DAY 61

May 14, 1999

I left the motel and stopped at the grocery store.  I used the ATM inside to get some cash then bought a banana, one box of granola bars (variety pack), one box of Nutri-Grain bars (cherry), and four Power Bars (peanut butter).   My ride continued west on 212 and I felt like I was going nowhere.  Yesterday I was flying down the road with ease, but today it was tough with a lot of climbing and I was tired.  Actually the climbing probably wasn't that bad, it was just being a bit tired and lazy.  There were no trees along the landscape of rolling green hills.   There were a lot of these little dark green bushes speckled everywhere under the bluish-gray sky.  The bushes were maybe 8 inches tall so that left no place to go pee.  I kept waiting, hoping something would appear to hide me from the road.   The thought of standing in the wide open as cars drove by didn't appeal to me.  

Ah ha!  An old abandoned building near the road!  I set my bike down and darted around the building.  Ahhhh...Relief :-)  I walked back to my bike and sat on the trailer eating a cereal bar.  A horse had been staring at me from about 125 yards away.  He was a lone horse in a big pasture.  I just sat there and stared back while I ate and rested.  It was a cool morning which got colder as I rode.  My toes were very cold but now that I was stopped they were warming up.   It wasn't raining but since my shoes were still wet from yesterdays soaking, I had plastic bags on my feet.  I was wearing my bike socks, thick wool socks, then the plastic bags, and my feet were still cold as I rode.

As the morning progressed, it began to get a little warmer and by 11am I took off my jacket.  Then I approached that dreaded section of road I'd been hearing about having road construction.   For 9 miles, through a steep pass, they had removed the road and had just a dirt and gravel road.  That sucked with my tire pressure at 90psi.  I was pushing my luck on the long downhill reaching 35mph on loose gravel.  But I made it down just fine.  When I got close to Ashland, I passed a National Parks campground on the right, in the Custer National Forest.  It had already started to sprinkle and I was still about five miles away.  But the campground looked so appealing to me.   Ahhh, camp in the forest with nature!  Unfortunately, I had no food to cook, just the bars I bought.  A part of me wanted to but then I thought, if I can avoid misery I will.  I really don't like cold so, with that settled, I continued on.

It was 1:30pm when I stopped at the Hitching Post Cafe in Ashland.  Sitting on one of the round, padded, barstools at the counter, a young waitress handed me a menu and asked if I wanted anything to drink.  Looking at the menu I noticed they had a really cool selection for a small town cafe - even healthy food :-)  I got my usual grilled chicken but this time with some cottage cheese too.   They also had pizza and soft serve ice cream, which is unusual compared to the small town cafe's I've been to.  After I finished eating I decided to try one of the homemade pies.  Mmmmm, I hate to say this but this was WAY better than Cooky's in Missouri.  She begins baking these early in the afternoon and is constantly selling out.  Many times she has a whole pie sold before it's even out of the oven.

By now I've been talking to my waitress, Cedar.  She is the daughter of the owner and looks to be in her late teens.  The cafe' is family owned and operated and they also have a ranch.  Cedar pulled out a Polaroid picture of the newest addition to their 25 horses.  It was a two month old brown and white horse.  Her mom, Marlow, was back in the kitchen most of the time doing the cooking and baking pies.  She would come out to talk whenever she could.  Mimi is their non-family employee and she took an interest in talking to me as well.  Everyone was exceptionally nice and I felt right at home.  Then Mimi took my bill and told me she was going to pay it for me.  Wow!  I don't know if I could ever go back to living in the real world, the people I've encountered in this new reality of mine are incredibly kind and generous.

Within a few moments, an older American Indian lady comes into the store with a doll.  The doll's outfit was handcrafted to exacting detail of the Cheyenne's traditional dress.  It was made of buckskin and had lots of beadwork on it.  The lady's name is Eva.  She is an 85 year old, full-blooded, Cheyenne Indian.  She was born and raised on the reservation that the town of Ashland sits next to.  Eva buys an American Indian Doll then makes an outfit for that doll.   It takes her about a month to complete the outfit.  Then she sells the doll with the new dress for $150.00.  I sat with Eva in a booth and we talked about many things, from her hobby making doll clothes to life on the reservation.  At 85, she lives alone on a ranch raising cattle with the assistance of one young man.  One thing I found unique was how stress had never been a word she was familiar with.  She told me that in her her whole life growing up in the Indian culture, it was something she never experienced or even thought of until recently.  After being plagued by a severe, uncontrollable, eye twitching that prevented her from sleeping much, she went to a doctor at a clinic on the reservation.  That's when she first learned about stress and the doctor just told her, "Why don't you tell me what's bothering you".   He helped her to let go of the problem and the physical manifestation of it was soon resolved.

Her dolls help her to make ends meet sometimes.  She told me that she hoped to sell the doll because she really needed the money.  When she finishes one she'll take it somewhere, like this cafe', and have them sell it for her.   So the doll was put on a shelf behind the counter with some other art created by the local American Indian artists. 

Well, my mom collects dolls and has hmmm...must be close to 2,000 by now?  Not sure but definitely over 1,500.  The more I thought about it, the more I just had to buy it for Mom.  Eva would get some extra money and my mom would get a very unique addition to her collection.  It was Friday so the post office, one block away, was open.  Marlow searched in back for a suitable box and without a good size, either too small or too large, Mimi drove home to get a box and packing material.  She returned with a box that was perfect, tissue paper, news paper, packing tape, and markers to write on the box.  I mean really!  Do people actually go out of their way like this in the real world?  That's it, I'm never going back! :-)  After they helped me package it, I was off to the post office to ship it priority mail.  Then the only ATM in town wasn't working so I had to go to the bank for a cash advance on my MasterCard since I was now depleted of cash.  It was expensive, but if I figure the amount of hours it took, then I realize it's not that much for all that time.

Checking into the only motel, I paid $27.08 total with tax.   Then I walked to the store for junk food, Pepsi, and pretzels.

Wind - Calm

Today - 46.53 miles
Total -  3166 miles
Avg. Speed - 10.0mph

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