Sunday, July 15, 2012

Mary – 07-09-12 WY/Canada Trip – Gillette, WY.
This is our last night in Gillette – the rally officially ended at noon today. I, of course, missed breakfast (I just don’t ‘do’ mornings, well, as many of you know) but we were able to have lunch with a group of friends following a very cool tour of a coal mining operation. We visited the Eagle Butte Mines just outside of Gillette. The pit we visited is approximately 350 feet deep and 400 acres.

 We were fortunate to be there while they were loading train cars. Each car holds approximately 120 tons of coal. Each train has between 115 and 140 cars, making a loaded train 15,000 to 20,000 tons. It takes approximately 65 240-ton truck loads to load one train.

Wyoming coal is currently shipped to 36 states and accounts for approximately 35% of the nation’s coal production. An average of 85 coal trains move coal out of Wyoming’s Powder River Basin each day.

We learned lots of interesting information about the equipment, such as haul trucks, and maintenance. For example, haul trucks hold 1200 gallons of diesel and are fueled once each 12-hour shift; each 240-ton truck cost approximately $2.5 million; each tire costs $30,000, lasts 8,000 – 9,000 hours, are 12’ tall, weigh 9,500 lbs. with a 56” rim.

Haul truck dumping coal into bin. Note the difference in size
to the normal size grader on the left. For additional
perspective, the haul truck operator is in the booth on right
directly above the dual headlights. If you look really
close, you might see hin through the window.

Mary sitting on some petrified wood uncovered at the coal mine.

We are leaving Gillette in the morning destined for Billings, Montana. Our friends from Arizona are on their way to Washington but will be on the same route so we’ll have a couple more nights to enjoy their company.

Conni– 07-09-12 WY/Canada Trip – Gillette, WY.
I took a drive today in the Gully Jumper (my Jeep, remember?) to see some of the art that Gillette has to offer. I would say they have many times more than most towns this size. I think the coal industry is responsible for a lot of it.

Here's just a little example:


Figment – 07-04-12 / 07-08-12 WY/Canada Trip – Gillette, WY
I was all geared up to see some amazing fireworks out here on the prairie tonite. I just found out that it’s not happening due to the extremely dry weather. They can’t take that chance of a fire starting. I hear a lot of the people here are relieved to hear that. Makes sense to me, but I sure was looking forward to it. I guess I just get so excited to see and hear new things. Another time, maybe?
Well, Sadie and I have been getting left behind a lot these last few days. The Mamas are constantly coming and going. From what I hear, they’re meeting new people, going out to eat, attending seminars and such. All I know is that I get left behind. Not too bad though since that’s when I also get my visiting done. I think it’s a win-win except for Sadie. She’s pretty sad when they leave.

Figment – 07-03-12 WY/Canada Trip – Gillette, WY
You remember that I use the Mama’s computers and read their books when they leave me alone, right? Well, no different here.
Here’s a few things I learned about Gillette and WY:

  • There are only 2 towns in Campbell County. Gillette is the largest with a population of about 30,000.
  • Gillette is known as the Energy Capital of the world due to 16 open-pit coal mines. It is the nation’s leading coal producer.  And, guess where most of it goes? Texas!
  • The population of the entire state, as recorded in the 2010 census, is 563,626. On average, there are 6 people per square mile. Many crowd together in towns that boast of the population hovering around 17.
  • WY was the first state to grant women suffrage and the first state to elect a woman governor.
We had a beautiful sunset tonight.

OK, my brain’s tired so I’m going to bed. Nite, nite.

Mary – 07-02-12 WY/Canada Trip – Gillette, WY.
We decided to speed up the trip to Gillette, arriving a day early, hoping to have the jacks repaired. We arrived at the RVW rally in the afternoon and got our name on the list with Joel, the RV maintenance man supporting the rally. Even though we arrived three days before the start of the rally, we were number 24 on his list! Our grassy space wasn’t perfectly level but we made a good guess on the leveling blocks and had her leveled on our first try. Two of our friends had already arrived at the rally and two more will be arriving tomorrow. We’re very excited to reconnect with old friends and meet new ones.
Figment – 07-02-12 WY/Canada Trip – Gering, NE to Gillette, WY
Oh my! What a day! We drove into WY after about an hour and my visibility was cut to about 400 yards max. Smoke everywhere. The tiny light in the on-coming lane is an 18 wheeler. The Mamas said it was from CO and WY wildfires. It’s really thick. I have kept myself from coughing though, so we’re all happy about that - see how happy Mama Conni is at the truck stop.

