Day 70: Entering Wyoming’s Red Desert on the interstate

I woke up in Saratoga rested and ready to go. It was going to be a short 50-mile day to Rawlins, because the next town with services was 50 miles further. But it turned out to be a suprising and beautiful one. 

Dan and I headed to breakfast and got supercharged with coffee. Never in my life have I seen a server more on top of coffee refills. After only a sip or two the mugs were filled again. Dan told the server he’d be wired all day. The server said “yeah, but you’ll be in Rawlins in an hour”. We weren’t even talking about where we were going. She just knew it. Bicycle touring sheep…

And then I was off. Dan and I said our goodbyes, and said we’d probably see each other in Rawlins. The road was incredible:

I rode a tailwind all morning long, and the riding was sublime. Whatever concerns I had about physical beauty diminishing in Wyoming were quickly shot down. 

But it’s awfully desolate out here. There is nothing but the road, the occasional ranch, and me. It’s an unbelievable feeling, as long as you have enough water and food. Luckily I did. My forethought for these things has been honed in 70 days, and out here, it’s very necessary. 

I made it to the gas station in Walcott. It was hard to miss because it was the only thing around for miles. Not to be crass, but this bit of education at the urinal was worth sharing:

It’s a magic urinal! It “doe’s by self”!

And then it was time to ride the interstate! I knew this was coming, and it was a big moment. I’ve ridden on everything – pavement, gravel, dirt, mud, sand, standing water, grass, brick… And now the interstate. 

Wyoming is one of the only states where this is legal, and in some places the interstate is the only option available to cyclists. It was a little weird at first, especially given that there was construction and I was riding the shoulder in the eastbound lane with all the westbound traffic flying by very, very close to me out of necessity. It was only for a mile or two though, then back to normal:

When I took the interstate I was headed westbound…directly into the wind. It was a bear to fight through. 

Soon enough I passed the North Platte River. The first time I crossed it was way back in dreaded Nebraska coming out of Omaha.

Just another thing reminding me of the interconnectedness of everything. 

Soon enough I made it to Sinclair, home of Sinclair gas stations. I’ve always thought it was eerie that the symbol for these guys is a dinosaur, given that the key product is liquified dinosaurs. But when you get a big plastic one to jump on, you take the opportunity:

Fun times. 

Rawlins wasn’t much further, but I had to work for it:

In Rawlins I stayed at the KOA, where I met up with my favorite Kiwis, Norm and Linda. The spots for the night were a ridiculous $28 and they offered to let me pitch tent on their spot. They’re wonderful people. 

I was done riding early in the afternoon but opted against pushing on. The wind and heat were strong and the next place down the road was far enough away that I didn’t feel the need to continue. 

I headed to the movie theater to get out of the heat for a bit:

I went for the Ghostbusters remake, and actually enjoyed it! Especially for six bucks…small towns being cheaper has proven to be a myth in the last couple months, but I was pleased that there was an element of truth to it in Rawlins. 

Later on I chatted with Norm and Linda at the KOA, right next to the freeway. Not the most beautiful camping spot on the tour, but the company was perfect. I was happy to learn they were headed for Jeffrey City the next day, which is where I was going. 

I set up the tent when it was almost dark. Wind dies down with the night, and pitching the tent in wind isn’t the most enjoyable thing in the world. 

I chatted with some other travelers, then grabbed a bit of moonlight in the camera, complete with blurry gas station lights across the freeway:

I slept well, then was up around 4:30 to cook breakfast and get ready for one of the most beautiful rides of the tour…


2 thoughts on “Day 70: Entering Wyoming’s Red Desert on the interstate

  1. I’m really enjoying your pix and comments, Jeff. You are making me want to do a long trip very, very much. Going to northern Minnesota with some of my Wisconsin cycling buddies in September, but your trip is totally different and wonderful. Reminds me of a saying a friend of mine said to describe the pain of spinning class – a different kind of joy. That’s the title of my little-written blog. You are experiencing this different kind of joy that many others just don’t get. You go!


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