Bagging all four, FIVE Yellowstone National Park entrances, Day #2, Lost and Found
Drove straight through from Goodland, Kansas to Cabela’s in Sidney, Nebraska. Didn’t stay long. Didn’t find wading boots. From Sidney I drove to Chimney Rock and then to Scott’s Bluff. Oh so beautiful and oh so old. The caprock “Eagle Rock” at Scott’s Bluff is 22 million years old.
Experienced the slightest degree of fear today. Of course this very emotion is one of the reasons I yearn for these trips – a little fear and overcome doubt prod the joy of being alive out. I dislike fear in the moment, but savor it, linger over it later in the comfort of safety. Turned the wrong direction coming out of Agate Fossil Bed National Monument (already closed for the day when I got there). Having traversed seven miles of dirt road I decided to go with what the GPS was telling me and turned West onto another similar road. This one however immediately narrowed to something fit for an ATV and was so rough I cut my speed to 25 mph. A glance at the GPS indicated I had 14 miles to go on this road before the next turn. Being raised on a ranch with broad expanses of land, my Dad taught us to stay cognizant of high line wires (and likely would have said at the time to never trust a GPS). High line wires signal civilization and told us to follow them if we ever became lost in the woods. About 4 miles into this I topped a prairie butte and realized I hadn’t seen a high line wire and couldn’t see any now that I was consciously searching for them. To add a little panic to the dawning reality I’m not on any map, I have no cell service, and I have no idea where this road is headed, it’s also getting late with large storm clouds gathering. I knew this was prime Indian country – buttes and high country prairie where they could lurk and watch from large boulder outcroppings, and pounce. I became convinced that despite the fact I’m driving a late model truck with 4 wheel drive, 8 cylinders and more horses than their entire tribe laid claim to, they could disable it. Never said my imagination didn’t get the better of me. I mean how would I manage to change a flat tire from one of their perfectly launched arrows in the dark with a howling wind and pounding rain? As my friend Stevie Ray would say, I made a good decision and turned around. This took some time as I had a big truck on a tiny road with steep drop-offs. I drove hunched over the wheel until I saw the dirt road turn to black top. Whew!
This story doesn’t end with the corresponding adrenaline rush, a good meal and a drink. It ended with serendipity and a serendipitous moment I’ll never forget. A little bit of healthy fear and serendipity – two reasons I love solo road trips. This was my favorite moment of the trip and generated the initial idea for this website. Read about it! Golden Moment.
My goal for the night was Chadron, Nebraska but dark was near when I pulled the truck back onto the highway. Coming upon the tiny town of Harrison, Nebraska it was if the rapture had come and I’d missed it. It was Sunday evening. There was smoke pouring from chimneys. Obviously people were around, but I did not spot one solitary soul stirring outside or even through the windows of their home. A thick quiet brought on by the snow contorted the soothing solitude I’d just experienced into almost an uncomfortable forlorn feeling. I had to drive on as there wasn’t lodging here, but even if there had of been, I was compelled to confirm I wasn’t alone on the planet and would have driven on. I attempted to photograph the moment by taking a picture of a barn with the snow scattered on the ground. But feelings that abstractly palpable can’t be captured on a mechanical device. I tried nevertheless and maybe for no other reason than to allow myself to revisit that moment every time I view the picture, which I happen to really like.
I headed East on Highway 20, past Ft. Robinson and arrived to the Chadron Motel 6 around 9:30. Ft. Robinson looked so intriguing I plan to backtrack in the morning to see it.
Post Script from Journal, Day #2: “saw lots of pheasants today.”