Monday, March 28, 2005

05-19 Cheyenne Wyoming

Cheyenne Wyoming
Medicine Bow National Forest
F.E. Warren AFB

Week 19 of 52
Aug 7-14

Who knew that a trip to the Medicine Bow National Forest and Cheyenne would bring me to the 5th corner…. (Wyoming). After all, my goal this summer was to visit the four corners region. New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and Utah. Cheyenne is the capital of Wyoming and would be considered a small town anywhere in the east. I like the size of the city, the hometown quality of it. It retains a true western feel. The homes are made of brick and stone and there are some surprising architectural styles along with the traditional, prairie styles.

I was able to join a Wyoming camping group in Medicine Bow National Forest. Driving up from Denver the scenery goes quickly from city to verdant green farm land. The wonderful patchwork quilt of farms growing Sunflowers, with their heads all turned towards the sun, corn, soybean and other greenie stuff. Then as the land continues it’s gradual rise, it becomes the high plateau with rolling hills covered with range grasses and sage, creating a soft green and yellow blending of colors that look like a soft cashmere sweater over the land.

That’s my first impression of Wyoming. Then it’s a short trip west onto hwy 80 towards Laramie to the Medicine Bow National Forest.

We went on a 4 wheel drive tour involved two Grand Cherokees with all of us packed into them to go see the sights. The tour involved going down a number of forest roads in search of old military bunkers, a water fall, beaver dams, identifying wildflowers, and views of Eagle Rock and a cemetery that was gradually being lost in time. Along the way Jim had to get out of the car to open a fence to let us all through, forgetting to let himself through at the same time. He heeee….

The sun is very intense at this high altitude of 8,500 feet. After a late Wed and Thursday bitter cold and rain, one can’t complain about it being sunny with a huge Wyoming expanse of blue sky overhead. I used the gas furnace two nights in a row.

The other campers are beginning to stir off in the distance. The site, Medicine Bow NF is primitive camping at it’s best and I’ll be here for 5 days.

I have had problems with the Honda generator 2000i. It’s clogged with carbon and won’t run well and usually only about 30 minutes. So, I’m relying on the two batteries for the fridge, lights and gas heater. Looks like I’ll make it through the 5 days, being conservative on use.

Back in Cheyenne, I’ve decided to see if I can get the Honda generator fixed. A good electric/small engine company is going to attempt to fix it. Though they are not sure they will be able to get the parts which may be required to fix it. Another Rv company has ordered the slide mechanism for my 5th wheel hitch. It got out of alignment when I went into the Medicine Bow forest. I foolishly didn’t change the setting on it, to permit it to rock side to side as well as the normal front to back motion.

I arrived at the F.E. Warren AFB only to have to wait over 2 hours to get in. They are in a Con 1 status, which is a training status for the whole base and it’s quite difficult to get in. Especially since I didn’t have an official Gov Retiree ID badge. Their personnel office and Military pass and Id sections took the time to figure out what it would take to give a retired Navy Civilian guy like me an ID badge. I can’t tell you how great it is to finally have the official badge. The picture is horrid, but it makes the badge that much more official.

So now that I don’t have to worry about being harassed trying to get on base to use the camping facilities, I can assure you, I’ll be staying at Military bases a bit more often.

The Warren AFB is home to over 150 missile silos which they maintain. The base was begun in 1867 as the Ft D.A. Russell Crow Creek and eventually became the Warren AFB, the oldest continuous active Air force base in the US. It’s home to the ICBM missiles.

It’s pretty neat to be able to stay on an Air Force base of this size and historical significance. I’ve visited an onsite archeological dig that was completed around 1992. They’ve made a nice museum around the site where they found Indian relics and a nomad camp site dating back over 10,000 years ago. The Warren ICBM and Heritage Museum covers the history of the Titan rockets and missiles along with the history of the Fort and AFB.

The classic brick buildings dating back to the late 1800’s and all are still used today, with their while pillared porches, half moon and round windows and brick facades all make for a piece of living history. The officers homes are particularly handsome. Some are not occupied due to lead paint which needs to be removed.

Now for the good part. I was hoping to see the pronghorn antelope while in Wyoming and would you believe it, they roam all over the base. What strikingly beautiful creatures. They are the fastest animals in the Western Hemisphere. Being able to run 70 mph and over 100 mph for 3 to 4 minutes! I first saw one as I was riding my bike around base the other evening and came across one standing not more than the width of a single lane road. He didn’t even bother to run away. Wow! Is that neat or what!

I got a call that my generator was fixed, so into town I went. Actually the AFB is on the west end of town. So a few blocks later, I picked up my generator. Cost $68 but it’s now working properly. Took advantage of a free tour downtown, via a horse driven carriage. Trolley tours are $5. Cheyenne is the largest city in Wyoming at 58,000 strong. I like it a lot. Home to a huge Wrangler Jeans store, old movie theatres playing current movies for $1, Coffee shops that don’t charge more than $1.50 for a large cup of real coffee, the biggest Rodeo in the west, and Cowboy boot “art” throughout the city.

Had another evening of music at Cheyennes Train Depot Plaza. I really great group called Mama’s Cookin. A mix of Delta Blues, Jazz, hip hop and funky world rhythms. The lead singer had a great voice. The rest of the band was from all over, Germany, New Jersey, Alaska and the lead singer was from Arkansas. What a great way to experience a city. Sitting out in the heart of the city, the trains going by in the background, as the musicians get the crowd worked up into a great mood. Coors beer and popcorn, watching young kids hop and dance to the great music.

I was supposed to meet some new friends for a party, but alas, missed it. Went to their house, range the door bell and knocked a couple of times, but no one answered. Later got a call saying they saw me, as they were driving up and I was leaving. Not everything works out.

So Just a couple more days in this fine town, and then I’ll be off to Colorado Springs.

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