Yesterday was our first day back on the bicycles after traveling for a week. It was a grueling ride due to high temperatures, too much sun, hilly terrain at some points, and wind. I think our bodies were also adjusting to the altitude, lack of sleep, and not enough food and water. Highpoints of the day included breakfast with April and Jeff in Frisco, Colorado, and spending the night with Ellen and Dave in Hot Sulphur Springs, Colorado. After 68 miles, I literally dragged my bike to their front door where I was greeted with cold drinks, fabulous meals featuring elk burgers and sausage, and the use of their car to drive to the nearest town to resupply our groceries. Plus a comfy bed, bath, and great company. Thanks to all of our Trail Angels for your help and support.
Today was easier. We had a 20 mile climb this morning but you know what they say- what goes up, must come down. Today’s ride included a nice downhill and we coasted the last ten miles into Walden, Colorado. Walden is in Jackson County, Colorado-- 1500 square miles with 1200 people. It is the only county in Colorado with no stoplight. The local sawmills and mines shut down when the railroad stopped coming to Walden, leaving the community with few jobs and expensive housing and real estate. The biggest employer is now the Federal Government due to the nearby national forests and wildlife refuges.
And how do I know so much about Walden and Jackson County? Because we talked to Kathy (Library Director) and Kathleen (Library Staff) at the Jackson County Public Library. Kathy’s family has lived here for six generations and she knows Walden. She has a lot of good things to say about her community, especially what a great place it is to raise kids. The library serves a safe place for the local children. Many of them come to the library after school until a family member can join them at home.
The library does host a lot of TransAm cycling tourists, mostly to use the computers. The computers also get a lot of use from the community since many Jackson County residents do not have internet access in their homes. The library receives no budget for books or computers, instead they rely on community donations to provide both. The library has been in the current building since 1977. Interesting fact-- the very first library in Walden was in the back room of the community church where women left books for one another’s use.
The Summer Reading Program is a big hit this summer. 36 kids have signed up—that’s over half of the students enrolled in the elementary school. The summer reading incentive for reading twenty hours or more is a bus trip to Laramie, Wyoming (65 miles away), to see a movie.
John and I were excited to meet other bicycle tourists at the library. We talked with TransAm cyclists, Lauren and Walker, about their enthusiasm for public libraries. They are both using libraries along the TransAm route to apply for jobs, revise their resumes, and just get a break from the outdoors after a long day of riding. Lauren says that she wasn’t a big user of public libraries until this tour. Now her days are filled with cycling, swimming pools, public parks, and libraries.
Thanks to Kathy and Kathleen for talking with us about Walden, Jackson County, and your library. And thanks for the tamale, it was delicious!