SEA TO SHINING SEA: Hanging out with homeless and cyclists

June 22, 2013

DAY 39 - JUNE 21, 2013 - Summer solstice.  Yee ha.

We rode 76 miles today between two real nice Wyoming towns: Dubois - one time home of Butch Cassidy - and Lander, home of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS).  Sweet towns with lots going on.

They have a beautiful city park in Lander and as is the case with many Western towns, they're happy to have you pitch a tent, often under towering and shady cottonwoods.

We rolled all day across high country desert, and were more than ready for the Lander Bar after we set up camp.  I find I'm usually about two pints low by the end of a long road.  A cheeseburger (another livestock truck just passed on Main Street) and french fries fills in the spaces between the beers and ales.

So what happens when the summer solstice coincides with a full moon?

About midnight, passionate, loud and raving screaming woke me out of a deep sleep.  Someone was walking through the park bellowing like some kind of wild, wounded and rejected animal.  My pink mace gun and flashlight at hand, I sharpened my ears.  The screaming faded toward the other end of the park. Lunacy, is what I thought.

Over the next hour I heard car doors close, muted voices from different directions, shock-corded tent poles snapping together, and occasional quiet footsteps wandering through the grass not far from the tent. I eased out of the sack after while to take a look.

All was quiet, no wind stirring leaves, sky starless.  Something caught my eye.  A large deer.  We spotted each other at the same time.  A doe.  Stepping carefully and softly between the tents. I watched for a few minutes, answered nature's call in the shadow of a large cottonwood, and - comfortable that all danger had passed - climbed back in the tent and fell sound asleep.

In the morning's first light, I was amazed to see lots of dome tents - more than a dozen - had sprouted around us during the night.  And at least ten people scattered among the trees, al fresco, in sleeping bags on pads. An amazing scene.

Here are some photos from yesterday.  We've met amazing cyclists - a vibrant community trading tales of wonderful hosts - telling of pretty stretches of open road - and pretty boring stretches too.  Today we will ride 40 miles to Sweetwater - a dot on the map with Mormon overtones.  I'll report back when we arrive.

I hope you're having a nice weekend. Love to all!

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