Day 82: August 23: Saratoga WY to Rawlins

Knowing that today would be short, I decided to leave later than usual. I met several of the neighbors, including "Painter", a biker who'd been sent by his motorcycle club some years ago from California to Wyoming (I didn't ask why). He said that he'd played harmonica with a number of different bands.

Another neighbor was Burl Rivers (I may have his first name wrong), a musician who calls New Mexico home. He and his partner Karen were here to play a few gigs and to enjoy the area. I gave him some information about how he could access his email from the road without a computer.

After packing, I rode down to the hot springs, and soaked for a bit in the hot pool. But the water was too hot for my tastes -- the coolest part of the pool was about 108 degrees -- so I went down to the river, where the hot springs join the cold river water and people have constructed some small pools with rocks. I soaked down there for a bit, then took a shower and went to lunch. I ran into Burl and Karen, and talked with them over sandwiches. He'd recorded an album of Willy Nelson songs that sold well in Branson. He told of meeting one of Willy's ex-wives there, and how she said that he even looked like Willy from the nose up.

The trip was twenty miles of rolling rangeland, and twenty miles of I-80, west to Rawlins. The first twenty miles were tranquil, which was in sharp contrast to the interstate. I was using my tape player, which helped quiet the roars of the passing semi trucks and RV's. I bought a Mary Chapin Carpenter tape at a truck stop and listened to it.

I did wonder while listening to the tape about how she could turn on and off her country twang. Two of the songs on the tape were very country in flavor and twang, while the rest would have felt at home on a folk radio station. Perhaps I should send her a letter and ask why she affects the twang (or vice versa, for I don't remember if she speaks that way).

I kept asking myself if I recognized any of the areas I was going through from my '85 trip. Nothing along the interstate rang a bell, but it was fairly unmemorable. But when I got to Rawlins, the main street looked familiar, and I recalled staying in the back yard of one of the houses along the railroad yard. Since there were no pay phones along the main drag, I stopped into a bar to use their phone. They were having a special for football night with one dollar bowls of chili and 50 cent draft lite beers. So I got a real beer and a couple of bowls of chili and watched people watching football (Denver Broncos vs. Green Bay). It seems that the Denver Broncos have fans in a 5-state area, since none of the neighboring states have pro football teams of their own.

Outside the bar, I ran into Burl Rivers and Karen again, along with another woman from the Saratoga RV park. We talked some more, and he predicted that he'd see me on the road again. I don't doubt it.

On my way out to look at the campgrounds (which charged $12 for a tent site), I passed a number of cheap-looking motels. I picked one at random, and found that it had $20 rooms with phones, so I got one. In the office, I met Painter's kids again (I'd spoken to them in Saratoga). It seems they live at the motel and were just camping. I don't know if I'll run into any more people from the Saratoga RV park here.

After trying multiple times to upload some pictures to my website and getting disconnected, I decided to do laundry.