Day 13: Gallup to Grants

Paul Harvey?used to report daily about Jesup, Georgia. ?His report as always the same: ? ?”Once again, in Jesup, Georgia, nothing happened.”

And on?The Ride?today . . . nothing happened.

No flat tires. ?No mechanical problems. ?Can’t really say it was a?flat?ride, but . . .

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A rise of 900 feet over 30+ miles isn’t much to speak of. ?Nor is a descent of a little less than a thousand feet, either.

That bump in the middle turned out to be the Continental Divide.

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Honestly, I had to look it up as I really didn’t know what the significance of it is. ?You can read through the Wikipedia article I linked to, or, if you’re not in need of a sleeping aid, just take this from it: ?it’s the dividing line where water flows.

Yep, that’s pretty much it. ?On one side of the divide it flows?here. ?On the other it flows?there. ?Why that matters is beyond me, but I’m sure someone cares.

All it did was remind me of a joke:

A minister, a priest, and a Rabbi were discussing how they divvied up the collection plates.

The minister said, “Well, what I do is draw a line down the middle of the church. ?I put all the money in one plate, then throw it in the air. ?Whatever falls on the right side is God’s. ?Whatever falls on the left is mine.”

The priest said, “I do something similar. ?Except I just draw a circle. ?I throw the money in the air. ?Whatever falls inside the circle is God’s. ?Outside is mine.”

The Rabbi said, “Yeah, kinda. ?But I throw the money into the air . . . and whatever God catches He can keep.”

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Jeeez . . . yer goin’ to Hell, Fat Boy . . .

The scenery was nice . . . but constant. ?It didn’t really change much as I pedaled eastward. ?I wasn’t close enough to snap any outstanding shots:

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I thought?Ohio?drivers were bad. ?Didn’t realize this wasn’t common sense:

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Actually there was one “bad” thing that happened today. ?I didn’t get any pictures of it because I was right in the middle of it. ?I was worried more about getting through it rather than documenting it picture-wise.

The breakdown lane starting at about mile marker 38 through 40 — alongside Jamestown, NM — was?horrible.? The pavement was demolished and debris-strewn. ?I got this picture off of Google Street View:

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But I can’t say that it fully represents how bad the road was. ?I reduced my speed to about 5 MPH in the hopes of not having the road destroy my tires.

The road got so bad the only thing I could was ride in the traffic lane itself. ?For two miles. ?My thinking was if my bicycle was a?vehicle?legally allowed to be on the Interstate, then I’d?be?on the Interstate. ?Other drivers were just going to have to go around me as they would any slow moving vehicle.

The road finally got back to normal, but, yikes, that was a little unnerving.


I am bad luck when talking about stuff which has worked well. ?Remember this picture?

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That was of my “hydration” system. ?2 big bottle “growlers,” two smaller ones, and my Camelbak.

I lost the Camelbak two days later.

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I lost the Altec Lansing speaker the very next day.

Well, this morning the trust tablet in the picture above had a 46% charge. ?When I’d put it on the charger last night when I’d turned off the lights,?the charge had been 80%.

I checked the connections, the cables, everything. ?I unplugged and replugged it while I was getting ready to leave. ?By the time I was ready to leave the charge was . . . 29%.

I rebooted the thing, then turned it off completely and plugged it into the battery charger. ?By the time I got to Grants, it was fully charged and ready to play. ?That would have been one damned expensive — though not critical — piece of equipment to go tits up.

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After ?a steady diet of fast food the last few days, I gave the Chinese buffet across the street from the motel a try tonight:

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I put on my Sunday best for a night on the town!

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I figured I’d earned this. At the very least, I’ll burn it back off tomorrow.

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My critters showed up on my phone while I was dinner:

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I miss the little beasts terribly.

Let me tell you a quick story that I’ve been keeping under my hat.

The original plan was I had family and friends lined up to dog-sit the critters while I was on?The Ride. ?The dogs would get shuffled from place to place every week to ten or so days. ?While I know that every person who volunteered a turn at keeping my critters love those little dogs to death,?I?also?know what a pain in the ass it could be. ?I wondered if there was any solution that would allow the dogs to stay home. ?Perhaps a house-sitter?

Turns out there are several house-sitter sites on the ‘net. ?They’re usually free to the homeowner. ?The sites I looked at charge a fee to the?sitter. ?The sites conducted a minor back-ground check of the sitters . . . though you were certainly encouraged to do your due diligence, too.

