I slept well in the teepee. There seemed to be no mosquitoes. I slept in the open breathing fresh air and enjoying the night in the desert.
I woke up, packed, and spooned PB&J into some fresh sandwiches. LB and I had spoken from the heart, and she gave me a hug before I placed my tires back into the yellow dirt of the road.
I was happy and complete as I turned back onto the main road, and the uplifted feeling lasted even as road conditions deteriorated. It was a long day. There aren't many places to stop in Wyoming, and today I was determined to cover 95 miles of almost nothing. In spite of a strong headwind for most of the entire day, I reached this goal. I was across this expanse of desert and on a bar stool by 5pm.
Beers and a burger, just like I said. Aside from a Yoo-Hoo at mile 50, it was the first buck I spent in the day. PB&J and (god willing) a chocolate milk, and I'm made of power.
I ran into the other three touring cyclists a few times throughout the day, and realized that I need to face a fact: I don't like them. They're young and cool, and I have a feeling that they aren't good or interesting people.
I got a flat in the desert. I stood beside the road as the glue dried for the patch. As I waited, the Bike Patrol showed up! A car turned around, swung another u-ey behind me, and a man got out.
"Do you have everything you need?" he called to me.
I told him I was just waiting for the glue to dry for a patch, and I had everything under control.
"Full size pump?" he asked.
"Huh? Oh, hell yeah!" I exclaimed. We both smiled, and I walked over to the car. His mountain bicycle was packed in the back seat, and the window had a small sticker that said "bike patrol."
"Bike Patrol!" I said as he opened the trunk. My patch didn't hold, but I had my spare tube in place and to proper inflation in a jiffy with the full-sized floor pump. I thanked him twice, and was rolling again within five minutes.
I reached Lander, Wyoming. This is the best town of this ilk I've seen since Colorado Springs. It's a Burlington Vermont in the desert. It's a hiker-biker town. There is a huge indoor pool, and for $2 you can have a hot shower, a jacuzzi, and take a few leaps off the diving board. I was refreshed.
As I sat in the town park, I was feeling alone, blue, aloof and anxious. This is a theme, it seems. This is typical of my lone travels until I devolve to a certain quiet level of sustainable insanity. I'll begin to sing and talk to myself soon, and the sadness will be at bay. In any case, I will crawl along and search for the funny moments. I will seek amusement, and attempt to appreciate the quiet moments. I will learn how to be a human better.
I rolled back to town to find alcohol, but ran into Tika on his overloaded Diamond Back. He was looking for camping, and boy could I help with that goal. The town park has legal camping, and there were already over a dozen tents placed in a grassy area toward the quiet back side of the park. We rode slowly to the park together, and didn't stop talking.
He looks exactly like a homeless guy. But that's not exactly the deal. He hasn't paid rent for 15 years, and he's living off savings from 15 years ago when he was a computer programmer. He's a smart guy who admitted that he doesn't really talk to many people. Through his hiking, bicycling, and traveling, he's grown closer to the fringes. He's reduced his spending and become more introverted. We compared ideas and opinions. I learned more about him, and shared my ideas and experiences as well. We talked for more than a couple hours until it was definitely time to choose a spot in the grass.
I am always uplifted and interested to talk to traveling individuals. I like to talk to people who don't have a close focus on the normal way everyone sees the earth and how it's working. He has a fine understanding of typical reality, but his place isn't to simply stand still and let it exist around him. When I try to describe these things, I fumble. I don't know exactly what I want from life and the earth. I don't want what Tika has - but I admire it. I don't want the typical path either. My goal is to maintain a calm eccentricity that meshes acceptably with dull-normal society. I want to keep a secret silliness. I don't want to become cynical. I want to slowly follow a path toward an accidental wisdom.