Cape Gazette

SEA TO SHINING SEA: Hanging out with homeless and cyclists

By Dennis Forney | Jun 22, 2013
Photo by: Dennis Forney At the end of a long day of cycling, pizza, beer, burgers and lots of animated conversation are in order.  Here, in the courtyard of the Lander Bar (very hip), are (clockwise from 7) Roofy from England, Cissy from Carolina, Phil from Australia, Becky from Delaware, Jana and Tom from England,and Cissy's Rich. They partied hearty and were in bed by 9:30, back on the road by 7 a.m.

LANDER, WYOMING — DAY 39 - JUNE 21, 2013 - Summer solstice.  Yee ha.

We rode 76 miles today between two real nice Wyoming towns: Dubois - one time home of Butch Cassidy - and Lander, home of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS).  Sweet towns with lots going on.

They have a beautiful city park in Lander and as is the case with many Western towns, they're happy to have you pitch a tent, often under towering and shady cottonwoods.

We rolled all day across high country desert, and were more than ready for the Lander Bar after we set up camp.  I find I'm usually about two pints low by the end of a long road.  A cheeseburger (another livestock truck just passed on Main Street) and french fries fills in the spaces between the beers and ales.

So what happens when the summer solstice coincides with a full moon?

About midnight, passionate, loud and raving screaming woke me out of a deep sleep.  Someone was walking through the park bellowing like some kind of wild, wounded and rejected animal.  My pink mace gun and flashlight at hand, I sharpened my ears.  The screaming faded toward the other end of the park. Lunacy, is what I thought.

Over the next hour I heard car doors close, muted voices from different directions, shock-corded tent poles snapping together, and occasional quiet footsteps wandering through the grass not far from the tent. I eased out of the sack after while to take a look.

All was quiet, no wind stirring leaves, sky starless.  Something caught my eye.  A large deer.  We spotted each other at the same time.  A doe.  Stepping carefully and softly between the tents. I watched for a few minutes, answered nature's call in the shadow of a large cottonwood, and - comfortable that all danger had passed - climbed back in the tent and fell sound asleep.

In the morning's first light, I was amazed to see lots of dome tents - more than a dozen - had sprouted around us during the night.  And at least ten people scattered among the trees, al fresco, in sleeping bags on pads. An amazing scene.

Here are some photos from yesterday.  We've met amazing cyclists - a vibrant community trading tales of wonderful hosts - telling of pretty stretches of open road - and pretty boring stretches too.  Today we will ride 40 miles to Sweetwater - a dot on the map with Mormon overtones.  I'll report back when we arrive.

I hope you're having a nice weekend. Love to all!

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Before we climbed to the high Wyoming (wind-whipped) desert, we passed through dramatic red cliffs.  We try to hit the road by 6:30 a.m. when winds and traffic are quiet.
Heidi and Steve from Belgium, and their two-year old daughter Nasta, are cycling through the northwest - starting and ending in Las Vegas -  for four months.
Here are the facts as related to us by several.  What you see here beyond the hives is prominent Crowheart Butte. The story goes that members of the Shoshone and Bannack tribes were fighting for area hunting rights with Crow Indians. According to the artist in Dubois (Becky said he's the Hazel Brittingham of Dubois) the tribes decided that instead of losing many warriors to the fighting, two chiefs would go to the top of the butte and fight to the death.  Famous Chief Washakie of the Shoshones reportedly prevailed.  "One story goes that he cut out the other chief's heart and ate it, while another insists that he simply cut it out of the other chief's chest, dried it, and adorned his buckskin shirt with his grisly prize. Maybe our world leaders should settle their differences the same way. That would save a lot of lives." And now, in this corner, from Houston, Texas, George W. Bush! And in this corner, from Baghdad in Iraq, Saddam Hussein! Folks, I don't know how much of this is true, but it's fact that I was told these things.
Speaking of Iraq and young lives, here's Matthew, west of Lander.  He served in Iraq in 2003 and 2004. He's riding coast to coast for the adventure and is using a website to bring awareness to the epidemic of suicides in service people.  "22 a day," he told us.  I noticed a black plastic bracelet on his right wrist.  I didn't see a name on it but I did see KIA and a date. "Friend of yours?" "Yes, a good buddy.  Killed about a month before we were to come home.  Friendly fire.  Another guy was sitting next to him cleaning his weapon, a round in the breech.  It went off.  My friend died." "Senseless." "Lots of senseless."
Three young Englishmen - Dominick, Louis and Seabastian - are riding east to west across America.  They spent the night before at the Word of Faith Community Church in Lander. They ditched their 15-pound tent and now search out shelter every day.  At a rest stop, I crossed paths with Danny, pastor of the church.  He brought a tin tray of lasagna, fresh-baked brownies and garlic bread.  He was intercepting the boys for lunch and invited us to join them.  Wonderful man.  He then told the boys he had booked them a room in Dubois - his cost - so they would have one less night's shelter to worry about.  The boys - like so many other from over seas - say they are constantly impressed with how friendly the people of this country are. Makes us feel good.
And outside the Lander park, we quenched parched throats with pink lemonade.
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