An uneasy quiet had settled in the car as we traveled through a desolate mountain pass when a lush, green line of trees and grasses appeared, paralleled the road and lifted our spirits. The vista widened again. The dreaded narrow canyons hadn’t yet appeared but the road steepened. Our top speed dropped to 20 miles per hour. The terrain was different to the Bighorn Pass the previous week – more open and rolling, not straight up the cliff face via an unending series of switchbacks. The steepest grades had been dynamited and chiseled away leveling the roadway to an uphill slog rather than a mountain climbing expedition. Nor did we have a red-faced, annoyed procession behind us although 10 minutes previously I would have welcomed some company other than vultures in the lonely countryside.
At the summit of 7,300 feet we were treated to a big Wyoming sky; it was grey and raining miles to the west; white cumulus clouds pumped themselves up against a clear blue sky to the east; the sun shone overhead and the snow-capped Rocky Mountains reappeared ahead of us – miles and miles ahead of us, perhaps 60 miles away (now that I look more closely at the map). We’d reach our destination long before we had to worry about the Rockies.
Snow fences, placed to stop winter snows drifting across the road, lined up to the west and “ski poles” – narrow stakes, eight feet tall with reflectors on top to mark out the road edges when the snow fences are overwhelmed and the road has disappeared under a drift of snow – predicted a harsh winter.
But on this day the outside temperature was still in the nineties as we cruised straight out of the barren mountain pass towing our “house” behind us and up to the Laramie railway line. We turned left and bowled into Laramie, elevation 7,165 feet.
Well, ladies and g’s, himself had every opportunity to be smug after our relatively easy journey which he had chosen after carefully studying the map, but that’s not in his nature. He just smiled to himself as he drove into Laramie, intent on following his Wild West dreams, set to music – The Man From Laramie – sung only in his head thankfully.
The Wild West – emphasis on Wild, and much to Jimmy’s chagrin – was about to provide more than cowboy gunfights.