Well, we are still in Wyoming. Things have been pretty desolate for the most part, but the scenery has been incredible (for some parts) and when there is civilization, it is pretty fricken exciting! The other day Ale and I road by these huge red rocks that towered above us; they were so amazing that we decided to stop and take pictures. The picture above is of me attempting to climb up a mountain of red rock. (It’s kind of like a where’s waldo situation, sorry about the black and white thing going on.)
quick video on the red rocks we passed:
After passing the red rock sequence, the biking days started to blend into one vague memory. The land seemed to stay pretty consistent for the most part. I found myself daydreaming and zoning out for a lot of it / intensely studying the pavement conditions in the shoulder. (I have grown to really appreciate every smooth patch of pavement I come across.) Once and a while I had to avoid some road kill or a pickup would get unnecessarily close to me and I would snap back to reality. O, I also almost ran over a rattlesnake, which was a much more intense slap back to reality. It really got my adrenaline going! Luckily, there were no cars going in either direction because I immediately screamed and swerved across both lanes as soon as I saw it. I then turned around and raced back to warn Ale of the danger ahead. We road on the left side of the road for a couple miles, just to make sure the coast was clear.
After a night of camping at a nice park in Lander with other cyclists named Gary and Steffen (extremely nice father and son pair from Seattle), we headed towards the next civilization dot on our map, Jeffery. We had to pack extra water for the 60-mile ride of limited shade and lots of uphill and headwind. Ale and I both kept stopping to check if we had a flat because our wheels seemed to stick to the pavement. My assumption was that the pavement was melting and holding on to our tires, because it literally felt like we were biking through mud. This did wonders for our moral… By the time we got to the rest stop 40 miles in, we were ecstatic to find shade and a bathroom. Now that I look back on it, we might have been slightly delirious, as we started interpretive dancing to Celine Dion, which happened to come on my playlist. We used all the props (almond butter jar drum, spork microphone, etc) we could and danced around in our helmets (which ended up really keeping us safe when the dance moves got more intense near the brick wall). It was quite a site to see. Haha lucky truck drivers, they had no idea Sweetwater Rest Stop, WY could be so entertaining.
After the dancing and our fair share of Justin’s maple almond butter / tortilla combination, we continued on our way to Jeffery. Nineteen miles of rolling hills and unchanged landscape later, we came upon the welcome to Jeffery sign. Population 50. Awesome. We road up to the only restaurant in town and were shocked to find 5 other touring bikes out front. YES! FRIENDS! The restaurant was exactly what I would have pictured a small town restaurant / bar to look like. There were deer heads on the wall, a jukebox in the corner, lots of cheap alcohol and fried food options, and a friendly waitress. We introduced ourselves to the other bikers and ended up eating with the only girl of the group, Lauren. She was a solo rider headed west and had a lot of useful information for us. It definitely made my night to meet her. She was full of knowledge and just a down to earth cool kind of person. After drinking some water and getting used to the cigarette smoke, (sidenote: there was a heavier lady in the corner of the bar playing online poker and smoking. She was there throughout our meal and was still there the next morning when we came in for breakfast at 8am.) I started to notice the artwork on the walls. It definitely did not seem to fit with the bar atmosphere. They were really talented beautiful pieces of work (all by the same artist), that I am guessing one of the locals created. It definitely made me like the bar a lot more. The bathroom was covered with the art, which was awesome, since I would be spending a lot of time in there trying to take a shower in the sink. I have found that anytime a bathroom has nice artwork, it appears cleaner and more welcoming. Good thing to remember for when I have my own house. 🙂
Anyways, we ended up meeting Byron, the local potter, (also the local drunk, which he introduced himself as) who offered to let us camp on his property across the street. I definitely would have hesitated, but the other bikers were camping there and Gary and Steffen had just shown up, so I felt safer knowing they would be there as well. Here is a picture of Bryon below. He was showing us how to do the devil dance. Obviously, I took this picture and immediately sent it to my family and saying, “guess who I’m staying with tonight?” My sisters responded laughing, but my parents were not as stoked about my humor. And wanted details.
After din, we walked across the street and attempted to set up our tent in the dark on a field covered in straw weed sort of grass, dirt, broken pottery, and bugs. Conditions were perfect. We set our bikes against a random brick wall, and as I was getting into my panniers, I almost put my hand on a black widow. Yay nature! Fortunately, after the tent got set up and we changed out of our bike clothes, the night got much better.
We had a big fire and there was a lot of beer and cheep whiskey involved. Ale and I absolutely could not imagine getting on a bike after a long night of drinking, so we stayed sober to ensure our safety for the next day of riding. We watched and laughed as the other 3 biker guys and Byron got more and more talkative. I am actually quite impressed Byron stayed awake as long as he did, he seemed about ready to pass out when we first met him in the bar. The other bikers, names all starting with J, I think, Jake, Joe, and Jack (not sure about the last one), were all very funny and kept us laughing for a while. It was so funny to hear how similar our experiences have been and to compare stories. At one point, Jack was talking about his morning routine and said, “ok so when we wake, after of course, we look at each other’s calves and reassure each other they are getting so much stronger, we take out the maps and figure out where the shit we are going and how much water we will need.” Ale and I were laughing so hard, because that is exactly what we do. We continued on like this for a while.
Eventually Ale asked Byron if she could spin a pot (remember Byron is a professional potter), so he took her inside to begin the process. He grabbed some clay, slapped it on the spinning table thing and stumbled around while explaining the process. It was pretty funny to watch, especially when Byron got excited about certain steps. Ale actually made a really sweet bowl but had to leave it behind due to the weight issue. We went to bed soon after.
The next morning we went back to the restaurant for breakfast with everyone and laughed about the previous night. It was really fun to have such a lively group. Ale and I are used to eating oatmeal in our tent so this was a huge social upgrade. This is a picture of our group.
Before we left, I ended up talking to the waitress for a while. She was incredibly nice and told us how much fun it is to live in Jeffery. “Everyone knows each other and takes care of one another. If you don’t see someone for a couple of days, you go knock on their door to see whats going on.” I thought that was a pretty cool thing to have in your life. I definitely want to end up somewhere with that sense of community.