July 15, 2010 – 50 miles
Today, we started with 20 paved miles to Sparwood. A strong tailwind made them fly by. In Sparwood, we ate lunch at a pizza place near the world’s largest truck.
Supposedly this is the most photographed “landmark” on the Great Divide:
After leaving Sparwood we rode on quiet paved side roads though mountain-surrounded fields.
We eventually turned off our peaceful side road onto a quieter dirt road near a mine site, climbing gradually. The mountain scenery made for a good distraction from the ascent. After a very rocky section at the top of the climb we descended.
Just outside of Elkford, we passed a coal processing plant. The towering factory, blackened from soot, stood out sorely against the pristine backdrop. Clean coal…what a joke! The forest around the plant and road were completely cleared.
The final descent into Elkford was scary – steep enough that there were runaway truck ramps along the way!
In town, we went to the library and used the computers to take care of our blogs and picture uploads. We left when the library closed and searched for a place to stay. All of the hotels were extremely expensive. We found one anyway.
The next order of business was dinner. We rode out of town to a restaurant. Mathieu was smart enough to have detached his trailer. We climbed a few hundred feet to get to the restaurant – and I still had my panniers with me!
Outside the restaurant we met a man smoking outside. His shaggy appearance made him look homeless (though I’m not in a state to judge). He followed us inside as we sat down at a table and invited himself to join us. That was just the beginning of the oddness of our new meal-friend, Paul.
I wish I had a tape-recorder with me to catch some of the things Paul said. Drunk – no. Crazy – very possible! He repeated phrases like “The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Air is free. Breathe it in. Air in the blood…makes the brain work” and “blow-my-nuts.” He was about to inform us about what a “fuck circle” was before he was interrupted with a phone call.
Paul told us of the RV park he owns and the large plot of land on which he is installing sewer lines (so he can sell it for development). When our checks arrived, our friend grabbed them, paid our bill, and walked out. Over an hour, my impression of this guy went from dirty homeless man to crazy millionaire.
Mathieu and I stopped at an ice-cream place before riding back to our hotel. On our way back, though, Paul drove ahead of us like a lead car. He invited us to join him at the bar. We said we were going to take showers before joining him, but that was a lie. Neither of us felt like joining crazy John at the bar.