Posted by: Mark Wollemann: On the move | July 8, 2016

Day 25: Rough road, happy camper

Day 25
Destination: Lusk, Wyoming
Thursday’s mileage: 52. Total: 1,412

So I left Douglas, Wyoming, after a great night’s sleep and decided to trust not one but two GPS maps that directed me to a road that, for a change, wasn’t a state highway. I was so excited to travel a bit off the beaten path that I didn’t ask the locals if my plan was sound.

Turns out, that was my first mistake.

After about six miles on a beautiful, rolling country road, I passed a sign that I will never again ignore: “Pavement ends.”

And so it did.

Country roads

My road to perdition, the punishment for ignoring the “pavement ends” sign.

The road was gravel and dirt, and for at time I thought: “Hmmm, this isn’t so bad. It can’t go on much longer. I’m sure there’s a ‘pavement ends’ sign at the other end — it must be just over this next rise. … Or the one after that.”

That was my second mistake.

For 14 miles, I kept riding my skinny-tired road bike along this unwelcoming road, which became less and less forgiving. The rocks became bigger. The compressed dirt became loose dirt and then sandy dirt. I had to walk at times. At other times, I just plodded along at about 6 miles an hour trying to reach pavement. I considered turning back, but by the time I actually considered that, I was too deep. I had to keep going.

There were very few houses. Then no houses. A few signs forbid passage because, I’m assuming, there were active drilling or mineral extraction sites (or something else?). I made friends with a few horses. I listened to a book. I tried my best to conserve water on this 90 degree day. And after a little more than 2 hours, I put my tires down on blacktop. I was sapped. Riding 14 miles like that felt harder than 60 miles on the road. And I still had 32 miles more to go. Seemingly all uphill and into the wind. Always uphill and into the wind. This idea of prevailing westerly  breezes is a good one. And when it happens, it’ll delightful. … Maybe today’s the day.

Just before we reached our ultimate destination, the town of Lusk (or more accurately, the Prairie View Campground on the outskirts of Lusk), Melody spotted a truck stop. You know what happened next. Pie and ice cream, is what happened next. It had to be.

I hesitated writing today, knowing that the internet would be ablaze with news and commentary and hate-filled speech and sad accounts of the horrific shooting in Dallas coming a day after the cop-involved killings in Minnesota and Louisiana. But this morning, Bruce (who owns the campground) said: “We have plenty of that kind of negative stuff on the internet. That’s what’s dividing us. Maybe what we need is more stories like yours, from the road.”

So I wrote. Peace everyone.

Blueberry pie in Wyoming

A little pie porn from the 3 Sisters Truck Stop in Manville, Wyoming.

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Responses

  1. Keep writing, Mark. Thinking of you and this adventure of yours is very welcome.

  2. PEACE, Mark.

  3. Thank you for the welcome respite from the violence known as America. I feel as though I have been kicked in the stomach and am finding it hard to breath. That said, your walk on “the wild/unpaved side” sounded awful. I once tried that type of tire on a sandy surface. It didn’t end well and I cannot imagine going as far as you… I am very, very, impressed.

  4. Oh, no.. What road did you take Mark? There is one straight highway north from Douglas to Gillette. Anything else is longer. But honestly it’s probably good you weren’t on HWY 59 as it’s one of the most dangerous roads in the state. High-traffic, two-lane, no-shoulder road.

  5. Forget last post. for some reason I had it it my head you were going to gillette.

    • Hey, I was on antelope road. Interesting road. Felt pretty lonely out there for a while. Thanks again for the kind and thoughtful words on your blog. We really enjoyed hanging out with you. Be good!


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