A few pics from Gary and Amy's Bear Basin Ranch in beautiful Colorado....
Hats in the ranch house
Feeding the horses
A palomino gets nosey
And the local equivalent of neighbourhood watch.
It was just around sunset when I rolled into Bear Basin Ranch last night. I would have been here sooner, but I'd taken a wrong turning at one point and ended up in a very picturesque canyon with sheer rock sides that brought to mind a phrase I'd read in a book recently - 'Geological time includes now' - which is an elegant way of saying 'Watch out for falling rocks'. The book was 'Between A Rock And A Hard Place' by Aron Ralston, who had to perform a self-amputation when a small boulder fell on him, trapping him by his arm. He had a choice between cutting the arm off or dying of thirst.
Anyway, I eventually arrived at my intended destination, all limbs intact, to stay with my friends Gary and Amy. Gary was the American co-leader on an Anglo-American expedition to Peru that I went on in 2003. We set out to find some specific Inca ruins near Machu Picchu, that had been discovered once before, but the location had been mis-mapped and they'd been lost again. You can read more about it from my Peru expedition blog.
Gary is 66 now, but still as twinkly and energetic as ever. He mixed me one of his legendary martinis and showed me around the ranch house, which was exactly as I'd imagined it should be - cowhide rugs on the floor, cowboy hats hanging from bull horns on the wall, no running water... Then the martini kicked in and I had to go sit in front of the woodburning stove while I recovered.
It's now a bright and sunny morning up here (elevation 9000 feet) and Amy is about to show me around the ranch. There was mention of getting me on horseback. Errr...
[Photo: Gary and Amy]
Yesterday I bid a reluctant farewell to my well-organized study and my Aero sculling boat in White Salmon, Washington, and set out in Quackers the yellow pickup to drive all the way across the US.
I am due to arrive in Washington DC sometime in the middle of next week for a few meetings and presentations, before driving down to Tampa, Florida for more speaking engagements and to collect my ocean rowboat from the Museum of Science and Industry where she is being exhibited at the moment. Then Quackers and I turn around and drive all the way back to the West Coast. In total, I will be driving about 6,500 miles over the next 3 weeks.
I'm determined to keep up my training, despite this nomadic episode. This morning I went out for an early morning run from my humble little motel outside of Twin Falls, Idaho. It was a beautiful morning and the run was... flat. The skies seemed huge. I didn't see a single car while I was out. It really felt like I had my own private Idaho.
Today I dropped Eric off in Snowbird, Utah, for a skiing trip, and I carried on towards Colorado Springs where I will be staying with friends on their ranch.
To Americans it may seem very mundane, driving along interstates, staying in motels and eating in cheap diners. But to me it's all very new and exciting. I love those diners - they're just so... American! And I love meeting people along the way. The Americans are so friendly (so far) - even the traffic cop who pulled me over for speeding today. Oops! Naughty Quackers...
[Photo: Quackers speeding across Utah at sunset]
Exactly twelve months ago today, I arrived in Antigua after 103 days alone on the Atlantic Ocean. The feeling was incredible - after struggling for so long on my own, to see all these people lined up along the cliffs and the quayside in English Harbour, coming out in their boats to escort me in, applauding and cheering and smiling....
... and best of all, it was over. And I wouldn't have to row another stroke for... oh at least 15 months!
[Photo: arriving in English Harbour, Antigua, 13th March 2006]