Saturday, June 26, 2010

Rain, Rain, Go Away

It’s Tuesday (6/15) morning and I’m seeing the sun for the first time since I left Denver on Sunday morning. I’m camped at Ft. Robinson State Park just outside Crawford, NE. The drive up on Sunday was tiring to say the least. The first 100 miles was on Interstate 25 to Cheyenne, WY. That part wasn’t too bad but splash back by passing cars meant I had to “drive” the whole way. There was no opportunity to  relax and enjoy the scenery.

Once off I-25 it was a series of increasingly smaller highways and unfortunately the further north and east I got, the harder the rain came down. I made it to Ft. Robinson at about 3pm and I was more than ready to stop. The camping gods didn’t give me a break by slowing down the rain after I arrived so I got pretty soaked while unhooking the trailer. On the drive up here I kept remembering the description of the route into the Hudson-Meng PIT site. “Narrow dirt road that can become treacherous or impassible in wet weather”. This might prove to be interesting!

Yesterday the weather was a bit better…it wasn’t pouring, but it was still drizzling off and on. I decided to drive into Hudson-Meng site in the truck to see what the road was like. It’s about 4 miles from the campground to the dirt road and then it’s about 14 miles of dirt road.

When I hit the first portion of the dirt road I thought that it wasn’t going to be a problem. It was a county road, well graded and maintained and a semi-gravel surface. After about 4 or 5 miles of that, I hit a Forest Service road and things got ugly quick. The road was not built up above the surrounding area and consequently had very poor drainage. It also had no gravel surfacing and there was a fair amount of clay in the soil. All of that resulted in a gooey, slimy, slippery mess. I had the truck in four wheel drive and I was still slipping and sliding. A couple of times I almost gave up and turned around but I pressed on and in about another four miles the road got better. The rest of the way into the site was decent, not great but passable.

When I first arrived at the site I didn’t see any sign of human activity except for two cars parked in the parking lot. I thought that maybe the project had been cancelled and they forgot to tell me. I walked towards the two cars and as I did I came to the crest of a small hill and then saw 8 or 10 small tents, a small Casita trailer and two field tents.

I found the project leader hunkered down in one of the field tents. He said that they hadn’t gotten a whole lot accomplished because of the rain but were hoping that the weather would improve this week. He said there were about 18 people working as volunteers on the project and most were archaeology students from Minnesota. He also said that Tuesday (today) was a day he planned for a field trip to some local sites.

After some discussion I decided that I would stay at Ft. Robinson for at least two more nights in the hopes that weather would improve and the roads would dry out. I will meet the group in Crawford in about an hour and go with them on the field trip. Tomorrow morning I’ll drive into the site for the day. If the roads are dry enough to allow my 12,000 lb trailer to pass over them, I’ll drive it in on Thursday morning. More to come.

Thanks for visiting.

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