July 25, 2006
Yesterday I woke up, said goodbye to my fellow cyclist campers, and went to my first day of work at the Open Door Cafe. With the exception of the scrubbing of dishes, which isn’t bad, the job is a good gig… with food, coffee, and fun company.
In the kitchen Aaron played the same classic rock station that I was listening to on the way into town, so we played the old “name the artist” game. The first person to name the correct artist wins (Often on the first note). Maya and Rose stopped in for breakfast. “We’ll go slow… so you go fast and catch us… okay?”
This afternoon after work I was sitting at the table and chairs outside the bookstore and met Jim. He lives in an apartment above the bookstore, and I learned that the table and chairs are basically “his,” like his front porch, and he cleans the sidewalk and such.
He’s originally from Boston, and worked his career as a representative for Penguin publishing company up and down the east coast. He’s chosen Lander as the perfect small town to spend retirement. He’s a talker, which is great, because I’m not… and intelligent and fascinating to listen to.
I learned all about the town, and he seems to know everybody in it. So many people waved or stopped to talk as they passed on the sidewalk. It’s true that Wyoming has the smallest population of any US state, creating an unbelievably close-knit, friendly atmosphere. It’s apparently true that if you’re wandering out of state, and somebody from Wyoming sees Wyoming license plates on a car, they’ll always stop to chat.
Later that night at camp I met two guys from Georgia who are doing some climbing in the Sinks Canyon State Park tomorrow. They’ve been traveling through the west for some time, mostly doing climbing, and it was fun to listen to them as they got into a friendly little argument about what time to get up tomorrow. It’s nice not to have to worry about that sort of thing when I travel by myself.
Today I had a good shift at the Open Door – business was slower than yesterday, and I’d learned my way around the place by now. I did a little prep work too, providing an extra set of hands for the cook when he was busy. This morning I’d washed up and scrubbed my hair under the faucet at the park. I’d been at work for over an hour when I went to the restroom, and had the day’s first look at myself in the mirror. Wow, my hair was sticking up in all sorts of hideous directions! “Why didn’t you guys tell me I look so funny?!” I quickly reached for my bandana, adopting a “Captain Jack Sparrow” fashion.
The frequent recommendation around town seemed to be that I needed to go check out the Sinks Canyon State Park, so this evening I did just that. It was an uphill ride to get there, but surely less than ten miles.
There above town, the river cuts a deep canyon through the mountains, and the cool thing is that the river actually “sinks” into an underground cavern, and resurfaces a quarter mile downstream, at “The Rise.”
Scientists aren’t exactly sure of the course of caverns it follows, but they theorize that it flows through numerous limestone fissures and such. Once they did a test with dye, and discovered that when the water goes underground, it takes two hours to travel that quarter mile and resurface at the rise. Later I joined my friend Jim on the sidewalk outside the bookstore, and sat into the night with a few Grand Teton Ales. Life is good.