As some of you must have noticed, S has a beard! He's never had a beard.....It started from just not wanting to shave, to not wanting to waste water in the RV to shave, and now, knowing we were heading to Gillette, to wanting to wait and shave in Gillette! Not that this Gillette has anything to do with the whole shaving industry, but he had it fixed in his head. And as some of you already know, when he has something fixed in his head, it stays there.
Anyway, THAT was our excitement about arriving in this town. That's it. Little did we know.....
Backing up here a bit, there was one bit of info regarding our drive I forgot to mention previously: The great spill!
We were about an hour away from Gillette and the natives were getting very restless, it was dinner time after all. So, we found a rest area and pulled over to have some dinner. In we go and start sliding out when I look down and over towards the pantry and the kid's bedroom.....There was broken glass, and worse, red sauce combined with OIL was all over the carpet.........You know panic is setting in when you don't quite know what to do first. After staring in shock for what seemed like forever, we got the kids on the couch and began mopping it all up.
Clean up took a good half hour, including blotting and scrubbing of the carpet.....The final report is that the oil actually didn't do as much lingering damage as we thought it would and the red all came out. What happened was that our pantry flew open, probably when we hit a real bumpy portion of the road, and some of the contents got shaken out and onto the floor. Crash boom bang and all....This BTW, was not the first time items went flying. Previously, our freezer apparently flew open while in transit since we came in to find most of it's contents all over the floor.....several hours later.....Yet another important newbie lesson learned here: Always stop, get out, and check the contents of the RV to make sure all's in place after hitting a rough patch!
Even after all that mess, sometimes timing is a funny thing, this is what S had to say: "You know, this RVing lifestyle is really pretty fun!" You'd think it would have the opposite effect, and no, he wasn't being sarcastic. Really :-).
So, we finally had our dinner and set off once again. Arriving in Gillette we settled into yet...another Walmart! This one was a little busier and not quite as peaceful as the one in Cody (can you use peaceful and Walmart in the same sentence??) but we managed just fine.
S being S, he started chatting up our neighbor, who was more than happy to oblige. He soon learned that Gillette is a coal gold mine! (was that a pun?) We were sitting on top of a HUGE vein of coal! This town is the second largest producer of coal in the world! And apparently, it's the more environmentally friendly stuff too.
If you're thinking right about now, ok, so why is this exciting? Well, you and I have something in common then. Can I tell you now that I don't think I've ever seen my husband get so excited about nearly anything? Really. I mean, the man was giddy! Of course, his giddiness was contagious and the boys joined right in too. They didn't need much convincing about it either. I mean, dirt, HUGE trucks, HUGE machines, HUGE holes in the ground - WHAT could be better?? What I ask you?!
Now, I have to admit, we were told the mine offers tours and the educational aspect of it all got *me* excited, but alas, the tours only ran through August so we were a no go. We would be able however to go and watch the digging and the dumping from an observation point, no tour necessary. Oh joy! We also would be able to go across town and climb on those huge trucks and such that were out there on display. OK, at least we, um, they, get some exercise in. Finally, there was also a small rock museum, that's it's name as well as it's contents, or so we thought.
Well, we had our day planned out then. Done deal. Guess we were hanging around for more than just a night. Travel plans continue to be flexible.
So, the next day turned out to be quite chilly and cloudy, but that wasn't gonna stop us. Everyone started with a smile on their faces :-)
See? Giddy I tell you! Absolutely giddy!
This thing looks like a little Tonka truck from here, but later when we saw a truck the size of ours down there next to it, well, our monstrosity looked like a toy! That thing is 3 stories high!
And this is it's wheel, one of 6.....
It costs 38,000 per wheel. That's PER wheel, not even including the truck itself yet!
Well, this is the scoop that scoops the dirt and coal out of the 'hole' and dumps it in the truck. Pardon my lack of knowledge in the technical terms department.....About 3 of these scoops fill the truck. As you can see, it can scoop us up easily! We have a humungo pick up truck btw, the biggest standard one there is, just so you have a frame of reference.....
So moving right along with our day, the museum was next. Well, it was not a plain old 'rock' display museum like we though. It was full of artifacts from the original town, obviously a mining town at it's origin and still is. Small exhibits about daily life, ranch life, mining, etc., dotted the place. And there was plenty of hands on stuff to do for the kids, it was perfect!
This one looks kind of like a painting....
This is one of the first RVs! It's a sheepherders covered wagon with all the trimmings, minus a bathroom though. It even had insulation! These wagons were also used by families vacationing in cooler spots for the summer, truly an RV.
Analyzer tried her hand at sending a telegraph using Morse Code -
This was one of the better hands on activities, the boys loved it! Obviously this was a demo of the
original general store in the town -
And this is a photo of the original store, which made me smile cause in our family we have almost the exact same photo, except with my family members in it. More specifically, my great grandfather, Grandpa Charles. I'm trying to get a hold of the picture to share with you, since it's so remarkably similar. I guess all store owners of that time stood posing in front of their goods :-).
On to our next and final stop, climbing! Finally!
What can better than large heavy equipment you can climb on?! In increasingly cold temperatures I might add......
This is one of those large collecting/dump trucks, but *smaller*. The kids were quite petrified up there!
Inventor was quite petrified up there too!
And that brought our day to an end, finally I might add :-). Our plan was to leave the next day, but the weather had other ideas....
Oooh! Almost forgot our new addition! A Big Buddy! Yes, this is exciting, believe me. We are now no longer dependent on our centralized heating system, which ended up being very expensive propane and battery wise. When S discovered how inefficient the heater system was, he went on a crusade. He found a 99.9% efficient portable indoor/outdoor propane heater that will do the job much better. He then proceeded to design and fabricate a hook up in the most ingenious and 'optimized' fashion, as only he can. Thanks for keeping us toasty warm bubby! :-)