Saturday, August 29, 2009

Into High Country

Saturday, August 29, 2009
Alcova, WY

We left Fort Robinson this morning and continued west on US-20. A few miles down the road we came upon a small town -- Harrison, NE. -- that was like so many other small towns we passed through out here. The official population of Harrison is around 200, but I think they're counting their pets too. The speed limit on US-20 slows to 30mph, but there's no stopping -- you just slow down a bit and roll through town. About the time you slow down it's time to speed up again. We're talkin' small!

But somebody in Harrison has a good sense of humor. Approaching town there's a large green sign, that's been done to look like an Interstate Highway information sign, that proudly states "Harrison -- Next Four Exits". It went by so fast we could barely get a picture of it. And Dar counted exactly four streets that intersected with the highway. Needless to say we were grinning big the next few miles. What a hoot!

From Into Wyoming

After crossing the line into Wyoming we stopped in Lusk, which is notable for being the County Seat of the least populated County in the least populated State in all of the USA. The whole county has 2,400 people spread out across 2,500 square miles. It's actually a very nice town that seems to have a population (albeit small -- 1,400 or so) that keeps the place neat and orderly. We sensed a vibrancy that probably comes from business activity... new buildings, busy shops, modern services. We stopped and walked around downtown. Everyone we met seemed happy and content... and greeted us in some way. Hmmm. Lusk may go on our list.

Continuing west we eventually met up with I-25, which follws the North Platte River, for the ride into Casper. After a missed exit and quick turn-around we found WY-220 which heads southwest -- again, following the North Platte. About 30 miles down WY-220 we arrived in Alcova and, after some effort, claimed a campsite. We're on the shores of Alcova Reservoir, a dammed up part of the river. Like most reservoirs in the west, it's used not only as a source of freshwater, it's a recreational paradise for anyone with a boat. And, at first glance, I think everyone with a boat in Casper is probably here. It's the weekend and it's busy. I'll have more to say about Alcova after we get a chance to explore a bit. We're planning to stay two nights.

From Into Wyoming

We're clearly moving into "high country" as we move west. We left Fort Robinson, at 3,800 feet elevation, and within the first 20 miles we were at almost 4,800 feet. Lusk is at 5,000; Casper at 5,400. So what comes with high elevations? Dry air -- the dew point right now is 35f and the relative humidity is just 22%. The nights chill down quickly -- tonight into the upper 40's, but the sun is intense if it's out. Daytime highs are expected to be in the upper 70's the next few days.

Another effect of higher elevation is increased pressure in all those sealed up bottles and food containers in the fridge and the pantry. For example, we try to be vigilant and "burp" a little extra air out of the ketchup bottle on those days we're moving higher. If you forget it's possible that you'll be treated to more ketchup than you'd really like the next time you fetch some for your burger. We haven't had any "food-explosions" from this effect yet, but I have heard of someone exploding their sleep-number bed on the way up the hill.

As for the toad, the car, it's handling the ride just fine so far. I noticed, as I was entering data into our log from the drive today, that we've towed it behind the bus-house almost 1,300 miles so far. Since it has just shy of 1,000 miles on the odometer, it's been towed further than it's been run. Hmmm.

T