In Maybelle the diner is wonderful and the food is fantastic. The few others people in the diner are locals.
I order a burger that on the menu is in memory of someone. I ask the waitress who that person is. I am imagining that this person died of old age and lived here forever and is remembered for such and such. Well, no such thing. The waitress is also the owner. She explains that the burger is her son’s favorite burger and she lost her son, her only child.
This strikes me as super sad obviously and I don’t ask how. I don’t want to know really. Here’s a portrait of them together. The husband is the cook and as I said the food is fantastic .
The few people who come in the café after me also are all locals. Locals as in 50 miles away this direction or that direction. They catch up on news. They talk about the mine. They talk about the new foreman who is too young. They talk about the danger of credit cards.
Outside, there are pay telephone booths! With a great accompanying mural.
The next morning I notice there’s a post office in Maybell and I go there to mail off whatever I can get rid of to make my load lighter. I’m riding a steel bike and caring 22 pounds of stuff (clothes,camping gear, toiletries, food,drink). With hills ahead I am shipping back anything I can. Each long distance bike trip I send back my lock. They are heavy. You’d think I wouldn’t take it to begin with it. As if I’ve learned from the past. However it’s hard to leave Oakland without a lock. In Oakland, it’s hard to imagine a world without locks.
The lady at the post office tells me the whole story of the son that died. The short version is; he was drunk and he was driving.
I leave Maybelle to have an easy day of 30 miles to Craig, which is a big city supposedly, and then another 17 to Hayden.
Once I got to Colorado I started to see skeletons; skeletons of animals that are completely clean and white. I felt like I was in “The Fair Side”cartoon.
When I was biking is 57 miles of nothing all alone I wondered about those New Age people who have VisionQuests. Like they sit somewhere in the woods for 24 hours and if something happens they blow a whistle which signals for someone to come and rescue them. Where’s the conquest in that? I wonder what This trip is to that and what is a VisionQuest anyhow?
What I received most from this trip: the taste that has been written deeply upon me, is a great awe and connection with Mother Earth.
I sing all sorts of songs from childhood. I don’t sing them out loud because the altitude is too high but I sing them in my head songs like Archie Bell and the Dells or something like that singing “25 miles to go now, over the hill.. just around the bend” or Cat Stevens “miles from nowhere, guess I’ll take my time, oh yeah to reach, there Got a mountain, I have to climb, oh yeah to reach there” and so on.
When I pass by the cows or any animal but especially the cows, I always say hello and they always turn their heads and look at me and then I always thank them for the milk and they always listen to me and if I hold up my camera to take a picture of them they turn around and walk away. Now if you ask me that’s an intelligent animal.
When I’m home I never eat beef but here I have had to twice simply because I need all the protein I can get and it’s not easy to get in the gas station and that’s often all I have to choose from; that and or a food desert grocery store. So here, if I can get beef, I get it. Cooked.
I make it to Craig pretty early and I take my bike to the one bike store there which is a man and his wife and their 3 year old in a garage. I would have taken a photo but it didn’t seem polite.
There is a TV like box hanging from the ceiling which is playing Disney movies for the three-year-old who is on the ground on the sleeping bag.
Mine is a brand-new bike and I’ve ridden it a couple of hundred miles at this point so it needs to be adjusted. At least,
I will feel better if it is adjusted. I’ll feel safer going over the hard rocky mountain passes which are coming up.
While the husband is fixing the bike I go to an Internet café and blog a bit and get a used book which is quite welcome in my tent at night when I can’t sleep and I’m looking forward to reading it tonight as well.
I also get a cappuccino which is like a miracle.
The coal mining thing is everywhere and it’s sad because of course that’s not going to last because energy from coal is not a good thing.
Minimum wage is $7.25 here and things are expensive because everybody is so far from a distribution point.
I tip largely because as the poet Rusty Rebar in San Francisco said at Peter Whitehead’s last performance “if you’ve got slack and you don’t share it, you’re an asshole.” Compared to these people, I’ve got slack.
After I’m done with the bookstore café and the bike shop I go to the grocery store because I need food for dinner. When I go into the grocery store it’s a bright sunny day when I come out of the grocery store the day is covered with a dark gray sky and the wind is blowing everything in the parking lot everywhere. It looks like big rain and I’m not sure whether or not to stay in Craig or ride the 17 miles to Hayden.
But I’m getting ahead of myself sorry. In the grocery store I meet a Menonite women. She is light itself her expression of Christianity cancels out the mean ice cream lady. The Menonite women is positively glowing with Goodwill and health.
This is saying a lot for Craig, CO. Most of the people here look bad. Their skin is bad and their teeth are bad. Most of the women are obese. Life in the coal mine is not looking good on these people.
There were two other amazing things I saw at the grocery store that I haven’t seen since Salt Lake City. One was a Starbucks. The other was an African-American man. Not only was he African-American but he had an Oakland T-shirt on! It didn’t say the word “Oakland”. Instead I recognized immediately the Oakland the tree logo and I said “Oakland!” And we did a high fire in passing.
I don’t quite make it to the town of Hayden because the Yampa River State Park is 2 miles west of that. It’s quite nice. I set up my teeny tiny tent in the tent site. I am the only tent. I always am. The rest of the park is filled with large RVs but I’m away from them. The entire facility is really nice even though they make you pay for showers.