Range Roaming – Wyoming 2013 – Day 71

Fossil Butte National Monument: a geology nerd heaven: Cokeville to Kemmerer

Monday June 24, 2013, 38 miles (61 km) – Total so far: 2,263 miles (3,642 km)

There is not much to Cokeville. There is a diner that’s for sale, two motels, one truck stop, one out-of-business truck stop, a post office and a school. A man bombed the school in 1986, and that may have been the last event of any consequence to occur in this town. It is pretty dead.

The road south out of town is federal highway 30, so there are a decent amount of trucks on the road. They are all moving way over for me this very early morning, though, as I head down the Bear River Valley. Thanks, guys! Read more

Range Roaming – Wyoming 2013 – Day 72

Wussing out – grabbing a ride: Kemmerer to Manilla

Tuesday June 25, 2013

The wind howled late into the night last night. It ruffled the curtains and could be felt through the air conditioning unit. But by early morning today, it has diminished.

I wake and get ready to ride – the plan being that I ride down to Ft Bridger and meet my mom there. Then, she will give me a lift to Manilla. But upon waking, I’m tired and my stomach says 10 days of a different diet and eating schedule have not made it happy. So I wimp out and spend the whole day in the car with Mom. I am sad not to ride through this landscape – it’s my kinda place with little human occupation, and gentle rolling, sagebrush hills – but I’m always happy to have more time with my mom. Read more

Range Roaming – Wyoming 2013 – Days 73/74

Exploring Flaming Gorge: Manilla, UT – June 26 and 27

Wednesday June 26, 2013

My mom and I spend two days exploring Flaming Gorge.

On the 26th, we hike all of the trails in the Red Canyon area and spend the late afternoon driving the tour loop and getting all nerdy in the Sheep Creek Canyon Geological Area. Parts of this driving tour are on dirt, but the road would be fine for a regular touring bike like mine. You can download a guide for the loop off the internet. The main road has all of the formations identified with large signs. The main Uintah fault is quite easy to pick out. Read more

Range Roaming – Wyoming 2013 – Day 75

The quiet and then… I-80: Manilla, UT to Rock Springs

Friday June 28, 2013, 62 miles (100 km) – Total so far: 2,325 miles (3,742 km)

I stand by the side of the road. The silence is absolute. The few cars on the road this early morning seem to be spaced about 20 minutes apart. In between, the only sound is my breathing, the whir of my freewheel on a downhill and the buzz of my tires on the pavement. When I stop, it is silent. Nothing chirps or calls or creaks or snaps. The silence pours forth from gullies and hills; it winds its way through gaps in the sagebrush; it flows down off the buttes and into my ears, filling my head with the nothingness and quiet that I love so much. Read more

Range Roaming – Wyoming 2013 – Day 76/77

Revising an academic manuscript: Rock Springs – June 29 and 30

Saturday June 29, 2013

Not long before my contract finished, I submitted an academic manuscript to a journal. The university has been kind enough to let me keep my email address so I can follow this paper through. A week or so before I met up with my mom, I received the reviewers’ comments for the paper. My feeling was that I would just not respond if it required major revisions. However, since it only needs minor revisions, I feel obligated to see it through. Your worth in academia is largely measured by the quantity and quality of papers you publish, so this paper counts as ‘points’ in performance reviews for my co-authors. I owe it to them. Read more

Range Roaming – Wyoming 2013 – Day 78

The best night of the trip: Rock Springs to South Pass (BLM land)

Monday July 1, 2013, 79 miles (128 km) – Total so far: 2,404 miles (3,870 km)

You could throw out most of the crayons in a Crayola 64-count box if you were colouring in a picture of this landscape. Just save all the shades of brown and pale and deep green. You’ll definitely want copper, burnt sienna, desert sand, bittersweet, tan and mahogany. Fuschia or lemon? Not so much.

The colours here are all gentle and subtle. The conditions for life are not. The high desert does not feel welcoming. The sun blazes down, making you squint. The dry heat sucks all the moisture out of you and everything you are riding through. The wind flings grit against your calves and cheekbones in an abrasive assault that brings the textbook term ‘wind erosion’ to life. The wind even makes your peanut butter sandwich seem like it’s been spread with ‘crunchy’ instead of ‘smooth’, if you stop for a snack on the roadside. Read more

Range Roaming – Wyoming 2013 – Day 79

The real climbing comes after the pass: South Pass to Lander

Tuesday July 2, 2013, 44 miles (71 km) – Total so far: 2,449 miles (3,941 km)

I peek my head out of the tent. It is 4.45 am. First light illuminates the sky, though the land here still lies in pale shadows. All is grey and olive green down here. It is cool and crisp. The light scent of sagebrush fills the air.

And the wind? Well, it is already bending back the tips of the grass. My dearest Wyoming, I’m falling in love with you, but your constant wind is nearly as annoying as the constant high heat of summer back in Oz. Seriously, it is 4.45 am! Can’t you please just give me until 8am before you start about your business? Read more

Range Roaming – Wyoming 2013 – Day 80

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. Read more

Range Roaming – Wyoming 2013 – Day 81

To Independence Rock on the 4th of July: Lander to Independence Rock (county land parking area)

Thursday July 4, 2013, 103 miles (165 km) – Total so far: 2,551 miles (4,106 km)

The origin of the name “Independence Rock” is contested. Like many historical places, there are several stories about how this site got its name. Some say Captain Bonneville named it in 1832 to reflect that the rock stands out on its own from the rest of the Granite Mountains. Another story says that it was named by General Ashley who camped here on the fourth of July in 1825. Or it may have been named a year earlier on the fourth of July by a mountain man who capsized his boat near the rock. Choose your story.

There are two things that are certain, however. Read more

Range Roaming – Wyoming 2013 – Day 82

Absolutely love it out here!: Independence Rock to Casper

Friday July 5, 2013, 51 miles (82 km) – Total so far: 2,602 miles (4,188 km)

I wake to the pungent smell of cow shit. Good morning, Em.

I unzip the tent and fly. I poke my head out. Fog is lifting, the sun’s rays filtering through the low cloud in a dim and hazy manner.

There are three cow pats out there, about 5-10 feet away from the tent. The odour-producer must be around where I can’t see it. I can see the sources – three members of the cattle herd are about 15 feet away in the grass, all staring at me as their jaws munch in circles. The slightly concerning thing I discover is that this is not cow shit. It is bull shit. Or young bull shit. I don’t know what you call young, weaned bulls. Read more