Sunday, July 14, 2013

Vona, CO

Day 57: Sunday, July 14, 2013
Seibert to Flagler to Vona: 34 miles

Right now, it's about 5 pm, and I'm holed up in an old shed by the railroad tracks in Vona, listening to the wind and the thunder and the patter of rain on the corrugated roof, and drinking Gatorade. Through the doorless doorway, the skies look ominous, and the clouds are scudding by. They can scud all they want: that's much preferable to the storm cell that just sat over Seibert for several hours yesterday. I wanted to get to Burlington tonight. It's not far - only 32 miles from Seibert - but would have been about 55 miles for me, since I started out by heading west, to Flagler.

Vona grain elevator
That's the shed on the left, right along the tracks.

Wow. Torrential rain just started. Gotta move away from the doorway. Sure hope that roof doesn't leak.

bike in shed at Vona
At least the Old Coot's out of the rain.

This morning, Bernie fixed a breakfast of breaded and pan-fried venison and antelope cutlets, scrambled eggs, and homemade biscuits and gravy. I never had venison or antelope that tasted so good. Matter of fact, I never had antelope before. Bernie said that a lot of people refuse to eat antelope - too gamey, they say. But Bernie says it's all in the way it's shot and butchered. Shoot it in the chest, so the blood drains out. Do a good job of separating the meat from the bone, and strip out as much of the circulatory system as you can.

Bernie and his deer
Back in 2005, Bernie shot a 400-pound white-tail deer
not far from Seibert.

Bernie's quite a hunter. Several times, he said, he has bagged two with a single shot - apparently not all that uncommon. Fortunately, he always had permits for both of them. He says the game wardens are strict here: if this occurs, and you don't have two tags, and you're caught, you could be fined, and your hunting privileges revoked for five years. The "proper" thing to do is to leave the second animal for the coyotes. Stupid. "Why not donate it to a soup kitchen instead?" he says. "And what good does a fine do?" One of his nephews is quite a marksman - can put five shots through a dime at 300 yards, is deadly at 650 yards, and can hit some part of a target at 1000 yards. He pays thousands of dollars for his scopes.

Bernie said I could get to Flagler on old US 24. It's the old pavement for five miles or so. But then the highway has been subsumed by I-70, and there are five miles or so of gravel county roads. I thought I'd try it. The gravel turned out to be not bad - fine-grained and smooth, and not a lot of loose material. Nevertheless, the 20 mph downhills were a little dicey.

I pulled into Gib and Nancy's yard in Flagler, parked my bike out back by the garage, and rang the doorbell. It looked the same as when Jack and I were there 32 years ago. Nancy came to the door, I started to introduce myself, and she said, "Oh, I know who you are!" The bike helmet probably gave me away. I'm sure it wasn't the white beard and the wrinkles.

She invited me in, and we had a nice chat, joined by her grandson James who is spending the summer with her. Unfortunately, Gib had contracted bone cancer, and passed away last Christmas eve.

The return trip to Seibert was a lot faster. I wasn't too keen on repeating the gravel-road adventure. Pavement is so much nicer. And the shoulder on I-70 was concrete, eight feet wide, and clean. The grades were shallow, too.

In Colorado, as well as in a number of other states, it is legal for bicycles to ride on the shoulders of Interstate highways, if there is no other suitable alternative within 1/4 mile and if bicycles are not expressly forbidden at the entrances. I think it's a lot safer than the US or state or county highways that have little or no shoulder. But you do have to be careful if you cross over exit and entrance ramps. Just try to cross so that you spend as little time in the roadway as possible.

Back in Seibert, I returned to the Conoco and grabbed another burger while waiting for another storm cell to pass. The weather radar said more storm cells were on the way, but I wanted to make some progress today, so off I went, down old US 24, which, fortunately, is intact for quite a ways in the eastbound direction. But ten miles down the road, and I was searching for a culvert or some other protection from the weather. Then a small grain elevator popped up over the hill. It was at Vona. You could almost say, it was Vona. I made it there without getting soaked, found the shed, and here I am. The clouds are no longer scudding. They're a solid overcast. And the rain is coming down. It looks like I'm here for the night.

sleeping bag on pallets
All the comforts of home: bed, beverage, and computer

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