Saturday, July 9, 2011

Whyoming begs the question.

I woke up in the park. I was tucked behind a couple picnic tables in a small pavilion. I was hidden behind tables, and surrounded by scraggly bushes outside the mostly-enclosed structure. I woke up after broken sleep to a guy telling his dog "Hey! Don't go in there! There's people in there!"

He was doing a good job of training his young dog. Exclaiming facts in long complicated sentences is the best way to convince a dog what to do.

I rode.

I crossed into Wyoming with the wind behind me, and I got to my destination before noon. Encampment, Wyoming. The town is dirt streets in a tiny grid. As I charged my phone outside the library, which was closed, a kid passed by on the street. He was sitting on a piece of plywood that was hitched to two horses. The horses were dragging him down the street at about half a walking pace. It was  regal and surreal. Then I saw a little girl on a four wheeler towing a trailer at about the same pace. I decided I should push further down the road since I still felt reasonably fresh. And hot springs were to be had 20 miles down the road.

I went twenty miles further to Saratoga. The hot springs were closed, but I went in anyway. It was kinda the main draw in town, and I wasn't going to quit just because of some yellow tape.

I ran into a few other bicycle touring folks who I've seen a couple times before. They aren't a social bunch. They stay within their group, and give off no positive vibes. I finally properly introduced myself. Nobody knew where to camp, and I said I'd update them if I got any leads.

I'd sent out a last minute couchsurfing request, but wasn't holding my breath. A level of loneliness and anxiety set in, and I began the task of waiting for time to pass. I learned that there was a reasonably cheap camping situation outside of town by a couple miles. $7, but you need to bring your own water. I had a fine plan B, but it didn't ease my nervous feelings.

As I sat on a bench in town, I heard Alicia Keys playing on the jukebox in a bar. Well, that'll do. I went in and ordered an enormous mug of delicious local lager. I talked to the guy next to me for a minute, and when I ordered a refill, he put it on his tab. Nice guy. Works on a drilling rig; 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off. He was interested in the idea of riding a bicycle for months. As usual, he was a little more impressed than seems appropriate. When the jukebox went quiet, the bartender gave me some dollars to get it going again. Nice. I got a huge plate of green chili fries, which could have fed several. Probably not good cycling food, and I hoped it wasn't the worst idea ever.

I ate PB&J sandwiches for most of the whole day. I'm trying to get less spendy. I'm trying to have some money left over when I get home. Cutting out beer and plates of bad food isn't so easy though. I get lonely or anxious, and all I want to do is drink beer and eat cheeseburgers. Daily.

The campground was junk, but it was a place to sleep. I was invited over to a huge RV for beer and an open-faced hamburger slathered in yellow mustard. I was asked a million questions about bicycle touring. Some of the same questions were asked up to three separate times. One lady was amazed, and kept asking questions. One kid focused on the whole painted nails thing. I could tell he was on the fast track to being useless. I was alright sitting there, but I was just as happy to leave. The mosquitoes stole the show. As the sun set, a swarm of mosquitoes was upon everything. I got in the bivy and managed to read on my Kindle for half an hour before sleep.

The bivy worked great. The key? Perfect temperature and clothing. If it's cool enough to be comfortable at night, yet warm enough to sleep without extra layers - I'm set. I slept well and for an appropriate number of hours. I woke up, rolled up the whole mass, bungee'd it, and rolled away. Easiest camp setup possible.

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