Day 7 Casper to Martins Cove
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We woke up about 5:00. Rhielle and I slept so much yesterday that we did not sleep as well last night as we wish we would have. We ate breakfast and left the motel at 6:10. We rode up Poplar to CY Ave and shopped at Albertsons where we bought 4 days of food. It was 8:00 as we rode out of town. If I were doing this ride again I would check into the Econolodge, where we stayed the last two days, for one night. Then late the next morning go to visit Ft. Casper and buy groceries and then check into the Motel 8 at the south edge of town. This would save almost 2 hours and about 8 miles of the ride to Martins Cove.
I thought that I gave Rhielle instructions to stop when she came to the road sign that said Bessemer's Bend. I wanted to talk to the kids about the Martin handcart company getting caught in the blizzard in this area. From this intersection on the road you can see where the bend is as well as where the red cliffs area is. Rhielle thought that she was supposed to go down that road. I was still up the highway when I saw her turn off the main road and go over the edge of the bench and down a very steep hill that drops to the river bottom. I yelled and waved but she did not see me. I turned off the highway and rode to the edge of the hill but could not see her. Meanwhile Spencer, who was behind me and did not see me turn off the main road, stayed on the road and went by while I was trying to get Rhielle back. I yelled at him and he heard and came back. I stopped a car and asked the driver if she had seen a girl on a bike down the road. She said that she had. I asked her if she would turn around and catch Rhielle and send her back. (I wasn't about to go down that hill) Then Spencer and I sat and waited for her to come back. I felt bad that she had to work so hard getting back to where she was supposed to be before the wrong turn. I wonder if Heavenly Father feels the same way about us. He tries to give us instructions but sometimes we make a wrong turn and have to work hard to get back to where we are supposed to be.
We made it to Alcova by 11:30. The only thing that looked good in the store was the ice cream so we ordered up scoops of it and had that for lunch. They wanted to sell us water for $1.00 per 20 oz. bottle so they wouldn't let us fill up anywhere. We walked over to a mobile home near by and asked if we could water up there. The water was not very good but it sure beat $16 for the amount of water we would have had to buy to get to Independence Rock. Then it was on to Independence Rock 25 miles away. The first five and a half miles out of Alcova were a steady 4% uphill grade that seemed to go forever. We finally made it to the top where the road was flat with small rollers across the top of the Wyoming high plain. We could see the county road that follows the trail over Ryan hill. We found the ruts that mark were the trail crosses the road. It is almost in front of the main entrance to the Pathfinder Ranch. We also saw Steamboat Lake where the salt crust around the lake had so much soda in it the pioneers could use it for leavening in their bread. Their journals claimed that it worked fine but gave their biscuits a slight green color. We made it to Independence Rock but ran out of water about 3 miles before getting there. That may not sound like much but when you can only go about 10 miles per hour it takes 18 minutes to cover that distance and it was a very hot afternoon. We stopped at the Independence Rock rest area to take pictures and eat. Then we headed out to cover the next 5 miles which would take us to the visitors center at Martins Cove. We went through the visitors center and watched the film at the end. They have made some changes to the displays in the visitors center. They are an improvement and tell the story better. The new fact that I learned on this visit was that the Willie handcart company made it to Salt Lake City on the same day that the Martin company left the cove. I can not imagine the suffering that must have happened here during October and November of 1856. When we came out of the visitors center there was at least a 30 mile per hour wind. I am glad that we were at our destination for the day because it was almost impossible to ride in. We rode the three miles to the Cherry Creek camp ground for the night. We set up our tent on the lee side of a big truck bed type convenience station (porta poddy) and cooked supper. We were treated to a beautiful sunset over split rock. The evening cooled off, the wind died down, and then we went to bed.
Copyright © Clarence Whetten 2001