Guffey is one mile off the Trans Am route at 8600 feet, but worth the short steep diversion into the top of the caldera where this small community is based.
Your greeted by a big new bar on the left as you arrive, “The Bull Moose” and an older locals bar The Freshwater Salon, just a block away, both offering good beers, food and full of Stetson wearing friendly locals.
There is also Rita’s Place Cafe, a post office and library; but the place to head for is the Guffey Garage and track down Bill Soux, a real character and a great bloke.
After shaking your hand bill will promptly plant a cold beer in it and precede to tell you all about Guffey. Bill has been instrumental in restoring Guffey’s heritage, mainly it’s rustic cabins which date from the 1880’s and if your planning to stay a night in Guffey Bill will rent you a rustic cabin at a cheap price.
The town is perhaps less famous for the annual Fourth of July Chicken Fly which they were hurriedly preparing for as I passed through. During this holiday event chickens are ejected from a mailbox atop a ten-foot-high platform using loo plungers. Prizes are awarded for distance; Bill’s lady friend assured us that no chickens are hurt during the event and this years other activities will include the “Chicken Drop,” and the “Chicken Rollin’ Alley.”
But in complete contrast Jeffrey City……!
Wikipedia states that.. “Jeffrey City is a former uranium mining boomtown located in Fremont County, in the central part of the U.S. state of Wyoming. The town is famous in Wyoming and the American West as a symbol of a boomtown that went “bust” very quickly, as the mine was shut down in 1982 and over 95% of the inhabitants left the town within 3 years. The population was 106 at the 2000 census, far lower than its onetime population of several thousand people.”
I’d probably guess that the population is nearer 50 now! My Jeffrey City experience was something I’ll never forget…..
To get from Rawlins to Lander Wyoming or vice versa requires a monumental ride of 145 miles that very few could make. This then leaves you to the prey of the limited accommodation that exists on this section of the route with most people resorting to Jeffrey City as a rough half way point.
Ahead in the distance lightning bolts were striking the ground; I watched as the ACA (Adventure Cycling Association) riders who we had caught up with were leaning their bikes into the storm force winds to avoid being blown off. Then the sleet started, but sleet coming in sideways at high speed feels like someone firing grains of rice at you from a gun, luxury compared to the pain of the marble sized hail stones that came next. Soaked through, travelling at 3mph our bedraggled group battled on knowing that our savoir, Jeffery City, was only 5 miles away!
Mmmm but this Motel looked closed and derelict, we cycled on down through this one street town until we arrived at the Split Rock Cafe, the only cafe or business in this whole sorry place.
After “Parking Pretty” the six of us filed into the Cafe \ Bar and sat battered and bruised around a table where a more congenial , yet semi-deranged waitress presented us with menu’s.
We later found out from other riders that the menu is a ruse, you can basically have what they’ve got, which can consist of one or two menu items if your lucky, depending on when the delivery truck has been! We must have arrived on delivery day, as the menu had it’s full gamut of deep fried potato products to chose from.
We found out that most of the other ACA riders had done the same as us and cycled passed thinking the Top Hat Motel was closed. But we all new that apart from the floor of the former Masonic Lodge or mosquito infested wild camping, the Top Hat was our only option.
After much debate about his Scottish heritage and how he liked the Brits, he agreed on the ACA’s discounted rate and then fleeced us for $60, with that look of someone who knows he owns the only digs in town!
He continued to talk at us and in whispered tones and told us about his secret missions he used to do for Uncle Sam and how during one of these missions a Fatwa was put on his head after he threatened a bunch of 'A' rabs that he would “Wipe his back side with the Koran”!!
He explained he was using Jeffrey City as a hide out; I guessed no 'A' rab in their right mind would dare venture to Jeffrey City. But after the dire service and rip off price I'd like to point out that JT can be found most days in a large work shop to the east of the Motel complex, the location of which is highlighted by the red dot! Go get him...
JT "was" obviously a delusioned nutter of the highest order and was more than likely a Uranium miner than a special agent for Uncle Sam!
Our room had an en suite flood and bedding that was attached to the headboard with cobwebs, we did on a positive note have two TV’s, neither of which worked as they were analogue and couldn’t pick up a digital signal!
We survived the night but had to face the Split Rock Cafe one more time, to eat breakfast before the long ride to Lander.
Now you would think that a large group of cyclists descending on your town and probably doubling the takings for your cafe that week, would put a smile on your face and step up your customer service to a new level. But no, we found out the Rottweiler with the social graces of a slug was still intent on yelling at people and my three attempts at a “Good Morning” were dismissed with not even an acknowledgment.
This town had been a total exception to the normal friendly way Trans Am cyclists get received in Americas small towns and all those that survive this section on the route will have earned their right of passage.
As we pedalled off the mosquitoes swarmed and attacked in force, tumble weeds skitted across the road and I wondered how long it would be before this God forsaken place turned into another deserted ghost town.
Maybe it’s the Uranium in the water that makes the locals such a “happy” crowd!!!
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