face. His clean army backpack lay against the brick wall nearby. He sat on the steps and talked, hard to understand. A relic from a different time. “How many miles you done? You really made my day. Now you ride safe.” I wondered if he knew he had made my day, too.
The rest of the day was long, and finally leaving the Rocky Mountains and Colorado I descended into range lands through the northwestern part of the state and into Utah. Along the ride I thought about the conversations I had with Michael Ferrara, The Man Who Saw Too Much, who I had the pleasure of dining with in Aspen. I also made a mental note to visit the Toklat house in the Castle Creek Valley again, a magical place where wet and weary travelers can enjoy the sweeping mountain views by the fireside. I was sad to leave Colorado, but excited for the miles ahead.
In the evening I stopped for dinner at a local diner and talked about gardening with two elderly couples at tables near mine while I warmed my freezing hands on a cup of coffee.
Continuing on the rains soaked through my layers, and I was bitterly cold. Utah was supposed to be hot and dry. Lightning struck close, and I wondered if I was in danger. I kept going. By dusk I stopped at a rest stop and used the automatic hand dryer on my soaked clothes, huddling against it for a good half an hour, soaking up the hot air. No one was around, and as it continued to rain, I considered sleeping on the bench in the lobby. I texted Justin to ask, “do you think it’s safe for me to sleep at an empty rest stop?” I mustered up the energy and set off into the last rays of light for the final 100 mile push to Salt Lake City.
A photo journey of my ride across the United States