I don't put $7 in a faceless box every time I sleep on the earth, use no services, and leave no trace. I don't know if it's right or not, but I didn't pay for the mosquito camping. I won't next time, either. C'est la vie.
I rode through sparse desert with hills and features silently repeating themselves. I inched north toward I-80. Seeing I-80 after riding through sparse Wyoming is like peeking out of Narnia to see a guy yelling at his wife. This highway is reality, and I woken from the wispy dream tendrils that manifest before true sleep.
The interstate was a necessity for about 12 miles, because alternate roads simply do not exist. I fought a furious headwind, but was forced to be thankful anyway because at least the shoulder was wide.
Coffee, chocolate milk, PB&J. With this as nutrition, I am sure to survive. I took in a sandwich at the first hint I wanted one. I'm happy with this situation - I pull a PBJ out of a plastic grocery bag where I have a stack of them carefully folded. Then I feel great until I want the next one.
I pulled off the interstate at Sinclair, and the Cool Calm Pete track 'Lost' came into my mind's focus. I rolled slowly through the town that is really a refinery. I continued toward Rawlins, which I thought would be the end of my day.
Just say no to Rawlins. The part next to the highway is predictable with it's Pizza Hut and cloned hotels. The actual town is up the road. It's forgivable, but I was already on fire - my route took a sharp turn, and continuing would mean a strong tailwind.
I crossed the continental divide once again, and this time at speed. I was ripping down the smaller road at a lively pace. I climbed over the pass and continued to gain speed as I descended into the long flats in the basin below. My new destination was Lamont, where my old guidebook said I could lay down for free.
An old blue pre-suspension Diamond Back mountain bicycle; leaned outside the cafe as I arrived. Loaded heavily from head to toe; and again around the edges. Another Diamond Back! I took pictures, and a huge grin replaced my game-face. I walked into the abandoned-looking dusty cafe, and a scruffy man using a small netbook was the only other customer. His trail name is Tika. He's an awesome lone traveler. We talked through my soda and chili dog, and then when the cafe closed we stood outside to talk some more. He's been traveling for years. Mostly by foot, but sometimes by bicycle. He's been to China, Japan, South America... He's making his way across the US for the second time now. His Diamond Back and it's worn-to-hell chain are taking their own slow route, which just happens to match the TransAmerica Trail at this point.
I asked at the cafe, and free bicycle camping was afoot. Not the place I expected, but a new free camping spot had materialized in the interim. Tika continued, and I gave his rig a few minutes to crawl down the road before looking for a couple teepees across the street.
Less than a mile away, I'd found the sign: "Bicycle Camping." I rolled down the dirt road just as a pickup truck arrived. A woman got out and started to walk slowly toward a house trailer. I greeted her.
"Hello!" I chimed. "What's the deal with the bicycle camping?" I asked.
"Well... it's free. You can stay here if you want to."
She was quiet and friendly. The trailer was her home, and the bicycle camping section is her new project. She had an area set up as a little habitat. If it was grasshoppers she were accommodating, there would be a jar with grass and some holes poked into the lid. In this case it was cyclists, and she had a couple tee-pees and an outhouse. The rest of the property is a work in progress. There are strewn items and areas that still need to be cleared.
She had to leave again, but later I was able to talk some more. Her name is LB like the letters, and she lives on this small section of a huge ranch for free as long as she takes care of it. This used to be where they burned trash, but she's cleaned most of that out. The teepees are less than a week old. She has a friendly cat, named Jerry, and we were already friendly and familiar. There was a small shed with a fridge full of Gatorade and snacks. There was a donation jar that said you could either take money out or put money in, depending on your situation. The outhouse had no roof, because it blew off. That's cool.
I spent many hot sunny hours in the comfortable shade inside the teepee. I cooked, and read, and drank some whiskey. I sat on a lawn chair and marveled at how great it was to be inside a large teepee. I looked at how it was put together, and now I want a teepee.