Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Start of the Rockies

I'd like to apologize for the lack of updates. It's been REALLY hard to get online, and once I'd get access, there would be so much stuff I would need to do that I'd never manage to get around to everything. So let me try to continue the story for a bit. It will likely be drier with fewer details, as I'm trying to catch up here.


When I left off, I'd just about entered the Rockies. So the next thing that happened was that I entered them.

Eventually, I descended into the Wind River Canyon and rode along the river for a bit.

I saw a sign for a roadside table and pulled over to take a break and eat some cookies. But there were two tables, one of which was occupied, and when I leaned my bike against the empty one, I heard a yell.

"Hey, man, where are you going?"


"Come sit over here!"

Never hurts to have some companionship. The guy shook my hand.

"I'm Ed, she's Penny."

"Nice to meet you both."

"Where did you start today?"


"S__t, so you've been trekking through the desert! You probably need a sandwich. Turkey OK?"

This stuff almost doesn't even catch me off-guard anymore. "Sure."

"Mayo? Here, here's the turkey, here's some roast beef, here's some bread, make it yourself."


"Penny, do we have anything for him to drink?"

"Don't worry about it," I said. "You can't imagine how many water bottles I carry."

"Want to play a game of bones?"

"Sure, if you teach me."

It was just a game of dominoes with more complicated rules. I played one game that I completely lost because I didn't know the rules yet, then another game where I figured it out and started figuring out strategy.

"It's so beautiful out here," said Penny. "As soon as I got out of jail, I decided to head out here for a taste of freedom."

A storm was coming and the tables were sheltered, so I stayed with Ed and Penny until it passed. I figured out more strategy and started winning.

"OK," said Ed. "I think it's time you head on. Keep the score sheet as a souvenir."

I kept it.


Another seven miles down there was another roadside table, and I pulled over again. I checked if I had signal, and I did. I had a message, which I listened to. It was my friend Shaya wondering if I was OK, and saying that if I need it, he'll mail me stuff, or come out and pick me up. I called him back to say I appreciate it and tell him I'm OK. With the new armor, the bike was behaving beautifully, and I was feeling good.

As I talked, a man pulled up in a pickup with a trailer. He walked back and forth along the river, and I could tell he heard the conversation, which I didn't mind. As soon as I hung up, he walked over and said hi.

"You look like you're coming a long way. Want a Gatorade?"


We went over to his truck and I downed the Gatorade. "Thanks!"

He asked lots of questions. This wasn't unusual, because people get curious.

"Man," he said, "today would have been a perfect fly fishing day. You fly fish?"


"Shame. It would have been an easy food source for you. Look, see those bugs on the water? There's going to be trout coming up to feed on them. Perfect time, right now."

It really was pretty cool, but I couldn't imagine carrying a fishing rod on the bike. Not to mention I had nothing to cook with.

"I'm Greg, by the way," I said.

He shook my hand. "Neil."

"So what's your story, Neil?"

"I'm going up to Cody. I work with a hot-air balloon crew. Ever been on a hot-air balloon?"


"It's really quiet and peaceful. I don't know if you're headed up that way, but we're all getting there by Thursday and a lot of crews could use some help. I know ours can."

"Oh, yeah?"


"Because I actually am headed up that way."

"Well, then, you should just come. We launch from Mentock Park. Will you remember that?"

"Montauck Park?"

"That's it."

The fact that I misheard was going to cause me a bit of trouble later.

"But the balloonists get there around 5:30."

"So I guess I'd want to be there around the same time."


"That's cool, I can probably do that."

"All right. Well, I don't know if you accept rides, but I could probably load your bike in the back and take you all the way to Cody."

I'd heard Cody got some VERY heavy tourist traffic and was very expensive, and it was only Tuesday, so I'd be doing nothing for a couple of days there, probably spending ridiculous money on lodging.

"I really appreciate it," I said, "but I think I'll just ride to Thermopolis today."

"That's cool. Take another Gatorade for the road."


"It's nothing, you'll sweat it right out."

It was only a few miles to Thermopolis by then, and the wind had picked up mightily, so I walked into town, thinking about hot-air balloons.

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