Rawlins to Medicine Bow
This morning I got talking to Chip and Cristin from Florida who had what I would think of as a normal-sized caravan but out here was tiny in comparison to the RVs. They had set off from Florida on April 22 (like me) and were making their way up to Alaska (not like me). We had a good long conversation about all sorts of things and it meant I'd delayed their start (and mine).
After my weekend in Rawlins I tried the bike shop again but it was still closed until "10". I headed down the bike path towards Subway and, whilst waiting to cross a busy road, another bike turned up. Although it initially looked like a motorbike, it was a "snow bike" named Denny being ridden by a guy Philip Chen. He was cycling up the Rockies from Mexico to Canada so his chunky tyres were probably necessary. He had impressively little in the way of kit and had a bottle of hip-mounted "bear spray" ready to use. He said it would give him 30 seconds. I'm not sure what he would do with that time as bears can out-run bikes. It turned out he'd wanted something from the bike shop too. We had a chat and he told me that long-distance cyclists often got things delivered to rural post offices along their route for collection as they got there.
I managed to avoid the I-80 out of Rawlins and then took another 'road' that turned out to be nothing more than a track that had a section of the horrible wet clay/mud/rock mixture that sticks to my wheels and breaks. At this point my kick stand broke. I tried to stay positive
Clearing out the clay/mud every few hundred metres, I eventually reached Fort Fred Steele with a view of the lonely Elk Mountain beyond. Unfortunately the rear entrance gate had been padlocked shut despite a sign saying it was open. I unloaded my bike and hoisted it over the gate then did the same with my bags. The historic site was deserted but I signed the visitor book anyway.
After Fort Fred Steele I tried to follow the Old Lincoln Highway over the flooding river but it quickly ended with a barbed wire fence. This was getting familiar. I headed back to the I-80.
As an aside, my dad had been complaining since San Francisco about the fact he hadn't been able to see me on any webcams. I'm not sure how he expected me to know where the webcams are (they don't usually have a big sign saying "Webcam") and I couldn't say when I'd be anywhere to more than a couple of hours (I could easily get bogged down in the horrible mud stuff). At this point I checked the Wyoming road department website and found there was one at Walcott Junction a few miles up the road. I sent a text message back home to the UK to say I was heading that way.
At Walcott Junction I stopped at the Shell and chatted to the guy at the counter. I said I'd post some UK coins to him (unfortunately I later lost his address). I got an icecream and headed north on the US30 up into a much more hilly region with dark clouds/rain following me from the west. I was worried about the time. I had a long way to go including visiting the ghost town of Carbon. Turning off the US30 towards Carbon I had to go uphill on a rough track into fierce head wind.
There wasn't much to see in Carbon as everything had been removed. There was a sign pointing out where the hotel had been. It was now a small cluster of trees which stood out on the largely treeless landscape. I hoped that after Carbon, when I turned back to the north east, the head wind would help. It would have but I was slowed to a crawl by miles of the clay/mud stuff and several more barbed wire fences. My hands ended up covered in mud from constantly clawing the mud from my breaks and tyres. The sun was setting and thoughts of cougars starting their evening hunting spurred me on. I only just made it, tired and bedraggled, to Medicine Bow as the sun dropped out of sight below the horizon. I checked into the motel part of the famous, and very smokey, Virginian Hotel.