In Mount Carmel Junction, UT the waitresses look at me with disgust. I only want some eggs love. What is it? Maybe it’s my nose. It is bleeding a lot now. It can’t take all this high-speed dust/heat/cold that I treat it to constantly. No way I’m putting down that visor though. I want to feel this air. And my hair is a bit wild. Mind you, the guy at the motel last night was the same: contempt bordering on hostility. It’s like they are only serving me because their dog is being held hostage. It is so untypical of the country. Usually people are hospitable in a thousand small ways. This whole town is built around a junction. That’s it. The place exists only to serve strangers--it’s a non-destination, non-return eatery. Why should they care? The women are 20, with children to worry about, and a lifetime to putting eggs in front of strangers to look forwards to. I wouldn’t smile either.
I underestimate distances again. I’m pushing that 85mph average again. It’s okay flying past the cars, but there is a nagging doubt in my mind. Isn’t there a reason why I shouldn’t do this? Maybe something to do with safety? I am slowing slightly toward a town when I see the flashing red lights in my mirror. For some reason I am not that worried, although I know 85 is seriously amiss.
Once he hears the accent Warren is understandingess itself. He gives me a concerned homily complete with slaps on the arm about the animals on the road that can do me harm. He’s an encyclopaedia of local fauna. As he drifts towards a breakdown by genus, species and sub-species his eye catches my name on my licence, “So you’re a doctor hey”?
“Yes. An academic one though, not a medical one”
“Still. It’s an achievement. There’re people out there who need you”; something that had never occurred to me, and I am not sure is true, but I nod like an eager puppy at feeding time, aware that this avuncular tone spells l.e.t.o.f.f. in a large gentle font. He spends five minutes in his black and white car processing the details. He’d clocked 77mph, so no jail time for me. Instead he gives me a slip that includes the delightful phrase “this is not a court summons, just a friendly contact from the Utah police about your driving”. Wonderful: a friendly contact from the state trooper. I don’t ask him what do you call a man with a rabbit on his head. Instead I tell him that I will be a good boy, and I mean it.
I drive all evening to reach Park City, arriving at half eleven. Mike collects me from the gas station. I must look a sorry sight, wet (did I mention a storm started as I drove along the valley), cold and slightly manic after the long day in the saddle. He is easy to be with, which deepens my impression of Utah to be a relaxed friendly state that bears no one a grudge. I forgive its Christianity for a while and take a rest day in his living room, reading bike mags and drinking tea.
“I’ve never seen it rain like this here before Simon”. In Quetta, Pakistan I brought rain for the first time in five years. In New South Wales I broke a two-year drought and in Goa the monsoon came two weeks early in time for my arrival. Believe me, it is no surprise. I should hire myself out to the UN. ‘Need some water buddy, like several hundred thousand tons? I’m yer man. Fresh and free. Call me anytime.’
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