Thursday, October 22, 2020

Tales from the Blog: Marlboro Country

Part of the delay between posts is matching up the photographs with the entries. Some of these are easier (“did get a picture of the West 80 sign”) than others (“took picture of more of those fields”). Google Map’s Street View has been a big help in matching up terrain. My favorite example thus far is the rest area from the beginning of this post. I was concerned about finding the location because we had a lot of rest areas close in Michigan in mid-late 1990s, as the metro area pushed north along I-94. Not only does the Pine Bluff’s rest area still exist, but so do the pictured pavilions and the bronc rider silhouettes (though now faded).

Unsure if the date changed in the last 50 years but if you are traveling to Dubois, the rodeos are on Friday nights.

Radio station updates:

  • Not much KRAE history before the 1980s when it was licensed for classic country. It subsequently changed formats to sports and is now oldies.
  • Could not locate anything on KEKD out of Casper or KSJT from Jackson Hole.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Marlboro Country

July 31, 1972

7:00 AM
Woke up. Changed my mind again and slept in the back (to hell with anybody that doesn’t like it) Rearranged practically the entire car; figured I’ve had enough time to know what goes where now. Got that all done. Decided to cook in back of car and for the first time forgot to wait till flame lowered and turned blue: found myself with fuel dripping all over sleeping bag and almost burning off mosquito netting! Wrecked one towel and singed my hair on my hands (not bad) trying to put out fire. Decided to cook on picnic table. Forgot to mention it’s chilly with overcast skies and some wind. Not yet cold, but I wished I’d brought a jacket. Eating Salisbury steak and mushroom gravy, bread (no butter) and water for breakfast. Stomach died. Took a picture.

8:10 AM
Leaving, next step Cheyenne, Wyoming. Sky clearing, sun out but still not hot. I’m riding parallel to what must be the world’s longest train (well, it seems like it). Mountains on my left are beautiful, but too far away for a picture. Passing what looks to be fields of wheat alternating with fresh plowed fields. Pretty. Land seems flat or rolling with mountains far away. Wish somebody could see this with me. Just cruising at 60 mph, trying to take this all in. Listening to KRAE out of Cheyenne. Just forecast scattered thundershowers with a temp of 61. Now instead of corn it’s cows, all over the place just wandering around. Took picture of more of those fields.

8:45 AM
Cheyenne – low buildings, all spread out. Saw the “DT’s Liquor Store” with a pink elephant on top. Cheyenne just celebrated “Frontier Days” and the big news on the radio is the rodeo results. Half the dudes are wearing cowboy hats (not kids but old men).

9:05 AM
Trucking on Hwy 25 – all hills with mountains far in background. No houses, some cows & windmills. But land is fenced so it must be all grazing land. Now a few houses. 37 miles to “Chugwater, Wyoming.” Sky is overcast. A lot of snow fences; must be bad in winter with no trees.

9:20 AM
Saw some trees. Don’t laugh, I guess they don’t grow much out here. Starting to worry about gas. Haven’t seen a station since Cheyenne, and not much more houses. Sprinkling.

9:27 AM
Stopped to take picture of cows and windmill, but I don’t think it will come out. Raining now.

9:45 AM
Still raining, still no gas station. Cows are all laying down. Two minutes later, passing Chugwater – small town. Next stop: Wheatland. Very odd hills, took picture. Ears keep popping. Some rock formations look like tables or old castles. Back to sprinkling; can see larger hills or mountains on left far away.

10:05 AM
Rain stopped six miles from Wheatland. I’ve got the yawns. Real mountains on left in the distance, too far for picture, but are deep blue with clouds half way up. Oh, spoke too soon, it’s sprinkling again.

10:15 AM
Stopped in Wheatland for gas. Bought an air cushion seat for $3.75; don’t know if it’s a rip-off, but when it’s hot I don’t care. More cowboy hats. Everyone polite (Sir, madam, etc.) Left gas station, stopped at A&W for coffee. Ended up with a Papa Burger, jumbo root beer and coffee with a lid. I think the mountains I was seeing were in the Medicine Bow National Forest. (Whatever they were, they were beautiful and majestic.) P.S. Hamburger was lousy! Root beer tastes the same.

10:35 AM
Back on the road. Wheatland is a little bigger than Richmond. Five minutes later, crossed the Laramie River. Clouds still obscuring tops of those mountains. Wish I could take picture. Listing to KLZ. Road sign says “Game crossing next 10 miles.”

11:05 AM
Now hills covered with pine trees which are not tall like ours but short and fat. Then passed thru Glendo (pop. 292) Back on road in mountains (or whatever). Raining hard, but view is spectacular! This is either God’s Country or Marlboro Country (both fit).

11:25 AM
Two girls in another car waved at me. Made me feel lonesome.

11:30 AM
Stopped to take picture of mountains (hope it comes out). Listening to KEKD from Casper, Wyo. Which is where I’m heading. 57 degrees and cool.

12:00 PM
Passing loads of (I guess) oil or gas pumps dotting the hills. (Like the one off I-94 by 21 mile back home.)

12:15 PM
Passed 1st Casper exit. Then in 5 min. on Hwy 20 to Yellowstone! Have to go to the john.

12:35 PM
Stopped for gas & restroom. So relieved I forgot to get gallon amount. Oh, well. Then, back on the road. Sky still is overcast, but lighter. More cattle.

12:55 PM
Almost ran over a goat! I’m sure it was tame, though.

1:15 PM
Stopped at “Hell’s Half Acre, Wyo.” In a word: weird. Took two pictures, but would have been better if it was sunny. Met a storyteller-guide named “Casey Jones” (he said) but didn’t talk to him, had to go.

