Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Wide Open Wyoming

June 11 - After watching a DVD last night I was in bed by 10 pm. I slept fitfully although the guide book was right…..coal trains rumbled through town about every half hour. Even though they woke me up 3-4 times I really didn’t mind and fell back to sleep almost immediately.

I was up at 5:30 and fixed a breakfast of oatmeal, breakfast burrito and French press coffee. Can’t beat that with a stick! While eating I read up on my plans for the day, foremost of which was a visit to Fort Laramie. It was only 10 miles down the road and didn’t open till 8 am so I took my time eating and hooking Bivouac up and straggled in to the fort at 8:15 am. What a great place! I spent almost 4 hours walking around and looking at all the restored buildings and displays. The National Parks Service has really done an outstanding job here. While walking around I saw a bunch of Parks employees so it looks like they are getting enough money to support this historic place.

In 1834 mountain man extraordinaire, William Sublette and a group of trader/trappers constructed the first “fort” in the area. The military took over in 1849 and the fort was finally decommissioned in 1890. If you want to get the feel of military life on the frontier, this is a great place to come. I won’t go into great detail because you can read it here.

The best story of the day isn’t about the frontier army, the cavalry, Indians or all that glorified western stuff. The best, most poignant story of the day is a story of a nobody, a woman who died traveling with her family across the west to Oregon. Mary Homsley really was a nobody to everyone in the world but the few that were related to her. Her husband, mother and father, ten brothers and sisters and two daughters.

Mary Homsley died as a result of both a case of measles and from being thrown into the Laramie River while crossing it in a wagon. She was buried in a land her surviving relatives knew they would never return to. She was buried and left behind as the others struggled to get to Oregon. Her resting spot was forgotten and lost for 75 years when cowboys stumbled upon it. Look at these pictures and you will see and feel the true story of the west, the countless forgotten people that made this land what it is today.

The grave site is on a dirt road about four miles from the old fort. You really have to want to go there to get to it. I ended up parking Bivouac on the side of a little dirt road and walking the last mile to get there. I’m glad I did.

The rest of the day was spend in getting to Newcastle. The temperatures we in the mid 90’s again so I wasn’t up for a lot of outdoor activity. I was going to stay at a primitive campsite but with the weather forecast calling for mid to upper 90’s until tomorrow, I opted for a commercial RV place in Newcastle that had electricity so I could have A/C. Man I love this camping stuff….close to nature and A/C and all of that!

Newcastle is a very small town of about 3000 and it’s claim to fame is that it’s close to Sturgis of motorcycle rally fame and gets the overflow crowd every summer. There is also the Accidental Oil Company a Beverly Hillbillies story about a rancher who struck oil at 21 feet while hand digging a well to see if he could…. Won’t get to see that because it opens at 9 am and I’ll be long gone by then.

Tomorrow I’m gonna get to Devil’s tower.

Thanks for visiting.

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