Wyoming couldn't have been much worse. I was sick of this place. Forest fires, the collision, emptiness, winds; I just wanted it to be done. I was so over Wyoming.
To make matters worse, a very real part of me didn't want to get back on my bike today. I was still shook up from the previous day's collision. That was a problem, becuase the only way I was going to get out of this godforsaken state was on my saddle.
So, screw it, I got back on my saddle and rode.
I partnered up with Marion for the day's ride. Unlike yesterday, however, I gave him some space. I was not very keen on riding two-wide with anyone. Fool me once, shame on, uhh, shame on you. Fool me twice and, well, uhh, you're not gonna fool me again. That's how the saying goes, right?
Marion and I summited Togwotee Pass. At the top we encountered David and Matt hanging out beside a nice little lake. This lake had a similar effect on me as the Savage Lakes in Colorado. I stripped down to my shorts (it wouldn't have been right to go full sasquatch, there was a family present) and jumped in. There's nothing like a cool dip in a Wyoming lake.
Again, I had arrived at the best part of the ride. Twenty downhill miles were ahead of us. We dropped in and let gravity do the work.
About five miles past the pass the Grand Tetons becamse visible. They were unreal, absolutely dominating the scenery. Wait a second, how did a state as crummy as Wyoming have such a beautiful natural treasure? This didn't make any sense. There was a scenic lookout so I pulled over.
Wow. The Grand Tetons were real. I dared to say think that they were the most beautiful mountains that I had ever seen in my life. They were exactly as my Warm Shower's hosts in Warrensburg, Kansas, Barbara and David, had described them to me. These three towering crags exploded out of the completely flat Wyoming plateau. I had never seen anything quite like it. Wait a second. Could I have been wrong all along? Was it possible that Wyoming actually didn't suck?
We bombed the hill. During the full descent we were completely mesmerized by the Tetons. At the bottom of the mountain we arrived at the entrance to the Grand Teton National Park. We were very lucky to be accompanied by Marion because his senior status got all four of us into the park for free. Alright Marion! That evening we got settled in to the hiker-biker site at Colter Bay. We passed the evening hanging around a little campfire, then retired rather early given the day's strenuous ride.
When I am on the road I tend to use earplugs to help me sleep. I am generally a light sleeper, so I need to make this extra litle precaution to ensure myself trainquility. I slept fine that evening except for this groggy little blur in the middle of the night when I recall listening to some fellow babble about who knows what. I assumed he was just coordinating with his mates to pack up and head out. When I awoke the next morning I went to David and Marion's site to catch up. They asked me if I heard the mad man last night raving about communists. I guess they were a bit more conscious for his tirade then I was. Apparently this guys was hollering for a good half hour about communists trying to take over. What can I say. I guess that's just life on the road.
As much as Wyoming had wound me up over the past week-and-a-half, I was able to unwind in just one rest day. Man, maybe I was wrong about Wyoming. I spent four hours in the morning marvelling at the beautiful Grand Tetons from the Jackson Lake Lodge, then spent the afternoon chilling out in the bar at Colter Bay. I coulnd't believe it. It's like I was a new man. I was revitalized by simply spending all day staring at the Grand Tetons. They truly were a treasure.
As a matter of fact, the Grand Tetons put me in an excellent mood. They put me in such a good mood that I willingly gathered wood for a fire that night. Looking like a complete idiot, I carried a bundle of wood, perhaps 20 stick beneath my right arm and a single four-foot long branch in the left. I looked so ridiculous...and I knew it. The Grand Teton's had me in such a good mood that I didn't even care. Every person who glared at me with a puzzled look (which was every single person who passed me) I simply greeted with a bright-eyed "howdy" and kept walking. This was unreal. Wyoming had turned me into a jolly mountain man.
That evening the four of us were joined by Wally at the site. We spent the evening grilling burgers around a superb campfire. The highlight for me had to be when we started telling jokes. The guys cracked up at the "confessional" joke that my friend Sparky had told me a few years ago. We all got a rise out of Matt's demented frat-boy cracks (he's not actually a frat boy, but the title felt suitable) and Wally's quirky Navy humor. In all honesty, it was a great night.
After spending two nights at the Grand Tetons, I felt like I owed Wyoming an apology for all the bad stuff I had said about it. So here it is: Wyoming, I'm sorry that I trashed you in my last few blog posts. It's not you, it's me. I mean, the vast emptiness, tumbleweeds and aggressive winds were definitely a challenge for me, but I now see that you have some really great redeeming qualities. My bad. I needed to give you more of a chance before I hung you out to dry like that. I really hope that we can put my libelous posts behind us and move towards a stronger relationship. Who knows, maybe someday I'll buy property in Jackson Hole? Actually, no, nevermind, that's never giong to happen. But, again, that's on me, not you. Quite frankly, Wyoming, I don't think I can afford you. You're out of my league!