At the crack of dawn we woke up one more time, trying to leave Cody. This time we succeeded. The wind was weaker than the day before, meaning we had hope that strong crosswinds wouldn't hammer us all day long. The thick wildfire smoke was also absent from Cody's air this morning.
We headed out of town and down Wyoming Highway 120. The land is very open here and your eyes can easily play games with your mind. Uphills look flat and flats look downhill. It's confusing, but the fact that we crawl along at 8mph on a "flat" stretch reminds us that we're really crawling up yet another hill. We crawled and wound our way up to Oregon Basin. We took in the views of this unfortunately named location. Oregon Basin was also the location of our first oil well pumpjack sighting.
Now that we were no longer in Yellowstone, elk were everywhere, and I actually managed to see them. One elk was grazing roadside and was startled by our bikes. Instead of jumping a fence he decided to race alongside us before sprinting right in front of Jonathan's bike.
The scenery dragged on and we made our way to our goal of 35 miles for breakfast in the town of Meeteetse. The town of Meeteetse is quite small. While it does have two restaurant-bars, neither opened until after 11am. We were left with gas station food to power us the final 50 miles to Thermopolis. Chocolate chip muffin and pizza for me, tuna salad sandwiches for Jonathan and then we were off before our legs started stiffening up.
The climb out of Meeteetse was the longest and steepest of the day. Based on the elevation map we knew this would be the highest point of the day, leading to an overall descent for the remainder of the day. Finally descending, we thought the day was taking a turn for the better. Unfortunately Wyoming DOT had other ideas. They use a soft rubber sealant to fill the road cracks. Our tires were able to fit in these longitudinal cracks and sink in. This slowed us down and made our bikes track unpredictability.
Eventually the cracks ended and we reached the only highway rest area. The water was actually cold and we got to read about the rattlesnakes that could attack us in the parking lots. What more could we want?
We powered on through landscape reminiscent of the Oregon High Desert. The miles dragged by as a headwind developed and we slowly approached Thermopolis. With a merciful final descent we cruised into the home of the largest mineral hot springs in the world. With Jonathan's knees behaving so well today we did not want to push our luck and push on to Shoshoni. We scrambled to find lodging, discovering all hotels were full for high school reunion weekend. Luckily, there was a Warmshowers host in Thermopolis.
The Paris family was wonderful to open up their home to us on such short notice. A beautiful home, warm shower, delicious cake and ice cream, and a comfortable bed was fantastic. They truly went above and beyond what is expected of a Warmshowers host. They have an extensive touring history on their tandem bikes which was great to hear about.
Photos by Jonathan Kobles