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Lonesome Wyoming: In the Tire Tracks of a Pioneer, Part 3

Text: John M. Flores • Photography: John M. Flores

In May 1903, George A. Wyman left San Francisco with the then crazy idea of riding his motorcycle all the way to New York City.

Into the Rockies

East of Ogden, the sharp, rocky 9,000-foot peaks of the Wasatch Range look impenetrable, but the Weber River has patiently carved a canyon on its way to the Great Salt Lake. Like the pioneers before him, this is Wyman’s route eastward, and it’s my route too, along I-84.

“It is a beautiful country, and the scenes shift from wild and rugged natural grandeurs in the narrow parts of the canyon to pastoral loveliness in the places where the mountain pass broadens and the small but fertile and splendidly kept farms of Mormon settlers are found here and there where the sides slopes to the river.”

George A. Wyman

As in Wyman’s time, the valley cradles small farms sustained by the river and the canyon walls are composed of the red sandstone more often seen in the southern part of the state. I pick up old Highway 30 as it follows Echo Creek eastward, and the land grows drier and drier, becoming arid before I’ve crossed into Wyoming.

Wyman’s first twenty-four hours in Wyoming proved challenging. He couldn’t find a room in Evanston because President Roosevelt was in town, and so Wyman wound up sleeping on a chair at the railroad station. After a terrible night’s sleep, Wyman left town at 6:20 a.m. And then this happened:

“After riding about six miles that day I bumped into a rut and the stem of my handlebars snapped, but there was about an inch of the stem left, and I hammered it down with my wrench into the head tube and managed to make it do. This repair lasted to Chicago.”

I am facing no such mechanical or electrical issues. In Evanston, I grab some Mexican food while the Zero charges at an RV park, and then snag a catnap on a picnic table before hitting the interstate again. The Zero has been running perfectly since San Francisco, quietly, and coolly, which is especially valuable in the summer heat.

Wyoming is nearly as desolate as Nevada with scrubby vegetation painting the rolling landscape in subdued browns and pale greens. I-80 cuts a lonely path as it shadows the railroad across the southern edge of the state. There are no alternate routes; I am bound to the interstate and pushed by a steady breeze. Every so often a sandstone bluff rises—stark, lunar, and imposing. By Green River they rise hundreds of feet, right alongside the highway. I stop to take photos and then wander to the rail yard. A train pulled by three locomotives leaves the yard with what seems to be a mile-long span of rail cars in tow. 

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the January/February 2018 back issue.