Jeffery City, WY
Church of the Nazarene
Nathan slept pretty well last night, but I was awake quite a bit analyzing every sound and flash of light. At one point, it sounded like a lady was laughing pretty loudly from the parking lot of the bar down the street. It woke me up, and I thought it was weird because it was very late at night, so I was surprised there was still anyone at the bar. I listened, and a little while later I heard a "caaawww", then the laughing again, only this time it was MUCH closer to where Nathan and I were.
Then, something started going through the garbage right outside. There were several loud clangs from cans being rooted through, and I wasn't sure what, who, or how many were out there.
I was also stunned that Nathan was sleeping through all of this!
I thought to myself, "I'm not sure WHAT is going through the trash, but it's probably just an animal...no big deal..".
Then some lights came through the front windows and panned across the ceiling! Ah!
"Vrrroooommmm"...a car drove down the road. "Phew..just a car," I thought.
But I kept listening, and watching, and praying, and trying to stop the cold sweat I was in in my sleeping bag.
Then a "caaaww" and "Ha Ha Ha Ha Haaa" came right from behind the back windows!
Seriously, my heart was racing.
I had never heard a sound like that before, and whatever was making it was right outside. Was it an animal? Was it a woman? Were there any men? Were they going to come in?
Then it was dark and quiet. No lights. No "caw"ing, no laughing. Nothing.
You know how sometimes quiet is more scary than noise? Well, it was. I waited. Nathan kept sleeping (crazy!). Nothing happened.
Then the "caawww" and "ha ha ha haaa" sounded again, but this time from further away in the field.
I pretty much decided that it MUST be an animal, but I have NEVER heard any animal that sounds like that. I also decided that there must only be one, and it must just be wandering around Jeffery City looking for food or something.
BUT I stayed awake and alert JUST IN CASE I was wrong and there really was trouble. Duh!
Well, long, scary night short...nothing ever really happened. Just some weird noises and some perfectly timed cars driving down the road shining their lights in our windows.
Needless to say, Nathan woke up feeling fine this morning, but I felt like a zombie. I had hardly slept.
We were both ready to get out of Jeffery City though, so we quickly ate breakfast, packed up, and got on the road. We started before 9am! We typically try to leave around 9, but end up leaving around 9:30ish. We hardly ever make it out by 9, and we almost never ever make it out BEFORE 9. So anway, it was telling that it wasn't even 9am yet when we left.
Happy to be on the road, we made great time for the first 18 miles! We were zipping along, feeling our muscles work, enjoying the freedom of the open road, and happy to be out of Jeffery City when suddenly we were hit by what felt like a brick wall of wind!!
It had to be our strongest headwind yet, and it hit us like a mac truck. Fortunately, neither of us fell off our bikes when this happened, but we were definitely knocked back quite a bit. Our rest stop was only 3 miles away, so we pressed on hoping this was just a rogue gust.
As we pushed through, we discovered it defintely wasn't just a gust, it was the real deal - a huge and unrelenting wind. We think it was a 30mph headwind!
Nathan was pretty frustrated by it, but I tried to have a good attitude. I thought of it like the wind was playing with us, and then I tried thinking of it like the wind was hugging us, and then I thought about it like the wind was a bunch of 5 year olds going crazy all around us, and then I thought of the wind as an enemy to our progress, trying to hold us back. And then I was frustrated too.
I'm surprised that for all of my over-thinking everything this past 24 hours, my mind hasn't exploded yet.
We finally reached our rest stop, a lonely gas station in the middle of nowhere, and we used what felt like the last of our strength to pedal our bikes up the hill on the driveway to the door.
When we got inside, we found ourselves in one of the most unique gas stations I've ever been in. It had coffee and food and restrooms like normal gas stations, but all the walls were covered in sharpie marker. It seems like almost everyone who had ever been here had written a note, drawn a picture, and/or signed their name on the walls...and ceilings, and doorways, and doors, and shelving.
We decided on coffee and chocolate-chip cookie dough ice cream. Besides a very low number of chocolate chip cookie dough balls, it was wonderful. :-) After we finished our high-calorie, high-sugar snack, we got a sharpie and Nathan added our names up on the ceiling.
We hoped the wind had died off while we were inside, but when we went out to our bikes, we found the wind still blowing just as strong as ever. Shucks.
So, what else could we do but bike in it. The wind blew for the rest of the day and slowly drove us crazy.
We biked over two continental divides today, one of which was at the top of a maddening hill. I've never seen a hill quite like this. You'd think you were coming to the top of it, and suddenly you'd see another high point further up the road. So you'd bike to that one and as you were coming to this "top", you'd see another high point further up the road again. This happened like 5 or so times on one of the continental divide passes.
