Jeffrey City, Wyoming to Lander, Wyoming

Day 56.  Bill and I cycled through the mostly abandoned former town that Jeffrey City used to be. It's a sad little place that went from boom to bust in 25 years.

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It looks like the elementary school portion is still functional. What must it be like to go to school in a dead town?

Along Highway 287, Wyoming

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It's a good ride today, fifty-eight Miles with half being mostly even and half being mostly downhill.  The weather has been good, coolish, and almost no wind.  (Picture by Norm.  From left to right: Bill, Britton and Jim.)

Our TransAmerica Trail is now temporarily following some of the classic historic trails: The Oregon Trail, The California Trail, The Mormon Trail, and the Pony Express.  I have had ancestors who traveled both the California and Mormon Trails.  What a journey it must have been! Such voyages do not exist anymore which makes me wish I could have asked them questions.

They traveled (except for the Pony Express) about ten to thirteen miles a day. There were (obviously) no convenience stores, cafes, route maps, or hotels.  It was a journey of intense risk, not just from the elements but also interacting with the Native American Tribes struggling to deal with this incursion.

Our trip cycling across America pales in comparison to those treks.

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Sweetwater Junction, Wyoming

We were to have camped here last night. It's a lovely green oasis where the Sweetwater River crosses the highway. Or vice versa since the river preceded the highway.

All of the trails passed just south of here - the Oregon Trail, the California Trail, the Pony Express, and The Mormon Trail.

The LDS Church owns this land because here several companies of Mormon Emigrants were running late and caught in a snow storm.  Many died.

They traveled using handcarts which was actually cheaper and faster than the covered wagon.  Few original carts still exist because many women were so sick of them when they arrived in Utah that they would burn or run them off a cliff.

Shortly after the Mormon Historic Sweetwater Site, John realized his rear derailer wasn't working.  Fortunately Barry quickly determined that the cable had broken. By then Norm and Christine pulled up.

When the cable is broke, the derailer shifts it to the highest gear.  Norm and Barry pulled the wire and then wrapped it around the water cage to get John to at least a middle rear gear.  Then with his two front gears, John could go at least two speeds.

It was, I remarked later, like seeing Spock and Scottie jerry-rig the Enterprise to limp along at impulse power to get back to a Starfleet planet.

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As promised we had a glorious seven to ten mile descent into the Beaver Creek Valley.  It was an incredible ride down, with cliffs of red becoming apparent beside the road.  My average speed for seven miles ranged between 24 and 30 miles an hour.

Lander, Wyoming

First stop into town was the Gannett Peak Sports which we all agree is the best, friendliest and most well stocked bike shop on the trip.  They have side access to a restaurant next door called the Middle Fork.  Great lunch. I had the blackberry walnut Salad with grilled chicken. They have a side patio with a brook running through it.

All the staff have been on long range bike trips. They give out beer. Not having a liquor license they cannot sell it, but coyly point to the tip jar expressly for you favorite mechanic.

They got John's bike up and running and did a great safety check on my bike.

A great enjoyable place.

We, and a lot of other people are camping at the city park which, the sign declares, is free.  Some are cyclists but most are here for the Independence Day festivities that will occupy this wonderful little Wyoming town over the next three days.

I'm tenting again, because despite the numerous trees, there isn't a pair of trees within ten feet of each other except at the far edge of the park.  Tom is there, but I like being closer to the group.

There is a Cowfish Restaurant here, and I was excited that it might be similar to the sushi/burger fusion place we liked so much in Orlando. It was not, but Tom asked if I wanted to skip the group meal to dine there and we had a nice dinner and conversation.

Part of it hinged on the question I was asked before this trip.  How will this trip change you?

More on that later in the trip.

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Tomorrow Jim and I cook but we have a seventy-two mile uphill ride before us. That is not something I look forward to, but I'm not dreading it and that is a nice change. I will start early - hopefully by 6:30 and then average ten miles or more an hour and minimize my stops.  If I can put in by 2pm that would be fabulous.

This city and their park are really lovely. There aren't a lot of mosquitoes and there is the Popo Agie River close by so we'll sleep to the sound of water.