Day 71, to Saratoga: A beautiful morning in wide-open Wyoming and a hot afternoon in Saratoga - Chris Cross America - CycleBlaze

July 2, 2022

Day 71, to Saratoga: A beautiful morning in wide-open Wyoming and a hot afternoon in Saratoga

Saturday stats

Start: Six Mile Gap Campground

End: Saratoga Lake Campground

The Daily Progress: 45.66 miles

Cumulative climbing: 1643

Cumulative descending: 2604

Elevation at endpoint: 6823

Ice cream flavors: Cookies and cream, pistachio and Mississippi mud, from Lollipops in Saratoga 

Lodging expenses: $10

Food expenses: $47+11+5+9.50+5 = $77.50

Saturday summary

Like yesterday, Dani helped speed me up in the morning and then set off ahead of me by about fifteen minutes. It was a beautiful morning, punctuated by sightings of prairie dogs, pronghorns and bald eagles.

We reached Riverside after about 24 miles, and I was hoping for a repeat of yesterday, with breakfast at a coffee shop. No luck here or in neighboring Encampment, so we sat at the picnic table at the county visitor center at gorged on snacks.

Dani noticed that I was a little disappointed and asked me what was wrong.

"I'm tired of these snacks," I said, eliciting laughter. I don't remember what Dani said in response, but I replied to her with "You don't understand me."

These comments, sounding so much like a pre- teen tantrum, left us both in tears of laughter. 

For any regular readers of this blog, you could probably guess that I was just hungry. There was nothing wrong with the snacks. It was just that I wanted a meal. We made a plan to solve this when we reached Saratoga, only 18 miles away.

In Saratoga we stocked up on groceries (primarily more of the same snacks I was supposedly tired of), rode through town and set up camp by early afternoon. We went back into town to check out the free pools and hot springs.

There were three hot pools, with temperatures of 108.8, 110.8 and 113.3 degrees Fahrenheit. There was also access to the creek alongside the hot spring, allowing swimmers (er, waders) to get as much hot spring or cool creek as they liked. We waded into there for a moment and then dipped our feet into the least hot pool. Finally, the big priority for visiting these pools: the showers.

After cleaning up, we headed to the town's main street, where there was a festival under way with vendors and live music. We scouted around for options for an early dinner and ended up where we started, looking at the food vendors as opposed to a restaurant. We got a cheeseburger, a couple of watermelon slices and a Frito salad. Afterward, I got a gigantic ice cream cone. 

The sun was unbearably hot. Our campground has no water. We filled up our water bottles while still in town, scoring a slice of pizza in the process from the Italian place. While within range of cell service, we planned for the next day and uploaded some blog entries. 

We headed back to camp and got eaten alive by mosquitoes. The mosquitoes are now glued to the outside of our tent. We are inside, listening to their terrifying buzzing just a couple of inches from our faces. I try not to think about them.

Dani's notes

A rowdy party of Denverites at the next campsite over awoke us at 1:30 am. We took the disturbance as an opportunity to marvel at the stars, which were spectacular. (Though all star-gazing for me is marred by the fact that I can't see that well, so they are never as sharp as I would wish.) Chris asked the neighbors to keep it down (I would not have done this), and they did (yay). 

The land flanking Wyoming 230 south of Riverside was so vast and empty it felt more like a dreamscape than a real place. At many times, I was the only visible evidence of human existence. 

I took a break a little more than an hour into the ride at the top of a hill in the only patch of shade I could find -- the shade cast by my own bicycle and panniers. Chris, who generally leaves a little after me, caught up to me at this point, and we rode together until Riverside.

Chris has written extensively on this blog about how his satiety affects his mood. At the town of Riverside, I witnessed one of his hunger tantrums first-hand. We thought we might be able to grab breakfast here, but the person staffing the visitor center told us that no place in town served breakfast. As we settled in to snack at the picnic table outside, Chris snapped: "I'm tired of these snacks" and when I laughed at that, he huffed "you don't understand me." Several hundred calories later, he was back to his usual self and we could laugh about the episode together. 

The animal of the day was the pronghorn. I saw my first one early in the ride, on the dirt road from our campsite to the main highway. I was impressed by how effortlessly he moved across the landscape. Even with the benefit of a road and a bicycle, I could not approach his speed, and under no circumstances could I approach his grace. I saw another one a few miles on. Then I saw a whole herd, with babies! After that, they were everywhere. We also saw several bald eagles and enjoyed glimpses of prairie dog drama on both sides of the road. (I nearly ran over a prairie dog! Luckily, he juked just in time.) The wildlife viewing was rich enough that I decided to keep my binoculars in my pocket while I rode.

We reached Saratoga, our destination for the day, before noon. Nice work, us! (And thank you, tailwind!) We stocked up on food at the grocery store on the south side of town then biked to the north side of town to claim a campsite at Saratoga Lake. Our campsite is right in the middle of a prairie dog metropolis, a major perk!

After pitching camp, we biked back to town to partake in the town's free natural hot springs. They are QUITE hot and sulfuric, so we waded in only to our calves. (Previous experience in sulfur hot springs resulted in a satanic stench that was never fully exorcised from the afflicted swimwear.) Still, it was a neat feature. And the showers in the bathhouse were a treat (and the main attraction for us, to be honest). 

After our showers, we went to the main drag to check out the "Saratoga Days" festival, featuring live music, food vendors, and (what seemed like) the entire population of greater Saratoga decked out in their patriotic finery. We bought a cheeseburger, a "Frito Salad" (did not know what this was when we ordered it -- apparently, Fritos, ground beef, cheese sauce, iceberg lettuce and diced tomatoes), and watermelon from street vendors. People seemed to be having a grand time, but it was hot and sunny and loud and exposed when I craved someplace cool and shady and quiet. And, as often happens when I'm not having fun when I'm "supposed" to, I became morose. Chris got ice cream. 

We pirated some electricity from an external outlet. Chris had cell phone service and did some internet things. 

Once juiced, we returned to our campsite and learned there was no potable water at the campground. Booooo! Luckily our bottles were full in anticipation of this possiblity.

The mosquitos were vicious and drove us into our tent pretty fast.They gathered in bloodthirsty hordes on the netting of our tent and whined us to sleep. 

Today's ride: 46 miles (74 km)
Total: 2,559 miles (4,118 km)

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