Moorcroft, Wyoming emerged out of the black late last evening just as my quest to find a place to sleep was turning desperate. Everything here is in the middle of nothingness. But Devil’s Tower is “nearby” according to the map so I figured I’d come across lodging eventually. If you should decide to see Devil’s Tower, don’t make the same assumption about nearby lodging.
The Cozy Motel’s sign was half lit but the gravel parking area was packed with pickup trucks – a sight that put me at ease. At least if some creepy-motel-located-in-the-middle-of-nowhere-Jason-scene occurred, my screams would be heard. I walked into the “office”, rang the bell and an older lady and a boy about 5 came out of a back room (they’ve recently become fodder in my novel plotting mind). “Looks like you’re busy tonight, do you have a room?” “Yes I’ve got one left,,,,,,, railroaders”. To which I didn’t bother replying as I didn’t feel any reply required. But the humorous thought, “railroad convention?” ran through my mind. “We only take cash. The room is $35”. Not a problem. My husband had threatened my future solo road trip privileges if I went below $200 cash at any point of the trip. I had been compliant and pulled out the cash. “You’re in number 11 there on the end. We only got 11 rooms. The railroaders don’t like number 11.” The boy’s face had been marble the whole while but I was certain some reaction to the woman’s statement had caused something to twitch. Did his upper lip move or was it some shift in those shifty little eyes? I checked up just as I opened my mouth to ask why. Too late. My imagination was off like horses out the gate of the Kentucky Derby.
I pulled the truck over to number 11 and began unloading. I’d just walked through the door and dropped the first of my loads of crap that I faithfully hauled out of the truck every night, including the boxes of chocolate truffles I’d purchased at this life-changing chocolate shop outside of Deadwood, South Dakota, when a train went by. Thunder, whistle, thunder, whistle, ShChShCh on the tracks. I laughed out loud and ran back outside to see it swishing by on the track parallel to the motel, close enough to touch. Okay, well, not close enough to touch, but close enough. I hadn’t crossed the track since it ran parallel – stay with me here, and since it was pitch black, I hadn’t seen it. The railroaders didn’t like ole number 11 because it was the closest room to the track!
By the time the 3rd train came by the unloading was complete. I called my husband howling laughter at the 4th train passing, holding the phone up so he could hear the whistle. He predicted a total of 6 trains for the evening and I went to shower. I counted 2 while in the shower and over the course of the rest of the restless night, 18 of them jingled my weird and wacky dreams. I was up and out of there just before sunrise and had a fantastic day despite the lingering lack-of-sleep dreams. Devil’s Tower was stunning in the morning light.
Post Script from Journal: “Other than the trains, the room has been my favorite; the extremely low cost of course being a factor along with the story worthiness of my experience here. In addition to that the room was large as there was only one bed and the tiny bathroom was all white and brand new, and the carpet was clean. The railroaders were a quiet bunch; most of them were gone when I walked out to the truck at sunrise. The heat didn’t work well but after a sprint to the truck in the middle of the night for my emergency quilt, that problem was solved. It was 14 degrees this morning. Ahhhh…. WYOMING.”