Wed. June 25th, Walsenburg, Colorado

Dear Reanna,
Just as I was about to send this to you by e-mail, the Blessmans computer blanked out! So, you still get the letter (since I luckily printed it out just before) but you'll have to retype it. Anyway, thanks so much for your work on my website!
Much Love,

Well, here I am again-- and this time I'm writing from Colorado, the sixth state out of ten which I'll be passing through... Last night and tonight I'm staying with a wonderful homeschooling family, Terri and Larry Blessman and their children, Alison, 7, and Elliot, 2. They have been so welcoming and nice, and it's been great to sleep in a bed and have a relaxing layover day... They live in Walsenburg, which is about an hour south of Pueblo by car, and Terri came to pick me up yesterday at the Pueblo city park. The Blessmans live up in the mountains, and from the front door you can see a gorgeous peak rising about 13,000 feet in the air...

These mountains are amazing. We started seeing them, like apparitions in the mist, about a hundred miles ago, and as we sweltered in the hundred-degree heat, we could see their snow -capped tips reaching toward the sky. The Rockies are truly special, and they possess a power and a strength that is intimidating and awe-inspiring and magical. Just like the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, they have already captured a bit of my soul. And starting on Friday, when I start pedaling again, (after these welcome days of rest!) I'm going to get to really experience them! On Monday I climb Hoosier Pass, which, at 11,600+ feet, is the highest point on the entire TransAmerica route. I'm just hoping that I'll be able to acclimate to the high-up-ness quickly enough!

This last month, since I met Wyeth and Jeff in Carbondale, has been the best of the trip. Yesterday we had to say goodbye. In Wichita, we picked up Abby and Bill (Wyeth's sister and father) and today they headed off the route to Denver to visit relatives and I have to keep pedaling towards Oregon and NBTSC. But the fact that we needed to split up didn't make it any easier to do so! I cried when we said goodbye. Everyone who knows me, knows I'm not good with good byes! :) It's going to be a trifle bit harder to pedal up mountains without Wyeth¹s steady pedaling guiding the way and Jeff's jokes making me laugh all the way up. In just a month, we shared so many things--frustration, joys, laughter, hardships, exhaustion and elation. I'm so grateful to them for letting me tag along with them as long as I did!
So now I'm on my own again until Montana, when I meet Casey and Jacob O'Haire, with whom I'll be riding with for the rest of the way to NBTSC. I have almost two states to traverse before that, and I'm looking forward to being alone again with some excitement, and also some trepidation. Being with others makes so many things easier, as I find that I tend to be much more serious when I'm traveling alone. It's easier to find humor in all manner of situations, sometimes, when you can share the laughter with other people.

But anyways... Let's see--what's happened since I last wrote?? So much, and I can't believe it was only tree weeks ago... Several days after Roel left us, we began meeting other cyclists--finally! But it was only two weeks ago that I finally met a female cyclist: a woman named Elizabeth traveling with her husband from San Diego to Virginia. They were both riding recumbants, and she towed a small trailer behind hers, with their dog inside! The night we met them, three other guys camped with us, crazy individuals who wanted to ride all the way across [the TransAm route?] in only two months. They left while it was still dark out, and I woke up just as they left. I looked out my tent door, saw that it was pitch black, and went back to sleep for another couple hours. :)

I rode for one day with Lili and Jack, a really nice couple from, of all places, Blairstown, NJ! Lili used to go to the same bike shop I do in Highland Park, when the owner was a friend of ours. So that was fun, and we spent the day riding over bumpy Kansas roads, pouring out our life stories. It was so good to finally see women riding, because for the last two and a half months, I've been rather in the minority (and still am, really, since I haven't met any women who aren't riding with their husband or boyfriends). It was also good just to be able to talk with other women who are experienced with bike touring, and ask them some questions that one just doesn't ask a guy! :)

Do you know that Marijuana grows by the roadside in some parts of Kansas?! I sure didn't. But it does, and all day long you see these ridiculous little trucks driving along the road, spraying herbicide on all the plants in a futile effort to eradicate cannabis sativa... it's really quite stupid! I mean, it's a PLANT for gosh sakes! Anyway, that was an interesting discovery I thought I'd share. :)

One day, about a week and a half ago, we found a tiny kitten by the side of the road. We were miles from any house or farm, and I have an angry feeling that someone didn't want it and just chucked it out of their car. :( There was no where to leave it, so into my handlebar-bag it went, meowing piteously all the while. (It wasn't meowing because of the handlebar bag, as much as from fear. And also, as we came to discover, she was quite a vocal kitty cat.) It's little front tooth was knocked out, and it couldn't eat very well. So, every time we stopped, Abby and I would mix a pinch of dried milk with some water for it. The guys kind of raised their eyebrows at us, but they wanted to keep it too. :)
The first night with the kitten was in Hudson, Kansas, and there was an incredible thunder storm. The wind was intense, and it fairly beat on the tent with all its might while the thunder roared and the lightning crackled every second. The kitten curled up next to my shoulder and burrowed under my sleeping bag as far as it could go and slept there all night. Before we went to sleep, we lay there for a while, each of us trying to convince the other that everything would be okay--and somehow, with that little furry ball curled up next to me, everything DID seem a little better.
Two days later, we stayed with the Peach family (homeschoolers) in Rush Center, and they adopted the cat. I was so happy, because now I'll be able to see how it's doing after the trip. (Of course, I had a few romantic thoughts of taking it all the way to Oregon, but it does get mighty hot and uncomfortable in a handlebar bag!)

Well, this may be shorter then usual, but I'm very much looking forward to the real bed that awaits me when I log off! So, goodbye for now, and the next time I write I will have traversed some very substantial mountains!
Thank you to all who have written to me, your support makes it possible to do this! I can't tell you how much it helps to get mail, and I promise all of you that you will get a real letter after this trip. I know I've fallen woefully behind, but please know that I treasure every word...
Love love love,

P.S. I have two more mail pick-up sites before camp, so if you are writing before July 2nd send mail to [General Delivery, Rawlins WY].

Before July 20th:
C/O General Delivery,
West Yellowstone, MT 59758

This letter was edited slightly, for clarity. Just little things.

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