Fort Laramie and Independence Rock.
When I left off in the last post I was whining about my BS afternoon in Nebraska with bee stings and bird guts. And even though I knew the following day was going to be stormy, I was well rested and ready to take it on. When I woke up I stared at the doppler radar endlessly. On this day there would be no way to avoid riding into a storm. And some of these storms were whoppers! The previous night’s weather report said it would be raining first thing in the morning. Fortunately it hadn’t started yet when I got going and came across this old church. At least I thought it was a church. When I pulled over to have a closer look, a pick up truck pulled up and a big old grizzly looking guy named Danny leaned out and told me it was an old schoolhouse. Danny hopped out and lit a cigarette. He told me he rides too then showed me the colors on the back of his vest. We talked a bit, then I went inside to have a look.
As I crossed the border from Nebraska to Wyoming I passed through my first storm of the day. It wasn’t that bad. It gave me a chance to try out my rain gear. I was trying a new glove technique. Everything was holding up fine except the waterproof boots did not keep the feet dry. The rain let up and I saw Fort Laramie was nearby. I had passed this way before in the opposite direction. But at the time I was high-tailing it north to get to Sturgis before dark, so I never stopped.
Fort Laramie began as a private fur trading fort in 1834. As America expanded westward conflict with the native people caused a shift in the fort’s use. It became the largest military post in the US.
Fort Laramie was comprised of trappers, traders, Native Americans, missionaries, emigrants, soldiers, miners, ranchers and homesteaders all interacting.
Below is the prison.
A diorama of the fort as it was in the 1800’s.
Upstairs in this building was the soldiers barracks.
There was a bar with a pool table.
This bridge, built in 1875 crosses the North Platte River on the way to Fort Laramie.
From the visit to the fort I was headed north away from the obvious storm to the south. I rode on for a while thinking I was out of harms way. No such luck. I got slammed. It was bad but I plowed through it. After a short while you realize that you are fine and start to enjoy it a bit. Conquering the storm is character building. But this storm was getting worse. I made a stop to get gas and have a look at the radar on my phone. I did not like what I was seeing. I needed to get to Casper then go south and find camping. A storm was increasingly growing as it headed toward Casper. It looked real bad. I figured I would time it so that the red eye of the storm would have crossed Casper by the time I was arriving. I was about an hour or so away. I decided camping was out of the question. I would find a room in Casper for the night. I checked a few hotel sites and found nothing. Nothing! Casper Wyoming is a big town and everything was booked! I was talking to a couple other bikers at the gas stop. They were headed east and told me a tornado had already touched down somewhere on the Nebraska/Wyoming border. As they were leaving one of them handed me a card. He said, “I don’t know if they have any rooms, but if they do, Tammy will give you a good rate.” It had a hand written note to Tammy at the Best Western. I called ahead, there were no rooms. I checked Priceline one last time and BAM! A room available at the La Quenta. I jumped on it. When I got there the guy at the desk said he was surprised to see a name pop up. He thought they were booked. Lucky me. And the next morning as I was looking at the paper in the morning I realized it was a very good thing I waited out that growing storm.
You can see how much rain had accumulated in the parking lot.
The next morning I got up to head over to Yellowstone where I was going to camp for a couple days. On the way was Independence Rock.
When I pulled up to Independence Rock I was startled by the amount of people climbing all over it. It turns out there were multiple bus loads of these people. I guess they were Mennonite. They were dressed in some traditional garb. Not sure. All I knew was there was a lot of ’em!
Independence Rock was a stop during the time when people were originally emigrating to Oregon, California and Utah. Wagons would start at the Missouri River in the Spring and try to make it to the rock by July 4. Hence the name.
Many of those people stopping here would carve their names in the large granite rock.
There are names all over this rock, but I just climbed to the top, had a look about and split.
When I got to the bike I saw two guys having a look at ‘ol Bonnie. It turns out one of them road here from New Jersey. That’s Quinton from Jersey in the center and Karl on the left. He is from Lead, SD.
When we got to talking, I mentioned I may have a fuel issue. Foolishly I did not fill up before leaving Casper. These guys were very cool and told me they would ride with me to the next town to see if there was a gas station. If not Quinton said he had a tube to syphon a bit to get to the next station.
I call this the Jesse shot. Jesse is another two wheeled traveler who keeps a blog of his travels. I saw him take a down low shot like this so I have to give him props. http://twowheelin.wordpress.com/
Thanks Quinton and Karl for looking out! Maybe see you for Sturgis 75! Now on to Yellowstone!
On the way to Yellowstone I made one more stop in Fort Washakie to visit Sacagewea’s grave. Or is it?