July 7, 2015 – Overcast, 60 degrees
Miles Today: 49
Miles to Date: 3,768
States to Date: 17
The sky dome was complete grey when I left the Pine Bluffs and it stayed that way all day. I was nervous about my route options – they all involved service roads or country roads that I know from experience might be gravel. But not in Wyoming! A nice paved route near, but never on, I-80 all the way to Cheyenne. Having good roads made it easier to counter the strong wind and occasional rain.
There were no breakfast options in Pine Bluffs, but there was a TA Truck Stop 24 miles away and a local one 16 miles on. I arrived at the first when the wind and rain were on an uptick, so I pulled off the bleak landscape and entered what could have been a scene from The Twilight Zone. The room was rich in pungent smells and colorful decorations. Five Indians sat at two separate tables speaking Punjab. I didn’t realize at first that they were the owners and staff; I the only customer. The proprietor greeted me graciously and while his son prepared spicy paan with yogurt and mango chutney for breakfast, he showed off his display of boxing clippings and medals. The gentleman’s English was enthusiastic rather than clear, so I’m not sure exactly what sport he championed and whether he won 400, 800, or 1,000 medals, but I was impressed nonetheless. The food didn’t match what I ordered, but was quite good; the five dollars he charged me had no relationship to any menu price. But we both seemed satisfied with our interchange. When I asked what brought him from Punjab to Wyoming, the man answered, “Lucky!”
I kept on to Cheyenne, which proved to be much more of a city than I expected. The exurbs have ugly, boxy houses just like any metro area and the central city has more one-way streets than anyplace I’ve been since Chicago. The Capital District is large and impressive, the downtown a bit ragged but the Union Depot beautifully restored. The painted Cowboy boots on the street corners are fun. I spent a few hours working in the Public Library, a recent building filled with cycle enthusiasts who wanted to know about my Surly and my journey. At four I met with Jim Magagna of the Wyoming Stock Grower’s Association, who had a unique perspective on tomorrow.
I backtracked to the northeast part of town where my warmshowers host, Tom, made a terrific pork chop dinner and then we hit a local pub for beer. Tom’s an early riser, so it was good by me that we were both in bed just after nine.