May 31 - June 6: Wyoming

6/2 - Jeffrey City (67 miles 2477.5 total)
it was another beautiful day...unusual for wyoming this time of year, i understand. early as we left the days inn in rawlins it was coolish, but not as cool as it had been in saratoga yesterday morning. the sun shone all day; breeezes were light, despite the forecast for afternoon winds. for the folks who came into jeffrey city midafternoon, there were some headwinds, but few troublesome winds all day. the thermometer on the outside of the motel office here said 100 degrees late afternoon, but it was sitting in the sun. i imagine out on the road it was in the mid-80's. without humidity it didn't seem bad.
when we left rawlins this morning we began a gradual climb that seemed never to end. it went on for about 9 miles. at the lower part of the climb there was a sign that said 'construction next 22 miles.' but there was nothing much notable for the first 8 miles. in the 9th mile we rode on a dirt section; with the trucks roaring along beside us, we were engulfed in dust. then began 13 miles of riding on a giant washboard.
i hope you can see in this picture what that road surface was like. you can see that the landscape was beautiful, too, but we had to keep our eyes so closely on the road that we couldn't do much sightseeing.
at first we didn't know how long that stretch would last, then we rounded a hilltop & could see that it stretched on forever. gloria was driving the subaru today; when she came back to check on riders, several of them put their bikes on top of & themselves into the subaru for the ride to the end of the washboard road. those of us who stayed on our bikes were jiggled to pieces; our hands turned completely numb from having to grab the handlebars so tight, & our arms & shoulders were soon aching from the tension of trying to keep our bikes upright & going in the right direction. our mirrors gave us no help; they were jiggling so much that you couldn't see anything in them. bike parts that we didn't know were loose soon started clinking & clanging. & of course it was very hard on our tires.
each rider tried to find a "lane" where the surface was smoother. (there really was no such thing.) some rode down the center line. but since we couldn't use our mirrors & the noise of our bikes diminished our ability to hear oncoming traffic, that wasn't the best. we were sharing that stretch with plenty of big trucks & other vehicles. at one point i found a relatively smooth ribbon going down the extreme right side of the road; that worked for a while. but there was also lots of loose gravel over along the edge of the road; i did a wheely into it once & just barely managed to remain upright.
the only positive side to this experience that i can figure out is that those of us who rode the distance won't have to pay some exorbitant amount on fancy treatments to firm & tone those unsightly, flabby upper arms. after today they're very well-toned....& then some.
at about mile 23 we gleefully emerged onto a smooth stretch of pavement. gloria was there with the subaru; she was the sag driver today. she had fresh green grapes & bing cherries; yum. usually the subaru has bananas & fresh orange wedges...sometimes delicious red grapes; it was a treat to have the grapes & cherries, too. after snacking & filling our water bottles, we rode on down the highway with big smiles on our faces. we hadn't adequately appreciated smooth pavement before this morning.
the town of lamont was on our route sheet. we've come to realize that in wyoming a town name on a route sheet doesn't necessarily mean there are many--or any--people there or any services whatsoever. but lo & behold, tho' it seemed a mirage, a huge sign appeared ahead of us. "grandma's cafe--open." it turned out that the square footage of that sign pretty well matches the area of the cafe's floor. we rolled into the dusty parking lot & leaned our bikes against the cafe; several other bikers were there, too.
inside the cafe we were overjoyed to find that grandma had baked some pies. sari & i each had a piece of 3-berry pie---blueberries, raspberries, & blackberries. they warmed it before serving. it was delicious---& 99 cents.
here's a photo of our very nice waitress serving sari's pie; a la mode at grandma's cafe means 2 generous scoops of ice cream....for an additional 65 cents.
i had chocolate milk with mine; for the last month chocolate milk at restaurants is white milk with chocolate syrup stirred into it. i like scooping up the syrup at the bottom of the glass that doesn't get stirred into the milk.
as we left grandma's we came upon a sign giving the town's stats.
i'm surprised they'd bother creating a sign for a town with a population of 3. that was the only town on our 67-mile route today.
we've come to a very clear understanding of how very low wyoming's population is. in colorado we'd often see ranches along our way even tho' towns were few & far between. in wyoming we don't even see ranches.
every turn in the road revealed another stunning vista. the rock formations on all sides were absolutely awesome. at one point we reached an intersection. a big sign said 'teton/yellowstone natl parks, turn left.' that was our direction. seeing that sign sent a chill up our spines. we were going to yellowstone & we were going to arrive there on our bicycles!
the ride became a little hillier after the turn but not bad. at about mile 50 or so we came upon a little roadside area near split rock. the subaru was stopped there; again we filled up on snacks & water, then walked around the area. there were some interesting explanatory plaques & also some picnic tables, plus some interesting rocks to climb.
on down the road a little later we came to an historical marker; you can read for yourself the significance of split rock, & you can see the cleft in the rock that gives it the name.
it's fascinating to think how the pioneers, trappers, indians, & pony express riders used this unique rock formation as a landmark in their travels. one tidbit of information surprised us; we hadn't realized that the pony express was operational for only about 18 months in 1860-61. evidently the telegraph soon replaced it.
soon after leaving split rock sari noticed a sign on a fence across the road. it had the initials BLM & gave a phone number where people interested in adopting a wild horse could call. evidently behind that fence were many wild horses roaming on Bureau of Land Management lands, but we didn't see any today.
near the end of today's ride we rode up over the crest of a hill & saw in the distance a beautiful range of majestic snow-capped peaks. we at first thought it was the tetons, but it's the wind river range. peaks in that range reach over 13,000 feet. that range has the highest mountains in wyoming. we won't be riding over it.
finally the teensy town of jeffrey city came into view. it's a few buildings on a vast expanse of sagebrush & rocks. the population is.....well, all we know is that the lady at the post office says they have 65 post office boxes. the town thrived during an era of uranium mining in this area. at one time the gas station at this delapidated...sold $1 million worth of gas per year. but after the 3-mile island incident, uranium mining ended & this town declined.
our motel is one of those that looks like a very long mobile home, but we're very happy to have beds. there are no phones in our rooms (so i don't have a phone jack for sending this report on time). there's one pay phone near the highway; much of the afternoon there's been a short line of pocketmailers waiting to use it. we noticed that the low, one-story building where the office/residence of the owner is has used tires on its roof. we understand that's to keep the shingles on the roof during the frequent high winds in this area. fortunately we had none of those today. since i couldn't send this email msg the evening of 6/2, i took a picture of the motel around 6 a.m. the next morning so i could include it with this update.
sari is standing in the remains of the gas station; those are our rooms in the long low building behind her.
this afternoon a couple of women from england came wandering into the dusty parking lot of the motel. they were dressed all in white & beige....sort of like arabians....& they carried huge packs on their backs. they're staying here this evening. they had supper with us so we got a chance to chat. they're hiking the continental divide trail from canada to mexico. their stories are fascinating. one of them showed us a big bruise on her leg resulting from a kick by a moose last week. they've also been charged by bulls. they'll lay over here in jeffrey city for an extra day. with towns so few & far between i'm sure they're happy to have a real bed to sleep in for a couple of nights. usually they sleep in the tent they carry.
tomorrow we'll ride 58 miles to lander. we hope to get another atypical wyoming day....without winds.
Higher quality versions of the pictures from my trip are available here. If you would like copies of the original, full-size photos, or if you would like text-only versions of these daily reports e-mailed to you, feel free to e-mail my son Mark with your request. Stay tuned....

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