“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.” ~Khalil Gibran
I woke with a wicked migraine. Perhaps from my barely suppressed freakout of the night before, perhaps from not drinking enough to stay hydrated in this furnace-wind, perhaps from the cottonwood fluff blowing everywhere, perhaps the long hours in the vehicle without exercise or even stretching, perhaps just because it was time for another one. I never know what exactly brings them on, and they are few and far between enough to not want to seek treatment, which I know from true sufferers is often ineffectual anyway.
I took an over-the-counter remedy, drank some coffee, did a little public yoga (which if you know me, know I have to need it pretty bad to do it in a public place) broke camp, and hit the road. I slept as Len drove and I only awoke occasionally as he dodged the prairie dogs that kept popping up everywhere—crossing the road, standing on the side of the road, standing IN the road. It was like a game of whack-a-mole, except with prairie dogs … and a Jeep going 65mph … and you’re actually trying to avoid them, not hit them. Okay, not really like whack-a-mole at all except for the frequent heads popping up left and right.
By the time I had slept my way to Rawlins I was feeling better so we parked and poked around the town (I was dying to walk and stretch my legs). We checked out the Tourist Information Office which was up a narrow staircase accessed through a music store (with no clerk in sight) and the person manning the office was apparently out for lunch, so we grabbed some brochures and walked to the Historic Wyoming Frontier Prison which offered tours. Its history went back far enough that it had housed some honest-to-goodness Wild West rascals but it also went forward enough to have been in existence into the early 1980s.
Some pretty harsh penalties were enacted against prisoners and the gas chamber was a little more real-life grisly than I cared to photograph. (Apparently some people like to sit in the chair and get their photograph taken—the actual chair, mind you, that some eleven prisoners were gassed to death while sitting in. No thanks.) Still, I was glad to have seen it and been reminded that plenty of people are living their lives incarcerated—out of sight of “civilized” society, but very much there and very human.
We tried to eat at a small Thai restaurant in the town, but got there just after they had closed for two hours between lunch and dinner, so instead we ate a light lunch at the Huckleberry Cafe and then headed to Red Desert Rose Campsites outside of Rawlins. They placed us near the tent sites (which often happens when we make a reservation because we are sort of a hybrid trailer/tent/RV thingy). It’s nice when we’re put there because it usually means more grass, less traffic, and less giant RV noise. Also closer to the facilities since we don’t have a bathroom in our trailer. This campground was pretty close to I-80, though, so there was no shortage of road noise, but the wind kept playing a steady background score and that tempered it some.
I applied the two newest stickers to our galley lid (Dinosaur National Monument and Flaming Gorge Dam) and we ate a simple dinner of veggies, crackers, Swiss cheese, and grapes. It felt good to eat lighter. I tried again to upload Day 13—again with no success—despite claims of free WiFi, but this time I closed the laptop and didn’t freak out. (Lesson learned.) We crashed at 8:30 (even with all the sleeping I’d done in the car) and slept until almost 7am. Clearly the road is wearying.
I did wake twice during the night, though. Once when the unmistakable perfume of Pepe le Pew began to waft into the window and I nudged Len to close his side, saying, “Skunk! Close the window!” The other time I woke was to hit the facilities, and for the first time on this trip the late-night walk creeped me out. Not sure why. Perhaps it was the fact that this place (and none of the others) had a keypad entry code for access to the bathrooms, perhaps it was the lonely, flickering red Desert Rose sign (Bates Motel anyone?), or perhaps it was because I had spent the day staring at prison cells, gallows, and gas chambers. But once I got halfway to the bathrooms I felt really exposed and vulnerable in that deserted gravel parking lot with sleeping people all around in their little tin houses-on-wheels. I actually stayed in the bathroom an extra ten minutes or so thinking that any miscreant with ill intent wouldn’t be that patient. I returned to the trailer without incident, crawled back in beside Len and fell fast asleep.
Also, a few days back when I mentioned our stored liquids “burping?” Well, we had a stash of individual creamers in the Jeep, mixed in with a bag of protein bars and energy shots. And it turns out that at least one of those creamers “burped” in the bag and not only made a huge mess of the bag but then began to steadily sour in the 100-degree heat. I kept sniffing, saying, “Something smells bad,” but Len didn’t agree until he went to pull out a protein bar and stuck his hand right in the curdled mess. Blech! Talk about nasty. Fortunately the bag kept the mess contained, but we had a lot of protein bars to wash and now we have no more individual creamers. It’s big bottle only, baby.
Tomorrow: Hilton Garden Inn in Casper, Wyoming!