Friday, November 9, 2007

11/9/07 Casper, WY

On our way to Casper, we stopped at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument near Crow Agency, Montana. The night before we studied one of America's most famous battles from both sides' point of view -- Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer and the Seventh Cavalry and Crazy Horse and the Lakota/Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho Indian Warriors -- so we could have some historical context.

The 1876 battle itself rose far beyond its military significance to the level of myth. Even though the Indian's won this war, memorialized as "Custer's Last Stand," the event itself was probably their undoing, because the Indians lost their nomadic way of life after their victory.

We were pleased that the Battlefield honored both sides, there were monuments for both sides. The metal sculpture is placed in a granite wall memorializing the Indians who fell. The Seventh Cavalry is memorialized by an obelisk, the battlefield has headstones and a traditional cemetery.

We arrived late into Casper East RV Park. (I'd promised myself that I would never again drive at night. I've got to start getting on the road earlier in the morning, if I have to start driving with Sarah still in bed!) I scuffed the front bumper getting into our space -- another reason why not to park the RV at night.

I was excited to get to Casper because we were scheduled to go Curling! Yes, Curling -- the Olympic sport where two teams compete sliding sixteen 40-pound curling stones down the ice at a target at the other end of the 150' playing surface, similar to lawn bowling. Each team gets eight stones and tries to slide them onto their target area called the house without going past the tee lines. Because you don't get any points if you slide past the house, it is important to underslide the stone, then two sweepers with brooms help direct the stones by polishing the ice which makes the stone go further and straighter. They make it look so easy.

Dave, Sarah and I learned how to slide the stones. Dave was by far the best, his stones regularly went the straightest -- but he overshot the house regularly. Sarah was good at getting the closest to the house but was often too far to the right or left. Sarah practiced with the better players learning the brooming techniques which win the games by guiding the stones to the right location. Mine went up the middle, but weren't close enough to the target area (there is a minimum line you must pass) to get counted. Plus, I fell twice, clipped my thumb between the broom handle and the ice, so I've got a bruised thumbnail now.

The Curling team in Casper is only a year old. The curling stones are hand carved and very expensive. Casper's stones are a loan from a city in Scotland (where curling was founded in the 1600's). It was quite surprising to see the stones put in a commercial refrigeration unit -- the rocks are kept frozen when they aren't in use. At the end, the entire class gets rewarded with hot chocolate or cappuccino.

That night we had a lovely dinner at the local Elk's Lodge -- an all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner with salad and garlic bread. I had two cocktails and the kids had soft drinks. The bill was $18.00 and we sat there for a couple hours playing our favorite card game "Cheat." Sarah was always the best cheater, because Dave would fumble with his cards, furrow his forehead, and then play his turn hesitantly. Now, he is so good at cheating both Sarah and I rarely call him on it.

The next night we went to go see a play "My Three Angels" at the local community playhouse. The play was set on Christmas Eve on Devil's Island off the coast of French Guiana. The angels were convicts who use their "unique skills" along with the help of their pet snake "Adolf" to help the hard-pressed family who runs the local general store. The play was hysterically funny -- we had to shush Dave to laugh less as he was about to fall out of his chair.

The next morning we got ready to go to the Salt Lake City area where we had an appointment at Blaine Jensen RV for a series of minor repairs. There was a very strange message in the driver's panel -- "Error System Voltage 14.0, Threshold 13.4" and the RV Jacks wouldn't retract. I got the dealership on the phone and they gave me lots of great instructions starting with disconnecting and reconnecting the batteries to the RV.

I started to imagine electrocuting myself and went in search of help. The son of the RV Park owner was a mechanic -- I was more than glad to turn over the instructions to him. Of course, nothing he tried worked. Finally, he brought the jacks up by hand which took several hours. He tried to use his high powered drill, but after it began to smoke, he did the rest by hand. (I bet his arms were sore the next day!)

When he finished, we tried to move the RV, however the automatic jack panel in the RV didn't recognize that the jacks were brought up, so the extremely loud alarm kept beeping. He disconnected the panel managing the jacks and the silence was wonderful. (I probably would have taken a hammer to the panel if I had been forced to drive the six hours to Utah with the alarm beeping.)

After he was all done, he walked next to my tow car and noticed that there was a giant bubble on one of my tires. He insisted that we weren't driving anywhere on that tire -- even to the tire store. He took the tire off, went to a tire store to get a replacement tire and put it back on.

By then it was too late to travel, so we boondocked on the side of the park since the park was full and we didn't have a space anymore. We didn't dare take the slides out since we had disabled the jacks, so it was cozy.

When we started out early Sunday morning, I was extremely worried about our ability to make it to Salt Lake with an electrical problem and hopeful that we wouldn't end up on the side of the road. It didn't help matters that it rained six of the seven hour drive that wound its way through the mountains at the end as it was getting dark. Sigh... We arrived safely at the RV dealership where the repairs would be made and used one of their guest spaces with power and plumbing.

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