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Day 20
Ever wonder where the term "Wide Open Spaces" came from...about here probably

ROUTE: Casper to Lusk WY DISTANCE:  106 Miles WINDS: W 5-10...nice tailwinds to finish
WEATHER: Hot, 100 degrees for a high TERRAIN: Rolling TOTAL CLIMBING: 2700 Feet

DAILY REPORT: 

I think the other riders had a good day off yesterday...some went sightseeing, some went for a bike ride, some just laid around resting, while others took the opportunity to spruce up their bikes.  A clean bike is a happy bike I always say.  We welcomed one new rider yesterday so we had a little time off in the afternoon...even took in a movie.  Now the staff needs a day off.  :-)

Everyone seemed to be in good spirits as they loaded the luggage this morning.  And why not, the winds were light and forecast to be behind us again.  As the afternoon rolled around, the winds picked up a bit and was nicely at our backs as we neared Lusk.  A thunderstorm chased us in, but we all beat it to the motel.  The dry afternoon wind, coupled with the dry climate, made for a hot and dry last 50 miles into town.  Karen was sweep today and for some reason I decided to subject myself to a long day by accompanying her all day.  It was nice to have some company, and the nice tailwinds made it bearable.  We were behind everyone at the 58 mile point at noon where we turned over the sweep duties to the vans and started to push the pace to get in.  We were at the motel by 3...hmmmm, 6 hours for the first 58 miles and 2 hours for the last 50.

The weather was very pleasant as we departed Casper on a nice frontage road that paralleled I-25 for the first 30 miles.  Then we got on the interstate for about 14 miles and finished the last 50 miles on one of the loneliest stretches of road around...state road 18/20.  The only break in the scenery they had after leaving the interstate was the coal trains that came by about every 15 minutes.  The trains out here have anywhere from 100-150 cars and fill up the horizon when they pass by.  As we neared the second SAG, I caught up with one as it was climbing and passing two other trains parked on a side track to let it pass.  I raced it to the SAG and after the SAG I ran it down again, but my bubble was popped as it crested the hill and started down the other side.  I gave it a good run but after it overcame my 35 MPH surge, I wasn't a match for the tons and tons of coal on the downside of the hill.  The engineer tooted at me as I passed him both times, but he really laid on the horn as he smoked me on the downhill.

We passed through a small town of Douglas home of one of the largest jackalopes...actually, it's just a statue to honor the little animal.  It stands about 8 feet and overlooks the Chamber of Commerce.  A jackalope is a jack rabbit with antlers...probably spent too much time on the prairie with the antelope.   I guess they have a lot of those allusive little critters around here.  Every once in a while, we'll see little antlers sticking above the sage brush as they spend the heat of the day in the shade.   I've never seen one as roadkill though . . . they must be pretty fast, unlike the numerous roadkilled rabbits we saw today who seemed to be a "hare" too slow.

Ever wonder where all the farm implements go when they die...it must be at exit 146 on I-25 outside Casper.  We happened on this farm implement grave yard on a hill adjacent to the freeway...couldn't resist a photo (below left). 

The terrain today was dry, and rolling.  Again we are in a vast area where you can see forever. . . you don't see much, but you can see a long way.  We're starting to get into the grassland area that's a little more interesting than the desert, but we still ride for miles without seeing a living soul outside of a passing car occasionally. If souls are scarce, antelope and cottontails are not. I stopped by one field and counted dozens of rabbits gamboling about in the sagebrush. Antelope grazed everywhere on both sides of the road.  One ran out of a shopping mall in Douglas right in front of Karen and I as we rode through...must have missed the sale.  We passed through one prairie dog colony and all the dogs shrilled out their alarm whistle as we passed.  I was surprised to see an oil well or two on our route today and two buffalo grazing on a hilltop too.  And finally, at one point we came upon a rider on a recumbent, self supported, who was riding to RAGBRAI...He'll probably be the one who ride's the longest to do the ride.  We stopped him at our SAG and offered him a banana and some water...a real warrior.

Douglas was the only town that had services, and many of the riders stopped there for lunch.  Many riders also stopped in Shawnee and talked to the post mistress, Amy, who'd been there for 35 years.  She told us that the town population was 3.  We cycled through another town (Lost Springs) that had a population of only 1 (see "Did I See That" below), at least that's what the sign said, but judging from the size of the bar in 'town,' I'd say they needed to update their population count. The local bar was a very large two-story building. . . for 1 person?  This area adds new meaning to "small town America."

Well, we're rolling again...we're over 1/3 of the way already...can't believe it.  Tomorrow we get up early to ride to Hot Springs...they don't call it hot for nothing.  We're hoping the wind Gods are favorable again...the new riders a hoping that too.  We'll load at 5:30 in the morning so we've got an early get up...yawn...time for bed.  See you tomorrow.

DID I REALLY SAY THAT?:

"The hills just keep coming."

"Did you see all the prairie dogs?  They were barking, "Biiiiiikers...biiiiikers."

"I saw antelope playing and buffalo roaming...no dear though."

"They went by me so fast, I had to stop and see if my brakes were locked."

DID I REALLY DO THAT?: 

Today I asked Marilyn if she really needed that heavy lock she carries on her bike.  "It will make your bike a bit lighter if you'd leave it in the van." 
"I would," She said, "but I left the key at home."
Hmmm, at least we have the lock.

I got to a cafe just out of town and a couple riders told me that Lenny had gone and had left his credit card.  The proprietor wouldn't let them have it...they needed someone in charge.  THAT'S ME!  Ice cream for everyone...oh and pie too.  A small price to pay for someone responsible to retrieve a lost credit card.

DID I REALLY SEE THAT?

Did you know that Jack E, Lope is related to Aunt E. Lope. He never married because he can't elope.

 

Have you heard the one about the rabbit couple who were being chased by a pack of coyotes? The ran into a hollow log, looked at each other and said:  "Well, should we make a run for it, or should we wait a few minutes until we outnumber them?"

2004

2007...the kids left for school and the wife just left...but it's as high as it was then.

125, 126, 127, err...darn...1, 2, 3, 4, 5...

Marie had never seen a jackalope before and really didn't believe one existed but after she saw this display, she's now a believer. "Do they really get this big?"  She asked.  Ray was sure they did...how else could this one have such a cold nose?

The bullet stops here.

Take that train...beat you!!!  But he paid me back on the downhill.

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