September 10th – Don’t Fall!

      This morning I let myself sleep in after the long day of hiking. When I finally got out of my car, I was treated to a rainbow. It spanned the whole sky in front of me, enclosing the Teton mountain range. Sadly, I did not see any leprechauns prowling around, so I figured that the gold at the base of this rainbow must have already been taken.

After admiring the rainbow, I started driving. Today I was in search of the Internet and a quiet place to sit. I wanted to update my blog and find a place to stay on my way to Colorado Springs.

     On my way south, I drove through Jackson, Wyoming, and found myself back in the middle of a familiar phenomenon – a traffic jam. This was a bustling tourist town and I must have hit it at rush hour. There were several coffee shops I could have stopped there, but I wanted to get further along my way than that, so I kept driving. After Jackson, I felt like I drove forever without seeing another car. The few tiny towns I passed through had populations around two hundred people. My phone had no cell service for over a hundred miles.

     Eventually, I happened to look down at my gas gauge. Oops. I had an empty tank. I’d driven 440 miles so far and that’s at least 50 more than I have been used to letting it go. There was still nothing within sight and no data connection on my phone. No way to go but forward! I’m not generally a nervous person, but I started to become one at this moment. I decided that was silly though. Being nervous could increase my blood pressure, but not refill the gas tank. I was driving, and that was the only helpful thing I could do.

     I got to 460 miles. Those nerves came back and were very unhelpful again. Finally, I entered the limits of Rock Springs, Wyoming. This was a real city, one with people and stores and traffic. I looked for the closest gas station found an Exxon to fuel up at. As I waited to turn left into the gas station, I wondered if my tank would last through the light. It did, and the tank only took twenty-five gallons, which meant that there had been three gallons left. I could have gone fifty more miles!

     After getting gas, I went to a McDonalds – again. It’s becoming a familiar place for me on this trip. I did some writing there, though the slow internet made uploading the two posts I finished take forever. When it was time to move on, I found a campsite that was only about twenty minutes away.

     The directions to the campsite took me up to my new favorite road. It carried me along the ridges of the canyon formations that surround Rock Springs. I passed the pull-off for the campsite I was looking for and kept exploring the road.

     I drove to one end of the road and found a cool spire that projected out of the formation. There was a road that led out to it, so I figured I was obviously supposed to drive out on it. The drive out went well. Then I got out of the car and realized how high this ledge was off the ground, and what a relatively narrow space I had to turn around. It was probably twenty-five feet wide, and that would be lots of room – if my car wasn’t eighteen feet long. I’d have to make a really tight turn and be careful not to drive too far forward. I didn’t want to go plummeting to the valley floor. On the bright side (the very bright side), the sunset was gorgeous from that spot.

     I could back up along the way that I had come, but I was not that confident that I could back up in a straight line for a hundred yards. I started to understand what cats feel like when they’ve climbed up a tree and can’t muster the nerve to come back down.

     Turning around seemed to be the safest bet. I started the turn and went forward about a foot. Then I turned off the engine and walked around my car to see exactly how far I could drive safely in each direction. It looked like I had about three feet on each side. Past that, the ground sloped down steeply and disappeared. So I got back in my car and backed up two feet. Then went forward two feet. Again, I got out, checked, and got back in. Whew. Back up, go forward. Last time now, back up, and there we go… forward for the last time, leaving the precarious ledge behind.

     That last episode had been enough adventure for one night, so I returned to the campsite I found and parked – leaving plenty of room between me and the edge of the canyon. I got out to stretch and play my guitar, then climbed into my cozy bed in the back and went to sleep.

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