The plans I have made on this bike tour haven't always materialized precisely the way I envisioned. Nonetheless, I always seem to get to where I need to be. Today was one of those days when we didn't make it to our destination, but things worked out just fine. At the heart of those types of days are some really cool characters who help make ends meet.
We had a pleasant ride from Carbondale, back to Glenwood Springs and then out of the Glenwood Canyon. This was my first time doubling back on this trip. There was a part of me that dreaded going back down the same path I had already traversed. The thought of it seemed so boring. In reality, this was not the case. Riding up the Glenwood Valley Recreation Trail and route 6 was just as pleasant as riding down it. The conditions were good, wind was favorable and our spirits were high. What's not to enjoy?
By the time we got to Eagle, about 45 miles in, we were slowing down. It was getting late and we were feeling a bit worn. We could either ride another 10 miles to the campsite we planned on sleeping at, or we could take a risk to see if we could find somewhere to stay in this town. Feeling averse to jeopardizing our physical health, we decided to post up at a local bar to figure out if we could get any guidance from some locals.
We were lucky enough to stumble into Bonfire Brewing. It had an expansive selection of locally brewed beers, free popcorn, nice ambience and a red phone hanging off the wall which only made calls to the nearby pizza shop. Celine and I took advantage of all these services. Two beers, one pie and dozens of fist-fulls of popcorn later, we were making friends. First, there was a nice guy who had a dog named Cartman. He told me that there was a nearby Bureau of Land Management or BLM site that might suffice for camping overnight. Then there were the two school teachers who were having a mini "lady's night out" on this Tuesday evening. We had a nice time getting to know them, especially Celine who was a schoolteacher herself. The ladies told us about a few places in town where we might be able to take a shower. After a long day of riding, there really is nothing like a shower to slough off all those miles you accumulated.
We still weren't feeling great about the options we had at our disposal. It sounded like we would have to camp out in the BLM site. I'm generally fine with camping out, but the locals told us that we would need to be on the lookout for mountain lions if we did go to the site. That didn't exactly give me any peace of mind. Plus, the ice rink with the showers was closed, so we would have to sleep in our filth. As night fell we were feeling pretty uncomfortable with the makeshift accommodations we had pieced together.
Then we bumped into a young fellow, Dylan, and his friend/coworker, Drew. They were a couple of guys who were stationed in Eagle to work on a solar panel installation project. We got to talking after Dylan commented on our touring gear. In no time we were sharing beers and enjoying the Eagle sunset from the outdoor space at Bonfire. After discovering that this guy was from upstate New York (similar to the maternal side of my family) and that he was a big South Park fan, we were pretty cool with each other. Dylan, acknowledging that we were in a bit of a predicament, invited us to crash on the floor of their hotel room. Jackpot!
We wrapped up our drinks and conversation, then made our way to the hotel. Combining their extra pillows with our camping gear allowed us to set up some surprisingly comfortable beds on the floor of this hotel suite. Celine and I were so grateful that these guys welcomed us into their little hotel room. I profusely thanked Dylan for bailing us out. His only repsonse was, "I'm just paying it forward." I paused and reflected: Man. That's exactly who I want to be when I get back to DC. I want to be that guy who pays it forward.
Who knew that taking a chance in Eagle would not only pay off but that it would inspire. The pleasant surprises of life on the road...