Ghost Riders in the Sky

Tuesday, August 31
The wind had stopped and I was awakened at 1:00 A.M. by barking dogs and the baaing of sheep. I have become accustomed to yelping coyotes but dogs in fields at night with sheep was something new and it was something I did not wish to hear for several reasons - the biggest one being I didn’t know in whose field I had camped! I chose to ignore it but awoke again at 2:00 with the sounds much closer. Listening carefully, it sounded as if the sheep were being guarded or herded by dogs. I was a bit uncomfortable at the thought of a moonlit sheep drive with me directly in its path. Was it possible I had made camp in some gigantic sheep pasturage? Not knowing what to do I did the next best thing - I went back to sleep. In the morning there was not a trace.
I wanted to arrive in Douglas around noon and consequently I was on the road at 5:45 A.M. It started out as another typical day counting antelope and the like until I ran into what looked like two Wyoming “dudes” on horses. Though they looked the part - they were actually from France and were riding horses from Kentucky to Oregon. I asked them, "Why did you start in Kentucky? They replied, “That's where we bought the horses!” Duh! We talked a while before heading off in opposite directions.
I had about four miles yet to go when a news vehicle drove up and a reporter asked to interview me for the evening news. She was a reporter from a Casper television station and we talked for quite some time about my walk.
One more instance of note: I was quite hungry when I got to Douglas and stopped to eat before checking into a motel. During lunch I could not help but notice one of the patrons was wearing a very large pistol on his waist. I found this intriguing and when he got up to leave I beckoned him over. I explained that I was walking across the United States supporting the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and as such, I supported the 2nd Amendment. But having said that, I asked, “Why are you wearing a gun in a restaurant?” He became defensive saying he always wore his gun in public and walked away.
I was not challenging his legal right to wear a gun - I wanted to know why he chooses to do so.

Windy Wyoming

Monday, August 30
When I awoke, there was a still-warm coffee and two Gatorade type drinks outside my tent left by, Aaron, the man from Troutdale, Oregon. I appreciated both the warm coffee and the warm thoughts.
I took a shower, packed, and headed out of Glenrock. While walking down its main street I found an ATM/Visa card with a woman’s name on it and also the name of the bank. I picked it up thinking I could drop it off at the bank but instead gave it to a lady municipal worker. I figured that in a town this small she may know the person it to whom it belonged and she did! I’m not sure if I had mentioned it, but I also found a nineteen year old boy’s wallet while walking through Wind River Canyon. It had a driver’s license, a social security card, a pack of condoms, and no money - in other words - a typical young male's wallet. I mailed back the two items I thought he would need.
Before leaving the Glenrock city limits a car pulled a block in front of me and a man got out and started taking photos. He worked for the Glenrock Independent Newspaper and asked if he could interview me. Twelve minutes and a handshake later I was headed down the road. Because one of my goals is to avoid the Interstate Highway System I had to walk Highway 95 and then Highway 93 to Douglas - a much longer route but worth it.
Today ended up as the windiest day I have had the entire trip. I was on Highway 93 and there was literally no place to make camp except in the open fields. I didn’t know who’s land it was but the sign on the gate said, “Keep Gate Closed” which I thought sounded friendlier than the more typical “Posted - No Trespassing” so I opened the gate, went in, and made camp. The wind was so heavy it is hard to describe. This time I tried first staking down the tent but that did little good. I was trying to pound tent stakes into hard clay with a small rock while the wind kept trying to carry it all away. Eventually I won the battle and went to bed with the wind singing me to sleep.

In Glenrock, Wyoming - Bigger is Better

Sunday, August 29
Got a late start from Casper. It was another sunny day with little in the day to report. I eventually make it to Glenrock and checked into a KOA type campground with showers and the whole deal. Many of the people there were construction workers living in campers while they installed the large electricity generating windmills that are quite popular. One of the men was from Troutdale, Oregon and as fellow Oregonians we seemed to strike a bond. I felt sorry for him having to work so far from home but he felt lucky to have a job in the current times.

