Billings, MT to Casper, WY

Slept a little later than I should have, and managed to leave in the heat of the day (10 a.m. – ish) Went to a place called Pompey’s rock, which has the odd distinction of being the only place Lewis and Clarks left physical evidence of their passage. Old graffiti eventually becomes history. I wanted to see it because it was supposed to be this rock jutting out of the flat lands around, like Uluruh/Ayers Rock or Devils Tower, but much smaller. Not that interesting. When you are on top, you can see for quite a ways, and the river running beside it was gorgeous.

Next stop was Custers Battlefield.

That was OK, but again, not too interesting. Historically it’s important, since the native americans didn’t administer too many (enough?) ass-whoppings to the US Army. Very crowded, very hot and a pretty big area. Some of the battle took place up to five miles away. There was a big monument where Custer fell, and a lot of markers where others soldiers died (but no Native Americans.) It’s currently in the middle of an Indian reservation, and it appears that the residents of the reservation are making quite a bit of money off this. They were National Park guides, ticket takers and everything in between. They ran separate tour companies for extended tours, and had gift shops outside the gates. Given the crushing standard of living many of the people have, it’s good see some economic benefits go back into the community. It’s the exact opposite of trickle down economics, but at least this economic theory works.

I was going to try and make Denver this day (Friday), but pretty early on I figured I wouldn’t be able to make it. I stopped in Casper, WY. As I came off the freeway, there was a sign advertising a hotel at the NEXT exit with Wireless Internet for $31.99. Come to Papa! After making a huge U-turn to get back to the exit so I could get better directions I find the hotel. It was a Mom and Pop place with what appeared to be a moderate number of people living (not just for the night) there. It reminds me of my favorite hotel in Baker City, Oregon, so I figured I’d give it a try (Oh, and another hotel in the city wanted $92 for a room.) As in Baker City, this hotel was owned by an Indian couple – the Patels. What I like about these places is they are owned by people trying to live the American Dream. They care a lot more about me than the 23 Y.O. clerk at the Holiday Inn. BUT… When I mentioned to the lady behind the desk that I saw her sign as I exited the freeway, she asked me if I saw how much it was. I didn’t remember exactly, so I said “Nope, I just remember the free wireless internet!!” So she jacked the price up $4. I decided to pay the extra money than admit I just lied to her. On the plus side, she didn’t charge me for the internet connection, which apparently is now $2 per night. Once again, lying didn’t work out for me.

The nice lady behind the counter (Mrs Patel) tried to talk me into parking in the handicap spot so I could be close to my bike. She said “We’ve already got a handicap guy staying here, and he doesn’t have a car.” I couldn’t bring myself to it, but I did end up with a spot by the door later, but without the guilt. The room was great. Great shower, new TV with lot’s of channels, great, new bed and pillows, new air conditioner, and I was able to park right outside my door. And it was the cheapest hotel of my stay so far. I celebrated by getting a bottle of tequila and a Subway sandwich. And I learned not to lie.

Casper was an interesting little town. Not a lot to do, but they did have two movie theaters in a two block radius. Typical town in the middle of the country. On it’s way down, young people leaving, WalMart coming, etc. Always sad.