Day 28 - Gillette to Devils Tower - C2C - from Westport, Washington to Sandy Hook, New Jersey - CycleBlaze

June 30, 2016

Day 28 - Gillette to Devils Tower

Up at 4:30 - - lawsy!
It was just getting light - so I got a shower and had a little breakfast and I was off by 5:30.

Wyodak Mine - Oldest Surface Coal Mine in U.S. - Dantean
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I did doctoral research on the coal boom. They thought it would last 500 years. It may last another 10, at most. They have had hundreds of layoffs this year. The giant surface mines that were working 24/7/365 a decade ago are limping along. Wind power has replaced a little coal, but the big shift has been to natural gas. It’s cheaper, cleaner, and a lot easier to ship. So now hundred of coal train locomotives sit in mothballs east of town.

Hundreds of Mothballed Locomotives
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I had hopes of an easy ride to Morecroft, but they had just chip-sealed the road. At first I though it was only going to be a few miles, but it was 20 miles. More than a few people zoomed by at 70 mph - including some big rigs - tossing up a cloud of dust and gravel. Sometimes I would pull off the road. Once I got dinged on my helmet and felt rather lucky.

I got into Morecroft at 8:30 - nearly 30 miles before breakfast. So I had a great meal at Donna’s Diner - the kind of place that is soooooo much nicer than fast food. Between breakfast and journaling and chilling at the city park, I managed to kill two hours - but that was O.K.

Change in the Landscape from Drylands to Hills and Trees
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Back on the highway, I headed north towards Devils Tower. Now, Morecroft is on the Belle Fourche River and Devils Tower is on the Belle Fourche River, but don’t be fooled. The road climbs over three smaller ridges - then three more big ones. Finally, the last stretch from the junction is a killer downhill, followed by another killer uphill, and a finally suicide run to the park entrance. And a headwind. Pedaling downhill in middle gears. Meh.

So I get to Devils Tower thinking that the NPS campground will be full. The KOA just outside the park looked like a parking lot of RVs. But the ranger at the entrance station said that the park campground rarely filled. I guess people have to have electricity and WiFi. The park campground is in a cottonwood grove in a bend in the river with stunning views of Devils Tower. Go figure.

Devils Tower Reflected in the Belle Fourche River
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As I rode into one of the loops, I spotted another cyclist, Mike. He had been riding from Oregon. We conpared notes and laughed about things only touring cyclists find funny - like choice language on killer hills. Across the way, Max, a motorcyclist, joined us and we solved all the problems in the world in an hour or so. Always nice when a tough afternoon turns into a great evening.

Some Bums in the Campground
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Today's ride: 62 miles (100 km)
Total: 1,299 miles (2,091 km)

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