Day 83: Ordway, CO - Between the Ends of America - CycleBlaze

July 4, 2011

Day 83: Ordway, CO

I wake up to the sound of goats crying out in the pen that sits next to the trailer. There are three of them—two solid brown, one white with black patches. Their favorite activity is to stick their head through the fence to get at the hay and plants on the other side, and then yank backward, get their horns stuck in the thin wire slats, and struggle for 15 seconds to pull everything back out. It seems like every time they see me they stop, look around for a few seconds, and then start to take a leak or a dump. I can't decide if I should feel offended or honored.

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In the afternoon I grab a pizza at the gas station by the highway. I watch trashy women in bikinis and men with tribal tattoos load up on beer and ice that they take back to the nearby lake in lifted, noisy trucks. I eat in a dining room where glamour shots of local teenagers hang on the walls and Bon Jovi's "Dead or Alive" pumps from the speakers. Several weeks ago I planned to find a small town along the route where I could experience a typical Fourth of July with a parade and barbecue and fireworks, but the places I've traveled through in Eastern Colorado have turned out to be so tiny that I couldn't find anything like that. Spending the day alone in Ordway seems sad at first, because I feel like I ought to be enjoying it with others. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that every day feels special on this trip, meeting interesting people and eating like a horse and seeing beautiful country that continues to blow my mind. When I look at it that way, my relaxing day off seems like a holiday of its own.

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Not ten minutes after I celebrate my solo holiday, three bikers walk into the restaurant. Martha, Caroline, and George are eastbound, riding from Wyoming to Missouri, and they plan to spend the night at Gillian's. Not long after I meet Leo and Sandy, who are now riding on their own after starting with Kenny and Wayne, the two guys from Pennsylvania I met all the way back in Booneville, Kentucky. Fifteen minutes later, on my way back through town, I run into half a dozen people from the Adventure Cycling group, who are out in their van picking up food for a barbecue they're having later in the evening. When they invite me to join them, my lonely Fourth falls apart completely.

I don't mind at all.

Caroline and George.
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That night I meet yet another rider, a British guy named Ken who's riding from Virginia to Montana before breaking off from the TransAm and heading to Seattle. Altogether more than a dozen bikers fill the lobby of the Hotel Ordway, chowing down on a thoroughly American Fourth of July feast of hot dogs, chicken wings, corn on the cob, and apple pie.

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No one's checking IDs at the Columbine Saloon.
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When I ride back to Gillian's, a smile stretches across my face, the windblown smell of cow shit from the nearby feed lot fills my nose, and the setting sun shines a burning orange. I feel so happy and fortunate to have experienced an unexpected and truly wonderful Independence Day in a welcoming small town on the plains of Eastern Colorado.

Today's ride: 7 miles (11 km)
Total: 4,163 miles (6,700 km)

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