Leaving Casper in the Morning

Saturday Night, August 28
After a second full day of rest and reorganizing in Casper, I will be taking Highway 20 east in the morning. It is always fun to begin again.

All's Well that Ends Well

Thursday, August 26
I slept the night basically in a ditch along the road and was ready to get to Casper, pick up my package, and find a motel. The last five nights “in the field” have been a record of sorts. I was eight nights without a motel when I went through the National Parks but I was able to shower at Grant’s Village - something I have not been able to do in six days.
I stopped at the first restaurant at the edge of Casper and nearly overdid it - omelet, potatoes, pancakes, orange juice - I was ready to burst walking out the door.
Next stop - the main Casper post office. The package was there and I repaired my trailer on the spot with people watching and talking to me all the while. I was grateful to have it fixed again. Thank you Don Nordin!
Next - finding a motel and all the ensuing necessities - shower, shave, laundry, etc.
I’m so tired I just want to nap.

By the way - today is my wife's birthday.
Happy birthday Cynthia.

Great Expectations

Wednesday, August 25
With eager anticipation I looked forward to getting to a cluster of houses called Powder River, Wyoming, containing a small post office. Today is the day the replacement piece for the trailer was to arrive and I could hardly wait to get there. As I strode up to the clerk I said, “If everything is working correctly I should have a package here with my name on it.”
Her reply? “Well, I guess things aren’t working for I have nothing here for you.”
Ouch - anticipation followed by disappointment.
With her helpful assistance, we tracked the package down. It was on its way to Casper and we were able to have it held there so that I might pick it up the following day.
I am reminded of two expressions:
“No expectations - no disappointments.”
“Laugh and the world laughs with you - cry and you cry alone.”

Please excuse me while I find a private place to cry.

An Oasis in the Desert

Tuesday, August 24
Today was a no frills “bear the load” sort of day. The trailer is much harder to pull than to push but I have no choice. Therefore, most of my day was exactly that - hard work. A young man stopped his car and hopped out saying, “There’s got to be a story here!” He worked for a radio station in Riverton, Wyoming, and was curious as to why I was walking in the middle of nowhere. He recorded our interview on video but I didn't catch the station he worked for. He was a rather humorous fellow and lifted my spirits before driving away.
I was running low on midday type food having only nutrition bars for fare when in Hiland - population 10, I found a desert oasis - a bar and a restaurant! It was like one of those old movies where the guy in the desert sees a mirage but my double buffalo burger with fries soon proved it real enough! I took a cheeseburger to go for tomorrow’s breakfast.
An additional note:
I started counting antelope today and after I got to 30 I thought people might think I was exaggerating. I’m not sure what you’ll think if I told you I quit counting after 90.
No kidding.

Over the Fence!

