September 10, 2014 Room 125 Cheyenne, Wyoming
Left Ogallala and headed to Scott’s Bluff. The road was wide and winding, empty before us. We continued on the Lincoln Highway—no trucks and that is a huge plus. Barb got to see her fields of sunflowers, but just as in 2000, they are on their last legs, much to her dismay. Passed another couple of feed yards and traveled with their heady bouquet for quite a few miles. Wouldn’t want to live here, downwind of the lots.
The scenery is just beautiful, in some instances looking almost like landscape paintings. We stopped at a historical marker but soon discovered that if we stopped at everyone of them, it would take us as long as the wagon trains to get to the West. We heard the bawl of a calf and looked over to see the baby bull watching us with great curiosity—he was so cute. Little does he know he’s going to be someone’s dinner one of these days.
I kept looking for the first sign of jail rock and courthouse rock in an effort to see how far the emigrants were from them when they first saw them. With the rolling countryside the two rocks kept playing hide and seek with me, making it difficult to photograph them from a distance. Imagine the frustration of the walkers pushing wagons or walking beside their wagons. When we finally reached them we had traveled 22.6 miles and chimney rock was visible still farther west—about 11 or so miles. Of course, we weren’t travelling exactly along the path of the wagons, despite the many signs indicating that we were. Nevertheless, I’m sure my measurement is in the ballpark and there is no way I can imagine the heat and fatigue of those early pioneers as they pushed on to reach what had become landmarks along the way to Oregon or California. As we neared Chimney Rock, Scott’s Bluff rose as a shimmering white blob still more distant in the West.
We stopped at the Chimney Rock visitors’ center where I have stopped at least four times in the past, only to have it closed each time. This time we were able to watch the video speaking of these natural formations and the comments of those who strove so hard to reach them. As the narrator indicated, the feelings were of relief to have come this far but apprehension because it was known that the terrain to come was more challenging than what had already been crossed.
I loved the imagery of a statement made by Red Cloud once the numbers of newcomers became a deluge. I’m paraphrasing because I don’t remember his exact words but it was something like: Once all of this land was ours and now the white man has left me an island in the middle of what was ours. We “ fade as the melting snows, while you grow as the spring grass” So poetic and sad. Even as the Indians had been so helpful to these newcomers, the onslaught to come would almost wipe them from the face of the Earth.
In looking at a map of Scott’s Bluff at the visitors’ center I realized that the Agate Beds National Monument is not there though our National Parks Passport indicates that it is right outside town. In asking the docent we found that it is actually 35 miles north of Mitchell and that there is nothing out there but the museum. No motels, no towns. So Barb and I decided to get a room in Scott’s Bluff, go up to the Monument, return and have dinner out, which we haven’t done yet on this trip. Guess what—not a room anywhere in Scott’s Bluff---and I mean, no where, including locally owned motels and lower priced chains such as Motel 6 ! No one could explain why this seems to have started about a year ago—all rooms booked every week throughout the year!
We decided to move on down to Cheyenne and forget about the Native American beadwork and agates. Along I 71 we found a neat recreation area and raided our travelling china closet, pantry and refrigerator to come up with a pate, hummus and cracker spread followed by Nonni’s almond raisin flatbreads for dessert. The wind was brisk and fast so we ate at our picture window looking onto the reservoir. Barb worked up a sweat trying to pump water from an antique, non-functioning well.
Over a few more hills and round a few more bends we entered Wyoming. When I called to book a room in Cheyenne, we found that the rooms are all booked once more, although I got the last room at the Quality Inn. Bill and I stayed here a few years back after a tortuous drive from Buffalo through Casper and towns in between none of which had any rooms because of high school tournaments, wrestling and girls’ basketball as I recall. We drove through a horrible snowstorm with NO visibility, got off at Cheyenne in a long line of tractor trailer trucks and got the last room here. It was a Comfort Inn then. The next day, the interstate outside the window was traffic free—it was closed down. I cannnot remember how much the room right above us cost but this one is $115 tonight plus 10% tax and that is with my senior discount. We have been running into much higher room costs than Bill and I usually do. As a matter of fact, my half on this trip is the same Bill and I spend in winter. At this rate, my calculation of only needing half as much money for this trip than ours is not going to hold true.
As if that isn’t bad enough, snow is coming tonight and may continue for a couple of days. Considering the dearth of rooms, I’ve booked this one until Sat when it is supposed to warm up once more. Barb has no winter tires and we are headed toward the snow—don’t think it wise to move on—besides they may close the roads if it gets too icy. My head is pounding like crazy and I’m tired. Maybe we’ll order in pizza and open our wine. At any rate, I’m going to go change into my nightgown and watch TV no matter how awful. Good night from the Maybe Stranded for Awhile in Wyoming Sisters ( what’s new? I’ve been to Wyoming five times now and have been stranded at least one night every time! Why break a pattern?) Kathy and Barb