Cowboy Chilly Boem

Dear future me,

It feels really good to be on the road again! Which is quite a funny statement for someone who’s already been on the road for five months. I guess I mean to say that it is nice to be on the lonesome roads for a change. No cars, no trucks, just me, myself and nothingness. Although I do miss the fellow bikers or even the bicyclists, nobody to send a happy wave. Just me and endless stretches of prairie with mountains on the horizon. And casino’s. And Spanish people. Welcome to Nevada!

It is unbelievable how fast the scenery changed in the last two weeks, as I was heading south from Washington to Oregon and then into Nevada. First I had to visit one more ‘big’ city on my journey, to rejoin with a very interesting couple that I met in Alaska. Portland proved to be a very mellow and classy town, and I felt like I was still in Canada. Everything was so….normal.  Where are those weird Americans?? Although I did raise a eyebrow when I heard they used to ‘crimp’ people, which basically means they sold drunken men as sailors to ship captains. Sometimes they used trap doors in bars and underground tunnels to carry them to the dock. Ghost stories, some say,  but still, I didn’t try my luck in any of the microbrewery bars in town. Instead I was invited to my first Halloween party ever and I must say: I like it. If you go to a dress up party in Holland, you’re most likely to be the only one in a costume. Here it is the opposite way, I felt very naked with only a mask on my face. Time to redress in my favorite costume ever: motorcycle gear.

So I hit the road again in search of warmer weather. The first day in Portland was nice, but soon the temperatures dropped and night times got cold. Instead of moving southwards right away, I first went back to the coast to follow the famous 101 highway. I can imagine that this road is packed with tourist in the summer, as it brings you beautiful beaches, rocking scenery’s and cute little beach towns. But in October, fog creeps in and chases away every big white can and biker. Except for me and I hit the Jackpot. Sunny blue skies, a crushing shoreline and nice beers. Wow, how out of place did I feel in my Michelin girl outfit. There I was on the beach in my multi layered thermo shirt, second thermo shirt, shirt, under jacket, jacket and wind jacket, as I was prepared for the worst. So in the end, I practically fried myself as a sausage inside all this gear. How was I to know that I was actually storing warmth to survive the next part of my journey?

Some people whispered in my ear that I had to visit Bend, so I said goodbye to the coast and took my bike inlands, up to the high desert. I never actually thought about why it is called high desert, so I was quite surprised when I had to cross the cascade mountain range to get to a very elevated plateau of tumbleweed and desert brushes. Or, in another word, cowboy land! I did anticipated the cold, because I kept track of all the weather forecasts and I must say I’m getting really good in guessing which of the many different weather predictors almost tells the truth. So yes, I did know it snowed two days ago and yes I did know I had to cross over in the warmest time of the day. But I never expected to actually see that white stuff still on the shoulders or even on the road. And I hate that stuff, I wish I could sign some kind of petition that would ban this cold and colordull substance from this world. Maybe I could ask the UN to investigate this unwelcome road dweller that is harmful for innocent bikesters like me. Thankfully, I managed to get to Bend in one piece and get stunned by the strange environment that is called high dessert. Suddenly nature takes over and you don’t longer see a normal town anymore but just collections of houses which magically seem to be planted on the prairie earth. Or lava earth, as this is the world of volcanoes. In my attempt to visit two lava lakes I encountered the same white icy garbage from hell on the roads that made it impossible for me to go further than the first lake. Why is there snow here? It should be up in the mountains, not on a lava bed! I was glad to warm up that night in the McMenamins brewery and theater, where I was impressed by a local band. And although I expected to see cowboys- and girls, the place was crowded with Pipi Longstocking,  Mary Poppins and Dracula’s. Weird folks here.

So far my cultural life, back to the real stuff. Which is riding on my bike for hours, without meeting anyone, as I was approaching and entering northern Nevada and the Great Basin. I was even all on my own in the evenings as I was forced to stay in motels. because in these parts of the world no hostel-owner dwells. It did give me plenty of time to watch television, but I got depressed by listening to all the side-effects you can get from just taking a medicine against the cold. I wonder why they still make these commercials, cause I would never buy a simple aspirin again, far too dangerous for you!

The last thing I saw when I left Oregon was the magnificent Crater Lake, where you expect to find a (volcano) mountain, you find this huge crystal blue lake. It looks like a big giant took a knife and tipped the top of the mountain and used the remaining basin as a sort of whirlpool. That was the last water I saw for a while. When I entered northern Nevada and headed to Winnemucca, I had no choice but to ride for 500 km. It took me 8 hours, of which the last 5 hours in one stretch and the last one hour in complete darkness while the wind was playing the game ‘Blow-the-Nennie-of-her-Bike’. The trip took me across a wide and endless play field of desert grass and dazzling rock shapes. I could imagine the Indians standing on top of these rock chains and smile down on me. If they were actually there, they probably laughed out loud: Why in earth is this silly Dutch motorbikester here in Nevada in November?? I am beginning to ask myself the same question. No wonder there is nobody here! In the last four days, while crossing this state, I could only travel for 180 km a day. The only time I’m able to be in the saddle is from twelve to three in the afternoon (warmest time of the day, when it is 4 degrees Celsius) with two stops to warm myself. Even though I am riding through the Wild Wild West, singing Cowboy Billie Boem and inhaling the beauty surrounding me in the bright sun, my brain is thinking about only one thing: my freezing fingers. I guess my fingers have decided to try to fall off, so they can be adopted by someone who lives in a warm area and pampers them with frequent manicures. Too bad for them, but every time my fingers are heading for that bright white light, I pull them back to recuperate over a nice hot American coffee. While listening to truckers with cowboy hats, who are talking about guns (pro) and politics (against). Yep, I finally found my stereotype Americans! Or did I? Just returned from a local pub in small town Ely and met these amazing people. Now I’m confused.

Next stop: Utah.


Annemieke, 5 November

Reacties 7

Dennis 06-11-2013 08:56

Wat een fantastisch verhaal weer! Superleuk om te lezen.
Veel succes met die rare amerikanen

Yvonne vdL 06-11-2013 10:06

Het enige wat ik kan doen wanneer jouw verhalen binnenkomen, is de rest van mijn mail links laten liggen, de telefoon uit en lezen.... Geweldig! Ik kijk uit naar je volgende avonturenverhaal.
Groetjes van Yvonne.

Geertje 06-11-2013 16:22

Het is wel afzien he?
Krijg je geen heimwee?
Je trekt je toch niets van mij aan, elke uitdaging stimuleert je juist.
Maak er een tocht van je leven van en kom heelhuids thuis.
Liefs ma

Patrick Vergroesen 06-11-2013 20:03

Ik benijd je niet hoor! Motorrijden in de kou! Waarschijnlijk is de omgeving hartverwarmend! Veel succes en plezier op je verdere reis.
Warme groet,

Harrie 06-11-2013 21:40

He Annemieke
Ja zomaar in de winter hoop toch wel dat je zo dadelijk wat mooier weer krijgt . Nu heb je ook eens genoten van Amerikaanse trucker dat zijn toch gemiddelde Amerikanen.
Of zie ik het nu verkeerd Goede reis en beter weer

Nicoline 07-11-2013 13:58

He zus, weer een te gek verhaal. Ik kijk alweer uit naar het volgende....

Faye 11-11-2013 01:45

Great reading your blog. Hope Utah is warmer. Think of you often.


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