Click for larger imageI am in Gillette, Wyoming.  Where is Gillette, Wyoming?  Take out your map of nowhere, place your finger in the middle and slide it slightly to the east.  Now you know as much as I do.  I don’t even really know where Gillette, Wyoming is and I wasn’t really planning on being here.  But here I am.  Certain psychology patients will argue this is the story of their lives.

I started out this morning planning on a long drive to Billings, Montana.  It seemed like a reasonable distance for one day.  It was 47 degrees outside and starting to rain when I left Gardiner.  I queued up the CD player and off I went.

It appears, however, my calculation of the distance from Gardiner to Billings was off.  Instead of arriving five hours later, I arrived in two.  Arriving at the hotel after a lovely lunch and some train watching, I am greeted by a handmade sign stating: “Absolutely no Check-ins before 3:00.”  Well then, I’ll just keep going, I say to myself.  I call the hotel from their parking lot, cancel my reservation, and put the car back on the freeway.  (A completely unrelated note:  Directly next to the hotel in question was what appeared to be another hotel - except it had a chain link fence around it and a sign that said “Montana Women’s Penitentiary”.)

Click for larger imageTwo hours later I’m pulling off the freeway in Sheridan, Montana.  Like Billings, Sheridan is a railroad town.  Unlike Billings, it appears to have no redeeming qualities and a whole list of unredeeming ones.  The most reasonable hotel requires using a walkway over the main street to pass from the lobby to the rooms.  What the hell, I’ll keep going.

Seven hours after leaving Gardiner:  Giant Midwestern thunderstorms poured rain so heavy that at times I cannot see the hood of the MINI, Dr. Laura provided hours of questionable wisdom through the one AM station I can find, and I no longer really have a concept exactly where I am. 

Click for larger imageThen I pull off the freeway at Gillette, Wyoming.  It’s the coal capitol of the world.  In fact, the power running your computer while you read this probably comes from Powder River Basin coal.  (Coal which is carried all over the country by trains not big evil semi-tractors with “Oversize Load” stickers which make it impossible to pass on rain-soaked freeways).  There is a lot of coal here.  It will run out someday, but Americans don’t like to think that far into the future.  Besides, all the vending machines at this hotel are out of Vanilla Coke, which MUNI Guy allowed me to become addicted to on Day One of this trip.

The upside to driving and driving and driving, especially when I didn’t plan to drive so far, is that I have less distance to drive tomorrow.  This means I can go see Deadwood or Sundance on my way to Rapid City. 

Click for larger imageMy father used to read aloud from the bible after dinner each night.  Then he’d ask us what we learned from what he read.  At some point, I figured out that if I answered “I learned to be a better person”, I didn’t really have to listen to the bible reading to begin with.  What will I learn from this road trip?  Well, I can’t say.  But I do know that I may start a tall-rights group to lobby for showers with nozzles above my nipples and free Vanilla Coke in every room.

Tomorrow, Rapid City….and maybe Deadwood or Sundance…

Oh, shit!  I forgot one of the best items of today.  The local version of 7-11 is called “Kum and Go”.  I am not making this up – some marketing person actually created a brand which is plastered from one side of Montana to Wyoming.  Unfortunately, they don’t sell shirts or I’d Click for larger imagebe making a fortune at Folsom Street Fair!

Road Trip 2003 Statistics
Day Number
Gillette, Wyoming
Miles to date
Funds Raised
Guess odometer readings, win a valuable prizes.  [More]
Help Sister Betty raise money for some nifty charities...[More]
Join the Road Trip 2003 email newsletter list... [More]
Road Trip 2003 Email Newsletter

The Plan - Road Trip 2003
It’s time for a road trip - a really, really big-ass road trip...[More]
The Route - Road Trip 2003
San Francisco to Maine, twenty two states, two countries and 8,000 miles...[More]
The Vehicle - Road Trip 2003
An itty, bitty car with just enough space for a suitcase, GPS unit and...[More]
Road Trip 2003 Captain and Crew
Who would be crazy enough to drive 8,000 miles in a really small car...[More]
Join in - Road Trip 2003
Read along, ride along or follow along...[More]


Scratchings Archive    Stairways of San Francisco     Rail Tripping     Contact Sister Betty