Here’s some proof I’m a New Englander:
The three weeks I spent riding through Montana and Wyoming were incredibly stressful.
Between the altitude, numerous mountain passes, and endless stretches of prairie between water stops, I was constantly on edge.
The funny thing is, though, that I didn’t really notice how this stress was affecting me until I made it to Colorado.
As I headed south from Laramie, I found myself in more wide open prairie land. The road was flat, but unforgiving, with big road cracks every twenty feet and grassland spreading for many miles to my left and right. Behind me was more of the same, so that’s what I expected to find ahead.
About an hour into the ride, I climbed a little hill. As I climbed, I had no optimistic thoughts to ease the plague of mosquitos taking advantage of my slow speeds. I assumed I’d reach the top only to find another stretch of unending prairie. For, that was the tease I’d received for weeks on end.
Instead, over this hill, I found pine trees, rocky outcroppings, and a view of the Rockies. I was so happy, I cried smiling tears.
Thus, my most stressful weeks on the road had ended. As the relief took hold, I mulled about my previous three weeks on the road.
At points on the journey from Whitefish I had known I was stressed. First, it was the realization that my standard stealth camping practice of finding an isolated stand of trees would never work in a landscape where the only trees are purposefully planted and cultivated by people. Then, as my thoughts turned to Yellowstone and the Tetons, my stealth camping woes included in stress about grizzly bears and other wildlife unknowns. Add to that the constant potential for thunderstorms with hail and nowhere to hide. Finally, in Wyoming especially, I was concerned about having enough water to cross stretches of hundreds of miles with only one or two “towns” of less than 200 people.
So, for three weeks, my mind was dominated by managing “what if” scenarios. Upon reaching the new, Colorado landscape, I realized what a toll these thoughts had taken on my mind and body. Poor sleep, abnormally high heart rate, and weeks without writing were all clear signs, upon reflection, of the difficulties I’d faced during the past three weeks.
I’m glad to have now put that passage behind me.