Thanks for your reply, for the great site, and for the wonderful trip report. I'm inspired!
So... I plan on taking a light-ish cable lock along with me. But did you actually take your panniers off every time you went in a grocery store? I'm a little stressed about the idea, even though I feel generally trusting of people in smaller towns. What was your experience?
Yeah... the hills are going to brutal! I've driven over Monarch pass in CO before, and can't believe I'll be BIKING it this summer - yikes! Oh well, might as well just grin and bear it.