Out of place: Lander to Lander
Wednesday July 3, 2013
Lander is a mix of cowboy folks and outdoorsy recreation people. It’s a seemingly odd mix, but it appears to work. A cowboy hat here, a fleece North Face vest there. It’s a busy place, too, for its population size.
I drop off the bike to get a tune-up since we’re halfway through the tour. Nothing is wrong, but I figure preventative maintenance is as good for a bike as it is for a human. While it’s getting pampered, I head down to the county pioneer museum. It is free but donations are accepted. I can’t figure out the flow of exhibits or which direction I’m supposed to move in – but I still enjoy it. There is not much on display about the oil industry which surprises me, but I suppose exhibits in small museums like this are usually based around the items that are donated, so you sorta get what you get.
For me, the walk down here is totally worth it to see a piece of art with intricately detailed beadwork sewn to resemble a winter count buffalo hide (Plains Indians would record tribal history on buffalo hides – each year was represented with a single pictograph to represent that year). The work is incredible. It’s on the second floor, in the back, near other pieces of thought-provoking work.
I walk back to the city park with the intent of writing some letters and postcards. A drama group is setting up in the park amongst all the trees and cyclist/climber tents. They take over, acting incredibly snobby and snooty toward the free campers. They even make one poor TransAm rider move his tent because he’s in their way. There is no acknowledgement or explanation of why they are there (as they set up to do an open-air production of Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice” that evening).
Later on, I, and all the other riders and climbers camping there, watch these folks do an incredibly professional and well-done performance. It seems like an incredible amount of work has gone into this – all for about 20 people, whom appear to mostly be friends and family, plus some blow-in tourists. Sitting at the doorstep of my tent and watching Shakespeare in a park in a tiny town in Wyoming seems so out of place!
I feel out of place here a bit, too. When I talk to the other cyclists, I feel like I did in high school, like I should, but don’t, have much in common with them. Maybe it’s because they’re all ten or more years younger than me? Maybe it’s because they are all doing the TransAm and that’s a type of ride with a different focus than what I’m doing? I don’t know, but I feel like I did in high school when all the girls my age were interested in boy bands and I liked punk rock and BMX bikes.
As night begins to fall, and I’m filling water bottles and packing for an early morning start, a young woman comes riding in solo. Her eyes are wide and dazed. She pulls to a stop by the picnic shelter and just stands there. I say hello and ask her if she needs a drink or something to eat. She looks totally exhausted and done. She declines food but wants to know where she can set up her tent and get a shower. I tell her what all the Trans Am folks told me and then ask, “So you look totally shot, how many miles have you done today?” She says, “124 from Rawlins. The last 50 were into the wind. But there is nothing in between.” Wow – good job, girl! That’s one tough chick! She wanders off to set up her tent and then into town to get some food. I wander off to bed. I’m not liking the huge number of people rolling into town for the 4th of July celebrations, including a bunch of car-campers setting up tents and getting rowdy in the park, so I’m getting out of here first thing tomorrow morning.