This is a shot I took on my cell phone of Vail, Colorado ... You'll have to read below to find out how I got there!
But first, back to my story ... when I got out of John's truck, I was at a rest stop in Iowa, not quite to Des Moines. It was cold and a little windy, but there was a lot of traffic, and I didn't think I would have too difficult of a time getting rides ... NOT THE CASE!
After trying for a long time, I decided it was time to head on down the road. This wasn't easy because I had my bike, my backpack, and my large yellow duffel bag that fits in my trailer. If I had my trailer, it wouldn't be so bad, but without the trailer, I have to balance my duffel bag on my handlebars. It's a challenge, to say the least.
I made it to the next exit and tried to hitch-hike there, but still no luck. There was a small town about 3 miles away on a side road, so I headed that direction. In the back of my mind, I thought that I might try to buy a cheap car rather than waiting for rides. I went to a Chevrolet dealer, but they really didn't have anything. They sent me to another small auto lot, and I looked at a Ford Explorer for $1,285 ... a lot more than I wanted to pay, but I was kinda stuck there. I was headed to the bank to get the cash while Jim, the salesman, tried to find the key. He searched all over and couldn't find it. I took that as a sign that it wasn't the right thing to do.
So, I'm off on my bike again!
Along Highway 6 though this part of Iowa is a fantastic bike trail called the Raccoon River Valley Bike Trail, and it goes about 56 miles. I rode for about 20 miles until it started to get dark. I know that it's impossible to get a ride after dark, and the trail is fairly remote, passing farms and pastures, so I decided to try hitch-hiking again.
To my surprise, I actually got 4 rides that night, all the way to Omaha, Nebraska.
Nebraska ... what can I say? It is NOT very friendly for hitch-hikers! Nor for bike riders for that matter! Early the next morning, I tried to hitch again at the I-80 on-ramp near a bunch of gas stations and truck stops. I sat there for a very long time, but no one would stop. There were plenty of pick-up trucks, but no one willing to pick up a guy and a bike sitting along side the road with a sign that read "North Platte". Back on the bike, riding.
I worked my way about 15 miles to Highway 6, a nice route that runs parallel to I-80 through several states, and even though there was a lot of room to pull over, no one would give me a ride! I had pick-up up a newspaper at the McDonald's Restaurant where I had my breakfast, and there was a 1990 Ford van listed for $800. Not quite the $500 I wanted to spend, but at least I'd be back on my way again. I called the number, and the owner was willing to come and pick me up, even though it was about 20 minutes away.
My new van is a real beater! I'm too embarrassed to post a picture of it! It starts, it runs, the tires aren't too bad, but it sure does use the oil. I can't tell if it's burning it or just leaking it, but I have to add at least 2 quarts with each fill up!
Made it all the way to Denver last night, and there was snow in Denver! Today, I've continued on to the mountain town of Vail, Colorado. (I'm up-dating my blog from the Vail Public Library!) It is so amazing here right now. About 12" of new snow fell over the weekend, but today the sun is shining and the sky is bright blue! All the green trees are covered in white snow! It's very cold today, maybe about 25 degrees or so, but I really love it here!
There are a lot of hotels and resorts here. The main downtown area is all foot traffic only ... cars are banned! I wish more towns had the same policy. In fact, the buses are free to ride, so you really don't need a car here in Vail.
I should make it to Salt Lake City by tomorrow to get my bike trailer and the rest of my gear, then I'll be heading South towards Tucson, AZ. I think I'll stop at the Grand Canyon on my way. If there's not too much snow, I'll try to do some hiking there.
I'll up-date my blog again from Tucson. Stay tuned! Happy Trails, everyone!