Friday, after work, I got home and loaded up the truck. Tent, sleeping pad, camp gear box, cooler, folding chair, dog food, etc. When I'm camping alone, I tend to be a fairly minimalist camper. Yes, I do like SOME comforts, like my French Press coffee mug and a bottle of bourbon, but for the most part I don't take a lot. I also topped off the tank with gas, plus an additional 5 gallon gas can, packed a bag with a few clothes, and grabbed a few books on the Kindle to read.
Saturday morning, hit the road about 0800, drove up to Glendo, Wyoming, and topped off the tank again. This gave me a full tank, plus 5 gallons, which I figured would be plenty to get me home, heavy traffic notwithstanding.
I pulled off the paved road (how EVERY good adventure should start, right?) and drove into the Medicine Bow National Forest a ways, finally pulling off about here, and found myself a flat spot on the ground.
A few minutes to set up the tent, and I commenced to start drinking beer and reading my book. Spent the afternoon finishing "Never Call Me a Hero", which is a wonderful read about a WWII Navy Pilot, Jack "Dusty" Kleiss, who assisted in sinking two Japanese carriers and a Cruiser during the Battle of Midway. Highly recommended.
Sunday morning, woke up to the sun peeking through the trees, shining light upon the rock formation just west of my campsite.
I brewed some coffee, and got busy making some eggs. For those who don't know, if you're camping and your stove is really good at boiling water, but really lousy at doing a slow simmer/medium-low heat, you can still make a great plate of eggs: At home, before you leave, crack a handful of eggs into a container you can seal (I use a pint jar with a ring and lid), add some shredded cheese, diced ham, a few handfuls of diced bell peppers, etc., and shake the heck out of it. At camp, pour a measure of this into a ziplock type bag, get as much air out as you can, and put the bag into a pot of water at a high boil. About 15 minutes later, remove the bag from the water, carefully open the bag, and slide the eggs out onto your plate. Very light and fluffy eggs for breakfafst!
After breakfast and coffee, put the dogs in the truck and drove a bit to Douglas to get a bag of ice (what I had wasn't going to last another day and half, and I didn't want my food to spoil). One of the things you notice about Wyoming, other than the ever present wind, is just how much open and empty land there is. You can drive for MILES and never see another car, another person, or any buildings or structures at all. It's really a wide open, vast, isolated, and empty place.
My idea of paradise, in other words.
My idea of paradise, in other words.
Having returned to the campsite with a 20 pound bag of ice for the cooler, I discovered I now had a few more neighbors than I did on Saturday. Many of them were annoying, and I was considering relocating my camp further into the forest, just to get a bit more solitude.
Then this happened.
This young lady asked if she could put up her tent near mine, and as she was traveling alone, and me being all chivalrous and all, I couldn't say no. Besides, how do you say no to a body like that, in a dress like that?
She came by later for a beer, and we made small talk. That's when she mentioned her husband and two children.
At any rate, did some more reading, let the dogs chase rabbits a while, then I had some dinner, we talked a while, and I turned in for the night.
Monday was the big day, obviously. My cell phone camera can't do the eclipse justice, but here's a photo during totality.
To say it was surreal would be an understatement. This is possibly one of the 5 coolest things I've done in my lifetime. It was like dusk, in all directions, at 11:45 am. The birds fell silent, the temperature dropped some 15 degrees or so, and it was just awesome to see.
I'd already broken down my camp and had everything loaded in the truck that morning, so as soon as totality was over, I took a quick piss and started driving towards home.
Knowing that I-25 was going to be the preferred route for everyone from Casper to Cheyenne, I opted for the back roads.
I drove on route 7 south, took a right at FR 710 and went until it connected to rout 61, which took me south to US 30, just North of Rock River.
I was not alone on these back roads, as others along the National Forest had the same idea. I dare say that some of the free range cattle along the road were thinking "What the hell? We ain't never seen this many cars in a year, let alone in a single day..."
South of Bosler, traffic slowed a bit, due mostly to the sheer volume of vehicles and a bit of construction in Laramie.
Finally, once past Laramie, as some cars cut west, others cut east, traffic opened up a bit, and I was home an hour and a half or so later. Unloaded the truck, took a shower, went out for a pint, and was asleep by 2100 hours.
Total of 355 miles driving, the better part of three days, and one amazing experience that I wouldn't have wanted to miss.