Lewis Park, Wheatland Wyoming
First, some tedious detail. After completing the first day’s errands and overnighting at Cabela’s in Rapid City, South Dakota, I got a second day’s errands done by 1 PM. That included a much needed haircut so I would stop scaring small children.
I’ve also been dressing a little better since yesterday, and chucked my oldest pair of jeans that were beginning to get wear holes in them. Why? At the start of day one, on my way into Rapid City from Hanna Campground, I stopped at a restaurant-slash-tourist-trap for breakfast due to having run out of my own stuff. It’s a decent place, kind of rustic, always busy, and the food is good. I read an ebook from Project Gutenberg as I ate, and some time after I finished, the waitress showed up and said that my tab had already been paid. Huh? Yep, paid by some woman who had previously been sitting at a nearby booth, now departed. No further info. That was certainly puzzling! All I could think was that this person took one look at me in my white T-shirt, jeans and sandals and decided it was time to pay it forward or something. I’ll still look pathetic dressed for hot weather of course, but short of that, I decided to use what I have packed to go one notch upscale. The good news is that should I ever need to panhandle for income, this is an indicator that I might be able to make a go of it.
At any rate, the trip southwest toward Wheatland is both inspiring and sobering. Inspiring, because of the vast expanses of rolling hills in and about the Buffalo Gap Grasslands. Just huge, with no man-made items in sight. There are ranches here and there, but most are off to the side so far that they can’t be seen. Occasional railroad tracks boast strings of tank cars and coal cars a mile long. That’s not easy, because many sections of track are on noticeable grades. Sobering, because the large distances between poorly-equipped stops are such that it makes you realize that if your vehicle failed out there on the two-lane, getting assistance would be a real trick.
That realization occurred not long before a very light random tapping started from up front on the Mighty Furd. Sounded like a cross between a tie down strap working loose in the wind, tiny pebbles being thrown from the tire treads, and the sound of heat expansion on exhaust pipes. Couldn’t pinpoint the location. Gauges normal, and no secret blurbs from the dashboard message center. Now, there are straps galore on the e-bike and trailer up front, so at one point I found a place to pull over, got out, and took a gander. Nope. All tight, and no fluids under the engine bay. After another half-hour of coming and going, it finally ended. Mental note: after overnighting, take a look at the serpentine belt in the engine bay for loose cord ends, or for any unusual debris in that overly cramped space. It was a long drive and a fairly drippy one, since my head cold had decided to begin an encore the day before! Driving while feeling like a veg-head is not the best.
Wheatland has two exits off of the modest run of I-25 on my route, so it is apparently a notable town. I can guess that because it also apparently has a Safeway supermarket. Lewis Park is at the outskirts near some fairly busy railroad tracks, but if you’re tired enough you won’t wake at the train horns. Along with the usual sports fields, this park includes spots for both RVers and tenters. Free stays of up to 3 days are allowed, and since the weather won’t get hot here for another day, I’ll rest and go through another box of Kleenex for an extra day. I haven’t spotted a dumpster yet, but this place has potable water and a dump station. What more could one ask? One odd thing when I had arrived and set up camp was some guy in the driver’s seat of a newish Sprinter van parked a couple of spots away, jabbering loudly into his cellphone in some Eastern European dialect. That went on for quite awhile before he pulled away in the darkness. It was just unusual, not particularly distracting.
Then it’s on to Colorado! I honestly don’t know what to expect along my intended route, temperature-wise. Elevations are such that any switch back to “normal” could hasten my progress to lower regions in the southern part, but that’s all part of the adventure. To me, the main challenge in this kind of thing is not just finding good-for-me places to camp, but places to resupply on a weekly basis. Potable water, fresh produce, propane, laundromat, pharmacy of the proper brand, hot shower, etc. Incidentally, although truck stop showers are practically luxurious, I’ve “discovered” what many already know: perfectly good showers can be found at recreation and/or aquatic centers, even in some mid-size towns like Spearfish, and they usually run $5 instead of $12-$13. All you need are your own towels and some kind of lock for the clothing lockers.