Sunday, September 18, 2011

Housekeeping in Wyoming

Day 23: Sept. 18, 2011

It’s always a bit strange spending the night at an interstate rest area--on one hand, no one ever bothers us and the highway noises are never as loud as you might expect. But we always wake up early, and it’s a conducive way to get an early start. So we were actually back on the road by about 8:30 this morning.

We had several priorities and a general direction in mind. The former included finding water--we discovered before dinner last night that we had run out! I’m referring to Mo’s tank of water, which we use for washing dishes and flushing the toilet--for drinking and cooking, we use bottled water, which we still had plenty of. But it is disconcerting to turn the tap and get nothing! Usually we top it off whenever we get the chance, but we must have missed doing that, or else we used a lot. Also Joe wanted to change Mo’s oil, since we have travelled over 3,000 miles. The general direction was: east on I-80 to Laramie and Cheyenne, and then south to Denver and a connection to I-70 east.

50 miles down the road from our rest stop, we stopped in Rawlins at a Flying J for the water fill-up, gas, and tank dump. By then it was just after 10, so with the help of our Next Exit book, we found an auto parts store in Rawlins. Joe bought oil and some other stuff so he could change the oil and filter, and repair the boo-boo Mo got when we tangled with the rock the day before (the muffler to the generator had gotten knocked off.) It only took Joe an hour to change the oil and fix the muffler--he is amazing! I did some internal housekeeping meanwhile--washing the dishes from the night before, now that we had water, sweeping, and putting away stuff that was floating around.

At 11:30 we left Rawlins and drove another 100 miles to Laramie, arriving just at lunchtime. We went directly to the Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site, a “gem” attraction in the AAA book. We ate lunch, then went in to find out more about the only prison which had ever had Butch Cassidy behind its bars.
The place turned out to be very interesting. The prison building itself was built
in 1872 and was used until the very early 1900s. Then it was taken over by the University of Wyoming, which used the buildings and land as an experimental stock farm. It was restored and renovated in the 1990s using rigorous archaeological principles, and the panels explaining how the building was rebuilt were very well done. They did make use of their Butch Cassidy connection, however!
Most interesting were the stories of the prisoners, and the information about daily life in the prison, from the pov of not just the prisoners but the wardens, the guards, and people who came in to give the prisoners some access to culture, religion, and education. They had people of every type as prisoners at one time or another. This is a panel about Julius Greenwald, a Jewish immigrant from Poland. He was a cigar maker by trade. The plaque says that he shot his wife at a “house of prostitution”. One is left to assume that he found her working there. A nearby panel referencing the problems of domestic violence mentioned that women sometimes worked as prostitutes to bring more money into the family. Evidently if this is was Mrs. Greenwald was doing, her husband didn’t appreciate it. But it’s certainly not the usual story of a Polish immigrant to America! While he was incarcerated, he made cigars which were sold all over the country. This was not that unusual--a number of the prisoners were able to pursue their trades in prison and this made money for the lessee of the prisoner laborers.
Besides the prison, the historic site includes renovations of the wardens’ house, the broom factory, and several buildings left from when the site was used to raise stock. So it was later than I’d expected when we left, and we still had to stop at yet another Walmart. We needed some basic groceries and a few things for Mo. It’s amazing how we run out of *something* we need almost every day--I suppose it’s because we keep everything in small quantities. We did have an unexpected bonus as we left the store, though. The clouds in the sky were extra-dramatic, and there was a semi-circle of sunrays coming through the clouds. I pointed it out to Joe, and he said, "It's heaven!" If nothing else, this photo shows how big the sky is out here, but I think you can see the rays, too.
By this time, I had realized that no way would we make it any farther than Cheyenne tonight, and that is where we are, at a campground in Cheyenne. As usual, we had wonderful scenery on the road here. We are hoping to see a little bit of Wyoming’s capital tomorrow, before we get back on the road.

1 comment:

tom M said...

When we came down from the mountain ranges from the Denver area into the flats we felt awful!

Its been fun following along with the Cohn's.