Harry on his Bike

Days 13-16

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Day 13. September 16
     I suspected that I would be camping tonight, since Burley seemed
to be the last possibility for a motel on my route, and at 40 miles wasn't
as far as I'd like to go. I took highway 30, stopping at a crossroads
cafe for breakfast, where I had eggs, sausage, and a huge pile of the
best home fries I've seen since forever. I couldn't finish them so asked
for and received a ziplock bag to take the rest for later,
     As I exited Burley my rear tire went flat (my first flat during the last
8000 miles of bicycle touring---thank you, Mr. Tuffys). I pulled into a
convenience store that had a picnic table, and after patching, installing,
and having it go flat again three times I finally put in the spare tube I had.
Then I went back to a bike store I'd passed and bought two new spare
tubes and another patch kit.
     Switching from highway 30 to highway 78 took me east towards the
interstate, across terrain that alternated between sagebrush and alfalfa
fields. I reached Interstate 84 when there was still about four hours of
daylight remaining, and decided to stay on 78 since I didn't want darkness
to catch me on the interstate with no place to camp. I headed for the
next town on the map: Malta, about 23 miles south. On the way I
stopped at a farmhouse and asked if I could fill my nearly-empty bottles.
"Sure", said the friendly lady. "You can use that faucet whenever you
bike through here. Next time you don't even have to ask."
     The wind picked up, unfortunately right in my face. My speed dropped
to 5 mph, and the sun had set when I reached Malta, population 171.
I bought a can of stewed tomatoes and a bottle of V8 juice at a small
store (the only place in town with any sign of life), and then managed to
find a phone to call Mary, which I try to do every night. Tonight the
conversation was "Hi, I'm in Malta, gotta find a camp spot quick. Bye."
     I headed out of town looking for a good place to pitch my tent. The
alfalfa fields were the most appealing, but were all behind fences and
locked gates. After about a mile I spotted a dried pasture, with a wire-
fence gate that I passed through unnoticed by anyone. I biked a quarter-
mile to the far side of the field and began pitching my tent as thunder
rumbled above me. Crash! The time between the lightning and the
thunder was less than a half-second, and there I am out on this open
field. Hoping that the fence posts would provide a more attractive target
I continued setting up my tent and placing my necessities inside. The
last task was to put the cover on my bike, and I got inside my tent just
as the heavy drops began to fall.
     My diet is improving. That night I had stewed tomatoes and the rest
of those wonderful home fries.

Day 14. September 17
     The rain didn't last long, and by morning the ground was dry. I packed
up and headed on towards Snowville, 50 miles down the road, just across
the border in Utah. The highway was little travelled, matching the
desolation of the landscape 
     I had drunk almost all of my water while still 15 miles from Snowville.
With so little traffic, I wasn't hopeful about being able to beg any water
from a passing motorist. I was greatly relieved when I spotted a house
about a quarter-mile off the road. Although there was an inviting faucet
in front, I diplomatically knocked on the front door, and when a man
appeared I said "I'm getting very low on water. Could I get some from your
faucet?" He said sure, and came out to watch me while I filled my bottles.
Even though the loaded bike was right there, he never asked me why I
was out in the middle of nowhere. Some people either aren't curious,
or perhaps they feel that it is rude to ask questions.
     It was a short day of biking: 50 miles in about six hours. The
combination of fatigue from the previous day's 80 miles, a headwind most
of the day, and another slow leak in the rear tire that I had to pump up every
three miles, was enough to make me call it quits as soon as I saw the
only motel in Snowville. My breakfast had been the old standby of
peanut butter, jelly, and crackers, finished with a granola bar, so Molly's
cafe next to the motel also was a welcome sight.
     The motel office was closed, but a note on the door gave a 1-800
number to call on the phone that was hanging on the outside wall.
I called, agreed to the $30-cost (bottom line), and was directed to move
into room 16, and they'd be over with the key later.
     The place was adequate, and I was beat, so I didn't object to no
phone, no remote, and no ice. I was on the shady side of the building,
and proceeded to fix the tire. Two tries before I gave up (I think the tubes
I brought from San Diego were rotten---I'd bought them about four years
ago), and finally I used one of the tubes I bought in Burley. That seemed
to solve the problem.
     I got an excellent omelette at Molly's, too big to finish in one sitting,
so I took the remaining half back to the room for supper. I showered
and crawled into bed around six.
     The room was so small that I didn't need a remote for the TV, since
I could reach it while lying in bed. It only had five channels, but I was
too tired to care. Maybe I'm ready for another rest day.

