WanderlustBy Sam Lepore

Subject: WanderRockies 7 - Riverton, Wyoming
Date: Mon, 24 Jul 2000 22:54:21 -0700

    Hey?! This was supposed to be Wander Rockies. How did it become Wander Endless Open Arid Plains? Sheesh. Who moved the mountains?
    We tend to forget that the Rockies slew diagonally from north west to south east. A longitudinal line drawn from the 'upper left corner' in Idaho would intersect San Diego, and the 'lower right corner' in Texas lines up with the central Dakotas.
    So I pounded out almost 400 diagonal miles and ended up with a front range about the same distance away as when I started. In Denver it was Mt. Evans, in Riverton it is Wind River Peak. But in-between it was flat flat flat (except for one side road).

    Meanwhile Rebecca is in Boston on business. Does she miss following the bounce of my white helmet the same way it seems strange for me not to see a headlight in the mirror? This has been a eye opener for the distinct differences between solo and group riding - even if the group was only two. I realize now how much time I spent looking in two directions when I was leading the parade.
    Speaking of 'parade', I forgot to mention the rally in Paonia has a motorcycle parade through the town every year. It is led by the police and fire department, then the first motorcycle carries a special guest passenger. This lady has been riding every year. Last year she rode in a sidecar, this year she was on the back of a R1100RT. What is special about her? ... next weekend is her 102 birthday.
    After the parade we walked back to drop off our poker walk forms. What a sudden and delightful surprise it was that evening to hear the announcement of first place prize in the poker walk go to ... Rebecca! (Full house, Aces / Jacks)

    Ok, getting back to today and the change in traveling alone again, I was conscious of how more relaxed I was for not always 'watching my six'. In fact, the feeling of being off duty was so prominent I felt too tired to ride. After only 100 miles I checked into the Iron Butt Motel (a picnic table at a rest area) for a refresher nap.
    It wasn't until after I woke up that I noticed I had chosen the Robbers Roost Wayside Rest in the non-town of Virginia Dale (named for the wife of the stage stop owner). Seems the owner was in cahoots with the robbers who roosted in the hills about where the roost area - uh, rest area is now. He eventually gave up the charade and became a bandit until the vigilance committee convinced him to stop. Permanently. Don't know what happened to Ginny D.
    I was wakened from my unwary rest by the wayward Wyoming wind. A strong push from just over the border reminded me I should push on, too.

    Wyoming is the land of the 85 mph pickups. I don't think I have ever passed a pickup in Wyoming. Even in these open spaces I prefer to hold to a speed that lets me watch the scenery without having to watch for enforcement, i.e. 10 over. But these pickups seem to be programmed for 10 over my 10 over. Strange, though, they never seem to be in a hurry, just going fast.

    Crossing the border raises thoughts of rigidity in our society. Now that we have set the boundaries of states, counties, etc., we expect everything to stay put. Including rivers and mountains, hah. How did the nomadic tribes that crossed this land before us establish the bounds of their territory? Was it a rigid demarcation (unlikely), or did the imprecise line cross that valley "somewhere". The flexibility probably varied with the relative friendships between the tribes, but since they did not claim to own the land, it probably didn't matter so much. If you could see the openness of these plains, you would agree (unless you are a homesteader).
    Wyoming uses any excuse to call a spot a 'town'. A trading post marks the spot where the railroad once stored wooden ties. It is called Tie Siding. There is a refinery (and nothing but a refinery) at the spot called Sinclair. Of course, it is the Sinclair Oil Company refinery. The spot called Sand Draw is an oil field. One small building, no residence. And the single house at a spot in the Great Divide Basin qualifies for the sign "Lamont, Population 3".

    The one exception to flat travel today is crossing the Medicine Bow Range from Centennial to Saratoga. The Medicine Bow Mountains were a place of strong spirits for the plains Indians. From the top of Snowy Range Pass, you can clearly see the high point of Trail Ridge, 70 miles away. The spirit of the mountains is strong. I clearly see the spirit of a loved one playing by Mirror Lake. There is only one cloud in the sky above. It changes shape. It changes again. It forms a likeness of the face of the loved one, long gone. It changes, and the spirit is gone.

   Forty miles later I approach an unavoidable segment of Interstate 80. From more than six miles away across the plains I can see the truck bodies slowly drifting across the horizon on the yet invisible line of pavement. I think to myself: land clouds.

390 miles
Aurora I225 US36 US287 WY130 US287 WY135 Riverton
Sam Lepore, San Francisco

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