September 4, 2010

Three of my tail trunk bolts and one of the two mounting brackets had already fallen behind somewhere, so I was a little late for brunch with my lawyer friend Rebecca in Denver while I shuffled through Luke’s spares and locktited the nut-n-bolts back together. I gave her a call.

“I’m sorry I have a hangover,” was her initial reaction to my call, thinking that I was already in the area.

I explained that I was calling because I was late and she told me about a fabulous, connection-sharing, first-date night she had with a man.

“I didn’t sleep with him,” she assured me.

It was so cute and brought back the nostalgia of those eye/heart-opening “lustations” we all fondly remember. Ahhh … reflective pause, now, onto the ride.

I blasted down the 285 through the Pike National Forest to Salida, Colorado to pick up the Trans-Am. It was a stunning ride, but hard to enjoy while riding sideways in the high plains wind. Past classic red barns, vast pastures, small towns advertising pie and cold beer and under perfectly-puffy cotton-ball clouds, I arrived in Salida and took a break on a coffee shop patio on the banks of the Arkansas River. Kids were swimming, bikers were peddling, dog walkers were whistling and a bride and her six bridesmaids were posing.

“Where’s the groom,” questioned one man behind me to his wife after spectating on a 20-minute photo session. Already gone, I thought as I smiled, putting myself in his place.

I pushed “Go!” on the Colorado/NewMexico custom GPS map and off I rolled to the trail. I pulled over just after the road turned to dirt to air-down my Kenda 270s to 28/30 as a ranger pulled up behind me to ask me where I was heading. He reassured me of the stability and technical-ease of the trail and waved me off. There seems to be a bell curve of friendliness across the U.S.; from a SoCal low peaking somewhere through the middle.

As I thumped on under the soft vibrant sky and ascended the hills into the pines, I finally saw my first dual-sporters of the trip. They rode KTMs, wore dirt gear and were pretty much luggage-free; where’s the support truck I thought smugly as they roosted past.

I was in the land that few people see; the epitome of quaint. I wound by farmhouses, ranch gates, and vast overlooks with a purple mountain backdrop. The land was green, green, green contrasting with the blue, blue sky. The golden sunshine glow illuminated everything like the world was painted with a reflective coat.

I passed Cotopaxi and was looking for a place to pitch my tent as the sun began to settle around 5:30, but I was now close to Westcliffe and the road was lined with barbed wire fences to keep the cows in and people like me out. I fueled-up quickly in Westcliffe with the goal of high-tailing it back to the trail before the world turned away from the sun, but serendipitously the little station I stopped at was next to an RV park, so I rolled in to check on price.

“How about $5-dollars since you don’t need electricity and that’s what it costs to shower,” provided the Westcliffe park manager after I mentioned my budget.

Yes! I smiled. My dad used to call it “The Luck of The Brienne”; a memory that keeps me positive anyway.

I found a site and was spotted by 1200 GS owners Don and Kathy who were on tour from Golden, Colorado. We sipped wine and chatted for and hour or so about adventures and life. Kathy is 63 and has just learned about the experiences that can be so fulfilling by stepping away from your comfort zone. She found her passion for life and now, she and her best friend can share adventures together.

I slept well that night.

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