Green River and Rock Springs
I was up early with a night undisturbed by moose (mooses?). I initially followed the WY30 for a short distance before my GPS indicated a track on the left. There didn't really seem to be one. I hesitated. Then I saw a barbed wire fence and a gate section. Back home I'd have been very wary of going into land as a farmer would be out waving a shotgun. However, I'd been told that most of the land in Wyoming was owned by the state and people were allowed to use the tracks. Feeling brave I went through it.
The next few miles were tough going as it wasn't much of a track and what there was had a covering of sand meaning I had to push. My laden bike will not pedal through sand. Eventually, as I climbed up onto some Buttes, the sand lessened and I was able to pedal. Along the top of the Buttes I skimmed with great views in most directions.
I could see smoke from a chemical plant towards the east and the railroad to the north. The track followed the top of the Buttes towards the railroad below then turned right to follow it. I went over a crossing and along the side of the railroad to the chemical works. Here was a sign saying "private railroad crossing" which was OK by me as I wasn't crossing it. There was a chemical smell in the air so I used my buff to cover my nose and mouth. I dread to think what I was breathing in at this remote site. There were lots of trains - parked and moving - that blocked my view from the chemical works. I felt that was a good thing.
At this point I saw my first passenger train since California. I waved at the passengers peering down at me through their tinted windows. I wonder what they made of seeing a cyclist out here in the middle-of-nowhere. Eventually the track needed to cross the railroad at a "private railroad crossing". As my only other alternative was to swim across the river or go the many miles back to the WY30, I ignored the "private" sign. I suspect it was only to cover them against being sued if I had an accident. Further along I waved at some railroad workers out fixing the lines. They waved back.
I wasn't overly comfortable on this frontage road and was glad when I found an off ramp to Byron Road. I ignored my planned route along the side of the railroad in favour of a paved road after hours of sand and dirt. Stevens was a hardy soul.
Back to and over the I-80 I had a long freewheel downhill sandwiched between the freeway and the railroad towards Green River. As I approached the outskirts of the town I was following the river down into the dramatic canyon it had carved. Eons of geological time was exposed for all to see in the layers of rock. I stopped at a 50s diner and, after filling up on calories, I visited the town museum. They had quite a few exhibits (and school parties) and it was good to see them tackling issues such as the massacre of Chinese workers in 1885. It is shameful how badly treated non-Europeans were in the Wild West and the Chinese emigrants didn't even officially count as population.
From Green River I spotted the Old Lincoln Highway so aimed for that rather than the I-80. This involved a very steep sandy track uphill which I had to walk. It gave me a closer experience to that of Stevens. Under the I-80 and to the cemetary then a very hilly and poor dirt track to join the equally poor Old Lincoln Highway. Thankfully nobody really uses it as I had to weave all over the road to avoid huge holes. I passed more house-like buildings that weren't habitation but some kind of service buildings for gas pipes or other industry. They give the impression of being in a populated landscape when you aren't.
A couple of miles from Rock Springs the Old Lincoln Highway turned into a paved road and made a pleasant ride into town. Tonight I was staying with a guy named Rick who met me on his fold up bike. At his apartment he gave me some chicken and a baked potato - the first real potato I'd had in weeks. Rick had several bikes. He said:
"The optimum number of bikes is n + 1 where n is how many you have."
Rick had cycled across the United States in around 36 days on the southern route which makes my 100 day long northern route seem a bit lazy. However, even his time seemed leisurely compared to the fastest crossing of the US which was only 7 days 22 hours! Rick was an interesting guy with lots of cycling experience and a huge range of books in his library. We had a wide-ranging conversation covering everything from Russian politics to me trying to explain what the Eurovision Song Contest was without sounding delusional.