OK, after about another hour, my visibility got better, but still didn’t see the sun cut thru until very late afternoon.
We’re finally in Gillette, WY. We’ll be here for over a week for an RV Rally. I think I enjoy them as much as the Mamas. I get to meet and visit with all kinds of rigs. I hear I’ll even get to see a couple of them that I’ve visited with before.
Figment – 07-01-12 WY/Canada Trip – Henderson to Gering, NE
A nice day today. It’s fun in the gently rolling hills. I’ve been looking for pronghorn antelopes like I’ve seen before, but guess they’re staying away from the road today.
We’re staying in the Robidoux RV Park in Gering, NE tonite. I would rank this a #1 for us. The spaces are really big, it has some nice trees, a huge play area for dogs to run and play, nice grass, and a level slab to park on. So, you see, no need for the jacks J

Figment – 06-30-12 WY/Canada Trip – Wellington, OK to Henderson, NE
Oh, I’m making good time today. Thought there would be lots of traffic for the 4th holiday, but with not that much population in KS and NE, it wasn’t too bad. Took a new route about mid-day to be able to go into WY via NE, rather than CO. Not much different than I’ve seen before. Lots of corn, maize, soy bean, and sunflower fields. Gently rolling hills – play for me, I just love them.
Stopping in Henderson, NE for the nite. Kinda in the middle of those corn fields. They have a tornado cellar for the Mamas, just in case. Seems like no one thought of me?
Uh oh! My jacks won’t go down. I can hear them saying “it’s always something”! I’m so sorry my jacks don’t work. They did try and try. Guess I’ll have to sit in a shop somewhere by myself to get them fixed. I hate that.

Oh my!!!!! I just had something that blinks stop on my face! Oh, there's lots of them. It's almost dark and these little twinkling lites are everywhere. All around me, the campground, and out into the fields. OK, mystery cleared up. I checked with the Mamas and found out that it's fireflies, also called lightening bugs. I had never seen such a thing. Wow!

OK, time to turn in. Nite nite.
Figment – 06-29-12 WY/Canada Trip – Trophy Club, TX to Wellington, OK
Last few days -
Well, you would know it. The Mamas were thinking ahead and took me in for a free 22-point inspection a week and a half ago. The last time we were out, everything was working just fine. But, with all my history, the check-out was a good measure. Of course, not every little thing checked out, but there was only one problem. My roof needed extensive caulking. Major dollars, of course. Now, before we could even get in for the free inspection, Mama Conni was very hot and bewildered to find out the cab air was not working (again). Did I mention that was a day it hit 107! So, after the roof work, it was off to Freightliner to get the a/c repaired. We major lucked out that the a/c was still under warranty. Only cost 40. to expedite shipping of a part to ensure we could leave as scheduled.
OK – today. On the road again!!!!! Oh, this just feels too good. What I’m made for – not all that sitting in storage waiting to go somewhere.
We’re on a known road up thru OK. I’m really comfortable because I’ve been this route about 3 times now. The Mamas were planning to go thru Amarillo, then CO, spend a day or so in Denver, then on to the RV Rally in Gillette, WY. Well, there’s devastating wild fires all in that area and I know they were thinking of me when they decided to go a different route. Didn’t want me coughing all that smoke or having to fight to see thru it. They really do love me, you know?  
Bedding down in Wellington, OK for the nite. It’s a little early, but we’re all tired and ready to call it quits for the day.
Hey, they didn’t even put my jacks down or extend my slides. Guess they really were tired – just crawled into the bed and went to sleep.
Mary – 06-28-12 WY/Canada Trip – Trophy Club, TX
Ah, ‘twas the night before departure and everything is loaded, put away and ready to go – even the bed is made! Tired but excited to hit the road tomorrow morning.

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