Saturday, September 26, 2009

Day Two Hundred-one, 090917 - Moorcroft, WY

Day Two Hundred-one, Date Thursday, September 17, 2009
Time in Saddle: 6:40
Distance for the Day: 51.31 miles From Alzada To Moorcroft, WY
Accumulated Trip Distance: 10,074 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending: 2994’/3570’, Highest: 3911’ Accumulated: 3094’
Speeds: Avg: 7.6 mph, Max: 35.8 mph
Weather: 45° clear, warming to mid-70s
Expenditures: $39

Woke and got up at “5:35am.” It was still night out, not even astronomical dawn, yet. The Wintertime constellations and stars were glorious, Venus was just rising in the east, and had an orange tinge to it, and in fact, I could even make out the Zodiacal Light, aka “false dawn,” which is the glow from dust particles in the plane of the solar system left over from the formation of planets, still in a flattened, disk-shaped cloud, sharing its orbit around the Sun with the planets. I was waiting for the store to open at 6am, and when it got to that time, they didn’t open, and it was still pretty dark out. Hmmm, I peeked inside and saw the wall clock; it said it was 5:05am. That’s when I knew I was in the next time zone. So, I put on some more clothes against the cool morning air, and just counted constellations, deep-sky objects, and watched the thin crescent Moon rise over the eastern horizon; it kinda reminded me of a solar prominence as seen through an H-alpha solar scope. As it rose fully above the horizon, I could see the whole sphere of the Moon, its dark side faintly lit by Earthshine. Very cool. When the store opened at the local 6am, I went inside and got a egg/sausage/muffin sandwich ($4) for breakfast, and resupplied my fluids and food items ($15), and took off across the street at 6:34am, still before sunrise, to the start of SR 112 to Hulett, and Devil’s Tower.
An early morning achievement: a few minutes after sunrise at 6:48am, I entered the State of Wyoming at 6:59am! The road was hilly, and even a bit mountainous, but I took it easy and steady, and made it the 31 miles to Hulett without trouble by 11:20am. I saw real mountain bluebirds along the way, and a flock of redwing blackbirds flying through a forest. There were birds of prey, a couple of vultures, and a lot more antelope. I stopped in Hulett at 11:30am and got a hamburger and fries lunch ($14), recharged my laptop and iPod, and blogged. I also stopped for a soda ($2), and also at the local hardware store to pick up a roll of fluorescent tape ($2) to make as many ding-dong flags as I should need. I continued on at 3:15pm towards Moorcroft. The big bonus of this particular re-route was the chance to pass by The Devils Tower mountain, which I made at 4:30pm. It was pretty spectacular, and I took a bunch of pictures of it. I stopped at a small roadside tourist shop and got an orange crème bar ($2), then at 5:03pm, continued through the somewhat hilly terrain toward Moorcroft. On the way, I saw a handful of deer about 40 yards from me on a shaded, tree-studded hillside to my right. They froze, but when I waved at them, they moved a little, still unsure if I was a threat or not. I moved on, an so did they. As the sun got low on the horizon, I looked for a good stealth camp, and found a volunteer firehouse at 6:40pm, just off and above the road (N44 29.726’ W104 46.884’). It had clean gravel around the back, and was concealed from all but the most eagle of eyes. I hung out reading my book until 7:20pm, when the Sun set, waiting for it to get a little darker, before setting up my tent. I didn’t need to use my tent fly, as it was warm and dry – no mosquitoes, ants, spiders, slugs, etc. I think that must be why there’s not much astronomy in states like North or South Dakota, Nebraska, etc. The mosquitoes would be murder. There was one light above the back door, but it didn’t bother me, so I cloaked my trike and was in bed by 8pm, munching on trailmix, Spicy Hot V8, and some soda. There was *some* car noise from the road, but it was lightly traveled, and not very loud. I woke up at 1:05am and tongue was completely dry – my nose was a little stuffed from the dry air, which made me breath through my mouth. I drank up the rest of my soda, and went back to sleep. I’m sure the stars were blazing, but due to that light above the door, I couldn’t see them. Phooey!

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