Day 16 – Travel as I Have Envisioned It Could Be
Throughout our trip, we planned our daily distance goal to allow for contingencies—weather, traffic, or distractions (really attractions!). Moorcroft was selected as today’s destination for two reason: (1) it would position us for an easy drive to Devils Tower National Monument, and (2) we were told by other campers that the Coffee Cup truck stop in Moorcroft was camper friendly and would let us stay there overnight.
We had no pre-planned stops along the route, but that does not stop us from finding points of interest.
Let me digress for a minute. In our (my) original planning, I was going to go to Davis Monthan Airbase in Tuscon, Arizona to see the military aircraft boneyard there and PIMA Air Museum. Upon close inspection, I realized that would be a three-day trip from Bryce Canyon—more time than I had anticipated, so my trip was “shelved.”
Now, back to our story.
About an hour out of Cody, traveling along US 20, I spotted an airport off to the left. Then I realized I was looking at a surplus aircraft storage site (boneyard). Soon after that we saw signs for “The Museum of Flight and Aerial Firefighting.” We turned into the museum’s parking lot, where I could see the boneyard with many aircraft that included both civil airliners and military aircraft. The stored aircraft were located on the far side of the local airport.
We were welcomed to the museum by the attendants who gave us a quick rundown on the museum and also mentioned that the boneyard was not open to visitors.
The museum building, a full-sized single-wide mobile home structure, is packed with photos, documents, and aircraft parts and other artifacts. A door at the far end opened onto the flight line where they have several aircraft. All of the aircraft were WWII era planes that had been converted to firefighting duties. Several of the airplanes were open to tour.
After we left the airport, we drove through Bighorn National Forest where we found a turnout to park and explore a bridge across a fast-moving stream. It was a pleasant rest stop with photographic opportunities.
It was near hear that I realized that the park service had posted signs describing the rock formations seen along the route, including their approximate ages.
We had one more mountain to cross, topping out at more than 9,000 feet. We encountered steep climbs and descents, hairpin turns, and a variety of marvelous vistas.
It was on the descending side of the mountain that we spotted our first moose of the trip. A bull moose was grazing not far from the road. I keep the camera handy for just such opportunities. As we continued we saw mule deer and another moose—this time a female. The challenge with photographing grazing animals is that most of the time, their heads are down in the grass.
We arrived at the Coffee Cup truck stop in Moorcroft, Wyoming late in the afternoon, topped of the fuel and had dinner at their restaurant. We checked at the fuel counter about parking overnight. They assured us it would be okay and to find a spot where we would be comfortable.
This was our first boondocking experience, and it worked out nicely. Boondocking is not the same as checking into a camp ground. You are expected to stay with your camper. In addition to some truck stops, other businesses allow overnight parking including some Walmart stores and others like Bass Pro Shops. Always check with the business before just parking for the night.
Oh, and I still have to plan that trip to PIMA Air Museum and the military aircraft boneyard.
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