Day 81: August 22: Walden to Saratoga WY

Today is my last day in Colorado. It seems like I've been in the state forever, but it's only been about a month. As I head north, I'll be losing the Rocky Mountains for a while in southern Wyoming, then will find the Grand Tetons in northern Wyoming.

I had my usual breakfast in the park, then decided to stop back at Coffeepot Cafe for a second breakfast, as I had about 65 miles to ride with few if any services for the first 50 miles.

I talked some more with Coffeepot. She told me of the time that an organized bike ride of more than 1000 bicyclists came to town and she served over 500 of them. In a town of 870 people, a group of 1000 visitors can be overwhelming. The city actually closed the swimming pool because they didn't want to do all the laundry. That is the kind of small-minded thinking that makes me wonder sometimes about what people have going on in their heads.

The ride north of town was through more rangeland, all of it high sagebrush desert. Few cars passed me, and those that did gave me lots of room.

I thought that today would be a good day to try using my portable tape player. With nothing to listen to but the wind and the occasional roar of a passing car, having headphones on wouldn't subject me to any more noise. It wasn't necessary to hear cars coming, as I had lots of room and could see them coming for a half mile away in my rear-view mirror. So I loaded up the player with some favorite tapes and hit the road.

I found that it was a very different experience to be listening to music while riding. Instead of listening to the wind, my breathing, and the small sounds of my bike, I could listen to Greg Brown, Joan Osborne, Steve Goodman, Neil Young, and Mozart's Requiem. I found myelf looking less at my odometer, and more at the scenery (partly because if I turned my head to the side, the wind noise was lessened).

The road was over rolling hills and the weather was perfect -- dry and about 80 degrees. I was concerned about the amount of water I'd brought: about one gallon had to last me for about 50 miles, until I hit the town of Riverside and could fill up again.

Soon I was at the Wyoming border. I stopped to take a picture.

At the Wyoming border
I noticed that someone had attached a picture of a chipmunk on a small hill to the state sign. I also saw a nearby circle of stones that someone had placed there. I figured that the picture and the stones were part of some strange local ritual.
Why a chipmunk?
I could still see mountains off to the side, but the landscape wasn't dominated by them as it tended to be in western Colorado. The wind was variable, often becoming a mild headwind. But the ride was nice enough that it didn't matter. I did find one two-mile long 7% grade, but that was about it for real climbing.
Welcome to Wind-oming!
Finally I got to Riverside and filled up my water bottles. I talked with a young woman there who said that she'd moved from a small town in California,l and that she liked it better living here in a town of 500 people in the middle of nowhere.

Another 20 miles or so and I was in Saratoga, a town of about 2000 people. This is a town named after Saratoga Springs in New York. It has a very hot mineral springs that fills a pool and then runs out into the river.

I was going to soak, but I found out that I'd need to wear a swimsuit, which meant that I'd have to get into my pack. I guess I've been spoiled by "clothing-optional" hot springs and tubs. I decided to eat first, then find a place to stay, then soak for a while.

A local policeman on a bicycle stopped and talked with me a bit. He recommended the Hotel Wolf Restaurant, so I had dinner there. I was so starved that I piled my plate too high at the salad bar and couldn't cut the veggies.

After dinner, I went down to the river and stopped at an RV park that had tent sites. I was told that the sites were $10, which seemed reasonable to me after having had to pay $12 for state forest sites with only pit toilets.

I pitched my tent and offered to let one of my neighbors try my bike. This was a mistake, as he crashed when his pants leg got caught. My cyclometer mount was broken, and my steering bolt was bent. I had visions of having to find another cyclometer mount and modify it at an electronics place in Rawlins, but was able to glue it back together again. And I bent the steering bolt back to its original shape. I guess I'll be more reluctant to let people ride the bike in the future.

When I went to pay for the site, I had only $8 in bills. The owner let me pay just $8 for the site. A shower (my first in 4 days) and a change of clothes had me feeling just fine again. I never did get over to the hot springs, though (forgot my towel).