Monday, August 10, 2009

Day 41: Saratoga, WY to Jeffrey City, WY (110 Miles)

I woke up this morning with a cloud of ambiguity hanging over my head. Normally, I'd have a plan devised for rest stops and final destinations. Conversely, I had no plan for today and decided I would just ride until I got tired. I got out of the room by 7:30 and rode North towards US Interstate 80. I actually had a slight tailwind during the first 20 miles or so; however, it was so subtle (10mph) that it did not affect me as much as I would like... yet it still felt very nice. I kept looking back to see if the lads were following me, but I did not see them at all today...

I arrived to Walcott, a town of 30 people, and purchased some chocolate milk and other snacks for the road. I rode onto Interstate 80 to find a decent shoulder. But within miles, the shoulder began to disappear due to road work taking place. The road turned into a nasty grooved pavement and soon became unbearable to ride on. I also noticed that the directional cones were getting uncomfortably close to the shoulder, making it virtually non-existent. I saw an opportunity to dart across the lane and ask a road maintenance worker what to do and he recommended walking over to the Eastbound double lane highway and ride on the freshly paved, blocked off lane. I did this and it saved me a lot of time and effort and, quite possibly, my life.

After receiving awkward “Umm, are you sure you're supposed to be riding there, buddy?”-type looks from oncoming traffic, I sprinted across the highway again to get off at Sinclair, an armpit of an industrial town. I stopped in at a highway diner and ate a late breakfast. The waitress was very nice and talkative, and was almost taken back with my “polite” disposition. Apparently, the people of Wyoming are not very cordial or friendly, at least this is coming from the nice waitress lady. Yesterday's interaction with the disgruntled pickup truck driver can only support her hypothesis.

I waited around a little bit with the expectation to see three smelly Brits pull into the parking lot, but this never came to fruition. Therefore, I set off again and rode toward Rawlins. The wind, of course, was daunting and kept fighting me the entire time. I entered town a little before noon and looked for the nearest bike shop. I received directions from a few locals, but I couldn't find the place. I even tried calling and the phone kept ringing. Realizing I'd have to true my tires myself within a few days, I decided to save the cash/headache and ride on to Lamont for a late lunch.

When I arrived into Lamont, I found absolutely nothing... just abandoned buildings and tumbleweed. Realizing I'd just have to snack it for the rest of the day, I chowed down on some granola and beef jerky as I rode against the wind. I eventually came to a small shop at the “Muddy Gap Junction.” I bought some water, Gatorade, and a snack. I then sat down in the shade and was greeted by a man falling out of his van. His name was Kieth. He's originally from Florida, but, unlike most retired people, he left Florida in favor of exploration and adventure. He first bought a sailboat and sailed around the Gulf of Mexico. After getting bored of that, Kieth bought a van and hit the road with his old dog (“The only thing my wife left me!”). We chatted a bit about politics and how Kieth thinks we're all turning into crazy Pinko's.. thus, I decided to leave, knowing full well that I didn't have the energy/patience to engage in a serious conversation about politics.

Looking at the map, then the sun, then the map... I realized my final destination of the day would be Jeffrey City. Now, let me preface my description of this town with a few stories. I read once that a rider saw a drugged out individual set his roof on fire. I also heard from a nice couple that they saw a bloody bar fight in the local saloon. I also read that there's only 100 people living there now, when it once was a booming uranium mining town. There were a lot more cautionary tales of this town, but I'll just tell my anecdotal account: When I pulled into this “town,” or a series of unkempt buildings, I first noticed the motel. Thinking it to be abandoned, I biked up to a man. It turns out he's the owner... and he's got the mouth of a sailor. He said he might have one “clean F'ing room, but they might've not have F'ing cleaned it.” We found that this room wasn't cleaned, but only one bed had been slept in and one towel had been used. He offered the room to me for 20 bucks, “take it or F'ing leave it!”.. and I reluctantly obliged.

I wish I hadn't though, because the room is barely worth five dollars and then I later found Chris and Chris at the local bar/diner. There were chatting with two other Westbounders, a brother and sister from New York.. I believe their names were Aaron and "Shaz." They're going to camp outside some local “artist” workshop, where the “artist” said they could light a fire and get “mad high, man and do some things, ya know?” I'm beginning to think this is the guy who set his own roof on fire... Come to think of it, it was exactly then when I noticed that the town's inhabitants looked oddly familiar and then I realized they reminded me of Tom Hank's neighbors in the classic 1989 horror/comedy entitled "The 'Burbs." -Quite fitting, really.

I sat down to chat with them and I asked the lady at the bar if they served food. She moaned... waited a minute and said “it's kind of late.” I looked at the clock and said, “Oh, it's only seven o'clock.” She then let out a large sigh and said “Ok.. all we got is burgers, you want one?” I nodded and proceeded to chat more with my fellow riders. I was then treated with the worst meal of my trip, but I didn't mind. I might be in the middle of the craziest town of America... but these fellow riders are sure to keep me sane. Good night and, please oh please, "don't let the bed bugs bite!”


Momma said...

Quick! Get out of there!!

Eric said...

loving your updates, Blake. Can't wait to hear more about these experiences in person.

Grandma said...

Take heart - Wyoming isn't all bad. If your trail takes you into Yellowstone and in view of the Grand Tetons, you are in for a visual treat! You really put some miles on today! Love you. Grandma and Gramps

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