Archive for July, 2010

The Cowboy State

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

After reenergizing for a little more than a week in the sunshine and drying ourselves out in Denver’s low humidity, we went to the International Rally in Gillette, Wyoming.

If you’ve ever been to a WBCCI rally, then you know about the “bullpen” and parking. For years now, we’ve rolled into the rally, more than a little flustered by traffic and from driving in an unfamiliar town, only to be greeted by a sour, impatient and inflexible parking committee person. Of course, this type of welcome has been, to some small degree at least, responsible for the continuing loss of members and money, BUT I must say, something has changed, and that something is BIG. The change is attitude.

We arrived at the CAM-PLEX rally site at 4:02 p.m. fully prepared, mentally, to spend the night in the bullpen because parking is from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and in the past, those were the hours to the exact minute. To our surprise, we were greeted by friendly, welcoming volunteers who, despite their shift being over, insisted on taking us to our parking area. Being greeted by friendly and patient fellow Airstreamers after a long drive sets a positive tone for the entire rally. As a result, we really enjoyed ourselves.

The Windmill campground is aptly named.

In fact, I didn’t hear one complaint from anyone, not even about the wind – which is a Wyoming constant – or the location. The people in Gillette were also warm and welcoming. We’d been warned that the ambiance of Gillette was just a grade above what you might find at a truck stop, but that is a gross misrepresentation, and again, attitude makes the difference.

Gillette was excited to have us and the CAM-PLEX officials knocked themselves out to accommodate us. Here’s a few of our recommendations if you visit:

Breanna’s Bakery, 208 South Gillette Avenue, has the biggest, most humongous good tasting donuts I’ve ever seen anywhere, and take it from me, a retired cop, I know my donuts! These whoppers are as big around as a dinner plate and are surprisingly inexpensive. When I brought a large box of them back to the trailer for breakfast, Patrice questioned why I’d buy so many for just us. I teased her by saying there were only two and that the shop only had boxes to put them in. Then I opened the box to show her. If only I’d had my camera ready to catch her expression.

Humphrey’s Bar and Grill, 408 West Juniper, we split the “Belly Bustin’ Ribeye” dinner simply because one portion is enough for two. Yes, Wyoming does know how to cook beef, but the side of rice and red beans was a surprise. It was a thick Jambalaya served on rice. Who’d guess that there’s good Cajun here? Great food and atmosphere, we highly recommend it.

Black Thunder Coal Mine. This mine is the largest open pit coal mine in the United States. If you think Breanna’s donuts are big, wait until you see the truck tires used here.

Devil’s Tower
I wonder how many pictures have been taken of Bear Lodge (aka Devil’s Tower)? Here’s one of my own.

Devils Tower National Monument near Sundance, WY. Be sure to take the time to at least walk around the base of the tower. Do look away from the tower every now and then, because there is wildlife living in the area.

Butterscotch Lodgepole
The bark of the Lodgepole Pine smells like butterscotch!
Look behind you while exploring… you never know what you might see.

Finally, the last night of the rally is July 4th and the CAM-PLEX was ground zero for the county fireworks display. This was simply the best seat we’ve ever had in our lives. It was positively BRILLIANT and a perfect end to a very nice rally.

The night of the 4th was actually cold and we bundled up under blankets to bask under the thunder of a continuous one hour show.

About the Author

Hi, my name is Forrest McClure. I've been writing for the magazine since its inception. My wife and I travel with our 1966 20' Globe Trotter or our 1986 32' Excella. So, my primary interest is vintage travel trailers.