Wyoming is very flat. And straight. Even I can’t get lost. Some advice if you’re cycling north out of Cheyenne: go easy on the coffee in the morning. And never assume that there will be another convenience store up ahead. Probably there won’t be one.
It’s a long straight ride with not a whole lot to look at besides trucks and cattle feed lots. I’m starting to understand all the truck commercials that show men with pick-ups hauling huge trailers full of hay. People really do that sort of thing out here, not just have a big truck for show.
I had picked out the Hawk Springs Reservoir as my first night stay but ended up camping next to the Bear Mountain Stage Stop Restaurant and Bar, run by Dave and Judy. Free camping for bicycle and motorcycle tourists. I went in to eat a hamburger and, of course, ended up at the bar. With real cowboys, boots and hats and all. They all introduced themselves by tipping their hats and standing up to shake my hand. (Whoa. Up till now, I’ve only seen this in books and movies.) Then they went back to conversations about calf roping and selling horses. I could only understand about half of it. There’s a certain tight-lipped cowboy way of talking that might have something to do with chewing tobacco.
“That’s a real cowboy you’re sittin’ next to. He’s a rodeo champ,” Judy told me, motioning to the handsome cowboy on the stool next to mine. He wore a vest and a natty printed neckerchief. (Who knew cowboys were so stylish?) From under the bar, she pulled out some rodeo magazines to show me photos of him in chaps, holding up trophies.
The next day I rode directly north to Torrington on the North Platte River. There’s a city RV park that costs $10 a night. Except the bathrooms are still closed so… you know.. go when you can. It was warm that night so I didn’t bother with the tent, just made my little nest on the ground. The sleeping bag was a little dewy in the morning. The next day was downright warm. And Wyoming was starting to look beautiful. Big colorful plains, sky that goes on forever, crazy long trains.
In Guernsey I met a chicken lady. She was sitting beside her house, petting a huge turkey that nestled at her feet. Hens and roosters and ducks scampered in the grass around her. I wanted to take pictures, but when I started talking to her, she obviously thought I was crazy.
I totally lucked out on my camping spot that night. The campgrounds around Guernsey Reservoir likely get busy on summer weekends with boaters and big trucks. On a rare hot early Spring Thursday, they’re deserted. Just me and the birds. I rode to another reservoir the next day, but it wasn’t as pretty. On the way, I got pulled over by the Wyoming Highway Patrol. The trooper had a shaved head and Jesus in meaty letters tattooed on his forearm.
“Was I speeding?” I asked, because I’ve always wanted to say that on a bike. He said no, he just wanted to make sure I had enough water since it was 80 degrees out.
There was a wind coming up behind me as I rode east towards Lusk. It’s a good thing I made that turn. I sailed those last ten miles, shouting in the wind and racing the mile-long coal trains. I pulled into Lusk at Dusk, and then had to backtrack two miles into the wind to get to the RV park that was open. A lot of these parks don’t turn on the water until there’s no more possibility of freezing at night. Since there’s snow in the forecast, I guess it could still freeze. The sunny days were great while they lasted but winter’s still not over out here on the prairie.