Monday, August 23
I was up at 4:30 and the storm had long since passed. As I had camped rather close to the road I wanted to get away before daylight and the possibility of another encounter with the Wyoming State Patrol. I only have seen them in metropolitan regions for they seem to leave the rural roads alone. Therefore, people seem to drive only one of two speeds - fast and “get out of my way!”
As I walked into another beautiful day I entered a zone with a sign saying, “Road Construction Next 12 Miles” and started to be concerned. I had been warned by a WYDOT worker that they force hikers and bikers to take rides from pilot cars through construction areas - its a state safety law. With traffic coming toward me clumped into clusters all the signs were there that I had a problem ahead.
The first ten miles of the road construction contained no workers or machinery - only a new layer of jet-black asphalt covering the highway. This combination of black asphalt with the previous night’s storm allowed for a rare opportunity of showing the numerous, numerous, coyote tracks. In the West, the choice of dirt seems to be, “Dust or Mud?” for there is a light gray dirt everywhere. Due to the rain, the coyote paws were covered with gray mud and they had left tracks all over the new asphalt during the night. No wonder they rank #5 on my unofficial “Dead on the Road” species. They seem to investigate (and probably eat) every roadkill and use the highway as a personal pathway. This rare glimpse was indeed a treat.
No doubt about it - trouble ahead. I could see the highway worker stopping traffic to wait for a pilot car to guide them through. What to do now? It is important for me to walk every step of the distance and I cannot possibly take a ride. What would you do?
Approaching the flagger I did some fast talking and politely declined his offer for the pilot car to transport me and my stuff across the two miles of construction ahead. I told him (a good offense is better than a good defense) that I would be careful, stick to the side, and stay out of the way. Basically - I kept going. One mile into the process I was met by a press gang of highway workers in a truck telling me I had to get in and take the ride - its the law! I had had time to think this through and was prepared to offer a compromise. They could put my cart into their pick-up truck and I would hop the fence and walk parallel to the road outside of the roadway zone. They thought this over and said it would work for them, so I soon found myself wandering fields and gullies watching out for prickly pears and rattlesnakes. Though unusual, it provided a win-win situation.
The rest of the day was rather lonely - as previously stated, cars zooming by do not tend to stop. Just as I hit bottom - hot and tired - a woman stopped and gave me a big jug of iced tea and $15. This small act of kindness instantly recharged my batteries and all was right again with the world.

Coyotes are #5? What can be the first four?

A Rainbow in the End

Sunday, Aug. 22
Ray, the man next door, had me over in the morning for coffee before I left. He like all others, have been kind in their assistance.
Being that I now have to pull my trailer, it was more difficult work. Added to this was the Wyoming wind which I now felt in force. Going with you - it makes your work easier; against you - it is much more difficult. It was against me.
The bright spot in my day (other than the hot overhead sun) was a phone call I made to Don Nordin of Equinox Trailers in Cottage Grove, Oregon. I told him of my dilemma and he assured me there would be no problem making a replacement and that he would have it in the mail the next day. This is one of the many advantages of having something custom made. From the beginning to the present, Don has always been helpful in meeting my needs and I recommend Equinox Trailers to others.
When I arrived in Shoshoni, it consisted of two gas stations selling refreshments and that’s about it. Therefore, I guzzled down some cold juice, turned eastward and kept walking toward Casper. Leaving Shoshoni, I had hoped to fill some jugs at a rest stop but the only water available was coming through activated sprinkler heads. I learned that with care, one can fill containers from an irrigation system and almost stay dry in the process.
With my change of direction, the wind was less bothersome and the sun was now at my back. Later I phoned my wife and told her of the days events but alas I had one more in store. While talking I turned and saw dark rain clouds quickly bearing down from a western sky. “Bye, Honey - gotta go!”
An amass of small lessons can add to great wisdom and I am learning a bit at a time. I have now learned that weather changes quickly in the open skies of the West. The wind was soon at gale force and I decided to make camp right then and there before the rains also hit - too late. The rains had arrived, the lightening was crackling, and I went into emergency mode creating quite a scene. With prickly pear everywhere, I hurriedly found a clear spot to place my tent which the winds had almost carried off. I was prepared for this situation and put weighted items into the tent but to my surprise it was again nearly carried away! With the weather now upon me in full force I pounded in tent stakes but my ground cover was swept away in the process. At last I threw myself into the confines of my shelter but one last insult remained. As I lay down I was stabbed through the flooring by prickly pear needles - ouch! Evidently I did not see them all. I lay nursing my pride and small injuries until the rains subsided and then tried clearing the pesky pear from my camp - easier said than done. Like all cactus, they have a shallow root system and can be easily kicked aside but don’t do this - I did it and paid the price. Having soft leather shoes my right toe looked like Bowser’s snout full of porcupine quills and I spent quite a while with tweezers removing the buggers.
Did you know that prickly pear needles come in all sorts of sizes? Some are like large pine needles and some are like little thin herring bones. Another lesson learned the hard way.
One more thing worth mentioning. I have never heard as many coyotes as I did tonight. Really - they were loud, numerous, and seemed to be just outside my door. I wish I could have recorded them.
Oh, by the way, I found my ground cover.

