I packed and waited for it to get dark. Of course, a train went by at 7pm, far too early to run into town. With at least four to six hours between trains, by my guess, I’d have to wait for the next one for it to be dark enough. Unfortunately the longer I waited the brighter and higher the moon would be.
I decided to unpack my sleeping bag and take a nap until the next train went through. And I almost missed it. I was in the middle of a dream and wasn’t sure if it had really gone by or not. More of the same ducking and dodging traffic headlights, my head on a swivel, all while brightly lit by the moon this time. Thankfully there were no parked trucks along the road and at 1:30am there was less traffic.
It took 38 minutes to reach the parked train cars for a break to dry off, then another twenty or so minutes to the bridge over the tracks on the south side of town. There I unrolled my sleeping bag and caught another three-hour nap in the dirt and god knows what kind of feces.
In town I sold some more bitcoin so that I’d have money for a bus ticket to Denver. “If I can get to Casper,” I thought. Then I made a sign at the picnic area just south of Wedding of the Waters. “Shoshoni,” it said, then in smaller print, “Please!”
Within five minutes I had a ride.
Mary Ann and her dog, on the way to Idaho for a doctors checkup and to visit a friend. She’s older but used to ski. From the sound of it, she has broken both legs and numerous other bones. She’s worried that a recent surgery will mean that she can’t take care of her garden and yard this year. “I’m a smoker so things aren’t healing as fast as they should,” she told me.
She dropped me off at the gas station in Shoshoni where I wrote on the back of the cardboard sign saying, “Casper, please.” Then I walked out to what looked like the edge of town, it was hard to tell, where it looked like a car would have plenty of room to pull over. Just under 20 minutes later Jerimiah pulls over to give me a ride all the way to Casper. I think he just needed someone to talk to, but he mentions something about building a stairway to heaven. It’s a story about his uncle, but by the way he said it I suspect that was his motivation.
He showed me the bus station in Casper, which I already knew and had told him twice, then he dropped me off at the library. He was just trying to be hospitable.
130 miles in three hours, was that a personal hitchhiking record?
The plan was to buy bus tickets online and print them at the library. But it was Good Friday, the Friday before Easter, so the library was closed.
I walked down to the bus station, which was also closed, and the schedule on the wall said they open at 4:30pm. But it also said that the only bus south is the one at 10:45am.
A double-check online seemed to confirm this.
Stuck in Casper for the night with nowhere to go.
For the lack of another set of hands to lift that ladder I would never know how close I was to finding Forrest Fenn’s treasure.
I had failed.
Not because I wasn’t smart enough or willing to take the risk. But because I didn’t have a single friend to join me on my adventures.
Camping along the Platte River Greenway, I don’t think I ever felt more alone.
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