On the first day of re-retirement, our plan was to travel 300 miles to Devils Tower in northeast Wyoming. It would be a long driving day but we hoped to get there mid-afternoon and still be able to see the tower and visitor center.
Well, it didn’t quite go as we had planned…
We fought our GPS repeatedly as it wanted to send us on shorter routes through the Crow and Cheyenne Reservations. Having lived on the “rez” for a month, we believed the longer I-90 route would be more likely to have diesel fuel and better roads.
We made it to Wyoming and, as we approached the town of Buffalo, the warning alarm sounded on our Tire Pressure Monitoring System.
The TPMS measures and continuously updates the temperature and air pressure on all eight truck and trailer tires. We had an issue with the driver’s side back trailer tire. The tire pressure usually measures 80 – 95 psi. The alarm sounded when the pressure reduced to 75 psi. In the few minutes it took to get off the freeway and find a place to stop, the pressure was down to 21 psi on that tire. It was flat!
Randy decided he needed to change to the spare tire. Fortunately our auto-leveling jacks make that job easier than it would have been with a typical jack.
While he was changing the tire, I searched for a tire store that had room for all 65 feet of us. Thank you Big Horn Tire for having room and making time for us right away.
We are now the proud owners of two new Maxxis tires. Our Goodyear tires on the back were only 16 months old (and four of those were sitting still) yet the steel bands were separating. We had multiple leaks in one tire and bulging in the other. There is still a second set of Goodyears on the trailer that are about 9 months old. We’ll see…..You can’t mess with tires in this lifestyle.
Even though having a tire problem isn’t a good thing, we were blessed in how it happened. We are thankful that we had the monitoring system to alert us before we had a damaging, dangerous incident. We were also happy that we had opted to go on I-90 and that the tire held until we were approaching Buffalo.
After a few more arguments with the GPS, we made it to Devils Tower KOA. This is one of the nicest KOAs we have ever stayed in with a wonderful view of the tower. Deer and turkeys roam the grounds.
Another perk is the nightly showings of Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) which was set at Devils Tower. We were bummed they had discontinued the showings for the season but really happy when they gave us a DVD to watch inside our nice warm trailer instead!
When we woke, having spent the night in Wyoming, we added a sticker to our map! It is looking a little better. (Next week – Colorado.)
It stormed this morning but we were able to go to Devils Tower, walk the 1.3 mile paved trail, and go to the visitor’s center. Here are some Devils Tower Tidbits:
Devils Tower was the very first US National Monument, designated in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt. It was the very first use of The Antiquities Act, authorized that same year.
The apostrophe in what should be Devil’s Tower was inadvertently left out due to a clerical error and never corrected. Thus, Devils Tower is the correct spelling.
Twenty tribes view this igneous rock as a sacred site and oppose the name Devils Tower. As most tribal names reference a bear, there has been some effort to rename the monument Bear Lodge but it has not gained traction.
The formation of the tower looks like claw marks from a distance. Actually they are symmetrical columns, some of the longest (up to 600 feet) and widest (up to 20 feet) in the world. They are 4, 5, 6 and 7 sided. Six sided columns are thought to be the strongest in nature.
Columns are gradually made vulnerable by water and ice, lichen and roots. Although there is a boulder field around the tower, there has not been a column collapse since monitoring began in 1906.
The top of the tower is rounded, grassy and about the size of a football field. In 1941, George Hopkins parachuted onto the top. He had to wait six days before mountain climbers were able to help him down. He failed to have an exit strategy!
In 1893 William Rogers and Willard Ripley were the first to climb the tower. They constructed a 350 ft. wooden ladder and hammered stakes into a crack to aid their ascent. Two years later, Linnie Rogers followed her husband’s climbing achievement with her own. As many as 200 people eventually used the ladder, parts of which are still visible.
Climbers now ascend Devils Tower with the support of the National Park Service. Climbing is suspended during June in consideration of the sacred nature of the site to many native peoples.
Given its sacred past, Devils Tower was chosen as an International Peace Project Site by Japanese Artist Junkyu Moto in 2008. (The other two sites are Vatican City, Rome and Bodh Gaya, India, where the Buddha reached enlightenment.) His sculpture here is called the Circle of Sacred Smoke.
Even though we had a devil of a time getting here, we are glad we came to Devils Tower. It was a joy to be on the move again, exploring new places and learning new things. Randy said several times today that he loves feeling retired again!