I left the library and started walking toward the T/A truck stop and I-80. On the way I ran in to Jeanette again, She gave me a hug and said she was praying for me. She seemed a bit down about something, but I couldn't really tell for sure. I retraced our steps from the day before and, like clockwork, the Wyoming Wind began to howl, pushing me and the pack around a bit. My right foot was beginning to blister-just the right one for whatever reason-and I started to notice some tightness in my right shin, calf, and thigh. Only the right side though! What the hell?
I had noticed some weather starting to push in consisting of heavy, dark clouds with a little thunder. The storm looked more like a winter storm than anything, but it didn’t surprise me. The weather forecast the day before had said it was supposed to be sunny and 70, but it was far from either! While I was crossing over I-80 on the overpass, the winds REALLY kicked up. I even had to hold onto the guardrail to keep from being pushed into traffic, and then the temperature must have dropped 15 degrees almost immediately. I was glad I was walking in when I was, although for all menacing tones, the weather ultimately did next to nothing.
I went in and bought some cigarettes, a coke, and 2 half-priced candy bars and sat down in the same place I had been with Doug on Tuesday night. I was still thinking the weather was going to do something, so I scoped out the truck stop and had thoughts of sitting down in the trucker’s lounge and taking a nap. I REALLY had gotten next to no sleep the night before and was really feeling it by now. The adrenaline from earlier in the day was fading fast, and I was really fighting to stay lucid. I concluded that I needed to stay inside for awhile, before I went out to the I-80 west on-ramp to try to get west, and thought that maybe some real food would help me to feel better. If that didn’t, a bunch of coffee surely would.
I went over to the restaurant, sat down and ordered the buffet and proceeded to gorge myself. I’m not sure I was supposed to raid the salad bar too, but I did. The service was pretty pathetic, so I wasn’t getting quite as much coffee as I had hoped and after I ate, the fatigue began to take hold. I could have, and thought about, just lying back and dozing and started to eyeball the big field behind the truck stop as a place to just throw down the tent and rest. I figured it was too early to do that just yet, only 1:30-ish, so since the weather had calmed itself I went to pay the bill, figuring I’d head out to the on-ramp to see what would happen.
While I was paying my bill, a trucker who was sitting a few seats away from me was in line chatting with someone and since he seemed pretty laid back and friendly I off-handedly asked him which way he was going. He said Laredo, Texas. Before I knew what I was saying I asked if he was going thru Denver, he said yes, and I said, “Think I could get a ride?” He checked me out for a split second and just nodded and said “Yeah” in a matter-of- fact sort of way.
I was getting out of Wyoming! AND in a truck!
I had wanted to get at least ONE ride in a truck on this trip to see how it went, and this guy, Cesar, was it. I was really surprised at how easy it was to hook up with him, and as we walked out to the truck my energy level began to soar. Maybe it was the food, but more than likely it was the adrenaline of being on the move again. I hadn’t even considered heading east, let alone southeast, but sort of chuckled when I saw the parallel between Rawlins and Ft. Morgan. Plans? HA! The Vagabond Gods shit on my ‘plans’!
Cesar’s truck was a brand new Volvo; beautiful. Cushy. Plush. As I was climbing in and getting the backpack situated the excitement was almost comical. I was doing one of the prime things I wanted to do on this trip, and was happy with the way I was able to improvise. We got on I-80 and began heading toward Laramie and Cheyenne.
What a fun ride. Cesar is in his late 40's I believe, and came to the US from Mexico 20+ years ago. He looks almost exactly like Al Pacino in “Scarface”. I would chuckle every time he said “Montana”, hearing lines from the movie. He was good natured about it; obviously hearing that comparison a million times. His impression was dead-on: “You cocaroach!”
He told me stories about how he used to pick up hitchers all the time, and since he’s Mexican would try to help out the illegals from time to time, giving them rides, food, and even money; then finding out some of his stuff had disappeared with them. That reminded me of a few of the people I had crossed paths with. The ones who brand everyone on the road as a thief, bum, or criminal. Really pissed me off, but I understand it. Hopefully I thought I could change a bit of that stereotype.
The rest of the ride to Denver was great. We chatted, checked out all the antelope that were hanging out along the way and enjoyed the scenery. He took 287 from Laramie to Ft. Collins, then I-25 to the city.
I called Chris and Eric, and made arrangements for Chris to drop his keys off at Barracuda’s, and to meet Eric at his baseball game in Wheat Ridge, just off of I-70. Cesar took me all the way there, we exchanged phone numbers and conceptualized a plan to keep track of each other in case we end up in the same area. Then I could hitch a ride with him…wherever. What a good guy he was. Yet another example, eh?
I got to Anderson Park at about 8:30 or so, and came bounding in looking like something out of a Kerouac novel, and smelling like campfire. Quite the sight. There was something odd in the air Thursday night; everyone seemed riled up over something. Chris, Me, Eric…the two teams that were playing the game were at each others throat the whole time! Normally I’d blow that off, but I’ve seen brawls in these rec. league games! Too many baseball heroes with shattered dreams of glory I guess, but I wasn’t exactly helping calm things!
I was struck at the contrast that the day had held. Waking up in on a Wyoming prairie with the elk, then the truck stop, then walking up to the baseball field in familiar territory with friends. That still boggles my mind.
The game ended and Eric and I went straight to Barracuda’s in Capital Hill, a place becoming familiar again. We had a pitcher of PBR, and Chris and his friend showed up almost immediately. I was curious to see how Chris and Eric got along because while their VERY different in a lot of ways, including age, they’re VERY similar too. The synergy was great, and the conversations were cool, except for all the grief I got for being in Denver again so soon!
“Oh yeah, big world traveler!”
I couldn’t quite get the concept across that there are NO RULES here! Improvisation. I was in Denver; make it work! Later on it occurred to me that this was actually going to work out quite well. I had decided on the way back to take the car back to Santa Fe so Laina wouldn’t have to worry about picking it up. It would save a lot of money, AND I could get rid of more gear and relax for a few days. It really did work out for the best. They just seemed convinced I was going to STAY there! No way.
The drinking commenced, and I made the mistake of letting Angela buy me a Jager shot, then had some of Chris’ Jim Beam when we got back to his house. Ugh!! I don’t drink much anymore, and when I finally got to sleep, after trying to convince Chris to come join me, I was flopping around on the couch like a fish!
Quite the day Thursday. Again, not what I expected when I awoke!