America’s Emptiest Highways

June 5, 2013

Today’s entry is going to really make me seem crazy. You see, I not only had planned to go to the Black Hills with my friends from Chicago, but I also enrolled in a Leadership Training Course with the Adventure Cycling Association in Missoula, MT. This course goes from Thursday through Sunday (June 6-9). After a lot of figuring, my plan for today ended up being to ride with my friend back from the Black Hills to Cheyenne, WY, where I met up with my father-in-law, who ended up deciding to accompany me on the trip to Missoula. We would get as far along on this journey as possible today, and get an early start for Missoula tomorrow. I need to be in Missoula by 4 PM tomorrow.

So, I ended up spending most of today in a car. We started early on, just after 7:00, getting from Custer, SD to Cheyenne, WY by around 11:30. Then, after some lunch, and some additional prep, we took off from Cheyenne at 1:30 P.M. In the end, we made it as far as Hardin, MT, which is the first real town you encounter after the border.

My main activity today really was seeing some new places, that I have never seen before, and experiencing some of the quietest places in the country. I am talking about places where very few people live. You will go over 30 miles between town on some stretches, with the towns you do experience being barely a couple of thousand people. These are places that over 95% of Americans will never experience. And, the solitude of some of these places is something that many of us will also never experience. A good portion of the U.S. population live in or around large cities, and vacation to places where many others also vacation, like Disney World, or the Wisconsin Dells. Really, it is strange got think about how many people really never get away from the crowd.

The highlights of my drive are as follows.

In Eastern Wyoming, most of the area was desolate, as previously mentioned. The main feature the stuck out at me was a rock formation just South of Torrington that literally looked like it was giving me the middle finger! Wow!

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In the area around Casper it was easy to see the northern parts of the Laramie Mountain Range, however, it is important to note that none of these peaks are above the tree line.

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After Casper, there was a break in the action with respect to mountain ranges.

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I got to the end of Interstate 25, and returned to the road that had dominated not of my week already, interstate 90.

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Sheridan and the Bighorn Mountains. This place is legit. Sheridan has a surprisingly full downtown for its size. It has a fairly long stretch of road that feels like a legitimate downtown, along a Main Street. I have to say I was way more impressed than I expected. And the views of the Bighorn Mountains, both from within town and outside of town were quite breathtaking. Overall, it was a pretty nice experience.

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Hitting the Montana border (New State)! And then, I actually drove through an Indian Reservation. It seemed odd to me that an interstate highway would actually run right through a reservation, but I-90 runs through the Crowe Indian Reservation. The town of Harden is where the road exits the reservation, and probably why the Montana Welcoe center is 50 miles into the state.

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