1:25 PM
Had to slow down for two sheep crossing the road. Then passed Hiland, Wyo. (pop. 10) Sun is getting hotter, land is sandy.

1:47 PM
Moneta, Wyo. (pop. 10)

2:10 PM
Have passed Shoshone, Wyo. Now entering the Wind River Indian Reservation. Stopped and took picture of Boyser Resovour (I know that that’s spelled wrong). I could take a million pictures of weird hills and rock formations.

2:30 PM
Entered Prouton. Small farms, some stores, etc. It does have shopping center & hospital. Town is bigger than at 1st glance. Higher still into mountains. Sign says “Open range Loose stock.” The pick-ups all have rifle racks in back windows.

2:55 PM
Entered Kinnear (pop. 44). Sky getting cloudy again. I am 142 miles from Yellowstone. Now raining here, but the sun is shining on far away mountain tops. I can see the snow at the peak.

3:15 PM
Stopped at 1st marked rest area since Cheyenne: 2 tables and 2 outhouses. No real rest areas so far (and I’m pretty far).

3:25 PM
Passed Bull Lake River. Land is covered with boulders and rocks.

3:30 PM
Stopped and took picture of Crowheart Butte; named because after a victorious battle here the chief of the Shoshone Indians displayed a Crow Indian’s heart on his battle lance.

3:45 PM
Beautiful mountains all around. Like a picture themselves. If I had more film, I would go crazy. Sides of some of the mountains are pink. The whole thing is mind boggling, honest to God. Now I just passed big red cliffs. Have been passing the Wind River. It’s pretty with small white rapids. Still passing wind eroded pink and red cliffs and buttes.

4:15 PM
Took two pictures at a self service gas station. One of mountains, one of horses. Went thru Dubois: just what you would expect a small town out West: “Rodeo Saturday Nights” little shops and acres of ten gallon hats. Radio reception horrible; can’t find any stations.

4:30 PM
Went by a “pass.” Then went up a steep grade behind a stake struck: average speed 20 mph. Ears popping again.

4:40 PM
Rain again. Just entered Shoshone National Forest. Getting darker. Now it’s tall pines and Smokey the Bear signs warning “Fire danger today is: high.”

4:50 PM
Deep in the heart of Shoshone Forest. Trees towering overhead. Dropped pen and had to get another from the glove box. No mean feat considering the crap packed in front of it. Raining hard, visibility poor. Have to keep downshifting to make it up the grades. Ears popping again. More cliffs in distance.

4:58 PM
Entered Teton County. Ears popping again. Have to add that to Jim’s list of body pleasures. More mountains with snow near top.

5:10 PM
Stopped to take picture of Teton National Forest. Then saw herd of cattle on side of road. (Note: this is open range.) Went by another scenic overlook: would like to take another picture as the clouds are below you. Just beautiful!

5:30 PM
Entered Grand Teton National Park. KSJT (Jackson Hole) finally came in on the radio. Temp 66; still raining. Five minutes later: 26 miles from Yellowstone. Stopped in long line for something. Can’t tell what yet. I think it’s park rangers. Car in front of me from New Mexico. Still raining. Found out what is is: Camping and vehicle permits. (Cost $3.00 per day). On the way again – Teton Mountain range. Spectacular snow covered and sunlit. Stopped for pictures (wish to hell it wasn’t raining). Later, stopped for another picture for Donna as it’s sunny now.

6:10 PM
Left Grand Teton National Park, entered back into Grand Teton National Forest.

6:20 PM
Entered Yellowstone National Park. All but three campsites are full. Hope I can get one. Passed Crawfish Creek, thought about Bill and Jim. Crossed Lewis River – giant canyon; beautiful! (scared about going over the edge) passed Lewis Lake (large lake to look at, but small on map.)

6:45 PM
Crossed continental divide twice for you geography fans. I personally can’t remember what the hell it means. Took picture at Twin Geysers. There were steaming pits of water near West Thumb called the Paint Pots.

7:15 PM
First wild bear. Not able to take picture.

7:45 PM
Finally found vacant campsite. You would not believe all the people. Good tip for next trip: look for campsite early in the day. Seems cold here. Lots of freaks, both young and old. Took picture of campsite. Met a man from Saginaw; he told me of good places to go in Yellowstone and the Canadian Rockies. Everything I marveled at, he had seen better: i.e. The Canadian Rockies made the Tetons look like molehills, the pines in Washington state made these look like matchsticks, etc.)

He told me how to get to his house and then he went to get ready for bed. Ranger says it got down to 33 degrees last night. Already you can see your breath. Third try at building a fire from wet wood. Could use cook-stove, but just stubborn, I guess. Smoke smells great (burning pine needs. They burn hot and dry the other wood, I found out.) Made it! Hurray! Hot hash, cooked over a wet wood fire. Dedicating this meal to Hash Head Hay in Richmond, Mich. Washed dishes, put out fire, secured campsite, and now preparing to read some and then go to bed. Hope to put the lantern in rear of car with hatch up so heat will go to front. I don’t know if it will work. Still worrying about bears. (Thanks, Mom!) Weather in a word: Freezing! It’s now 9:10 and so peaceful and serene wish I could live this forever. Goodnight.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Tales from the Blog: No overnight parking

The DX gas stations were primarily Midwest-based (Oklahoman definition of Midwest, not Michigander). They were bought out by Sun Oil in the late 1960s and stations/branding were updated to Sunoco by the late 1980s.

Suspect the Avoca reference is an in-joke with Connie.

Lost radio stations:

  • KRAM’s current incarnation is adult alternative licensed out of Minnesota in 2004.
  • KRNY is still in Kearney but the format has been hot country since 2002.
  • KOGA’s history is longer (1955) but had transitioned to adult standards at some point and is now classic country