Dolores to Dove Creek - The woman who sat on the toilet too long (and other odd American tales) - CycleBlaze

June 26, 2014

Dolores to Dove Creek

ONE OF MANY things I like about America is that people are prone to say Yes rather than hunt for a reason to say No. This afternoon, for instance, we planned to ride as far as Monticello - Monty Sello - which would have been our last town in Colorado. But in the space of lunch in Dove Creek, which is as big as it sounds, the glorious tailwind turned to the side and threatened to revolve completely. And that changed our mind.

Now, I thought Belinda had said it was possible to camp in the park here. But I misunderstood because the Western Express maps she lent us made no mention. Still, there was no point in giving up, not if the alternative was a long haul through open countryside to Monticello, so we set off to find the sheriff.

I explained the situation, taking care to apologise for interrupting an afternoon which hadn't struck me as too pressing - I think gossiping would be the description of police duties that afternoon - and wondered if we could camp in the park.

"Which park do you mean?", the one policeman asked.

I don't know why he asked it because it was clear from his tone and from the faces of two women civilians behind the desk, that the answer was already Yes.

"Well," I asked, pressing my luck but setting a cheerful tone, "which one do you sleep in when you're off duty?"

He smiled and decided not to arrest me.

The three of them conferred and decided that riding a little further and then left as far as the tennis courts would suit us best.

"But they playin' ball tonight?", the policeman asked. He turned back to us before getting an answer and said: "Could be baseball going on this evening. Just have t'go and see."

So we went and we saw, that a team of kids in black was playing a team in red, called the Cardinals after a bird here that's so scarlet that I thought it was a practical joke. In fact, more precisely, the red team were hanging about and the black team were lining up politely for ice creams distributed by one of the many mothers from a blue cooler box.

"We don't have enough players for two teams, so we just let them all play" - the reds versus the blacks at Dove Creek
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I don't know much about baseball, although it seems simple enough, but Karen made an observation and went off to speak to another mother. When she returned, she said: "I told them they had way too many fielders out there, and she said they don't have enough for two teams so they just let everyone play."

Wig-wams along the road, at a wig-wam shop. We'd have bought one but we have tents already
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I watched as a man - a father, I imagine, or a club official - showed the ball to the half-sized batsman and then, instead of hurling it, put it in a machine which did the job for him. In that way every child got the same pitch and every ball went in the same direction and not into someone's face. I couldn't help remembering that I was in the Real America, the America you don't see from a car or the window of a bus. And it was delightful.

Our day had started with a short climb accompanied by Dave and Belinda as they escorted us of the premises. They peeled off at the top of the hill for a 20km ride of their own and we spent 40 minutes in a museum dedicated to old pueblo artefacts found in digging a reservoir.

The road rolled through places called Yellow Jacket and Pleasant Creek, both of which had as many residents as letters in their name. I ought to be able to tell you more but that was all there was, grey-blue scrub of sage plants, half-hearted trees clinging to the sandy soil, and horizon mountains with steep sides and flat tops.

Pick-up heaven at our lunch stop
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Above us, a plane headed east. In the window seat of row three, a man with thick glasses and an abnormal number of ballpoint pens in his breast pocket was contentedly refolding his map of the UFO sites of Nevada.

Today's ride: 60 km (37 miles)
Total: 4,305 km (2,673 miles)

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