The previous day's ride had been very challenging as I recounted. I had more or less determined to give up in Casper once I got there. However, there was a great deal of ambivalence over this decision. A part of me still wanted to go on and simply wait out the many inconveniences that were at present besieging me. In the end, if I had my doubts about continuing then that also meant that I had my doubts about stopping so it wouldn't be right to just give up yet.
The next day was no good for riding even if we can assume that I had any desire to for it was snowing outside. Snowing. In May.
Snowing and all I had to leave by checkout so I left with all my stuff and rode towards the city center in search of the bike shop which I eventually found. The good news was that the sprocket replacement came to only $3. By the time I was out of the shop the snow was over although it remained cold (and windy). I spent the rest of the day at a Motel 6 where, later that afternoon, I watched a hail storm from the comfort of my room. It looked like the skies were raining popcorn and I was ultimately thankful that none of those cars out there were mine!
Next morning. I am once again on the road determined to give this one last push. Make or break. Outside the wind is blowing from the north and the weather hasn't cleared but the forecast for the next few days promises no relief except for a gradual warming up.
The ride is disappointingly familiar. Shivering accompanies me every step of the way and into the headwind I can only manage about seven miles an hour which is essentially the pace of a power walker. When the wind picked up my speed slowed further and the wind kept getting worse. Ten miles after I left the motel I spotted a remote turnoff on I25. There was a closed down bar and a building with assorted farm implements scattered about outside. I made the decision to stop and take cover, doubtful that the wind would stop any time soon. I made camp in between two school buses. Sure enough the day deteriorated by way of heavier winds and dropping temperatures though (luckily) no significant rain. The owner of the complex, a certain Larry, came by and spoke with me at length and felt bad for what I was going through. He gave me his okay to stay there the night and even dropped by later in the day to give me a handful of crunchy health bars and a can of cocktail weenies.... what would later on become my humble dinner. By nightfall I was having difficulty warming up despite being completely covered in my sleeping bag and rest was impossible save for many brief naps. And it was here under these conditions that I made the final decision to stop the trip.
Morning came and it was still cold and windy. I got going anyway, except this time I was riding in the wrong direction, towards Casper and eventually back home. And thus my trip comes to an end, having made it a total of 2,740 miles but still shy of my goal to Seattle by another thousand and change. It turns out that Key West is 2,500 air miles from Seattle. It's also the equivalent of having gone from San Francisco to Miami... a small measure of comfort in a consolation prize sort of way.
So that's it. That's all folks. Now leave me alone to lick the wounds of shame :-)
The fat lady sang thusly: "O, click heeee-are!"