We woke up from our cow pasture adventure to a bright morning and groggily packed up our bags and got into the car. We drove all the way to Denver, where we decided to stop off for a bit and snag some java. We stopped at Stella’s Coffee shop, which was right off of Pearl street, in a great artsy neighborhood. Stella’s was great, it had an awesome atmosphere and bottomless mugs. The coffee, admittedly, was west coast style, with pretty much everything roasted dark except for a Guatemalan coffee they happened to be serving that day. We hung outside for a while and pored over various state maps, figuring out our route for the next few days-We would go to Rock Bridge, Wyoming that night. We finished our coffees and headed down the road to a local breakfast joint that served some tasty bagel sandwiches.
With coffee and bagels in our stomachs, we got back into the Juggernaut and Headed for Wyoming. The countryside was amazing along our drive, mountains, foothills and buttes all mixed together and fading in and out along Interstate 84. Most of what we said was “Wow. It’s really pretty,” or “Whoa, look over there, that’s crazy.” We had truly escaped the midwest now-we were about to be immersed in the west.
At Rock Bridge, we were confused. We couldn’t find any campsites, we hadn’t had much to eat, and we were tired of driving. We were, at this point, also unsure of how far into the unknown the TBA boys were willing to go. After my chat with the gas attendant, I decided we would drive south, to try and get to the Flaming Gorge, apparently a beautiful place with lots of campgrounds. So south we went on a tiny two lane highway which was in bad shape and looked as if not many people frequented it. After about 35 miles south, we decided to take a dirt road into the buttes (we had lost track of where the Flaming Gorge was at this point). We drove about 15 miles along this road, which was the Juggernaut’s first experience with backroads. The two of us were busy sticking our heads out the window and feeling the fresh air and yelling over blaring 60’s and 70’s rock music about how awesome this was. After a ways down, we decided it was about time to set up shop, so I guided the car off the dirt road and onto a “trail”-which is to say it was two lines of tire tracks going into the mysterious buttes. I popped the car into 4-wheel drive while Matt turned up the volume on Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild,” and we bumped along over rocks and sticks, looking like we were in an ad for the car. The small trail eventually dead-ended in a small clearing-a valley in between the massive buttes. We set up camp, started a fire in a makeshift firepit and got our Ramen and baked beans cookin’ away.
After all was said and done, we rolled out our bags under the stars in the grass, cocooned by massive silhouettes of the buttes. I felt like a cowboy, unfettered by billboards and McDonald’s, peaceful in the quiet, heavy night. It was a feeling quite unlike what I have felt before, this feeling of freedom. We were alone, without parents, without teachers, without authority. Here we were free to create our own meaning under the twinkling, massive expanse of the night sky, and it felt beautiful.