Archive for August 24, 2010

Day 86: You have died of dysentery

August 24, 2010 2 comments

Location: Boulder, CO

Miles Driven: 250

Total Miles: 21,528

Woke up refreshed after sleeping at an interstate parking area, which turned out to be a little better than sleeping at a rest area (fewer lights).  I was also looking forward to a relatively short drive for the day – Boulder was less than four hours away.

Along my route, I took a slight detour off of I-25S onto state highway 26.  My plan was to check out a historic site there that was on my list to visit since I first started putting this trip together in my head.  I was a bit sloppy getting there, though.

See, the historic site was just passed a residential area in the town of Guernsey, Wyoming.  In my excitement about the destination, I didn’t realize the speed limit dropped to 25mph.  Also, I didn’t quite come to a full stop at the stop sign at a four-way intersection.  Very sloppy.  Before I knew it, an unmarked SUV behind me had its lights flashing.  Damn.

I thought I was traveling slowly, but the officer had me going 36 in a 25 (not good), in addition to not coming to a full stop at the stop sign.  Double whammy.  He took my information and went back to his truck.  I was thinking worst-case scenario, I’d have two tickets.  Ugh.  And here I had done so well up to this point – 21,000+ miles without so much being pulled over.  That’s almost two years worth of driving.

The funny thing I realized sitting there was that Wyoming has got my number.  In 2005, on my last cross-country trip, I received three speeding tickets in total – one in Virginia, one in California, and the other, you guessed it, in Wyoming.  So here I was, once again, pulled over by a Wyoming police officer.

Fortunately, I caught a bit of a break.  The officer cited me for failure to stop at the stop sign, which is a $100 fine.  He said if he cited me for speeding, the fine would be $160.  So not only did he only write me up for just one violation, he chose the violation that was the lesser of two fines.  He was friendly and polite, and I thanked him for cutting me a break.  Traffic violations and fines were not something I put into the original roadtrip budget…we’ll just label this one under the “miscellaneous” category.

It was a bummer to be pulled over, but I wasn’t going to let it ruin the day.  I wasn’t far from the historic site, just about a mile or so.  I didn’t tell you the name of the site yet, as I’m curious if you might be able to guess by looking at a picture:

Any guesses?

To me, it was one of the coolest historic places I’ve visited on this trip – those are wagon wheel ruts from the mid 1800s.  Yes, Oregon Trail ruts.  Very cool.  The trails cut by the wheels were preserved in the soft sandstone, and in this area of Wyoming are some of the best preserved ruts on the entire route.  Boom, that’s history right in front of your eyes. 

To me, the time of the pioneers on the Oregon Trail is one of the most fascinating periods of American history.  The fact that so much was risked for a new life west, that wasn’t guaranteed to be better, staggers me.  I would be remiss to not mention the fact I loved playing the educational computer game “The Oregon Trail” on the Apple IIe computers back in grade school, as many kids born in school during the 80s and early 90s did.  Like the real Oregon Trail, the game was fraught with peril as you took your family on the route west.  And it never failed that one of your family members in the game would die of dysentery along the way. 

A while ago, I found that a group online made a fictional movie trailer about the game.  For those who’ve played the game, you might enjoy all the references thrown in:

What a thrill to stand there and walk along the preserved ruts.  As my friend Matt said, “erosion hasn’t been doing its job there lately,” but I’m certainly grateful for that.  Such history.

I made my way back towards the interstate heading south once again, and in the early afternoon I arrived in Boulder.  My friend John in Georgia (who hosted me while I worked down there) set me up at the Westin hotel.  Very generous.  I checked into the place, got to my room, and there had a nice view and a king-size bed.  To go from car seat to a king size bed is just an unbelievable upgrade.  Thanks a lot, John.

Later in the day I met up with John’s son, Mike, who just recently moved out to Boulder.  Mike and I lived under the same roof for those six months in Georgia and got along well (we shared a mutual passion for the TV shows “Scrubs” and “Mystery Science Theatre 3000”).  We got together for a bite, grabbed some wings at a Buffalo Wild Wings, and had a good time catching up.  I’ll hang out with Mike again while I’m still in the area, and looks like I’ll have a hiking buddy once again.

hanging with Mike at BWW

Looking forward to the remainder of a comfortable stay in Boulder.  Thanks again, John – a guy who has been overwhelmingly generous to me since the days of CYO basketball some 16 years ago or so.