June 18/19, 2018
Yesterday (June 18) was chiefly a driving day with little in the way of stops, traffic or attractions. Pretty, but eventually just a little boring. It offered great opportunity for the mind to wander and our curiosity to surface. Let me share a little. As we crossed the panhandle of Nebraska the day before we had started noticing trains with numerous rail cars loaded with coal. Then yesterday, we entered Wyoming shortly into the day's travels and saw another train with the same kind of rail cars but no coal. Where were they picking up or dropping off coal? Must be somewhere in Wyoming?? We also spied a train with flatbed rail cars, each carrying 3 or 4 military vehicles. Curiosity spiked again. 'Round about Guernsey we think we found an answer to both. A military base there was undergoing some construction. Aha, perhaps they needed to transport the vehicles elsewhere during construction?? And, also around Guernsey we saw lots more empty "coal" cars and then a loaded train full of coal. We surmise the coal was being loaded there. Where it is mined we are still not certain.
Those curiosities were closed in our minds. Now what? How would we entertain ourselves? We noted pronghorns and eventually started counting them, reaching 47 before arriving at Sheridan. We figure the number would really be 2 or 3 times that as we merely pointed them out for a number of miles!! There were lots and we have not seen much wildlife this whole trip. Another pastime since we entered Wyoming was to watch the elevation for this state, thankfully, declares that info on the city signs along with the population in many cases. As we drove northwest our elevation was rising. By the time we hit Casper we were pushing the mile-high mark so watched it intensely on Randi. We came just shy of the 5280 mark on our highway. One can find all sorts of things to pass the time on the road. One day a while back we were trying to figure out all the presidents of the USA. Don't think we ever completed that and then we decided, more important, we should know the prime ministers of Canada. We failed that as well-- but we tried.
We ended our day in Sheridan at a lovely park (perhaps one of the nicest) - Peter D's - very well maintained all around, clean, green grass, full amenities, fairly level sites of gravel and even a garden from which I was given a bag of fresh lettuce when I answered I thought we would eat in camp tonight. What a little something extra! Before settling in the RV park we had sought out an oil change for Harvey which also brought a little bonus. I had gone for a little walk while awaiting the oil change and only across the street had spied a sign with slot machines. The building looked like a restaurant but I wandered in. Most likely once a restaurant for sure but now a wee casino -- maybe 20 machines. Long story short, or shorter at least, friendly people, I got a card, played on the $20 they gave me as a new member and left with $20. I knew Denis would be envious so brought him once Harvey was done and he repeated my process only was even luckier, leaving up $100.
As for the oil change, Denis was very pleased with the service at Grease Monkey and when I returned to Harvey, in front of my seat on the dash, was a carnation -- what a sweet touch!
This morning (June 19) as we bid farewell to this lovely RV park we were also granted just a wee peek at maybe the Rockies to the west (need to brush up on geography too I think) between the low level cloud. Denis mentions the total population of Wyoming could fit on Vancouver Island. I check. Yep, according to our 2015 road atlas Wyoming's population is 563,626, making its population rank 50th while it ranks 9th in land mass. No wonder there are not too many communities and lots and lots of ranch/farming land. As we entered Montana early in the day I check its stats -- 4th in land mass and 44th in population at 989,415.
Montana, big sky country, but much of today that big sky was covered by big cloud. Still, I have always liked Montana. Something about it . The terrain varies from Wyoming -- more hills and mountains, rivers and trees. The Yellowstone River is running fast and high and looking awful muddy - not my recollection of previous visits. All the rivers and creeks are pretty much the same. They have had some rain and we also encountered rain. I would hope for us to drive on and get through the weather and we did and then I would see another bit of weather down the road and we would drive right into another downpour. Still, a nicer, less boring drive. Once again with not too many stops.
Around Big Timber that same curiosity surfaced for a bit. Now where was the coal coming from and/or going to? We spied those same "coal" cars around there. Hmmm..... more research needed.
We hit some higher elevations today while driving as well and surpassed the mile-high mark -- 5771 and 6453 according to Randi. The only signposting given was when we crossed the Continental Divide at 6393. Quite the climbs, something we don't miss having been east of the Rockies for a number of weeks, but not as steep as they could be as they start the big climbs over the 4000 ft. mark.
We settled in Riverfront park in Garrison, Montana for the night, though, I must confess we did joke about it being under water like in North Carolina with how high and fast rivers were and with a name Riverfront. This park was built with water levels in mind and obviously these rivers are not at such a rare high level. The rain continued off and on, heavy at times but we did not float away and we are facing a lovely range of mountain with snow still visible (well at least until the clouds socked them in).