The Free West
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Well having relived one of the West's greatest battles and visited one of America's greatest monuments we were on the road again leaving South Dakota and travelling through Wyoming , the sun was beating down and we were finally heading south, yippee!!
With a baby pumpkin smiling at us from the dashboard (we couldn't not join in here in the land of the pumpkins!) we drove through some diverse scenery.
Are we leaving the plains? Are we in the mountains?
The road eventually crept across miles of open plains, snow barriers snaked alongside us - a constant reminder that this is a country of extremes. In places regimented rows of trees took up the challenge of keeping the white stuff at bay. Perhaps the greatest fright are the barriers standing to attention just outside many of the towns we passed, accompanied by instructions to return to said town if the road is closed. We were on the interstate for goodness sake, not a small back road. But it is so open, so vulnerable to drifts, soo...let's get out of here!
When planning our route, we decided that we might wish to stop overnight on the way to our next destination. We chose Fort Laramie...good old wild west...the place is full of all those names we remember from the tele (some of us from shows in black & white!) Who remembers "Little Jo, Tonto and Wyatt Earp" - well I'm sure you can add to the list.
Anyhow as some of you know there are places where Rvers can stay overnight for free; apart from Wal-Mart! There are vast tracts of BLM land (Bureau of Land Management) all over the country and of course the inevitable web sites listing such places. We had found a very unusual one in Fort Laramie - a "city park with space for 8 that also offered hook ups (water and electricity) for a small donation. Just the place for one night passing through. We found it easily as we had checked on Google and not relied on Mary, who as some of you know can be a little unreliable! It was indeed about 50 yards from a VERY busy railway line, although a lovely spot. We stopped and had lunch, but as we had made good time we decided to press on. Thank you Fort Laramie a wonderful resource.
So, we continued to our next "freebie", shortly before crossing the state line Wyoming to Colorado we pulled into the welcome centre.
We had read that you could stay overnight in the car park here and if that turned out not to be the case then there was a 'Flying J' truck stop across the road, these are where truck drivers can stay and RV's too. So either way we felt confident all would be well. Howeve,r we were the only vehicle in the car park so we felt a little uneasy, the visitors centre was closed for the day. Advice on the web from other campers told us that local sheriffs patrolled but had simply nodded and left everyone alone.
We decided to check out the truck stop just in case, having spent most of the day on almost deserted roads the cacophony that met us was rather a shock. This spot is at the crossroads of I-25 going N to S and the I-80 W to E so quite a crossroad. Every truck in America seemed to be there, the parking area was chock a block, trucks parked so tight you could hardly walk between them...and...most had their engines running. This is common practice to keep the cabs warm/cool depending on the season and they would keep this up all night!
So, back to the visitors centre, where thankfully another rv had joined us. We spent a fitful night hoping that the sheriff would not knock on our door and would you believe listening to several trains as they hooted their way through the night.