An Unfortunate Incident

Saturday, Aug 21
I didn’t leave Thermopolis as early as I had planed. As I was packing people paused to talk having seen my sign and wondering about my project. One man publishes “online” books and approached me with some ideas. My natural inclination is to be a bit suspicious for I always wonder, “What’s in it for them?” On the flip side - perhaps this attitude hinders my success. These situations are always a tough call. He gave me a business card and I told him I would think about it. Another man, a writer, also stopped to talk and it was nice to share conversation with someone who appreciated American history.
The walk from Thermopolis to Boysen State Park was beautiful. This route follows the Big Horn River as it cuts a north-south pass through the mountains. Wind River Canyon, as it is called, was used as both a short-cut and an escape route for Indian people past. Today it borders Wind River Indian Reservation of the Shoshoni Nation.
Strolling down this scenic canyon, appreciating the beauty of the emerald-green river, a gentle breeze to my back with not a cloud in sight and feeling on top of the world - I wrecked my trailer! I had stopped to read a historical sign and turned to see my cart rolling down the highway! I gave chase but too late as I watched it tumble down a small embankment. Holding my breath while inspecting the damage I found one handle’s connection had broken and for the moment I wasn’t sure what to do. Left to my own resolve, I got out the modern “cure all” - duct tape! Fifteen minutes later I was rolling down the road again but I now had to pull the cart for I could no longer practically push. Imagine a broken board joined by a single hinge. If you push - the hinge tends to buckle inward, but it you pull - it works fine. I am truly dependent on my trailer and as upsetting as this may be, I feel quite lucky that I was able to continue limping forward rather than being stuck in the middle of nowhere. Always the positive if you look for it.
I stopped to drink my fill from a pipe coming out of the hillside. It was such good sweet water on a hot afternoon that I wanted to fill all my conatiners. It was then I noticed a sign warning not to drink the water! I’m not sure what will happen with this one - I suppose we’ll have to wait and see. It really was good and cold.
I arrived at the head of Boysen Reservoir in early evening and wasted no time setting up camp. A couple in an RV, Ray and Sam, offered me a cold beer (which is a rarity) and conversation. He also wanted to help me fix my broken handle. We added a wooden splint to it and what else? Some more duct tape! Hopefully, this will “tide me over” until I can get a replacement sent. I also met a man who lives in Thailand studying the rare and endangered, “clouded leopard.” He works for the Smithsonian and was visiting Wyoming on vacation.

Leaving Thermopolis in the Morning

Friday, August 20
I plan to leave Thermopolis in the morning and head south toward Shoshoni, Wyoming. As it is 33 miles away and as I am not in a hurry, I hope to make it a two day trip by camping at a reservoir halfway and then arrive in Shoshoni on Sunday. From there I hope to take Highway 20 to Casper.

Random Thoughts II

I’ve now walked over 1,100 miles.

There is a lot of similarity between Wyoming drivers and those of Southern California. They both travel great distances and are in a hurry to get there. It’s just that one is suburban and one is rural.

I’d forgotten about horseflies and deer flies - ouch

The Rockies are behind me. Like so oftentimes in life we worry about things that don’t need to be.

No offense to all you Harley guys, but I believe my dream of being a Harley owner is now dead. If I had dollar for every loud Harley that deafened me - hundreds of them roaring through the National Parks on their way from Sturgis, South Dakota - I’d be a rich man. From now on, I’m hoping for a quiet BMW or Honda.

I saw a pronghorn antelope crawl through an opening under a fence instead of jumping over it and this surprised me. I thought it would bound over it like a deer.

Slowing down and letting go of the digital world takes a while for it is not the flip of a switch but rather a process.

Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons together seem to serve as the heartbeat of our lower 48 states. These parks exist today only due to the vision and forethought of peoples past. What visions do we have for our future generations? What legacy do we wish to leave?

Noticed the streams are flowing a different directions after crossing the Continental Divide - duh!.

The Wyoming terrain seems to have slightly more ground cover than Idaho or Eastern Oregon.

I began my second pair of shoes back in Jackson.

Our country needs a wake up call - we’ve become overweight, lazy, and complacent.

There are special camping sections in the national parks reserved for bicyclist and hikers. Therefore, the sign at the entrance may say “Full” but there is almost always a space available if you’re walking through.

Milage markers - love them or hate them. They are convenient to log the miles but it can also seem like a long distance between each one if you pay too much notice.

Thus far, the people in Wyoming seem to wave the least.

There are pieces of tires all over the road. It could be dangerous if a truck recap let fly as it passed.

I consume about 1.5+ gallons of water a day.

It’s hard to describe the feeling of freedom while walking along with everything working well.

There’s always something positive on down the road.

* Grand Teton / Yellowstone / Wyoming

There's Something Out There

Thursday, August 19
3:30 A.M. I awoke and decided to make an early day of it for today I would arrive in Thermopolis. After a four day walk from Cody - Thermopolis represented civilization with restaurants, groceries, laundromats, and motels. If I could get there earlier - all the better so I climbed out of a warm sleeping bag and made myself some coffee.
At this hour it was pitch black. The moon had set, the morning sounds had not yet begun, and I sat contentedly in the darkness listening to the stillness of the predawn day. Then faintly, I heard something. “Shhhhhh! What was that?” Something “out there” was rustling about in the sage and seemed to be coming closer to my little encampment. Whatever it was - it was coming steadily toward me as I sat with coffee and flashlight in hand.
Prepared for an “Ah Ha! Gottcha!” moment, I turned on my light and there in the beam was a skunk ten feet away and calmly closing the distance.
Shocked, I jumped back as quickly as possible and back peddled up the embankment upsetting my chair in the process. Now mind you, these early morning gymnastics were all performed with an awareness of the importance of not upsetting my guest. I can think of few things worse than for me or my cart to be sprayed by a skunk. Imagine the scene I would make coming in from the road looking bum-like and smelling like a dead skunk! My grandmother isn’t here to scrub me with tomato juice around back. I’d have to walk into some motel’s front door!
Well, to make a long story short, let me say he made himself at home sniffing and checking things out while I sat patiently in exile on the hill. After a while, unsure if the skunk was still in camp or close by, I ever so gingerly started to throw tiny pebbles downward hoping to roust him out but not so much as to scare the “dickens” out of him. With no response I gradually increased the size of the hefted rocks until satisfied my guest had departed. I then quickly packed my gear and got an early start on the day.

The Day of the Antelope

Wednesday, August 18
Lewis and Clark were the first Americans to report of a pronghorn antelope in the notes of their journals. Merriwether Lewis described it as “a cross between a deer and a goat” and I’m sure that apt description still applies today.
Yesterday afternoon I had heard a muted but distinct two-toned bleat and thought, “What could that be?” I turned and saw an antelope. “Could it be he that made that sound,” I wondered? “Do antelope make noises?”
Well, this morning while eating breakfast, I heard it again and there was another pronghorn! It was up the hill standing on a knoll looking rather like a male sentinel. Then, in a small gap of the rocks, I saw an antelope walk by, then another, then another followed by two babies, then followed by another adult. That buck on the knoll had indeed been a sentinel and I feel lucky to have witnessed such a scene.
I was mulling this warm experience when a Wyoming Dept. of Transportation truck pulled over and I saw the driver looking at my hillside camp. He then got on his radio and slowly drove away. I wondered if he and I shared different definitions of “public lands” and perhaps it was time to “boogie on down the road.”
The rest of the day was generally uneventful and at its end I found a perfectly private camping place off the side of the road.

Toss the Brakes!

