May 26, 2012
Fort Collin, CO – Lander, WY: 299mi
I really didn’t have much of a plan on my route through the states. All I knew were the places I wanted to see along the way. Most of those places were big ass mountains, twisty roads and national parks. I wanted to head toward the Tetons and Yellowstone, so when I looked at the map on my handy Droid, it looked like 25N, to 80W, to 287 towards Dubois was the best way to go.
I considered taking 191 instead of 287 in order to travel through Jackson, a town I heard was nice to see. But since I have Snake Indian (aka Shoshone) in my blood I decided to see the Shoshone reservation and grave of Sacajawea instead.
It was beautiful leaving Colorado. I rode through some desert canyons scattered with massive red rocks and green sagebrush. It’s certainly a state I’d like to go back to and have more time to explore in. I rode way too fast through there.
As I got into Wyoming the landscape became flatter and I started to feel the wind pick up and temperature drop. I rode through some rain off and on throughout the day and was happy to pull out my new heated gloves for the first time. My hands were dry and toasty. Although with no temperature control, they were a bit too hot at times. I had to unplug them now and then to prevent me from getting burned.
I tried to ride fast most of the day to make miles since I slowed down for a couple days in Colorado to see friends and family. I didn’t stop much but I did manage to pull over at Split Rock where the old famous Oregon Trail runs through a valley between some beautiful boulder formations. It looked like a scene from an old western movie. I could just imagine the train of white-backed wagons down below, oblivious to the natives hiding in the rocks watching every move they made.
As it got later in the afternoon I ran into some bad weather that challenged me mentally for the first time. The temperature continued to drop and as I got into higher elevations the fog became so thick I could hardly see my own speedometer. Even with my heated gloves my hands were starting to freeze and my visor was icing over. I had to turn my head sideways to peek through the single patch of visibility left on my visor in order to see the road.
I stopped at a rest-stop concerned with my plan on making it all the way to Dubois. I realized at this rate there was no way I’d make it there and with this weather I needed to find the closest place to warm up and sleep indoors rather than camp. I was beginning to feel insecure with my decisions and lonely with the realization of how far I was from anyone that I knew or anything that was familiar. I started doubting myself that I really had no idea what I was doing and if the conditions were this bad now, what the hell was it going to be like in Alaska!
The next town was Lander. I stopped at a gas station and pulled out the Droid to search for cheap motels. I found a cute lodge closeby for just $60/night. The lady there was sweet and gave me the best news I’d heard all day. They had a hot tub.
She also informed me they had strange weather lately with snow and low temperatures, unseasonal for this time of year…Just my luck. When I told her I had come into Lander on 287, she was surprised to hear it was still open since she heard they had a lot of snow. I must have just missed it.
After thawing myself immersed in hot water I put some comfy, dry street clothes on and walked down into the little town of Lander and found a brewery, my favorite spot to find in any town. I enjoyed a good stout with a big ass burger, and was glad to be in a cozy lodge for the night.
The weather forecast didn’t look good overnight. Continuous rain and snow in the higher elevations. I had a feeling I wouldn’t be riding into the Tetons or Yellowstone. There would possibly be an unexpected rendezvous tomorrow. However, I remained determined to face my obstacles and continue my journey.
Quote of the day:
At one point in the day I was feeling under the weather (no pun intended) while I was at a gas station. An older man came up to me intrigued with where I was from and where I was going. When I told him he just shook his head and smiled, “Just have fun.”
Sometimes people just say the right thing at just the right moment.