Severe weather — lightning and high winds — caused a change in plans. Thinking it unsafe to camp outside we decided to stay in a motel both Wednesday and Thursday nights in Laramie and Cheyenne, Wyoming, respectively. We never heard a thunder boomer either night or saw any sign of high winds, but it was a better night’s sleep knowing we were safe and dry.
Cheyenne is an old cowboy town, as is Laramie, but it has really jumped on the tourism bandwagon. Much in the city, including recurring events, seem to be geared toward drawing as many tourists as possible. They host a huge multi-day rodeo annually as well as other events through the year. The part of the city we stayed in (near the freeway) was an older part that clearly reflected it’s past as a livedstock shipping hub. There was also a large complex or factory that was probably an oil refinery but may have been a chemical processing plant. It certainly left an odd smell in the air!
I have been so amazed at how easy it is to find yourself driving in circles when getting off and on the interstate system. We took the wrong exit coming into Cheyenne and had to drive westbound before we could get back to the right exit from the eastbound lanes. Then we repeated the process trying to leave Cheyenne. Neither hubby or I have the foggiest idea how we found ourselves heading for Denver, Colorado. I thought seeing billboard after billboard advertising businesses and tourist traps in Denver was strange. We had gone the wrong way for 16 miles before we could turn around and start heading eastward. I will say that confusing signage (is that a word or did I invent it?) seems to be a trait of Wyoming. We’ve traveled in over two dozen states and we’ve found ourselves on the wrong road more often in Wyoming than anywhere else.
I learned a new lesson on Friday, July 1st. You can’t trust the terminology that any given state uses for their parks and recreation areas to be what you expect. In Oregon we have wonderful State Parks that are very convenient for travelers and pleasant for all. Even in primitive county campgrounds each site is well-marked and will have a mostly level area to pitch a tent or park an RV. Water will be in the site or no more than a few campsites away except for more remote National Forest Service campgrounds and Recreation Parks without any water. Regardless of the type of campground all sites will have a picnic table and fire ring.
Imagine our surprise when we finally reached the long-looked forward to State Recreation Area near Grand Island, Nebraska. First of all the entrance was so poorly marked that we drove six miles past it before we were able to inquire as to it’s location. When we arrived we found a small, weedy pond populated with clouds of mosquitos, lots of grass, large and small trees, two marked sites and three picnic tables placed randomly in the grass. We asked a youth who was rigging up a fishing rod where the campsites were — where we should set up our camp. He told us to just park anywhere. Our camping gear is somewhat primitive but we did need water, a table and a flat place to set up. We decided to pass and look for something else. The private RV park on the other side of the Interstate wasn’t much better. Oregon could teach Nebraska a thing or two about planning parks. Maybe people don’t go camping in that state.
Thus ended our fifth full day of travel, with much disappointment and a near emotional meltdown on my part as we ate dinner in the dark, dodging and swatting flying bugs, then collapsing on our cots. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.