7/8/14

DAY 10 - ESCAPE FROM THE BIG HORN MOUNTAINS.

For those of you who were wondering why we slept in Meeteetse, WY last night instead of Sheridan, I have to back up to our rest day. While we were in Yellowstone feeling very tired,  we looked a few days ahead at our route and noticed an enormous climb through the Big Horn mountains. While doing laundry in the Yellowstone hotel, a couple who had just come through the mountains told us that the roads were treacherous, had little to no shoulder, and were dangerous for bicycles. We asked my sisters in Command Central to look into this, and this is what they sent (remember, we are traveling west to east).

     Already having spent a few days in the mountains, climbing passes over 8000 feet, we didn't want to do another climb, even steeper, over 9000 feet. We reconfigured the route to go south to avoid the Big Horns and will now follow Route 20 east instead of Route 14 east.  My sister Lauren outlined the new route on her atlas and sent photographs so we would have hard copies if we lost cell phone reception. 

     Our day began a little late as we slept in - we needed the sleep. There was a simple but well-stocked continental breakfast at the Oasis which was for motel guests, but campers could participate for a donation.  I had oatmeal, toast with jelly, a hard boiled egg and coffee.   Having had breakfast worked well, as our first town, Thermopolis, was 52 miles away. We finally got going at around 7:30. 
     Because the route is now new to us, we've had my sisters measure out distances of 110-130 miles to get is to Milwaukee on the correct day. They send us suggestions for places to eat and an overview of the terrain.

     As you can see, it was mostly downhill to Thermopolis and this morning we had a tailwind. That combination had us averaging just under 24 mph, getting us to Thermopolis in just over two hours.

   Thermopolis is famous for its hot springs and has a relatively large tourist complex set up around it. Although there were plenty of places to eat, we decided to hit the grocery store which we prefer. We stuck to our staples, yogurt, cherries, plums, turkey breast, and cheese.   Dave and I also bought some local snack cakes which pushed us over the edge into a food coma on the sidewalk that runs along the side of the store. Justin let us sleep for about 20 minutes before waking us up and getting us moving. 

     The highlight of today's ride was biking through the wind river canyon. It follows the river and is the exit through the Big Horn mountains that arc southwest around Thermopolis. The scenery was spectacular.

   
    Exiting the canyon took us through through a series of tunnels. We did well, no competition from cars and very high speed.

    Once through, we took a quick break in a park by the river. Shade is hard to find along the road and this park looked very inviting. As we ate protein bars and drank water, an official vehicle pulled up,


 and the park ranger got out: "Do you know you're in a Wyoming State park?"  I wondered what we could have possibly done wrong this time. He quickly explained that this was a day use park and that we should have paid a fee before sitting down. He then said he would waive the fee as it was obvious to him we were just passing through. As it turns out he is a cyclist also and asked us a bunch of questions about our bikes and the trip. He said he wished he was our age as he would like to have come along.  A few miles down the road when we were cycling again, he passed us, honked the horn and gave us a big wave. 
     Getting to Shoshoni was a climb, but we had a tailwind which made things nice. Unfortunately at Shoshoni we would make a 90'degree turn east and the tail wing would become a cross wind. We are quickly learning that winds can have a very big impact on the amount of miles we can do, and after asking many of the locals, it is difficult to predict the direction or the speed. The ride to Hiland was very difficult. The crosswind became a little more of a headwind and we estimated it between 20 and 30 knots. The road was straight with little variation in terrain.

We passed the sign below.


Our ride for today was 124 miles and we were really feeling it as we approached our stopping point, Steelman's Brite Spot, in the town of Hiland, population 10.


It's a bar, store, restaurant, and motel, but they let campers like us set up a tent in the field behind the motel. The inside of the restaurant/store was fascinating. Stuffed rattlesnakes for sale at the main counter, stickers everywhere and a small dinner/breakfast menu. 

Bob, the owner, was great. He made us dinner, let us charge our devices, choose the TV channel and engaged us in conversation. After we ate, we set up the tent
 and came back to the bar for a few beers. Bob told us what it was like to own his place and gave us a picture of life in a small town of 10. We asked him if he knew the other 9, but he said that number was fluid. 
    After the beers, we said goodnight, got into the tent at 9:30 with it not yet dark, and rested up for another day. Breakfast is served at 6am, and we plan to be his first customers. 

9 comments:

  1. The Brite Spot looked like a bright spot! Ride safe You have had incredibly good weather albeit a little warm.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for all the comments Mommy. Thank you for helping with the room at Yellowsone. We needed it. : )

      Delete
  2. I've been dying for the update on The Brite Spot! It was the ONLY thing on the road! Too bad you aren't picking up souvenirs, I think Bill & Francis would have enjoyed the stuffed rattlesnake.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anonymous7/08/2014

    Great stories! Keep 'em coming!

    -Nathan and Sally

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anonymous7/08/2014

    That hotel... adventurous to say the least!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anonymous7/08/2014

    Only one word to describe that Wind River Canyon ride: EPIC.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Loving the travel blog and the photos Don! Safe riding! Val P.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks For the well wishes Val!

      Delete
  7. I can't imagine going through those small tunnels on bikes. Yikes!

    ReplyDelete