I set off to return the car just after 08:00 and left Rosina cleaning up and preparing us for the road. I hadn’t organised a lift back from the car hire office at the other end of Custer town, as I felt it would have been rather cheeky to have asked the campground owners, I’d just have to get a taxi back. I've no idea how many miles we had driven over the past five days, but several hundred I’m sure.
A notice on the car hire office door said they didn’t open until 09:00, and it was then only 08:20 which meant I’d be wasting 40 minutes on the very day I didn’t want to be hanging around. I was keen to get on the road as we had quite a few miles to travel. Luckily there was a man outside who told me he was waiting to pick up a hire truck and that he had contacted the owners and they were coming down at 08:30 to open up and let him have it early. This was fortunate for me and when they opened up I was very kindly offered a lift back to the campground by the manager. This saved me both time and the price of a taxi.
On leaving the campsite we drove the RV down to the campground office to book out and say goodbye to Elaine and her husband. Unfortunately there was a note on the door saying they were out for a while, and as we didn’t have time to hang around we hit the road.
Along Custer Main Street I had to apply the brakes a bit firmly for a pedestrian, this was followed by a crashing sound. Whilst I carried on driving The Chef carefully went back to check. It turns out it was a forward facing drawer in the bedroom which had not been locked properly and had shot out of its runners, crashed on to the floor and deposited its contents everywhere. In the meantime I had missed the turning we wanted out of town resulting in a ‘U’ turn further down the road and 15 wasted miles. The original plan was for us to drive all the way to Denver today, but as we’re two days ahead of schedule again, and hoping to do more wild camping on the way back to Fort Worth, we left it flexible.
After leaving Custer we soon passed through Wind Cave National Park where there were quite a lot of bison roaming freely in both senses of the word, in that there were no fences and we didn’t have to pay to see them. Then on through Hot Springs, which was quite an elegant little place, before a long journey to reach I25, the interstate which runs just east of the Rockies and was to take us quite a long way south on our return journey.
Just north of Cheyenne, Wyoming, we passed Warren Air Force Base; which housed lots of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM’s) in underground silos during the Cold War.
We carried on south until reaching a Rest Area at Fort Collins where we decided to park for the night, sharing it with truckers, but trying to keep our distance from them because of the noise their engines make during the night. We had travelled something like 340 miles and wrestled with crosswinds on the interstate for much of the day.
Our evening meal was fish & chips, using a bag of steak chips we bought a couple of weeks ago and two pieces of fish we had put in a takeout bag at a restaurant back in Williams, Arizona, weeks ago, and had put in the freezer, no mushy peas though, they don’t even have processed peas over here. We fired up the generator to charge everything up and to make sure the 6 gallons of hot water we have in the furnace was nice and hot ready for our morning showers.
At about 22:45 the wind got up, and I mean got up. It was shaking us around quite a lot as we were taking the brunt of it on the side of the vehicle, I got out of bed and staggered in to the driving seat and re-parked amongst the truckers for protection. So I suppose they do have their uses, though they didn’t cure the rattle from the skylight above our bed.
LOCATION TONIGHT: Rest Area, Fort Collins, off I25 (GPS: N40.564018 W105.006867)