Day 25 Wednesday, August 3 Meeteetse to Thermopolis, WY 60 miles
I was given a gift today. Meeteetse to Thermopolis loses about 1000 feet in elevation over a 54 mile stretch and, on this day, the winds of Wyoming that one can count on most of the time, were giving me a good push from the back. My legs definitely needed the break from the number of days with elevation gains. Even though I put in a reasonable number of miles, they were not taxing. I arrived in Thermopolis early in the afternoon giving me time to survey possible arrangements for the night. Thermopolis Hot Springs (“The Largest Natural Hot Springs in the World”) is right in town and I was hoping to stay close to them and enjoy some of the warm mineral water.
Just as I was nearing the entrance I passed “Dairyland”–one of those small town burger joints where you just know that the burgers and shakes are made the way they are supposed to be made. I made a U-turn and decided to get some lunch before figuring out my nightly accomodations. There I met Chris and Jennifer, two residents of Thermopolis who make an annual trip to Oregon to ride their tandem bike down the coast. Can you guess where I am staying tonight! They have a lovely refurbished adobe home, cooked me a wonderful cyclists’ pasta dinner and served me Oregon’s finest, Tillamook Marionberry ice cream. Chris mentioned that he’d like to start a networking site where cyclists can host other cyclists when they are touring. I told one already existed and they are checking out the Warmshowers network.
Over a wonderful spagetti dinner we discussed the best strategy to make the jump from Thermopolis to Casper, a distance of 135 miles. Shoshoni is just 33 miles from here where I’ll have my last accomodations and official campsites. Kathy commented in the blog how there just isn’t much between Thermopolis and Laramie. It appears that there are two stretches of 90-100 miles where there isn’t any guarantee of water or provisions. I like how Chris and Jennifer described a couple of the spots on the road, “Well there used to be a little store there, but I think it might have closed.” The point is I might find provisions along the way, but I certainly shouldn’t count on it. Jennifer suggested I go to Shoshoni tomorrow and then make one big leap of 100 miles to Casper in one day. She said she also met a cyclist last week who just rides as far as he can ride and then puts his tent down somewhere off the road. I am still open to that if I have to, but I would still rather ride hard and long than to camp out in the open like that. This part of Wyoming doesn’t really even have trees. One is pretty exposed!
The pacing thing is definitely at the center of what I am working through. Ray posted and has me thinking about how I have had breakthroughs in the past–by pushing or pausing? Great question and I think there are aspects to both. Roanne asked, “Can’t the pilgrim also be flexible?” I think this is right on and I am reflecting on why I am struggling with allowing more flexibility into this journey. Alot of it can be found in the original intentions I established for this pilgimage–a time of “letting go”, “bridging”, and “mirroring”. Some days these themes feel like they are competing against each other. Then there is simply the fact that as much as I’d like to ease up and relax, the physical terrain says, “Don’t linger too long between oases!” I imagine what I will do is make the short jump to Shoshoni, rest up, and then get an early start and do the century ride into Casper on Friday. That seems like the wisest thing.
Had a good soak in the mineral hot springs before dinner tonight. I nearly fell asleep hanging onto the edge of the pool, I was so relaxed. Maybe I can sneak another swim in tomorrow before leaving again.