Tuesday, August 17
The brakes on this contraption have been Achilles heels since the very beginning. The removed brake had dragged constantly and the other cannot be used without adjusting and readjusting. Over time it can develop an almost imperceptible drag that can go for miles unnoticed. This is the equivalent of adding weight to my load which I do not need at all. My concern had been coming down the eastern slopes of the Rockies, but as they are now behind me, I removed the remainder brake and I am now brakeless - it’s great. I haven’t felt this free since I first doffed my pajamas!
After twelve miles I came to the town of Meeteese, Wyoming. This sleepy little town was big news a week ago when they captured one of the escaped convicts from Arizona here. He was staying at the “Vision Quest” motel and was noticed by a woman attending church across the street who recognized him from the news. I talked to a resident about it and she said her son had given him a ride earlier and that he seemed like a nice fellow. His alibi was that his wife had left him after a fight in Yellowstone - took his car, keys, and wallet and just abandoned him there. She told me that Meeteese was crawling with federal agents for several days. As I type this, I understand that they finally caught the other two somewhere.
After another long day of walking I finally made camp in an area that was labeled “public land.” Being a member of the public, I looked around until I found a small spot with my name on it and set up camp for the night.
A male pronghorn antelope walked a complete circle around me later as I drank my tea. I was surprised by his curiosity and boldness.

Hot and Dry Again

Monday, August 16
Left Cody, Wyoming, after a good restaurant breakfast and walked south-east on Highway 120 heading toward Thermopolis. This route is more desolate than Highway 20 but as it is 40 miles shorter it is well worth it.
I saw my first herd of antelope this morning - I counted thirteen of them as they ran in the distance.
For the first time in a while no one stopped or inquired about what I am doing. It always makes for a little loneliness when I have a day without an inquiry or conversation with someone.
Camped for the evening in an access pull-off for a pasturage.
Nothing of real interest to report.

What was a Liberty Tree?

"From the east to the west blow the trumpet to arms,
Through the land let the sound of it flee
Let the far and the near, all unite with a cheer,
In defense of our Liberty Tree!"

Corny words for us today but at one time these words inflamed the hearts of men with patriotic passion and a sense of duty seldom seen in our modern times. In the late 1700’s - these words were a call to arms.
For many years, the shade of an elm had provided a natural meeting place for the residents of South Boston. Planted by an earlier generation, this now quite large tree will become a symbol of the Sons of Liberty as they conduct their business under its lofty branches. This small corner of Boston with its soon to be called “Liberty Tree” will become a site of controversy to be copied in the other colonies by adopting their own trees of liberty.

Some Liberty Tree Highlights:
- During August of 1765, several meetings originating at the tree spilled out to the streets of greater Boston as effigies of tax supporters were dragged through the streets to be beheaded and burned at the stake. The Sheriff is called but refuses to deal with the crowd saying the situation is too dangerous. The crowd continues to grow and turns riotous destroying the homes of the Massachusetts stamp agent and the lieutenant governor.
- Weeks later, September 11, someone nails a large copper plate to its trunk declaring it the “Tree of Liberty.” Henceforth it will be called the “Liberty Tree.”
- Thereafter the Boston Sons of Liberty will meet at the site calling meetings by placing a large red flagstaff in its branches and often decorating it with banners and lanterns.
- The British make fun of it but news of it spreads and soon other colonies begin adopting their own trees as a symbol of dissent.
- November 1, 1765, the day the Stamp tax was to begin, a crowd gathers at the Liberty Tree and hangs effigies of British officials from it limbs, then take them to the town’s gallows and hang them again.
- Eight years later in 1773, the Boston Sons of Liberty demand the resignation of Boston’s tea agents to be done publicly under the Liberty Tree. The next day a crowd of 500 awaits their arrival but the agents flee to British authorities for safety.
- Three months later in January of 1774, a Boston mob tars and feathers Custom Commissioner John Maalcom and take him to the Liberty Tree threatening to hang him from its branches if he does not renounce his commission. He refuses and they then threaten to cut off his ears. He still refuses and relents only when scalding tea is forced down his throat.
- Finally, in August of 1775, the originial Liberty Tree is cut down by British Loyalist Job Williams. It had been planted in 1646 and was 129 years old.

