Hopes and Fears…


Fears first so we end on the more positive note of hopes. In no particular order…

1)      Bears

Sort of wants to see one, sort of don’t…  Made the mistake of watching this whilst getting side-tracked when reading up on bear avoidance strategies https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nSWc43TLaI HOW big?! Bought a bear canister (a plastic barrel that bears can’t open) to keep my food in overnight and not attract unwelcome visitors to my tent. It proved to be impenetrable by humans too and I couldn’t get the lid off for the life of me but a friend managed to open it (after I’d loosened it for him obviously…). Thanks Chris!

2)      Hair getting so knotted I have to go to a dog grooming parlour to get it sorted out

3 months of sweaty helmet hair and I’m envisaging some major tangles, akin to the ones I got when I was young which I cut out myself, the damage later discovered by the hairdresser when he lifted up the surface hair and exposed a somewhat choppy under-layer. I’m thinking Americans seem quite into dog grooming and I’ll probably stumble upon a parlour at some point where they can attack the knot with a wire brush whilst I tremble like a whippet and, if worst comes to the worst, I’ll just have to face the clippers

3)      Mechanical breakdown

4)      Mental breakdown

5)      Looking like a boy

Wouldn’t say I’m particularly girly, but I find the thought of 3 months in ugly mid-thigh length shorts slightly depressing. To counter-balance the hefty dose of man-cloth in my panniers, I’m also bringing bubble gum pink short-shorts and a dress. Probably won’t wear either but at least I’ll know they’re there!

6)      A spider – big one – on, in or under my sleeping bag

7)      A rattle snake – any size – on, in or under my sleeping bag

Final episode of 24 about to start so will come back later and finish this! Although it does remind me that a ‘hope’ is that I my VPN app which masks your IP address works and I can successfully download TV programmes from iPlayer whilst abroad.

Right, episode over. Poor old Jack…

Onto hopes:

1)      Bears

Scary as it might would be, I think it’d be quite cool to see a bear. My hope is not just that I see one, but that I adopt the right attitude and behaviour. That’s remaining calm, looking at the floor or at it in a firm yet non-aggressive way and, if charged, making yourself as big as possible (arms above your head etc.). So that’d be me going from 5ft 2 to ~5Ft 11 – that’ll put the wind up it!

What I’m hoping I won’t do is to think ‘it’s a bear but I’m good with animals…it’s fur looks really soft…wonder whether it would like a pat…?’. After successfully bonding with the family dog Bramble, a 20” x 25” compact unit of enthusiasm and affection, I’m hoping I won’t be over-confident in my Dr Doolittle qualities, approach a bear and come unstuck.

2)      Return nice and toned

There’s every chance that, despite the energy expenditure going up the hills, calories-in ends up being greater than calories-out with every small-town diner visit going something along the lines of “nachos to start please, then the pulled pork – fries, not salad, with that; a side plate of wings, a Coke float and….yes…cherry pie to finish – thanks Betty-Sue”. Hopefully I won’t mistake refuelling with gluttony and finish the ride with nicely sculpted legs and arms – I’d imagine I’ll push the bike a good few times!

3)      I meet nice people

Part of the appeal of the US is how friendly I’ve always found the people and I’m hoping that in the event of mechanical failure, I have a similar experience to Leon.


4)      I don’t nip out the tent in my knickers assuming I won’t be seen

I’m sure many people have been there, nipping out during the night for a pee and thinking ‘what are the chances of someone coming along in the 60 seconds when I don’t want to be seen?’. I know from experience that, no matter where you are, what the time is or how quick you are, there’s a chance you will be seen in insufficient clothing for a public appearance if you take risks.

I’d gone out on my bike at lunchtime one weekday and returned home soaked through as it’d rained pretty heavily. I live in a house broken down into 3 flats and was conscious I’d left a fairly muddy bike in the communal hallway (where I normally keep it) but, given how wet I was, I was keen to get out my clothes. Rather than doing the sensible thing of getting the bike cover out of my flat (top floor), going downstairs again to the communal hallway and covering the bike up, THEN stripping, I stripped first, THEN went downstairs to cover the bike. I figured everyone would be at work and, if not, the chances of them coming out their flat or returning home during the 60 seconds that I was not wearing much in the hallway would be minimal. Alas, it was not so, and mid bike cover-up I heard a key in the lock in the front door and the distinctive outline through the opaque glass of the guy who lives on the ground floor. Cue frantic run up the stairs, inefficient from over-enthusiasm like a puppy on lino flooring. Luckily I made it round the corner just in the nick of time and had a short, breathless conversation with my neighbour about how “now isn’t a good time to talk”.

5)      I enjoy it!

Be a nice bonus! I reckon I will 🙂


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