Billy the Kid use to hang his hat here in this town. Now I am. From the front porch of The Jumping Cactus coffee house, I can hear the rag-timey bluegrass sound of Ashland Oregon’s very own, Saint Cinder. They’re sitting on the corner of Bullard and Yankee, busking before their dinner set at The Little Toad tonight.
It’s was five o’clock in the evening when I began writing this. For most of the day, Shoeless Jo and I rested indoors at the motel. The local weather man hit the nail on the head when he predicted rain.
I was faced with the same drizzly conditions yesterday when I woke up inside of my tent. Jo and I had crashed out on the side of the highway, making camp about fourteen miles west of this town, Silver City.
Once we got going, it was a cool damp climb, gaining a few thousand feet in elevation, crossing over the Continental Divide. The air is a tad bit thinner here at six thousand feet or so.
The next two miles were a steep descent into the city. I came squealing into the Daylight Donut parking lot at 35 mph. I was anxious for my first cup of coffee and equally excited about a day off, a chance to let my muscles relax and explore the town.
Mike owns the donut shop, making an incredibly delicious maple bar, and strong cup of coffee. He was extremely generous, gifting me not one, but two homemade green-chili sausage potato burritos. And while I was there, Ernie introduced himself. He owns Faywood Hotsprings. Out of kindness, he made a call to Connie, the host, asking her to put me up for free.
I was told I’d be foolish to ride any further east without injecting some goo in my tubes. Jack owns Gila Hike & Bike. I stopped in to have them squirt some Green Slime in all four tires. The mechanic put my Land Sleigh on their rack and had me out in a jiffy. But while I was there, there’s a handful of cyclist gathered around. A few are training for an upcoming race in town. One man had seen me out on the highway a few days ago as he was driving home from Phoenix. Another customer had already heard of my traveling dog, Shoeless Jo. And now we all meet.
Last night after having dinner at McDonalds, I joined three other cyclist for a two mile walk in to the old downtown district. They are staying at the same motel as I am, taking a break from the rain and the road.
Tori is from Brighton England. Zach and his brother Bryce both hail from Jacksonville Florida. They’ve formed a loose association and are traveling from east to west coast. Tori will continue on to Japan afterwards and then Ukraine. She named a bunch of other places I can’t pronounce; places she plans on pedaling.
The four of us swap stories over dinner and then walk back to the motel in the dark, taking up residency in my room for awhile. We eat snacks, strum an Outdoor Ukulele and talk about opening an Operation Elf Box, ‘free toy store’ in Florida. Zach and his bro want to be Resident Elves, spearheading an Elf Shoppe, being love in their town. They’re not the first to want to join forces and create a brighter Christmas for children.
There’s also Vanessa. I’ve known her for a decade. She wants to partner with families and spread some love via Operation Elf Box in Salinas California. And in Prescott Arizona, an incredibly loving trio, Jen Juniper, along with her partner, Tres, and kind musician friend, Paul Ruffner, are planning on opening an Elf Shoppe this coming season! This is the dream coming true: creating a brighter Christmas for children, everywhere.
I saw Zach, Bryce and Tori this morning as they were checking out of their room. Supposedly they were headed west in this rain. I watched them ride out, crossing over the highway. Then I decided to stay another night and have a full day off.
In downtown Silver City I came upon Eric, Carlos and Olivia. They were hanging out with their mom. I told them about my travels, coast to coast with my TurboPUP. Carlos really liked Shoeless Jo, patting him on the head, holding his leash. And Jo loves children.
I was trying to ride my bike in the middle of the street, attempting to take a picture of the downtown area as I was in motion. It’s beautiful here. I stopped for safety sake and grabbed the photo. That’s when I met Jolene. She works for Independent Natural Food Brokers and offers me some nutritious samples. Yum. Thank you.
And what do you know, here comes Tori, Bryce and Zach, tapping me on the shoulder as they roll down the road on their bikes. “I thought you guys were long gone” I said as each one came to a stop on the sidewalk beside me. They all decided to stay another night and wait out the rain.
Now here I am, sitting in the corner of this popular bar and grill, The Little Toad, finishing this journal. I’m listening to an awesome band, having a great meal, and everyone’s dancing and having a wonderful time. There’s a group of twenty two women, all riding their bikes cross country, traveling a similar route as Jo and I. They just walked in the building. They’re with a group called Woman Tours. By the way, did I mention that there’s twenty two woman here? I have to go now.