Thursday, May 31, 2012
Water, Water Everywhere
"You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy" - Obi Wan Kenobi, "Star Wars"
There may have been less aliens in the third incarnation of Julesburg, but the vice and immorality was comparable to that found inside the Port Eisley spaceport of "Star Wars." To paraphrase explorer Sir Henry Stanley, a visitor to the town, "there were men who would kill for a mere five dollars...in fact some already had done so and walked around with no fear of justice." Like Dobytown this Gomorrah fell to the whims of the railroad, the depravity moving on like a traveling circus to a new location.
I left the fourth and final version of Julesburg before seven, still taking advantage of the time change. I spied a jackrabbit and a bull snake in those early morning hours when wild life tends to be the most active.
At Ovid I visited the post office and had my maps forwarded to Sterling. My brother Colin sent them to Big Springs for me, but because of my bad timing I arrived there Sunday. I didn't want to sit so close to the border with the federal holiday Monday. As a result, I'm flying mostly blind until Sterling. Fortunately, I can use Highway 138 the whole way, which is essentially the route anyway.
My boring logistics aside, I made great progress and reached Sedgewick by noon. I'd heard much about a cafe two miles off course on I-76 and resolved to visit.
Lucy's is known for their buffalo, which is raised locally by the cafe's proprietors. I tried the meat in burger form. Buffalo is leaner and healthier for you than beef, which sounds like a good idea, but the grease and fat of beef give a traditional hamburger a juicier flavor the larger animal lacks. Cows just taste too good to avoid death row anytime in the near future.
While dining I met Flake Burke, who was having lunch with his wife Joanna. I told him about the hike and asked if there was a suitable spot further west than Sedgewick to camp tonight. It was still early and I hoped to advance a few more miles yet. Flake suggested Jumbo Lake, a reservoir five miles onward and only two miles off the highway.
I took his advice and headed in that direction. When I reached the road I had been told to take I had a sudden feeling I was in the wrong place. Flake had said there would be a sign. As I puzzled out my predicament Gary pulled up in his pickup and told me I wanted the next turn down. He offered a lift and since I was off trail I accepted, throwing the pack in the bed.
He dropped me off a few minutes later and as I reached the picnic table I realized I had a problem. My two full water bottles had fallen out into the truck. In my fatigue I had forgotten to check for their presence immediately. I raced to catch Gary, but I only caught his dust.
With no other choice I resolved to drink the water from the lake after treating it with my pills. These kill bacteria but do nothing about various toxins or pesticides. The label essentially says,"Don't make a habit of using these."
As the water percolated my shining knights showed up to save me from my stupidity. Flake and his wife had stopped by to stay hello. When I told them about my problem they gave me their last two waters. Despite my prideful protests that I would now have enough, they went to the store and brought back four more, the exact amount I really needed.
Flake and Joanna's actions would have been enough for a Hallmark moment, but there was still more in store. At sunset Gary returned in his truck with three more liters of water. He didn't even know I had lost the bottles I had, he was just concerned I didn't have enough. With the water I retrieved from the bedliner I now had seven clean liters instead of none. Water, water everywhere - more than I can drink (or carry).
19 miles/2316 total miles