June 20, 2001

6/20/01 Jeffery City, WY

70.1 miles

Willem likes to sleep late, so I didn't have the heart to wake him when I was leaving at 7 A.M. Because Western Hills Campground visitors get a 10% discount, I headed over to JB's Restaurant for their AYCE breakfast buffet (as if I needed an excuse). Made my way back through sleepy Rawlins, and headed north for Jeffery City.

You can tell the road north isn't used much because there were absolutely no businesses north of town. None! As you can imagine, the open range I've been going through these last days was the same headed north.

A long climb out of town had me crossing the Continental Divide again and dropping into the Great Divide Basin, an area completely surrounded by the Continental Divide. It almost felt like riding across a crater.

Just before riding out of the basin, there is the town of Lamont, population 3. I was just going to stop for a snack, but it turned out to already be 11:30. The winds must have really slowed me down. Talked to a few construction workers about the trip as I had lunch at "Grandma's Café." It was good to be out of the wind for a while.

More extensive road construction today as I left Lamont. The complete highway was being torn up. On one section I had to bike on a temporary dirt road behind a procession of a lot of trucks, cars, and RVs. One of the signal girls said they had 85 MPH winds last Tuesday and that half of their new hires quit the next day. Made it through all the roadwork without much trouble.

Muddy Pass wasn't much of a pass. But I did run into three eastbounders. Jason and Natasha are together, and Matt has joined them for a while. We talked about the good and bad in either direction. I warned them about the construction and then recommended the Western Hills Campground in Rawlins. They didn't see anyone else westbound today, but that doesn't surprise me.

Matt, Natasha & Jason

Saw more pronghorn antelope today, but also three dead ones along the road, along with shattered car parts. Didn't see any prairie dogs, though.

Split Rock was a prominent landmark on the Oregon Trail. At the rest stop, talked to a mother and her little girl about my adventure. One interesting thing on the interpretive signs was that the Mormons usually traveled on the other side of streams and rivers than the other settlers headed west.

This open range is beautiful in its own way, with lots of olive and khaki color. The only real green was found on the banks of the Sweetwater River. I wouldn't want to live here, though. I think I'd miss the trees too much.

The Sweetwater River

I thought the guidebook was being too judgmental when it called Jeffery City "a virtual ghost town," but she wasn't wrong. The town was born because of mining (in 1958?) and is fading now that the mine is gone. Dozens of buildings are boarded up and abandoned. I only saw four businesses: Split Rock Bar/Café, another bar, a liquor store, and the post office.

I'm camped behind the Lions Club Picnic Pavilion. The weeds are knee-high and the Freemason Hall next door has been unused for a long time (the door had been busted down). While the sun was out, the mosquitoes were relentless. Since there isn't any water, I went down to the café for a sandwich and a bowl of ice cream. Ron said he's owned the place for 16 years and would love to move on, "but the folks here have become dependent on the place," he said. Filled up my water bottle in the bathroom and headed back across the highway to my campsite.

Because of the mosquitoes, I took refuge in the tent, laughing at those little buggers trying to get in. But they had the last laugh because the sun beating down on the tent created a sauna. I just lay there dripping and feeling lethargic.

Later, when the sun went down, it all changed again. The mosquitoes are gone because the winds have become fierce. And the temperature is dropping fast. And the worst thing about this "city" camp is NO TOILET! At one pint, I could have gone another 18 miles to a pay campground, but decided against it. So, now I lay in my tent. No one else around. Can't find anything on the radio - bummer.

I think the plan will be an early departure so I can get into Lander. Might even have to take a day off. That is if these winds don't destroy my tent tonight. Come to think of it, they feel like tailwinds. I hope they continue until I'm in Lander.