Leaving Gillette was no sweet sorrow.
Not just because of inclement conditions arriving. Or the lame-ass smoke smelling, damp room motel. Or from the strange BarBeQue diner the night before. Or the fact that we were leaving for only the second time of the trip under overcast skies.
There was something more about the power capital of the nation. All along our journey we've been seeing and hearing these mile long trains heading back out to the Oregon or Washington coast. Being a bunch of brit tourists they've been an interesting point of interest, more than the 08.17 from Basingstoke to Waterloo least ways. But most of these trains are full of coal from the open cast mines in Gillette. Being carried out to be shipped across to China. So they can make a load of plastic plates and cups, and clothes and toys and everything else, so it can be shipped back around the world, and chucked in holes in the ground as big as the ones being made by the mines.
You can have your Portlands and Missoulas and Bozemans and so on, nice liberal 'eco' (for america at least) cities but the reality is that they're more reliant on this 'dirty' side of the economy than they'd like to know I'd imagine. The reality of that part of the economy is most evident when popping down to Wal-Mart this morning for supplies. The endless expanse of concrete and stores and car parks and signs and drive-thru everything. The place that the placelessness reminded me of the most was Dongguan in China. The place that a lot of the crap sold in these outlets is probably sold. It's a lifeless, draining place. And I hate to bag out places where otheres choose to live without spending a reasonable amount of time assessing them properly, but really don't feel that Gillette is the place for me. But it does have its uses I suppose.
So sufficed to say the whole group were happy to put Gillette behind us. We cruised out passing by the mine and trains, as mentioned. I was working on my whole cowboy act by bringing up the rear and making sure the herd got to our destination safely.
Pretty good riding conditions all said, overcast, cool enough to need to work. The roads got quieter. After our coffee stop the views got better too.
Stll plodding along. After lunch a few of us took a detour to Devils Tower which broke up the day nicely. With the levity of me shaving and dressing like a wannabe cowboy I think the mood lightened quite a bit.
We set off and with some tunes playing had a very chilled ride back into Sundance, though with a couple of creeping hills to shock the weary limbs, but team morale seemed to improve as the sun came out and we worked together into town.
Sundance was a slight disappointment for a Saturday night, so I think everyone's looking forward to a night off tomorrow before a rest day after a long hard week with all sorts of challenges. I know I am. Hoping for can-can dancers, bar brawls, and more assorted western fun. We'll see.
Oh, and here's a little image to give an idea of our progress so far:
View Progress at 18 May in a larger map
Pretty good I'd say. Staggering in fact.