Range Roaming – Wyoming 2013 – Days 44-47

Waiting out more weather OR A long affair with Buffalo: May 28-31

Tuesday May 28, 2013

You know the saying that hindsight is 20/20. That is the story of this week. If I knew then, what I know now….

So when I arrived in Buffalo on Monday, I had some concerns about riding Powder River Pass. It involves a 35-mile climb with few services from a starting elevation of 4646 ft at Buffalo to 9666 ft at the top of the pass. I was unsure about where I might be able to find water along the way, or if any of the campgrounds were open yet. I have the gear to just camp off in the forest anywhere, but carrying enough water on a climb that long, if I needed to camp overnight between services, worried me.

So, instead of heading up the pass on Tuesday, I hang out in Buffalo so I can go to the Forest Service office and ask about water sources. This also gives me a chance to check out the town and the county museum.

We have a pleasant campsite at the RV Park, but after the third day of rain, wind and 45F temps, we get a motel for the night to warm up and dry out.
The local county museum is worth the stop. It has a lot of great old photos and is impressive for a county museum. I think I know more about the Johnson County cattle wars now than I could ever have dreamed. I loved this statue – only in America is one gun not enough.
This hotel is old and famous – the original bar inside is worth going inside for a peek.

The museum is excellent and well worth the time. The Forest Service, through the combined knowledge of four different staff called out of their offices to the front desk, are able to tell me where I can get water. I have a great day in town.

But then, the weather sets in. And I am stuck in Buffalo for three days. There is a high wind warning down in Buffalo one of the days. There is a winter weather advisory for the mountains all three days. I spend all of Wednesday and Thursday in my tent, shivering through rain, wind and temps in the low 40s. Finally, on mid-day Friday, I give up and go to a motel so I can get warmed up and get my damp gear dried out before we attempt the pass on Saturday. I don’t want to go into that with wet gear.

The town of Buffalo has a nice bike path along the creek through town and toward the west.
The guys on a chunk of scoria by the bike path. Scoria is basically burnt coal that’s been ignited by lightning. The state uses this as road base – any time you are riding on one of the red roads, you are riding on scoria.
A scoria informational board. We’ve ridden by a bunch of this already – there is a heap of it along the interstate just outside of town.

On Friday afternoon, after acquiring a cheap motel room near downtown, and as the rain turns to showers with a few breaks here and there, I go for a long walk toward the west on the Clear Creek trail. For such a small town, there are some impressive recreational facilities here. It’s cold and windy, and a little wet at times, but I try to get my head back to a better place before the ride tomorrow. The ride is gonna be tough, so I need to get my head back in the game.

I’ve now sat out almost 2 weeks of bad weather in 6 weeks of touring. I’ve mostly been able to keep a positive outlook through all the weather delays. I’ve been frustrated, but determined. But this weather delay is the one that breaks me. I’m so frustrated and so cold while sitting in the tent on Thursday that I actually cry in self-pity for 30 minutes or so. Emotionally, this is the lowest point on the whole trip. What makes it worse is knowing that I could be well and truly over that pass if I’d just left on Tuesday instead of trying to play it safe and get information about water sources.

I stop at the supermarket on the way back to the motel. I get a tub of pasta salad and whatever else my stomach says it wants. I also get two bananas and an apple to go with my supply of Triscuits and Cheez-its. Surely those will get me up the road tomorrow. My brain is in a better place. Getting warmed up and dried out at the hotel helps immensely, too. We’re ready to ride. C’mon, let’s do this!

I usually let my stomach and store prices guide my purchases when supermarket shopping. Think my body might have wanted a little calcium with this haul? And no, we did not eat all that ice cream. The big tubs were cheaper than the little tubs, so we just ate some of it and left the rest.

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