Magazine article Geographical

2011 PureTravel Travel Writing Competition

Magazine article Geographical

2011 PureTravel Travel Writing Competition

Article excerpt

The winner of the 2011 PureTravel writing competition is ...

Sam Clark of Cape Town, South Africa. Sam's story was shortlisted after a public vote and chosen as the winner by our professional travel writer, Jez Lazell. He plans to use the 1,000 [pounds sterling] prize money to pay for his next adventure, which will take him down the Colorado River

HIGHWAY 14 REVISITED

The weather can descend rapidly in Wyoming, just as it did on that day near the Big Horns, past Shell Canyon along Highway 14, a stretch mostly populated by soulful, lonesome ponies and otherwise empty fields. On that day, the sky was split in two; one half to the east a light grey, and to the west, a thick pewter that sank onto the horizon and trawled through the valley, scooping everything into its windy influence.

For me, it was day 37 of a bike trip across the USA, which meant it was day 37 of being tired, lonely and simply beaten by headwinds on a raw day of an unusually cold and sloppy summer.

This being the West, it was the only house for a long way. It just didn't seem like a place where you could park up on the porch without at least announcing yourself.

The wind surged from meddlesome to menacing and flipped the feed shelter in the corral on its face. It beat on the windows and must have silenced my knocking, as it was many minutes before the door was flung open by a short man in a duck-green button-down shirt and unbelted pants.

He didn't offer a pleasant greeting. I had woken him from a nap. He was a greyed redhead who pale eyes hazed to an allergic pink--he had spent the afternoon clearing rabbit brush.

When I told him I was biking cross-country and just needed to sit out the wind, he told me I was crazy. Just crazy to be on the road with so many idiots. He glared. It was a moment, like so many travel moments--when the taxi driver detours down a deserted street; when skulkers linger around your campsite as you're about to leave: when the bus is stopped by a rag-tag checkpoint--when all good-options close and you simply have to take the situation as it is. In those scenarios you didn't want to encounter, you just search for possibility.

In the middle of a new harangue, he cursed. He saw the upturned shelter, and dragged me to it, which brought us to his stables, a soothing, alee eddy in the chaos around us. …

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