- October 25, 1999, in Annapolis, Maryland, the last Liberty Tree in existence is finally cut down due to damage from Hurrican Floyd - a 400 year old tulip popular.

Back to the Dust and Dirt

Sunday, August 14
I spent yesterday just appreciating a shower and a place to stay. I washed my clothes, washed my sleeping bag, and even washed my tent. I have eaten regular meals and showed up at Bubba's BBQ last night matching the many overweight patrons bite for bite. I was so full I could hardly go to sleep - but I did.
Today, I tried to update my blog with notes from my journal and hopefully I am now "up to date" and may start the process again.
My plans are to leave Cody in the morning and either take Highway 20 to Greybull and then to Thermopolis, or Highway 120 which is more remote but shorter. Either way, it will probably remind me of Idaho and Eastern Oregon for it is supposed to be dry, desolate, and windy. Hopefully whichever way I go, the wind will be to my back.
Happy Trails!

The Tunnel

Friday, August 13
I got up early and headed out with Buffalo Bill Reservoir as my destination for the end of the day. The day was uneventful other than putting miles under my feet and just trying to hang in there until I could get to Cody on Saturday for a little rest and recuperation. I finally made camp at the west end of the reservoir and set up my tent dog tired. As my cell phone was dead again I asked a family if I could use their camper's electricity to charge it and they ended up offering me to join them in their evening picnic of hot dogs and baked beans. My natural inclination is to decline but I surprised myself with a ready, "Yes, please," and was soon filling a plate with beans and macaroni salad. I had a good conversation with the men (all locals) about hunting, wolves, and the effect of the rich moving into the area. I was glad to be welcomed into their circle.
They warned me about a tunnel through which I would pass to which I replied I did not even know existed. "What tunnel?" The man said it was seven miles ahead and more than a half mile in length with no bike lanes. He warned that I would have to be extremely careful due the wide trucks and RV's that travel though it.

Saturday, August 14
I had gone to bed very concerned by the men's warning and awoke at 3:30 so that I could travel through the tunnel before traffic began. I was on an empty road at 4:15 guided only by starlight until dawn broke finally broke in the eastern sky. At 6:30 I entered the now infamous tunnel and after an uneventful passage I safely exited the other side. The sun was shining bright, Cody, Wyoming, was in sight, and nothing could stop me now - nothing except the Wyoming State Patrol!
As I reached the city limits a patrol car came out to greet me putting on his flashers just as I was taking a picture of the "Welcome to Cody" sign. What could this guy want with me on a sunny Saturday morning I wondered? He got out of the car and politely asked me what I was up to. Here we go again I thought. He was quite friendly and said that the state patrol office had received a phone call that "a man was walking down the highway." Can you believe it? Apparently here in Cody, Wyoming, it is unusual for a man to not be driving a pick-up truck and such a situation merits investigation. After talking, he welcomed me to town and wished me a nice day before driving away. This patrolman represents law enforcement officer #9.
I was quite glad to get a room at a motel after emerging from eight days in the woods.
Has anyone seen my snake-skin boots?