And no matter which way the road turned, the wind was always against us. It was amazing (in a bad way) how many different directions we went and the wind was always either a headwind or a crosswind.
In addition to this frustration, my right eye had been watering most of the day, and my nose had been running. The wind was irritating my eye, which made it water more, and the wind kept blowing, so my eye would water even more. And my nose was running regardless. So I pretty much had some kind of wet stuff running down my face most of the day. Ew! At one point in the day, BOTH of my eyes were watering from all the wind, and they were watering so badly that I couldn't see. We had to stop, so I could wipe the water out of my eyes...again. I wiped so much water out of my eyes today that they got red and the skin around them started feeling raw.
I eventually found that if I looked slightly left and down towards the ground, the wind just sort of blew around my head and not in my eyes. Ah ha! But, of course, looking left and down doesn't help me see what's coming up on the road. I opted to look left and down anyway. Nathan recommended I get some goggles. I felt like saying "OK..where? That store just down the road? There is NOTHING here!", but I kept my raging to myself.
Here's a picture of what the roads looked like today. I'm smiling...but I don't know why. Anyway, look at the road - it just stretches on forever with no place at all to stop and no shade. I'm sure this is really a beautiful place, but today, I couldn't see it.
O, and one more thing - when the wind was a crosswind, it was hard to breathe and it dried out our throats. It's easier to breathe when the wind is blowing directly towards you or away from you, but it's hard to breathe when it's blowing across you. Have you experienced this? Well, the wind blew across us for what seemed like most of the day after the rest stop. It's no fun to bike when it's hard to breathe and your throat is dry.
And there was nothing around. It was desert again. Hot, sunny, shadeless, crosswind-y desert.
Can you tell I wasn't enjoying it?
We eventually crossed a lone diner called "Grandma's Cafe". An escape from the outdoors!!! We took our food in to eat, but she said we couldn't eat our own food in her diner. She told us to go out back. "There's a picnic table out there. O, and don't mind the dogs. They'll bark at you, but they won't hurt you." Great.
So we went just off to the side of the building where there was shade and sat down. And a boxer came around the corner. We were a little nervous until I noticed that his whole butt was wagging as he looked at us. He was nice! Phew. So I pet him while Nathan made PB sandwiches. We ate lunch and headed back to the road.
After who knows how many more miles, we made it to a real town, Rawlins, WY! Like Lander, it seemed like an oasis to us. We got in touch with the pastor at the local Nazarene church, and he said we were welcome to pitch our tent at the church. I told him we were going to go the grocery store, and then we'd be right over. Yay! We made it through our difficult day, and now we had a place to stay for free! Things were looking up!
We rode to a "Discount Grocery", and unknowingly walked into one of the best places we've been this whole trip! I don't think I've ever been to a discount grocer before, but they are amazing! Everything is extremely inexpensive, and they have a lot of really good stuff! We got 16 power bars for $4 and 28 granola bars for another $4! We also got a Macarroni Grill Pesto Chicken Pasta box dinner for just $1.75!! And, of course, we got more ice cream. :-) In total we spent about $28, and I think we got about $70 worth of food. It was just awesome, awesome, awesome! Nearly all of the frustration of the day was wearing away, and thank goodness. We were so frustrated with how tough the day was, I think it was probably starting to shorten our life spans!
We got to the church and met David and Lorrie (this is at least the 3rd "Pastor David" we've met in 2 weeks), and their dogs, Rowdy and Buck. After we got situated and ate dinner, we all gathered in their living room for LOTS of ice cream and time to get to know each other.
We told them some stories from our bike trip, and Pastor David told us about his first experience with a Texas June Bug (very scary :-)), how you always take your "cow dog" with you everywhere you go, and a great restaurant in the town we were going to tomorrow with a "2 for $10" hamburger special. Sweet! They also told us we were only 3 days away from Hot Sulphur Springs, Co!
If you remember, WWAAYY back when we were in Idaho, we met this other biker couple, Ken and Jen, who were riding across country East to West. They told us that there was a great place in Colorado called Hot Sulphur Springs, and that there was a great restaurant there called the Glory Hole that served REALLY big and REALLY delicious cinnamon rolls. Remember? Well we certainly did, and we'd been thinking about Hot Sulphur Springs ever since we heard about it in Idaho, and now we're only 3 days away!! Hallelujah!
Well, I'm not sure our day could've ended any better. Discount grocer, church to stay at, really great time meeting the pastor and his wife, LOTS of ice cream, and finding out we're o-so-close to Hot Sulphur Springs.
Relaxed, de-stressed, and happy, we're off to bed now, and I'm sure I'll sleep well tonight!