It was a long, hot summer in the foothills of Colorado, and Tim and I were ready to resume our full-time RV adventure. We spent the last week of August and the first few days of September catching up on errands, having our teeth cleaned, getting haircuts and reloading the RV.
We were able to pick up the finished quilt/wall hanging that the Rocky Mountain National Park Quilters had made for Tim as a retirement gift and placed it on the back of our sofa, since we don’t really have a wall in the RV. I love looking at the details that depict Tim’s career and interests – RVing, archeology, Kitty and the National Park Service, with Rocky Mountain National Park in the center. This was a most thoughtful gift.
|A Proud New Addition to the RV|
Tim’s final physical therapy appointment was on September 5, and our plan was to leave immediately afterwards. Our destination was North Dakota, where Tim had a contract to catalog the herbarium collection at Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site. So as not to rush too much, we gave ourselves one week to make the drive. We could have spent weeks in that part of the country, but we wanted to be able to finish Tim’s project before extreme weather settled into North Dakota.
At approximately 3:10 pm on September 5, 2014, we finally crossed the state line into Wyoming and left Colorado behind. We still love Colorado and will likely return on many occasions, but we were happy to say “Good-bye” to that state. We stopped after a few hours in Fort Laramie, Wyoming, at Chuck Wagon RV Park, a simple campground run by “Grandma and Grandpa Hofrock.” The campground didn’t look like much from the road, but it was perfect for our first night, and Grandma and Grandpa were fun to talk with. Just one word of warning. Trains run directly beside the campground every half hour or so, and can be very loud. The sound didn’t bother us a bit. If fact, I love the whistle of a train. Kitty, however, was not too fond of the vibrations.
|Welcome to Wyoming|
|Trains at the Campground|
To make things even more perfect, we stumbled upon the only restaurant in Fort Laramie, the Hungry Cowboy Restaurant and Bar. When we walked into the door, the owner advised us that tonight’s menu was steak. Was that ok with us? Of course it was. We didn’t need any other choices. The steak was delicious, but what was even better was talking with the young owner and his mother, who had come up from Denver to help her son on his birthday. We couldn’t have asked for a better first day on the road.
The next morning we paid a visit to the nearby Fort Laramie National Historic Site. Fort Laramie was originally a fur trading post, but developed into the most important military post on the Northern Plains. Fort Laramie was a major landmark on the Oregon Trail and was a welcome sight for the thousands of emigrants who emigrated westward. The fort also was the host for several treaty negotiations with the Northern Plains Indian tribes.
|A Walk Through History|
Following the end of the Indian Wars, Fort Laramie became less important and was abandoned in 1890. Most of the buildings were sold at auction, and the frame structures were relocated, or their wood reused. Very little of the fort remained when it was established as a unit of the National Park Service in 1938. Today, however, several original buildings have been restored and others reconstructed. Foundations of other buildings, as well as several ruins, help one imagine what the fort once looked like.
|Infantry Barracks Foundation|
Tim and I were able to attend a living history demonstration, as well as a tour of the fort. Although military history is not my “thing,” I continue to enjoy studying the architecture and layout of these facilities. There are so many similarities from one fort to another, even those built in different time periods, and I learn something new at each one.
|How Does This Thing Work?|
After leaving Fort Laramie, we drove north and skirted the western edge of the Black Hills of South Dakota. After spending two nights in Spearfish, we began our final push towards North Dakota.