Woke up at the church this morning and started packing up. It's always hard to pack up and leave after a rest day, but the road was calling, and we had to get going.
While we were packing up, Mary-Ellen came in with Franklin. She said the pastor had ordered him out of the church. Apparently, the pastor and the dog don't get along very well, so Franklin had to wait out the church service in the office.
When we finally dragged our bikes outside, our first objective was to get a picture riding the giant jackalope at the gas station down the road. It only cost a dollar, and it only took two tries to get both of us up on the jackalope before the camera went off. Success! Yee-Haw!
As we left town, we stopped to take a picture of some cool, tan and red striped hills, and a car passed us, honked, and stopped just ahead. It was John and Robin! They got out and we talked a bit, and then we decided that since we'd seen them 3 different times now, they needed a picture on our blog. So here's a photo of our surprise traveling companions, John and Robin. And then they took our picture with the candy-cane hills in the background.
It's been pretty cold lately - dropping into the teens just a few days ago - but today is supposed to get up into the 90's! 90 degrees at the end of September in the mountains of Wyoming! That's well above average, and we figure it must be near record-setting heat.
As the day wore on, it definitely got hot. And sunny. And we were back in the desert. The lush vegetation of Yellowstone and the Tetons was definitely over. I'm not very excited to be back in the desert...hopefully it won't last long. We'll see.
We are going to go through the Wind River Indian Reservation today, and we need to make it all the way through, because 1) there's nowhere to stay the night, and 2) a few people have warned us about some recent murders that've taken place here, and told us to try hard to get through in one day.
Despite the heat, I did manage to pull something off that I've never done yet on the trip: I went up a long hill and stayed in my hardest gear the whole way! Nathan, thinking it was smarter to save his energy, came up in an easier gear. He told me to be careful as I passed him going up the hill, but I felt great, so I just raced on!
When we reached the top, we could see another biker ahead of us descending the other side. We caught up with him a few hills later, and, to our surprise, it was a biker that we'd seen back North in Missoula, MT at the Adventure Cycling Association! His name is David, and he's from Malaysia. He loves to ride his bike, so he retired a few years ago, and now he rides around the world. He has a large family back in Malaysia, and when he is home, he and his family host other cyclists from all over the world at their house. He showed us a large photo album of many bikers he has hosted at his home, and he remembered all the different countries they were from. He told us we should come visit him in Malaysia!
Nathan and David took a picture together, and that's when we noticed that despite the super high temperatures, David was in long pants and a jacket! We also noticed that David and Nathan's clothes matched colors - it looked like they were a cycling team.
David told us he was going pretty slow, so we said goodbye and went on ahead of him. We met up again at a gas station for lunch (the only thing around for 30 miles in any direction). We shared peanut butter bagels and donuts, and many people stopped to ask questions about our trip. If you can imagine 3 touring bikes loaded with gear at a very rural gas station, we were sure to draw attention.
Back on the road, we had lots of hills ahead of us. Unlike my glorious race uphill this morning, I didn't make it up any of these hills in even a remotely difficult gear. In fact, going up one hill, I started feeling like I was going to throw up. I was sweating a lot and running out of energy pretty quick. In the middle of the hill, I decided to walk. Turns out I should've listened to Nathan back at the beginning of the day and taking it easy...
As we biked on, we noticed more of the beautiful geology and landscape of Wyoming that has caught our attention since the beginning. Here is a particularly interesting place we passed:
I was feeling pretty worn out and crabby when we met Ben and Ryan, two other touring cyclists. They had stayed at Lander (the city we were riding towards) the night before. We were planning to spend the night at the city park because it was free, but they told us there was a hotel that offered camping and had a hot tub for just $10/night!
All of the sudden, it was like someone told me I just won the lottery or something. Hot tub?! Did they say hot tub?! Like a funny saying goes that Nathan and I have seen out here, "Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit!", there's a hot tub where we're going!!! YYAAYY!! Here's a picture of my heroes, Ben and Ryan. :-)
Filled with energy, we pedaled on towards the glorious, wonderful, fabulous, dream-come-true hot tub that was calling to us from Lander, WY.
We stopped for a much needed rest break about 15 miles out from Lander at a gas station in the Wind River Indian Reservation. We were so hot and thirsty, we downed a whole bottle of ice water then split an orange soda, then had more ice water. We also tried some Oreo Cakesters, because we were curious to see if they were any good. They're not.
In about an hour, we made it to Lander, and it seemed like an oasis. After the long ride through empty desert with only 2 gas stations for nearly 75 miles to break up the heat and sand, it was so great to get to a big city.
Our first stop was a grocery store - a real grocery store! I felt like I was from another country when I went in. Even though it's just like the kind of grocery store I usually shop at when we're at home in Dallas, I was amazed at the size, selection and quantities of food. "Ahhhh, America, you're so overflowing with bounty", I thought to myself. Corny - yes. True - yes. Nathan and I realized that after tonight, we were entering a multi-day stretch through the desert (mmoorree desert) that was going to be even more barren than today's stretch, so we needed to buy a lot of food and water to get us through.
After the grocery store, we found the Holiday Lodge, complete with camping and hot tub just like we'd heard. Happiness. :-) I went in to pay for the night, and we discovered that it was actually $10 per PERSON per night, so we would owe $20. That was a bummer, but we decided to pay anyway because of the hot tub. Our sore muscles needed some TLC.
After dinner, we soaked in the hot tub, and it felt like a little bit of heaven on earth....for about 5 minutes. Then we started sweating. Then we came back to reality and remembered we were sitting in a hot tub on a 90 degree day. Duh.
We forced ourselves to stay in the hot tub for 25 minutes, and then we couldn't take it anymore, so we got out, took showers, and got ready for bed.
Even though it was really hot, we were so happy to have been in a hot tub and be camping in a city. There were no other campers at the hotel that night, so we set up our tent and enjoyed having the entire grassy area by the river to ourselves. It was great: all around us was green and we could hear the water babbling nearby - such a refreshing change from the desert. Also an interesting change was that there were no bear-proof dumpsters, no bear boxes, and no wildlife warnings. After being in bear country for about a month, it was almost weird. But it was great! We even had a beautiful sunset. All in all, a fabulous end to the day!