But first the news.
Day 4 wasn’t worth posting. We spent most of it in the best coffee shop in the world, drinking the best coffee in the world, using the best wifi in the world. The most worthy event was when driving through a ritzy sub-division we spotted wild turkeys roaming the yards. We tried to take pix, but two ran behind a McMansion and the third behind a too well-manicured bush. Chris drove off, shouting expletives at the snooty, one-percenter turkeys.
Day 5 started with an earl drive to Wind Cave Park. The ride was slowed by a herd of bison walking down the road. After a short time a gap opened and we began slowly driving through it.
And then one bison began sniffing the right front fender while another worked the left. We waited for the inevitable “GA-BLUMPH” of one ramming the car. It reminded us of a similar, though less imposing, event with mountain goats in the Badlands.
No, “GA-BLUMPH” and we drove on. We also got a shot of turkeys. And the cave was great. The mouth of the cave was no more than a hole in the side of a hill. Some cowboy stuck his head into it and the barometric “breath” of the cave blew his hat off. A 16-year-old boy spent four years exploring the cave with balls of string to find his way out and a candle to see by. He evangelized the cave and even travelled to the Worlds Fair in Chicago to talk about it on behalf of South Dakota.
There he contracted TB, which killed him at the age of 20.
Then began the long drive through Wyoming. Rolling field after field. Cows. On and on and on.
Nearing Guernsey, we decided to switch drivers so Jenn wouldn’t have to drive through mountains. We pulled into an empty parking lot outside apartments that may once have been a seedy motel.
We were both standing on the driver side of the car, Chris poking through a cooler when Jenn began yelled “No, no!”
There was a “GA-LUMPH!” The car moved sideways, bumping into Jenn and Chris but not injuring either, not even knocking them down.
On the other side of the car was no enraged bison.
No angry goat.
Not even a “We are the makers” wild turkey.
No, it was a baby-shit brown piece-of-junk Windstar minivan.
Forgive the redundancies of that last sentence.
Our car had a dented rear quarter-panel and the tor and hubcap had been scratched. The minivan had a dented bumper.
The rest is the usual. The driver wasn’t looking. Her passenger was supposed to be watching but there was no mirror on that side.
Insurance took the details, as did Hertz. We just had to make a detour because Hertz requires an agent to see the car if there’s wheel or tire damage.
Chris drove the rest of the way.
And what a drive. We went through Denver, took a right for Dillon, and headed … up. The road inclined higher and higher. First it was just “falling rock” signs, then tire chain stations, finally huge peaks rising all around us. At 11,000 feet and through a tunnel the truck emergency ramps began appearing.
We turned into Dillon, looking for the crowded strip of motels where our Best Western should be. But the GOS led us instead to something that looked like Aspen beside a “Sound of Music” lake nestled between the peaks.
Exhausted, tired, having driven almost a thousand miles and walking through a cave and being terrorized by gentle bison and hit by a car, we found ourselves at the Best Western.
In the world.