7/6/12 Douglas to Lusk, WY – 50 miles
This was one of the best bike riding days of the trip.
When I woke up, the storm had passed and it was a beautiful day outside. I met Frank and Randy at the Plains Restaurant for breakfast. Frank said that he was so tired last night that he went right to sleep after the hospital ordeal. This morning he was still a little sore, but felt okay. He decided to take it easy and not push – ride with Randy and me.
I had the best pancake of the entire trip for breakfast – tasted just like my Mom used to make, plus the added bonus of peanut butter. I had 1 large pancake, toast and orange juice for $3.50. A great start to the day.
After breakfast, I went back to my room to get my bike and fill my water bottles. A cat that looked just like Morris came up to greet me and give some kitty lovins. One of the odd things about this trip is that I keep coming upon these cats that look like Morris. For those who don’t know, there is a cat that looks just like Morris that started hanging out some with my cat Sassy and me 3-4 years ago. He comes for breakfast and dinner, and sometimes spends the evening watching TV with us. Every once in awhile, he will spend the night, but he usually prefers going out. There is another resident at the complex that he has spotted as a sucker as well, and who also looks after Morris. Stacy and I somehow discovered that Morris was playing us both, and have since taken it upon ourselves to look after this free spirit. He is a great cat. At any rate, Morris clones have shown up regularly during the course of the trip, which I take as a good sign of some sort. Attached is a picture of this morning’s Morris clone.
The 50 mile ride to Lusk was one of the best bike rides of the entire trip. A local told us of the old highway that ran parallel to the interstate. It was fabulous! No traffic and a strong tailwind mostly downhill for almost 10 miles. We flew and all three of us were almost giddy.
Eventually we had to turn off this highway and onto a 2 lane road that was okay. Randy and I took turns in the lead, with Frank in the rear so that he could draft off of us and take it more easy on his hip/leg. Along the way, we saw many trains loaded with coal that seemed to go on forever. We later learned that there were 150 or more cars of coal to each train, and we must have seen 6-7 trains.
Approximately 25 miles from Lusk, we stopped at Lost Springs, population 4, for a cold drink at the combination post office/antique-general store. While there, a local came to get her mail, and I struck up a conversation with her. She was this delightful 92 year old woman named Ada Wright, and she told us all about the history of Lost Springs, and a little of her own history. It was fascinating. She was also very taken with our trip, and very supportive. She told us that when she was growing up girls were not allowed to ride bikes, and because she did not have a brother she couldn’t even cheat and ride. Mrs. Wright then made a recommendation for lunch at the next town 15 miles away. As we left, Frank noted that this was what it was all about – meeting folks like Mrs. Wright and hearing their stories. I agree. She passed us on the road a few minutes later and gave a cheerful honk.
A few miles down the road, we ran into the trashmaniacs at a rest stop and visited for a few minutes before heading out for the Three Sisters Restaurant recommended by Mrs. Wright.
We stopped for lunch at Three Sisters and told the waitress that Mrs. Wright sent us. The waitress smiled and agreed that Mrs. Wright was an incredible woman. Frank insisted on buying lunch as his way of thanking Randy and me for letting him take it easy on his hip by drafting behind us. I had sweet potato fries for the first time since the headwind debacle where they were of the frozen variety. These were definitely homemade and tasty.
As we were getting ready to leave, Randy discovered that he had a tire going flat – his first of the entire trip. Since he has had so much practice helping Frank and me with our multiple flats, he very efficiently changed the tire and we were on our way.
As we resumed the drafting formation, a pronghorn antelope came up and sprinted right alongside us at about 20 mph for what seemed like a 100 yards or so — it was incredible! She was so close you could really see her, and it felt like a race. Then she turned off right and leapt over the fence. Magic. I watched as she bounded effortlessly off across the field.
We literally flew 15-25 mph the last 10 miles to Lusk. It was so much fun. I kept thinking that this is what we love about biking. Sometimes you almost feel schizophrenic – one day you struggle to make it through the day and are just done in at the end of the day, and the next day may be nothing short of euphoric. You just never know.
Once in Lusk, I located yet another reasonable local motel and Randy and I got rooms. We spent some time cleaning the bikes, which were filthy after the ride in the rain yesterday, and performed basic bike maintenance. We took a little ride downtown and discovered a lovely little town. For dinner, we ate at a pizza place that had been listed as having the best pizza in Wyoming by USA Today in November 2010. I am sorry to report that the pizza was somewhat disappointing, and definitely not the best I have had.
Tomorrow we are leaving Wyoming and heading 61 miles to the north to Edgemont, South Dakota. The plan is to ride to Custer, SD the next day, see Crazy Horse, and go to Mt. Rushmore on Monday. I am really looking forward to that.
All in all, I think this was one of the best days of the trip.