Day 15. September 18
     I wanted to get to Ogden, still 75 miles away, so I woke before dawn
and went over to Molly's for a pancake breakfast. I could only eat one
pancake so put the other in a ziplock bag and munched on it occasionally
on the way to Tremonten. My decision to stop at Snowville was a wise
one, because there were three significant climbs before the downhill
into Tremonten. In my condition yesterday, and with the wind I was
fighting, there was no way I could have made it by dark, and would have
had to flag down a vehicle for water and pitch my tent in the ditch next
to the freeway.
     The pancake breakfast did its work, and I arrived in Tremonten in pretty
good shape. I stopped at a Subway for a BLT, and felt real strong during
the remaining 42 miles to Ogden. There I got off the freeway and headed
for the old pre-interstate highway that went through town, since I've finally
learned that the older motels will be on that highway, close to the center
of town. Sure enough, I found three likely prospects, didn't care for the
first (too close to the noisy road, and "you can get ice at the fast-food
place next door"), the second looked equally grungy, but I took the third
which had a large comfortable room with all my necessities. I mixed up
my orange juice and then biked back to a Subway for another sandwich
to take back to the room.
     That evening I had a lot of trouble downloading pictures to yahoo. It
takes about 4 minutes for yahoo to get the picture (as indicated by a
"percent completed" scale during the downloading) but then yahoo does
something with it for another 4 or 5 minutes before the picture finally
appears in the album. I kept losing connection and having to start over.
Finally, I called Barry, and we are trying to load the pictures by first
sending them to him as attachments to an e-mail, and he will then send
them to yahoo on a fast connection.
    I finally got off a report and went to sleep around midnight.

Day 16. September 19
     In spite of my late hours after a 75-mile day, I felt ready for another
long day. Maybe my body is finally realizing that this is going to continue
for a while, so why fight it?
     I stayed on old highway 89, looking for a place for breakfast. I passed
a few franchise places, but I prefer the mom-and-pop places if possible.
The highway climbed into the foothills, and I finally got a view of the Great
Salt Lake.  Eventually, Highway 89 led onto the freeway, and I was
still looking for a place to eat. I biked for about 15 miles over the most
trash-strewn shoulder I've ever been on. Not all the trash was bad: I
stopped for an ear of corn that had fallen off a truck, shucked it and ate
it on the spot. (Hey, I was hungry.)
     After dodging tire casings, sheet metal, and long pieces of wire for
over an hour I finally exited the freeway, desperate to find a place for
breakfast, since the corn had only succeeded in getting the gastric
juices flowing.
     Shortly after exiting I was pulled over by a cop. I kick-standed the
bike and approached him with the confidence of someone who is positive
he hasn't been speeding. He said he'd gotten a report that a bike was
spotted on the interstate, and was that me? I said there was a distinct
possibility it was. He said it was illegal (I doubted that but didn't express
my doubts), and that I should stay off the freeway while on my bike
"because it isn't safe". That was too much. "But there I have a 15-foot
shoulder all to myself. On the surface roads I might not have any
shoulder, the traffic misses me by inches, and your Utah storm grates
are wide enough to swallow my two-inch tires." (Needless to say, his
friendly attitude had already convinced me that I wasn't going to get a
ticket.) He mulled that over, and agreed that I had a point. Encouraged,
I continued: "Officer, if you are really interested in safety, then whenever
you see a cyclist riding on a surface road you should order him to get
on the interstate!" He wasn't quite ready to go that far, I think.
     We parted on friendly terms, and shortly after that I managed to
get a good biscuits-and-gravy breakfast in Bountiful.
     Actually, I wasn't upset about not getting back on the interstate
because of the noise and trash. So I followed highway 89 right on
into downtown Salt Lake City. I walked my bicycle into the beautiful
grounds of the Morman Tabernacle, and was soon approached by
Sister Tiu, one of the many members of the church who were in the
area to enlighten the tourists. She was very pleasant, but made it clear
early on that her mission was to save my soul. After finally realizing
that was a hopeless project she offered to take my picture,  and I
then took hers. 
     The Morman Temple is right across the street from the Tabernacle,
and I photographed it through the trees.  I spent 20 minutes
admiring the gardens, and then resumed my journey south.
     The next 20 miles were the most unpleasant and dangerous of the
trip so far. Highway 89 was just a main street of Salt Lake City, so I
dodged traffic and storm grates for two hours, finally reaching the
outskirts. There I found a frontage road that took me into Provo.
     I was feeling very strong, even after 75 miles. Part of this was due
to a good tailwind the entire day. I was thinking about how good I felt
when a fellow passed me on a mountain bike. A rule of biking: You
don't pass someone without saying hello unless you are sure you can
stay ahead. So I accepted the undeclared-race challenge and said
"Hello!" as I passed him 300 yards later, surprising myself with the energy
I still had after the long day.
     He realized he was beat, and we biked together for a couple of miles,
having a pleasant conversation. He was a student (obviously not a serious
cyclist), from Mexico City (we talked in Spanish a bit), and he told me
how to get to the "old motel" part of town. We parted, and shortly after
that I checked into a good room at a reasonable price. I'd bought some
orange juice 15 miles back, and it was thawed just right for mixing.
     After walking to a deli for a sandwich I wrote a bit and went to sleep.
A good finish to a pleasant day.

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