Sunday, June 1, 2008

Yippee Ti Yi Yo, for real this time.

We are parked alongside a dirt road
on BLM land, between Medicine Bow and Casper (map).

This is the fourth dirt road we tried, including one in Medicine Bow itself (where most of the streets are dirt). On the other two BLM roads, we had to turn back because there were no suitable places to pull off the road before the road re-entered private property. We were just about to give up and resign ourselves to pressing on all the way to Casper when we found this spot.

The road beyond this point leads to a ranch and a mine, which is gated. Nevertheless, we haven't seen a single other vehicle since we parked here sometime after 6pm. It was dark and quiet, an excellent stop. Almost.

Sometime around 10ish, I was downstairs looking at maps, and Louise was upstairs surfing the 'net, when we heard some thuds and felt the bus rocking. Naturally, each of us asked the other "what are you doing?" It took a couple minutes to realize that a couple dozen head of cattle had gathered around Odyssey, and some of them were scratching their heads and shoulders up against the bus.

If you've never been among them up close and personal, cattle can be a bit intimidating. A person can easily be crushed or trampled in their midst during herd behavior. We turned on all the floodlights and I started yelling "yip" and "heyah" out the upstairs window to get those "lil doggies" moving along. Unlike in the movies, most cattle don't really respond to this very well -- they backed away from the bus, but I had to go outside to get them going. I'm not sure which gesture or movement finally got them to leave, but they did not come back for the rest of the night. They left their mark, though -- the front and back of the bus are covered with cow snot, payback, no doubt, for the T-bone I grilled for dinner.

Most BLM land in this part of the country is leased out for cattle grazing (and the occasional mining claim), so it's not surprising that we had a close encounter of the bovine kind. The BLM considers these leases a "non-exclusive" use -- the ranchers may have an exclusive grazing lease, but they can't exclude recreational users such as ourselves, and they can't post signs or lock gates (though sometimes they do -- this can be reported to the BLM field office).

One of the things the ranchers on this lease have clearly been doing is shooting the coyotes.

Just a few yards from camp are three skeletons, and a dozen yards beyond that is the remains of an antelope next to a post -- possibly used as bait.

It's a bit disturbing, since evidence further afield makes clear that the coyotes are feeding on the abundant antelope that roam freely through this area, and not generally on cattle.

Speaking of antelope, we've seen hundreds on the drive up. The fences that keep the cattle contained and the RVers out of the mines pose no obstacle to them whatsoever -- I would be very cautious driving through here at and after dusk.

The BLM land in this area is a real patchwork. Most of it is unsigned, and we're glad to have the DeLorme Atlas and Gazetteer for Wyoming, which has it all marked. We picked this item up yesterday morning at a bookstore on our way out of Laramie -- Wal-Mart, which usually carries them, was out of stock. It's an excellent $20 investment for any boondocker, although, as we have cautioned here before, not all state Gazetteers show the BLM land boundaries.

In a short while we will get back on the road, heading for the tiny Flying-J in Casper. We're nearly out of fuel, and at $4.45, that's the cheapest we'll find anywhere. I miscalculated in Aurora a week ago -- Fuel could be had there for $4.40, but the price in Casper then was $4.24. It did not occur to me that the price might jump 21 cents in only a week.

I suspect we will spend the night in Casper someplace. There are mixed reports on whether urban boondocking is permitted, but we're going to try to stay out of the Flying-J, since they have only 45 spaces and we'd like to leave them for the truckers.

1 comment:

  1. Hey guys! Heidi and I used the Wally World in Casper last September... when I had a tire 'issue' that Sams club... right next door, took care of!

    As far as I know... it's still 'open' for such doins'!

    and you better knock off that cowboyin' stuff! ... That's MY territory! :-)


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