Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Touring Tuesdays: The Race Against Death Tour:High Plains Ghetto

After an unsettling night's sleep, the "Race Against Death Tour" awakes to start day six......

Well, nothing happened overnight, and that was the best news we had. Still, we weren't completely at ease, no- Actually far from it. It was nothing you could point at, nothing tangible, but the feeling we all were getting that this wasn't a good place for us to be at that moment in time. We were not saying much this foggy morning. We all just wanted to get the heck outta there.

But as I said, there was fog. Really thick fog that we didn't feel real comfortable riding in. So we were being pulled one way and another. We really wanted to get out of White River, but we really didn't want to ride into a fog on a lonely state highway and get hit by some crazy person. In the end, we wasted a bunch of time and ended up riding into the fog anyway, the want to get out overcoming the fear of being hit.

In the end, it all didn't matter anyway, for as soon as we crossed the bridge over the White River on the western edge of town we climbed up the steep valley and out of the fog . It was fitting in a way. We were now shrouded from the unseen fears and unpleasantness we experienced with nothing but rolling, empty countryside before us.

The lateness of our start wasn't a concern now. We were full of joy now making up lyrics to popular songs and Ryan was totally cracking us up with his Ren and Stimpy routines with various renditions of our "V.I.P."s thrown in. My favorite was his monologue of Phil Ligget that included "Team Gypsy" on the "Tour de Pain". Too funny! As we were rolling along, we all were aware that it was still foggy and we were keeping one ear tuned to the road behind us, listening for any vehicles that might be passing our way.

When the fog wore off, the clouds could be seen hurrying along the way. There was a head wind for now, but at least this cloud cover kept the temperatures from going through the roof right away that morning. Then I heard it. A car was coming. No sooner than I had yelled "Car back!", it was upon us. A bronze colored Cadillac with a large, male Native American  wearing a ten gallon hat and waving his arm about him as if he were shooing away flies. He was gone in a flash. It was the only car that would pass us all day long.

The long hills, head wind, and building heat were starting to take their early morning toll. We all stopped for a rest and we were alarmed at how were were already depleting the water supplies. We looked at the map which showed a healthy sized "dot" on the road ahead marked with the name "Cedar Butte". Visions of convenience stores and grub filled our minds. We were further encouraged when we came across a big green informational sign that gave the mileage to Cedar Butte. Surely they wouldn't do that for any ol' place on the map. Not out here, or so we thought.

So we soldiered on with high hopes that Cedar Butte would be an oasis in this grassy desert. We were very badly let down in the end. As we approached the site, all we saw was a crude building near the road with two broken down gas pumps outside. A semi-circle of broken down cars filled a lonely, dusty parking lot devoid of pavement. A low ranch style house was behind this. At various intervals, an individual would appear at the side door, open it, and dump out a five gallon bucket of dirt. Judging by the size of the pile, the fellow had been quite busy, no doubt digging a tunnel to escape this gloomy prison called Cedar Butte.

Troy was livid, and Ryan was dumbfounded. Me? I just decided it was too funny. I mean, what could we do? Somehow the others came around and we all decided to have a bit of fun with the situation. We managed to refill our bottles from a pump head, but no extra water was available to carry out of Cedar Butte. So with that we moved on from there, now looking for a likely place to eat lunch.

As we crested a hill we saw a small stream down in the valley below us. It was very sunny and hot now. We were all quietly suffering along in the never ending grassy hills. I saw a tree just off the road and I said, "...we're eating lunch under the shade of that tree." Troy and Ryan looked funny at me, but I was dead serious. I wanted shade. When we got to it we dismounted and walked across a fence into shoulder high brown grass. Dead from the heat and lack of rain, no doubt. It must have been over a 100 degrees that day.

As we sat and ate our PB&J without words, a single fly could be heard buzzing about us loudly. Like a cheesy spaghetti western, only this fly and the occasional breeze that disturbed the dry grass could be heard. Suddenly, Troy deftly shot out his hand and snagged the creature, a large horse fly. Remembering what I had said at the outset of the tour about how you could survive in the wilderness on all sorts of insects and plant life, he thrust the captured fly in front of me and said, "Here ya go Stevenson. See if ya can survive on this. I dare ya!" So without hesitation, I popped it in my mouth and chewed heartily while staring into Troy's wide eyed face. He retorted, "You sick bastard!", got up and walked away. Ryan followed suit, while I laughed quietly. I suppose this means that is the end of lunch, eh?

Next week: Out of water, the "Race Against Death Tour" has found itself begging for water from unfriendly folks.

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