On the 130th anniversary, I recreated part of the journey of the first person to cycle around the world on a bicycle. Taking it one day at a time. View the archive.

Lone Granger

By Stuart Lowe on

I was up bright and early but couldn't set off and there was condensation in my tent so I waited for the sun to dry it out. There had been another tent on the site during the night - it was the first other tent I've seen so far - but they'd arrived by car late and left early.

A lady came over to talk to me from an RV. She was Pat from Louisiana and she was joined by Michael. We had a good chat. They'd just done a 10 day long rafting trip down the Grand Canyon and ther daughter lived in Wyoming. After chatting I finished packing and headed off.

photo
Pat and Michael

My GPS route took me on some dubious track that, in places, was too sandy for riding and, in other parts, too bumpy to get any speed on. I got to see my first "Buttes". I'd only ever seen the word written down so had imagined it was pronounced "butts" but it turned out they are "b-you-tes". Not quite as amusing to a childish mind.

photo
Big Bird

photo
Looking back along the road

photo
Cacti

panorama
I like big Buttes

panorama
Buttes

photo
Bike with Buttes

I hit the Country Road and it wasn't much better for the first couple of miles. It was unpaved and suffered from the annoying ruts that (washboarding) that feel like they will shake my bike to pieces. Having been singing since the Sierra Nevadas (initially to ward off bears but now it was a habit), the road name inspired me to burst into some John Denver replacing "West Virginia" with "West Wyoming". Thankfully there was nobody around to hear me.

Stevens had specifically mentioned Church Buttes which he'd seen a couple of miles to the south of the railroad. Being on the road, I actually went right by them.

photo
Church Buttes

My road turned back into the Lincoln Highway and it took me through gas fields with solar powered tanks dotted around the landscape making it look populated although there wasn't a soul to be seen.

At a gas works the road had been sprayed with magnesium chloride and the dampness turned the sand/gravel into the horrible aggregate filled mud I'd had before. A few miles later I had to get off the road to avoid the sprayer. The spraying was to stop dust but was sticking to my bike and was not pleasant.

photo
Gas works

I turned up the road to remote Granger, passed the new elementary school, and into the town. Once again a building with several dogs errupted in a barking frenzy at my approach. One little dog wasn't chained or fenced in and it ran right up to me barking wildly. When I bent down to see if it would be petted it ran off with its tail between its legs.

I popped into the Town Hall (although it was more like a glorified porta-cabin) and talked to Vivian. She'd lived in Wyoming for 47 years and knew a little about Granger even though she actually lived in Green River. Granger was the meeting of two railroad lines and two rivers. It has a Pony Express station. I'd arrived in their 100th anniversary since been incorporated as a town. Their old school building was to become a community centre and Vivian's office would soon be moving in there. The current Town Hall would go back to being a house.

photo
Granger Town Hall

photo
Vivian with the Pony Express Station

Vivian told me I could camp in the park and that she'd tell the police officer when he called in. Around the corner was the Granger branch library which had a suprising number of books for a town with a population of a little over 100. They also had internet connected computers. I chatted to Felicia, the librarian, whose kids were on the computers. She mentioned there was a man on a horse with a flag riding across the country from Oregon and she was following him on Facebook. It seems the West is Facebook country. I am yet to meet anyone on Twitter.

I found the park at the edge of the town (or hamlet). For dinner I went to the Antelope Crossing Pub run by Jessica. At the bar was the lady from the Post Office (I'd sent a postcard to my oldest friend from the town as it shared his surname) and Vern. Vern was one of the last state trappers and had a Thomas Stevens-style moustache. He was quite wiry and had a twinkly in his eye. He'd been trapping for 40 years and had largely taught himself. He caught all sorts of animals across a big area and lamented that youngsters in training wanted to be told how to do everything and get paid. I don't know. Young people of today with their demands!

I was after food so I ordered a calzone from the bar menu and Vern was so convinced that I'd like it he said he'd pay for it if I didn't. We were joined by Tammy who ordered a long drink that I'm sure had whiskey in it. Vern seemed to be nursing a whiskey too. Stevens had described Granger as having:

"plenty of whiskey, but no customers"

It looked as though things had improved slightly since Stevens' day. Jessica was originally from California and had moved here when she got married. Between the four of us we had quite a conversation.

photo
Tammy and Jessica

I should mention the calzone. It was huge! Great for a long distance cyclist. I had three-quarters of it and Jessica wrapped the remainder for me. I had a blackberry bear from Boston mostly because of the name - Fat Tire. Tammy said she'd get the lady that locks the toilets in the park to leave them open for me and, an hour or so later when I was in my tent, a car pulled up and the lady unlocked the gents for me. I'd met about 8% of the population now. As she jumped back into her SUV, she enigmatically warned:

"Don't let the moose step on you during the night."