Date: 3 Sept 1997
Subject: "Are you nuts ?"
Missoula, Montana, 3 sept '97
Dear Redfishes !
"Are you nuts ?" said the man. "Yes, you're nuts ! he added. "Thats what i'm thinking". He went back to his Rv-a big bus that could contain at least 2OO Indians. And, as it was not enough, behind was a 4-wheel-drive car and 2 poor and dusty hanged bicycles.
The american road's point of view was full of variants of that kind of modern caravans : boats, canoes, motorbikes, horses and so on. So endless chains of vehicles gave the real distance between a driver and a bike. "And the cyclists take so much space on the lane ! ; I'm going to have lunch !" He disappearead in a sudden black smoke, like a small devil.
Other times, old people in RVs would stop and offer me a coffee, as sweet as their smiles. But if one thing, only one was sure : America was America : fast, vast, the best ! Simply "good" was never good enough to describe a person, a place, a situation. "Where are you from ?" "-Switzerland" "But where did you start ?" "-Switzerland" People were looking suddenly very strangely at me and generally asked for more. "Where do you go ?" "-To Tierra-del-Fuego !" "-To What ???" They stopped abruptly to ask questions.
Sometimes, I wish I would be able to read others' minds. The Japanese tourists were from far the smartest : "May I take a snap, how much do you charge ?" There was, I still believe, a deep mistake in the spelling of N.P. (National Park). "National Parking" would have been surely more appropriate. As I enter the Glacier National Parking, a totally unexpected pan of electricity transformed the day for hundreds (if not thousands) of drivers into a happy one. The entry was free. So was my spirit. A couple stopped, offered me orange juice, ironbars and even 1OO $
The sun was high, burning my sweated back and my tense legs on the ascent of the Logan pass, full of cars and people. Everybody was moving, in search of some oxygen left, in search of desperate wilderness. Even the glaciers were becoming smaller. And here was the true ironman : even Al-Gore, the vice-president of the US was to come, in fact just before the labour day, to check from here some eco-illogical topics.
The Yak, a placid and prehistoric animal was to become finally the real wildlife on the National Parking- as you guessed already- a more and more virtual wilderness. The visitor's center was crowded with people looking at books and postcards, paper images of an Eden already gone.
The descent, as the sun gave gold to the mountains, brought me to euphoria, with a terribly sweet nostalgia of the Alps and the Himalayas. But the next day, back on the saddle, the euphoria was gone. An insignifiant billboard mentionned that about 1O miles were absolutely closed to cyclists till the labour day. Middle of that damned stretch, a ranger stopped me and fined me 5O $. I had no answer for it, but no comments either.
I just crossed 58OOO kilometers and my last troubles with any police dated from China, more than one year ago. I couldn't put out of my mind that rangers were after all more dangerous than grizzlies. Bureaucrats were costly, The entries fees have surely been made for some reason. And patience was still a major virtue of mankind.
I was on the very edge of becoming (against myself) like the RV driver : "Hi, rangers, are you nuts ?" But instead, didn't let my anger blow , just let it go like a bad wind. Even the Yak was more silent than ever. The magic line to Tierra-del-Fuego had surely more luminous to offer !
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