Editor’s Note: As longtime Oakhurst resident Bob Kaspar continues an epic coast-to-coast ride from California to his hometown near Boston, he checks in from the road.
Click on images to enlarge.
Ownership was finally settled in 1873 buy an agreed-upon man-on-man battle between a Navajo warrior and Col. John Pfefifer, a friend of the Utes. Pfeiffer defeated the Navajo warrior, thereby consolidating ownership under the Utes.
Getting to Pagosa Springs from Durango required a 50-mile sprint through snow and sleet only to result in yet another layover day as the as the winter weather continued.
The weather finally clears and I start the long climb up to Wolf Creek Pass which at nearly 11,000 feet is the high point of the entire trip. Though sunny, the air temperature at the base of the climb is about 30 degrees.
I was in, as they say, “no mood.” After a cold night in South Fork I had headed down the road into the San Luis Valley to Alamosa. Just out of town I spotted some interesting Streamliner style railway cars off to the side of the road and decided to take a photo. Then, from a ranch house about 100 yards away appeared a dog who came racing directly towards me.
Normally, I have no trouble out-running dogs, but I needed to slow down to take the picture. The dog came along my right side and tried nipping at my leg. As I kicked at it, I managed to kick off my right rear safety light. Later that morning, the left light fell off as well. I’d like to express my feelings more clearly here but I’m pretty sure that Sierra News Online has a stylistic limit for the number of expletives that can appear in a single sentence.
Later, I pulled into Alamosa and spent several hours at the local coffee shop. I was outside at my bike preparing to leave when a fellow walks up to me. He was middle-aged and wearing a bicycle helmet and backpack. He gets just a little too close to me and says, “I’d like to relate a story to you.”
I say “Oh, what’s that?” — expecting to hear some biking story. He then moves even closer, about 18-inches from my face and at the absolute top of his lungs screams directly into my face: “I said I’d like to relate a story to you! What’s the matter, are you deaf stupid or both?”
Me: “Okay I understand completely but first you need to step back and behave yourself and then I’ll listen to the story”
He: “I’m going to call the police.”
Me: “Okay, that’s fine, but first you still need to step back and behave yourself.”
He: “ If you say that one more time I’m going to punch you right in the face.”
Me: “I understand but you still need to step back away from me right now.”
He (after a short pause and moving his right hand to the vicinity of his pocket): “You should know better than to wear a shirt like that to a gunfight.”
So, now I’m thinking: oh geez, I hope he doesn’t reach into his pocket because, if he does, I’ll have no choice but to take him to the ground and, since it’s unlikely he actually has anything dangerous in his pocket, I’m now going to be the one in trouble.
Me: “Are you armed?”
He: “Are you wearing golf shoes”?
Me (impulsively, and forgetting how dangerous it is to try and out-nut a nut) “No, but I’m from Ahwahnee and I can dance the Jazz box step. How about you?”
Me: “Let’s be honest, little fella, you’re not getting the reaction here that you’ve come to expect when you run around town making trouble for people. You have issues and probably take medications for them. The police are familiar with you. You probably don’t have a job. I can see that you’re off balance and calculating what to do next. You should do that calculation carefully.”
With that he lets out with what could be described as an extended Tourette’s-like stream of conscience ending with “And I hope you get a flat tire!”
Me: “If you get on your bike and go away I promise I’ll have a flat tire and I’ll name it in honor of you.”
He: “My name is…”
He emits several more expletives while getting on his bike and then rides away. I look up and the people in the coffee shop are crowded, spectator style, in the windows. I get a feeling that this is not an unusual occurrence for them.
He was obviously a guy with issues. His issues probably even had issues. He probably lives a life of unhappiness and frustration. In retrospect, I probably should have been more patient with the guy. But, as I said, I was in no mood.
My host Barry and the “Keeper of the Prairie” sculpture in Wichita at the confluence of the Big and Little Arkansas Rivers.
The metal portion of the sculpture itself is about 30-feet high and at night is surrounded by flames. Really spectacular. Kansas in general, and Wichita in particular, were unexpectedly beautiful.
From Wichita I continue east into the hill country of eastern Kansas and western Missouri. Thus far I’ve been shot at, chased by dogs, yelled at, nearly sideswiped a couple times and snowed on. So it has been a series of surprise predicaments, near misses, and narrow escapes. Maybe I should dedicate this trip to Zorro.
More of Bob’s exploits can be found on these pages: