Great Alaska Adventure: Across Wyoming
No new roads for me. Today’s ride was the longest of the trip so far, about 420 miles. It would have been shorter if I had listened to my GPS, which wanted to route me one way, but I thought I knew better and added about 30 miles to the day. We rode through the Wyoming I remembered: mostly flat, with horizons stretching 20, 30, 40, 50 miles as mountains appeared in the distance but never seemed to come closer. The yellow-brown landscape punctuated by a dozen shades of sagebrush green becomes monotonous quickly, and I sat back on the Ultra’s big seat and enjoyed a peaceful, long ride across a very big state.
The one exception to the monotony was an exhilarating 15-mile downhill ride through the Wind River Canyon with sheer red and brown walls rising above and the rushing Wind River racing beside the road. As we travelled downhill through the canyon, we also travelled back in time as the river cut deeper and deeper into geologic layers, ending with a layer of rock more than 600 million years old. I couldn’t go as fast as I would have liked because of car traffic on the road, but I did pull ahead of Marilyn, who was doing a pretty good job of keeping up given her discomfort on roads that have drop offs of several hundred feet into a deadly gorge. But at the end of the canyon where a dam had been built to create the substantial Boysen Reservoir I pulled over and waited. She arrived at the pullout only two minutes behind me and no worse for the wear. She even managed a a smile, which may have come from the exhilaration of the ride or from the relief at being out of the canyon.
Other than occasional wind gusts that tried to suddenly redirect our direction of travel, the ride was uneventful to Laramie and the beginning of the ride to Linda’s ranch down 4.5 miles of washboard rock road then another 1.5 down the mini-boulder filled Croonberg Trail that serves as a driveway to her house. It took about 20 minutes from the time we left the asphalt until we rolled in like two noisy tumbleweeds to her front yard and an awaiting Corona with lime. And then another. And then another. And then I lost count.
We had a great evening catching up and meeting friends of hers who were there or who dropped by for an adult beverage. Conversations are never dull at Linda’s. Did you know that porcupines are born with quills? Linda, of course, had a new-born porcupine in her freezer to prove it. It was right next to the frozen prairie dog and an unidentifiable paw. But what would you expect from a woman who beat a ferocious badger to death with a stick?
At the end of the evening, as Marilyn and I shuffled off to the one-room bunkhouse in the silence that defines a ranch on the high plains, I looked into the clear, cool Wyoming skies and saw the Milky Way and a million stars. It was beautiful and peaceful and very much a part of the Wyoming I remember.
No doubt tomorrow’s average day at Linda’s will be an adventure for us.
P.S. Linda went to town Thursday morning to run some errands so I took the opportunity to post this. Don’t know when the next post will be, but no later than Sunday unless Linda mistakes me for a badger.