After about a month, I settled on a gent who flew to Columbus all the way from?Australia. ?It was the first time he’d ever been to North America.

(As I’m writing this post, I just checked Kayak.com for prices of a flight from Australia to Columbus. ?The?least?expensive one I found was over $1200. ?This guy was making quite an investment in flying to sit my house for two months.)

He arrived a few days before I was to take off. ?That was deliberate. ?I wanted time to show him around, take him to different places, show him what I did with the dogs, how to maintain things around the house, etc., etc. ?He was a very friendly gent, 66 years old, former minister (turned atheist!), former restaurant-owner. ?We got along fine.

Until twelve hours before I was ready to leave.

He’d been . . . odd all day. ?It appeared he had some stomach ailment as he’d spent a lot of time running back and forth to the bathroom. ?He wasn’t nearly as jovial as he’d been the previous days. ?I just chalked it up to him not feeling well.

At one point I asked him, “Are you ok?”

He said, “Yes. ?I’m ok. ?I’m stuck with it now, but, don’t worry, your dogs and your house will be fine.”

I paused at the selection of his words. ?”What exactly do you mean by, ‘I’m stuck with it’?”

He said something to the effect of, “Well, the people who talked me into house sitting knew all about what was going on, and they talked me into it anyway.”

That scared me. ?Here I was, 12 hours before I’m scheduled to leave on the trip of a lifetime, and the guy who’s supposed to be caring for my dogs is falling apart.

I got to work doing all the millions of last-minute things that I needed to do. ?At some point, I reached out to one of the friends / family who were originally scheduled to watch the dogs. ?Ingrid told me that of course the dogs were welcome at her place.

That was about eight hours before I was to leave. ?I went into the kitchen, where the sitter was cooking something. ?I asked him again if he was ok. ?He said (paraphrasing), “No, I’m not ok. ?It’s terribly unfair that this was under control. ?I’ve been working on losing weight, and for this to reoccur now is very unfair. ?The people who talked me into this should have taken that into consideration.”

I took a deep breath and said, “I’ve made other arrangements for the dogs to be cared for. ?Your actions and your words today have put their security at risk and I can’t have that. ?Since the dogs won’t be here, there’s no need for you to be here, either.”

He shot me a look. ?”I have no transport nor any other place to be.”

Before I could tell him that I would take him wherever he’d like to go, and offer to even pay a week’s hotel bill, he dashed past me into this room and he got on his computer.

I felt terrible. ?This guy had flown 12,000 miles, to a place he had never been before, at considerable personal expense, where he knew not a soul. ?But at that point, I couldn’t risk the dogs’ safety.

Over the next hour he came out of his room to announce a taxi was on the way. ?He went back into his room and started packing. ?I went into the kitchen and started packing up all the food he’d purchased. ?At various times I offered to give him a hand in a task and was curtly told, “I don’t need your help.” ?I suppose I would have been just as blunt.

The cab arrived. ?I retrieved the burner phone I’d bought for him (his phone worked only in Australia) and the key to the house. ?I offered to help him take his things to the cab and was rebuffed again. ?As he took the final load to the taxi he bid me farewell and good luck on my ride. ?I wished him good luck, too. ?I’ve not heard from him since.

As I said earlier, I felt terrible about it. ?As I’ve thought about the situation over the last few weeks, the only conclusion I can arrive at is that he had a health issue that he?thought?was under control. ?Obviously it wasn’t. ?And he gambled a lot of money and a lot of traveling on it being under control. ?He lost the gamble. ?His body betrayed him.

As?he?said, it was terribly unfair. ?I agree completely. ?Yet there was no way I was going to put the safety of the dogs in jeopardy. ?At least it all came to a head?before?I left Columbus. ?It was a truly tragic thing to happen. ?(For both of us.)

Anyway, there’s a silver lining the whole thing. ?My youngest coincidentally had a friend who was traveling to Ohio from California?at the same time?we were driving the opposite route. ?Her friend was going to have to stay with his mom until he got himself on his feet. ?Spud (my youngest) reached out to him with a house/critter-sitting opportunity and he jumped at it.

So, the critters are at home where they belong with someone who’s going to love on ’em. ?And my house won’t be sitting empty, either.

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In my Sunday best with the critters at Devil’s Tower, waiting to shoot Close Encounters 2.