We headed Northeast out of Riverton on US-26, and rather than turn east when it joined up with US-20 a few miles up, we continued on US-20 West. It took me a minute to realize we were in fact going on the right road, as we'd been on US-20 in Oregon going East, and this felt like we were going backwards. But US-20 at this point is going more or less North, and we left US-20 at Yellowstone Park, where it loops through and then comes down into Wyoming, and if we kept going the way we were this morning we'd actually go back towards Yellowstone -- so while we were going North, this was the right road although the signs sure made it feel wrong. The Wind River canyon was very pretty as we climbed up towards Thermopolis, WY -- I was unable to take pictures as we were in and out of ran showers all morning. I will say that the canyon and river were appropriately named, as the head and side wind were fierce. I was worried about Andre, who was riding with no windsheild for protection (he forgot it), and no rain gear (he left it on a friends bike). He was one miserable wet rider by the time we got to Thermopolis where we stopped to dry off for a bit. One of the things I love about riding in the West are the lonley abandoned structures that dot the landscape -- each one with a back story to tell if you could figure it out. This old building was outside Thermopolis and looks like something from a movie set.
We continued on up US-20 until Worland when we turned East on US-16 towards the tiny town of "Ten Sleep". This turned out to be a charming little town with old-west fronts and a nice saloon with a row of bikes parked out front like horses used to be in the old west. We decided to stop for lunch. The other bikes belonged to a group of Canadians who were also headed up the pass and asked if we'd come down it as they too were worried about the weather, and then recommended the onion rings (they were right, and the meatball sandwich I had was even better). It was here at the saloon that Andre noticed a stuffed "Jackalope" on the wall, and commented "thats a good model". I told him it was real -- that in Wyoming you'd find a crossed Jackrabbit and Antalope called a "Jackalope". He laughed, but I got the bartender to help me out, but try as we might Andre wouldn't fall for it.
We finished lunch and got back on the bikes and headed up Ten Sleep Creek Canyon -- the Canadians pulling out about 20 minutes before us. Like most of the roads in Wyoming, this was very quiet, and very little traffic -- and we could see a layer of clouds far up on the mountains. Before we left I told Andre we were going to get rained on going up the mountain and he said "no we won't -- it's not gonna rain." As we left town there were several "warning" signs saying "US-16 closed if lights flashing" and "If lights flashing, return to Ten Sleep" -- all of which reminded me of the warnings in the forest Dorothy came upon as they searched for the witch's broom in Wizzard of Oz. Maybe we should have paid attention, because as climbed up this very pretty, and very lightly traveled canyon, it kept getting colder and to me it felt like a late fall/early winter kind of storm -- where you can just feel that it's going to snow high in the mountains. Sure enough as we approached the top of Wind River Pass at 9960 feet, it started -- not to snow, but to hail! Little tiny gnat sized hailstones that hurt like hell at 40mph. I at least had a windshield and some protection -- poor Andre had none and by the time we got down the other side and into the town of Buffalo, he said that was the most painful thing he'd ever experienced. He also reminded me he was right -- we didn't get rained on. We stopped at the Kum and Go market (yes that is the correct spelling of the name) and I changed out of my rain gear, and then hit I-90 for the 180 miles to Sturgis.