Day 51 – Gunnison to Cimarron CO

I woke up at 8:00 AM, two full hours after I’m used to getting up. I hadn’t set my alarm because I knew I needed some extra rest but I didn’t expect to sleep that long. The climb yesterday must have taken more out of me than I thought and not only did I wake up late, but I’ve felt kind of like I’ve been in a dream all day long. Have you ever had that experience after a nap, where you couldn’t quite figure out if it was the same day or another day and you were still groggy? It was like that but from morning on through the whole day.

My trip today felt like a dream too. Am I really here out in the high country of Colorado, surrounded by buttes, pinnacles, rushing streams and sage? Is the sky really that big? Look it’s raining over there but not here. All these thoughts seemed to swim around me today and I’m appreciating how phenomenally lucky I am to be able to do this. It is a wonderful luxury to travel slowly through the landscape, appreciating its beauty, without rushing. Just soaking it up, breathing it in.

I did opt for a hotel last night after all which felt sort of like wimping out but I was cold and exhausted. Given how much I slept I must have needed the rest but I’m really getting sick of hotels, even when they’re perfectly comfy, which this one was. The cheapskate in me opted for the free breakfast which was a mistake that I paid for all day. They had this machine that I can only describe as a pancake printer that doles out 2 pancakes at the press of a button. Kind of amazing and yet horrifying at the same time. Anyway I ate them and it will be the last time. Heavens my gut has felt bloated all day, like I swallowed some angry pancake that refuses to be digested. I couldn’t even eat lunch today because of it. I’ll get some calories in me later but right now, not eating feels like what my body needs to tame the angry one inside.

The thing I do like about quirky little family run hotels is you see these details that no one else would do. Have you ever seen a tiny glass-block sized window?

I felt like I was moving in slow motion all day which was actually wonderful. As I pedaled out of town I stopped to take lots of pictures and chat with people I met. I wasn’t trying to get very far today which was good because I don’t think I could have if I’d wanted.

A young girl was selling fresh fruit and these ristras made by her grandfather.
The corner antler store. Apparently run by Texans. You know I never thought of putting up a Missouri flag in downtown Oakland but maybe I should.
If you zoom in you can see someone painting this lovely scene.
This reservoir was formed by damning the Gunnison River.
Inspired by Jess’s reflections but not nearly as good.  Clearly that’s a walrus’ face.
Pinnacles made when a layer of harder rock sits above layers of softer rock below. Kind of like the head banging part of Bohemian Rhapsody following the ballad part.
If you zoom in you’ll see mountain goats (actually mountain goats this time).
The unmanned portion of the Gunnison River. I’d guess there’s lots more like this underwater.

I rested for a long time at Sapinero, at a little store looking over over the Blue Mesa Reservoir. I made a new friend Rosie (how did I not take her picture? Duh), an old golden retriever, and chatted with the store owner. She loves the place, especially in the winter when all the tourists are gone. She mentioned they’d moved around quite a lot so I asked her if she had a favorite, one that was special. She said they were all special in their own way which sounded wise to me.

Presided over by mayor Rosie.
I heard the hummers before I saw them.

I kept having the sense today of being connected to the continental divide by an elastic band. For the whole trip, up until yesterday, that band has been pulling me along, speeding me towards the West. Now that I’ve crossed the divide it feels like it’s pulling me back, slowing me down, tying me to the present.

Road construction also slowed me down a lot today. There were three long construction sites where they had traffic down to one lane so that they had to let through a bunch of cars one direction, then a bunch the other. Being the only one there on a bike, of course I get pulled aside and told that I have to go last. So everybody at the other end has to wait for me to huff and puff through the construction zone and make it to the end long after the cars have zoomed off. Most folks gave me thumbs up and didn’t mind the wait but I got one “hey put a motor on that thing” which I thought was an exceptionally stupid thing to say. Either if you’re for me or against me, you can surely do better than that.

Forgot to mention that I only started seeing Aspens yesterday, on the climb to Monarch pass. The scars that old limbs leave look like eyes.
3rd work zone today. I chatted with a trucker’s partner from Dallas who couldn’t believe what I was doing. That’s always nice to hear.

The last construction zone presented a bit of a tough choice for me to make. As I waited at the traffic control flagger, she informed me that the zone would be about a mile and a half, uphill, and on gravel and that they would like to give me a ride if I would accept it. Apparently they’d encountered cyclists before who have refused a ride on principle or for whatever reason. It didn’t take me long to decide that I’d take the ride. I’m not that much of a purist that I will make a long line of cars wait for me to climb a hill at 3 mph in the gravel. The added emissions of that event alone might obliterate any carbon I’ve saved by traveling across the country by bike. It was a long line of cars (cue song of same name by Cake here).

I settled in Cimarron tonight, in a camp near where the Cimarron river meets the Gunnison in the Black Canyon. It’s beautiful here with steep rocky walls to one side and smooth sage covered hills to the south. But I have to admit that I just wanted to stay in a place called Cimarron. Isn’t that about the most Western-named place this side of the Pecos?

Tonight’s not-so-warm shower.
Newberry’s is the only shop in town and has been here 77 years. They also have screaming fast wifi and it’s where I sit as I post this.

6 thoughts on “Day 51 – Gunnison to Cimarron CO”

  1. Great to hear you are enjoying the beautiful scenery. I did a short ride with the boys (young men?) to Villa Grand beach, it is lovely but you barely break a sweat. Tomorrow we are planning to do some of the trail around Sebastopol and will think of you even though we have no altitude or climbing.

  2. Pancake printer is the funniest and most accurate descriptor I’ve heard. Don’t see the walrus but three people sitting on the edge of the water.

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