Day 37 CCR: Laramie Layover
An easy three-hour ride brought us to Laramie where Steve and I parted paths, he heading home to Colorado and me heading for a two-day stopover at the Croonberg Ranch and good times with Linda.
About 15 miles south of Laramie, I turned onto a dirt road. No, make that a rock road. No, make that a bumpy rock road. In fact, make that a washboard, loose gravel, cows-in-the-lane, antelope-crossing-zone. bumpy rock road. I rode down it at 15 miles per hour for about four and a half miles. Then it got worse.
If you look up Croonberg Trail on Google Maps, it will actually show up. I think trail is pretty descriptive. I cut my speed from 15 to 5 miles an hour, weave around curious calves standing on the two-track trail, look for a path with the smallest rocks and putt my way for an additional mile and a half. But that only brings me to a locked gate, for which I don’t have the combination. Linda had texted me the combination, but since I was riding I didn’t get the text. So I called her and, fortunately, her phone had at least one bar wherever she was on the 8,000-acre ranch because she answered and gave me the combination. I open the gate and it was only a quarter mile more to the house. I made it.
I describe the roads to her house in painful detail so that everyone knows that I like spending time with Linda so much that I would put my bike through such torture.
Marilyn and I have been friends with Linda since our years in Wyoming in the 1980s. There’s no way I can be anywhere near Wyoming and not make a stop to see her. Over the years, as I travelled western roads, I’ve made many stops.
About 30 minutes after I got to the house and surprised her 89-year-old mother who didn’t know I was coming, Linda and her friend Doug returned from the fields and we had our anticipated reunion. Doug fixed a great lunch of scallops and mushrooms, and then it was back to work. Because, you see, work never stops on the ranch. She currently runs about 150 pair of visiting cattle (a pair equals a cow and calf) but her main business is hay. While the hay grows slowly in the drought-stricken Wyoming fields, there is fencing to fix, cattle to move, equipment to maintain and ditches to clear. There’s always something waiting to be done.
Whenever I’m on the ranch I try to find some way to to help The last time I visited in 2019, for example, I drove a tractor with a hay rake, raking fresh cut hay into long, neat rows. Well, they were supposed to be neat, but my equipment operating skills left something to be desired. I did well enough, though, that I think she would let me do it again if I was here in July and August during haying season.
Today’s afternoon task was changing the oil in farm trucks and tractors. You can’t just drive these tractors to the nearest Jiffy Lube for an oil change. You do it yourself, and that’s what Doug and Linda did while I did my best to stay out of the way. Today, they finished two trucks and two tractors. Tomorrow will be spent finishing two other larger tractors and several other miscellaneous pieces of haying equipment that I can’t begin to name, unless “haying thingy” is a name.
While today wasn’t terribly warm, it was warm enough to go to the Little Laramie River behind Linda’s house after the oil changes were done. We waded in the cool, clear water and threw rocks for the dogs to chase but never retrieve. It was a nice end to my first half-day on the ranch.
For decades Linda and I have a tradition of doing tequila-shots when we get together. So tonight we continued that tradition with a shot of the best tequila ever. “Agavero” by name. Stored in the freezer. I’m getting a bottle when I get back home. We had our toast. And then she poured one more. And then one more. And we talked and told stories and had a wonderful time. Time on Croonberg Ranch is always memorable.
Tomorrow will bring more work, more laughter and more memories.