Friday, August 7, 2009

At the campground in Casper, I saw a campfire, and started wondering whether or not to crash it like I crashed the one at Fort Robinson back in Nebraska. But coming closer, I realized that wasn't an issue because the fire was on my site.

"You're welcome to have a fire here," were the first words out of my mouth as I walked up. "Mind if I pitch my tent though, before it gets dark?"

"Oh," the woman looked disapppointed. "Is that your site?"

"Yeah, but it's cool," I said. "Seriously, have your fire here."

"Oh, it's no big deal. I work here. We just sometimes light fires on empty sites, but I figured someone would show up. It's all right. You're welcome to have the fire, just see that it doesn't get out of control."

"Thanks...." I said.

She left and I started pitching the tent. Pretty soon, a man walked up.

"How are you doing?"

"Good!" I said, assuming he was a neighbor saying hi.

"I see you've got a fire going. You know you're welcome to use those logs over there too, right?"

"Oh, really? Thanks!" Darn. He worked there too.

I was about to continue working with the tent when a car pulled up and an older man got out. He was hunched over, with a scraggly beard, but he walked around nimbly and his voice was shrill.

"Hello there, mate!"


"Mind if we join you at your fire?"

I made a big gesture. "Come on over!"

"I got ya some BEER!" he lifted a six-pack of bottles.

"Come on in!" I said with an even bigger gesture, making him laugh loudly.

Then he stopped and pointed at the bike. "You on THAT thing?"

"Yes, sir!"

"Here in Wyoming?"

"Yes, sir!"

He paused for a bit. "Ya got BALLS, buddy. Ya got BALLS. I could never do that. Now let's help you set up this tent."

We worked on it together and talked.

"So where do you carry your map?"

"Don't have one."

"WHAT! You don't carry no MAP?"


"Who goes biking without a map?"

"A complete idiot, for one," I offered.

He laughed that shrill laugh again. "You're right, a complete idiot! I'll look and see if I can give you a—now, now, come around and push, you know better than to pull those—so what do you do, pay people to give you directions?"

That just opened perfectly. "Maybe I would have, but I don't have much money on me."

"What! You don't carry no MONEY?"

"Well, I have a little. I stop every so often to work."

"....ya got BALLS, buddy, is all I can say. Here, let's get some chairs around this fire."

We got some chairs out of his trunk.

"You mind if I call my sweetheart and have her join us?"

"By all means; the more, the merrier."

He took out his phone and dialed. "There, sweetheart, he said we're welcome to join! See how it works? All you have to do is ask!" He hung up. "She'll be here in a bit. Now, I don't think I caught your name."

"Greg." I put out my hand.

"SWAMP!" He shook it.

"Nice to meet you."

"Nice to meet ME? I've been dying to meet a crazy bastard like you!"

His sweetheart was the woman who had built my fire in the first place. We sat for only a short while before she went back to their RV (in which they lived pretty much year-round) to relax. Swamp and I sat and talked for a while more.

"Ya got plans for dinner?"

"Got a few pop tarts at the gas station, they'll tide me over tonight."

Again that shrill laugh that could probably be heard from a mile away in the night. "You bike and don't eat proper? Now that ain't BALLS, mate, that's just..."

I laughed. "Don't worry about it. I know what I can live on."

"Well, sure, but we got a lot of leftovers, and we didn't know what to do wit'em! Now this will work nicely!"

As always, I don't refuse.


The road from Casper to Shoshoni was almost as desolate as everybody had warned. It was 100 miles (right about exactly) from the middle of Casper to the middle of Shoshoni, with about 6 miles of non-empty road on either end. The remaining 88 miles were desert, with only one lonely store strategically placed right about in the middle. I zipped through it as fast as I could, which still took a big chunk of the day. Thankfully, it was pretty flat. Nowhere on that road would have been good for camping.

With the storms that were coming in, I got a room at the Desert Inn, unloaded my luggage, and headed over to the Shoshoni Public Library

where I attempted to use the internet for a while, but found that there was only one computer with internet, and as soon as I sat down, people came and started waiting for me. So I let them go.

I walked outside just as another bout of rain and hail came in from the north. I jumped on my bike and zipped away, possibly reaching 40 MPH, but that thing was fast and I got hit a couple of times before running into the inn and slamming the door.

I waited for the storm to pass and went down the street to the Desert Cafe to get dinner before going to sleep. When I woke up, the first place I headed was the Desert Cafe for breakfast. That's how these towns are. One inn, one cafe. Two gas stations, though.


After breakfast, I continued up route 20. Shoshoni quickly disappeared, and I was back in the desert.

But now I could see the Great Plains coming to an end up close ahead, and the mountains beginning. As I rode onward, with every few miles, I could actually see that end getting closer. There was a very distinct boundary.


That'll be it for now.

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