Sunday, 3 October 2010

Montpelier Idaho October 3rd
I hung around in Jackson this morning. I have made quite good progress and will probably get to the Grand Canyon/Zion/Brice area in a couple of days, which should leave plenty of time. So I didn’t push the driving either, only doing just over 100 and got to Montpelier at about 4.00.
They pronounce it Montpeelyer.  The ‘t’ is sounded, so it is quite different to the way we might say ‘monpayez’. Up the road ( like about 300 miles ) is Boise, which is pronounced like Del Boy’s mate Boycey, except the ‘c’ is an ‘s’. We might say ‘boys’ or ‘bwahze’.
I had some supper in the local deli at about 6.00. Really good time. Molly runs it with Harve. She made a mean beef salad while Harve dealt with the hot orders from the five other diners. They have run the show for 6 years and it is the most unprepossessing of exteriors but clearly a local treasure. Heber and Susan were two of the locals. He used to be a rancher of dairy stock ( = cattle ) until the big organisations took over production 20 years ago and he lost the lot. He moved into construction but dabbles now and Susan taught elementary grade until last year. They were really friendly and were very keen to find out all about my travels. They have travelled a bit within the USA but never out of it and were envious of the time and space I have been given. They have 5 children who all live either in Idaho or Utah. He enjoyed a large lump of meat and salad and washed it down with two definitely not diet cokes. Brandy came in with her two kids for a take out. She is a regular and was wearing the T-shirt to advertise the joint. Her husband is currently in Afghanistan, completing his third tour of duty. He has done 18+ years in the army and is due to retire in 18 months time. I asked her how she coped. She said she found the initial going away difficult but sort of got used to it and has her own ( unelucidated and I did not want to ask ) survival mechanisms. She was in the army herself and says she probably finds it easier than many other wives as a consequence. The two others were Dick and Karen, on their way to Yellowstone from Fresno in California. They are retired but he has some ‘interests in farming and had a boot load of tomatoes and peaches to prove it. I would not pack those if I were travelling that far but he reckons that it helps to oil any wheels if he can dish some out to the hoteliers.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable hour and I really liked the mix of people. Dick and Karen retired, educated, wealthy. Brandy and kids, local and very positive in what I would consider very trying circumstances. Heber and Sue, large, jovial and not angry about the hand they have been dealt. Harve and Molly just providing cheerful and homely service.
I also bumped into James, who is the deputy manager at the place I’m staying. He is 58 and comes complete with baseball cap and pony tail. He lost everything in 2004 and was on the road in Montpelier trying to hitch a lift with his dog, aiming to get to South Carolina ( 2500 miles away ), where his relatives all live. It was winter and freezing and the police persuaded the owner of this motel to give him a bed for the night. He has been here ever since.
The weather is on the way out. It will be wet tomorrow at times, so I don’t plan to push too hard. My aim is to get to southern Utah/ northern Arizona by Monday night, to give myself a good 3-4 days there before turning north-east to Arches, Monument Valley and then Denver.
I see Palace went down to yet another injury time goal. It also seems, amazingly, that it isn’t raining in Newport, which it has every single time I’ve been there.
I forgot to mention one amusing incident in Yellowstone. I was in the Visitor Centre when a woman asked one of the rangers for the difference between a buffalo and a bison. When I told her that she couldn’t wash her hands in a buffalo, I got a very odd look. The ranger merely rolled his eyes.

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