posted on Saturday, May 27, 2017

Calf Creek

Last night I reconnected with Eric. I found first his bike and later saw him coming towards me with a big laughter on his face. He let me share his campsite spot and this morning I returned the favour by treating him to a breakfast buffet At the local hotel. The man is big, a bit of a wardrobe and piled up several servings of bacon eggs, potatoes, bread, fruits, yoghurt. Buffets for bike tourers are a loss making enterprise anyway. We can pile it up generously and somehow still feel like a little more will just do. We stumbled out of the front door a little overflowing and wobbly, wondering if we could stride over our bikes. Eric was a mystery to me. In his sixties, bear like figure, two metres high, huge belly, hulk hogan moustache, hardly a cyclist physique; I could easily imagine him wearing a leather jacket and riding a Harley Davidson instead. What puzzled me was that he set off early mornings, disappeared in the distance and was never to be seen for the rest of the day. Again he got on his bike with two extra kilos of fat breakfast and sprinted ahead of me, no chance to keep his pace. I doubted he was hiding an engine of some sort but later on with steep hills ahead I was able to catch him and trust he was carrying all that extra weight with brute force and shear determination. Recently divorced he was cycling to escape the ex wife. He bought a bike right after and left admitting he had never been so happy in his life. He was a prison officer and was also carrying a variety of weapons. A large hammer, knife and a large can of pepper spray that he proudly showed me how to use. Mostly meant for bears he said he always keeps it by his side as personal defence. "I keep it right by my side in the tent too" he said. "You just never know what could happen." I guess living in close contact with convicts, he was ready to snap at any moment. I made sure to never approach his tent without ample voice warnings. Today seemed an ordinary day, until after a straight climb I found myself in front of a vast view down below, a most unusual barren landscape of stones and rocks, the Escalante Staircase. Menno also made it and joined me to the campsite tonight! Unfortunately unable to cycle he will follow some of my journey and experience the sight from the comfort of his rental car.