June 22, 2001

6/22/01 Lander, WY

0 miles

I was amazed when I woke up and didn't need a jacket. Guess that should have told me what kind of day we were going to have (hot, if you hadn't guessed).

When I went to bed last night, after the lights went out over the baseball fields, there were two of us tenting in the park. But when I woke in search of a bathroom, there were 10, either tenting or just with a sleeping bag on the grass. I wonder where they all came from.

I had to walk around town before the Wildflower Bakery opened at 7 A.M. What a great place, with very good bagels and cinnamon rolls. After that, I spent the morning doing errands, like the library (email), bookstore (looking for books on Lewis & Clark), a new watch battery at Rhoads Jewelry, went through my food bag, and then went to El Sol de Mexico for lunch.

By this time, it was very hot. "Hottest day this summer so far," said Tom at the park. So I decided just to kick back and relax instead of doing the side trip to Sinks Canyon. Ended up just doing a lot of walking.

Back at the park, I read a little and tried to take a nap, hoping a few riders would show up. At one point, I got to talking with a few folks from Boulder. Toni, Christy, and Jeff had been doing some university research near the Tetons and were headed back to Boulder tomorrow. I hope I can remember some of the "uncrowded" places to stop at when going through Yellowstone. I love talking to people and hearing their stories, too.

Called work (back in KC) to check on my co-workers. Even though I'm having fun, I miss them. After that, I went in search of a barber shop. The other day I got a chance to look at myself in a mirror and I scared myself! I think I had more hair on my ears than on my head. But after my $8 haircut, I sure am a handsome devil.

Main Street

After dinner at the Gannett Grill, I found Willem camped at the park. He said it had been a hard day fighting the wind and heat. When I suggested we go to the movies, he said he wasn't feeling very well. "Probably the heat," he thought. He thinks he'll take another day off tomorrow because of how he feels.

The last I heard from Mike (the Australian I biked with in Kentucky and Illinois), he had finished his ride to Seattle and had stated that riding alone was the downside of the whole trip. I couldn't agree more. Even though young Willem and I don't have much in common, we have the kinship of the road.

I went to see "Pearl Harbor" at the Grand Theater on Main Street. The movie affected me both on and off the screen. Going to a show on Friday night is such a "being at home" kind of thing to do. As I got wrapped up in the story, I wondered about where I fit in this world. How will I make my mark? Will I find love? Who is Jim Damico?

I know I should be at least in Montana by the time anyone reads this. So, I'm not sure how I'll feel then. I know I cling to these towns as a life preserver against the loneliness. Tomorrow I'll get on the bike because home is a long way away, so what else would I do? Town, people, and miles of roadway all blend together like a dream montage. Still, so long to go yet, or will I wake up at home, in a bed, getting ready for work tomorrow? People think this trip is physically very difficult, but I'm here to say that's nothing compared to how it affects you mentally. My AT hike was the same, but there I constantly had the support of fellow thruhikers. Here, a fellow cross-country cyclist is a rare find.

I hope Willem feels better tomorrow. He sounds as if he'll be taking time off in Yellowstone, too. So, tomorrow morning will probably be a final goodbye. On a lighter note, Bubba (whom I met in Kentucky) isn't too far behind. And I should be crossing paths with the Adventure Cycling group, which includes my Kansas City friend, Jim Fogle. Hopefully Yellowstone and the Tetons will break me out of this funk. (P.S. Melissa, I didn't get lucky.)