Date: Sat, 11 Oct 1997 13:17:20 PDT
From: claude marthaler

Subject: "YAK 2 or the true reincarnation of the Yak"

Boulder, Colorado, USA, 11th October '97, kilometer 6O,6OO

Dear Redfishes !

Some places are like people: you fall in love with them. Missoula - a town just big enough to contain all the ingredients you need, even the spices, but small enough to maintain conviviality. Hippies place in the seventies and, with the slow train, a good stop for vagabonds, Missoula escaped- but for how long- to the uniformity which composes the American urban landscape.

Would you cross one of its bridge, you would learn at regular amounts on the path (like the stakata of a kalatchnikof) the endless operations of the CIA, unless you would look more towards the horizon, to the famous, entirely wood carved carousel of the town. Here even a drunken man couldn't avoid this strange hieroglyphics (called Nicaragua, Kuweit and so on) and be surprised how politics had such a strong stamina compared to his own.

Behind the supermarkets, strangely called sometimes "safeway", a race of "dumpster divers" (kind of two-wheelers freaks) would come at regular schedules in quest of strawberries, avocados, fresh salads, yoghourts to fill the fridges and maintain friendship in food parties.

No limits, that was the word which characterizes America, in every circumstances. Montana then Wyoming, with their scarce populations, where the cow-boy was not only a smoky emblematic figure, where you could find a telephone booth every 5O kilometers if you were lucky and a bar- of course.

Inside, a hot coffee made you digest a bit of the philosphy on the walls, poor like the dry and windy plateau covered by sage : " Remember when sex was safe and skydiving dangerous ?" or "Hungry and out of work ? Eat an environmentalist !" or "Wyoming, welcome hunters, fantasy girls, whistle pig saloon".

Yellowstone, where a gigantic geyser unified people in circle (like an ancestral firecamp), in a few earthbreath time, before everyone jumped into his own car and disappeared. "You must have a big credit card !" a man told me. His eyes were growing as he looked at my hand which emptied a dozen sugar packages and as many cream in a single cup of coffee. "I would already be a diabetic !" he added.

Other tourists would take more pictures of the Yak than the geyser. But we both had extremely short hours of glory. Some tourists gave me food or money. I felt suddenly like a holy man in India, fully supported by totally unknown people.

Deep from inside, the call from the mountains was far too strong to remain trapped in this kind of "golden cage". There were also some ghost towns, which came and disappeared with the gold.

An amazing world of carousels, mechanical music boxes and "marvelous automation reader" : "To be successful in life, learn your character-what to do, what to avoid. The points on the Palm Plate examine your hand. For 5 cents, the great palmist "Fletcher", from New York revealed what type of hand you had.

In Laramie, "Pedal House" used to be a brothel, for 5 dollars a night, just across the railway. America, more puritan nowdays, has a personal way to recycle ideas. Thomas Stevens, who stayed in town 2 years , crossed the railways, and in April 1884, was in Colorado, had enough money to start a worldtour on a high-wheeler which ended in San Fransisco in December 1886. A true hero. On the 2nd of October '97, Jeff and Mike accompanied the Yak for ten kilometers on their two-wheeler, in honor of T.Stevens.

Many high passes, the last one over 12,OOO feet, brought the Yak into trendy Boulder, where a week consecrated to Tibet took place. An animal who had a tireless love for new tires and horizons, even after 1.5 time around the belly of mother earth. But, after having reached his birthplace, Scott, in Boulder and after having twice broken its back leg in Alaska, I thought (sadly), that he deserved a quiet retreat.

The original frame of the Yak will soon be in a permanent display at "Adventure Cycling" in Missoula, with the hope to inspire other cyclists. His reincarnation, "Yak 2", bright new and full of energy, will bring me to Tierra-del-Fuego, by spring '99 with a serious sense of humour.

A Yiddish proverb says :"If you want to make God laugh , tell him what your plans are !" The Yak will soon take the road to the montains, to Mt Evans (14,OOO feet), numerous passes towards Durango, waiting with a ferocious appetite for the Andes in Peru and Bolivia next summer.

Until the 25th of October write him faster than he pedals to:

Claude Marthaler The Yak - cycling around the world
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