* Walking Through Yellowstone

The Bear Facts

Thursday August 12
Met a man in the morning that was a film maker who worked for National Geographic. We had a nice conversation and he pointed out an otter he had been filming as well as a bald eagle sitting on a snag across the lake. He was a pleasant man to talk to and in leaving, he warned me of grizzlies and to have bear spray with me at all times in this area. Like on old Westerner, I quickly pulled mine out of my side pocket to show him I was prepared - sort of.
I ended hiking my rear off today distance wise but the good news was that it was almost all down hill coming out of Yellowstone. I had looked on the map and had several places picked out to camp but unfortunately due to the number of grizzly bears in the area, only hard shelled campers were allowed for many miles outside the park. Tents and pop-up trailers are not allowed to camp due to the danger. Oh great. Now what? The reader needs to understand that these campgrounds are usually good distances apart and what seems like nothing while driving down the road can be a heck of a distance when one is walking.
Rejected campground #1
Rejected campground #2
Rejected campgroune #3
Rejected campgournd #4
In desperation I ask a local couple in a truck where I might find a place to place my tent. I was told of Newton Campground five miles up the road.
It turned out to be seven but to me it was heaven.


Wed. Morning, Aug 11
The Catholic missions of California were each built a distance apart that would allow a traveler to walk from one to the next in a day's journey. This too had been the case with campgrounds in Yellowstone until today. Unfortunately, a day's travel (20-30 miles) east from Bay Bridge Campground lands me in the middle of nowhere and I will have to camp alone tonight. This morning will be the last of skirting Yellowstone Lake and then it's up and over the summit into the forests of Eastern Yellowstone. My wife Cynthia warned me that the escaped killers reportedly might be hiding somewhere in this area but I am more concerned about the grizzlies because I know they are here!

Wednesday Evening - Busted!
Arriving nowhere yet looking somewhere for a place to camp I placed my tent near a small lake not far from the road thinking it was a perfect place to spend the night. Apparently the park ranger passing by did not. He told me I should be in a campground and was quite "huffy-puffy" about me being located where I was. I pointed out that there were no campgrounds within many miles (which he agreed) so after doing a run on my identification (remember there are escapees supposed to be in the area) he told me I was not permitted to camp beside a waterway and for me to move my campsite off into the woods. I was a little perturbed by this but realized he was young and just trying to do his job as he saw it. I didn't want to "move into the woods" but did it trying to cooperate.
I slept lightly with my bear spray at my side.

By the way, the park ranger represented law enforcement officer #8.

An Ambassador of One

Tuesday, August 10
Ate a great breakfast taking advantage of an “all you can eat” buffet before hiking to the next campground at Bridge Bay. The walk today was along the western shore of Yellowstone Lake and for some reason this day became one of talking to many foreign visitors about my mission and about the American Bill of Rights.
I have not addressed this issue enough to give a sense of how many people stop to talk and inquire about just what it is I'm up to. Everyday, cars stop in curiosity sometimes giving me money and always giving support. One interesting aspect of being in Yellowstone is that there are Americans from all over the country visiting here as well as international visitors. At times I feel like an mini-ambassador representing our country to foreigners.
Just today:
- two women from Virginia gave me $7.00 and lots of encouragement.
- I talked to a French family and gave them a copy of the Bill of Rights and my card. They were very interested in my cause.
- a Brazilian woman and I talked for quite a while. Her husband gave me $20 and they both wished me luck.
- I talked to some Middle Easterners visiting Yellowstone. They were inquisitive and made their adult son translate what I said so that they could understand. I gave them a copy of the Bill of Rights (which they had never heard of).
- a woman from Marin, CA gave me some nutrient bars and a bottle of water. She said she had heard of me and already had been on my blog site.
- a family car stopped and said they had seen me on the news and gave me $20.
- a guy on a Harley-Davidson turned around to hear my story. He gave me $20 and told me he never turns his bike around but for two things and I was one of them. (He didn't tell me what the other was. Hmmm ?)
- a Yellowstone tour bus stopped and the driver asked me if I’d be willing to talk to the passengers. They all got out (foreign and domestic passengers) and I gave them a 10 minute history lesson and all copies of the Bill of Rights.
-while passing over a a small bridge, a group of people had lined both sides of the road to clap and cheer as I went walked by. That act brought a tear to my eye.
This is just a peek into what I experience with people daily. Everyone has been so positive! I have literally not had a negative encounter with anyone - really.
Gee, I feel all warm inside thinking about it.