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7/21/96 - T+20
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7/21/96 - T+20 - Frontier Days

Today's guided tour will be of Fort Laramie Nation Park. Fort Laramie as built in the middle 1800's as an outpost to the new west. It's original purpose was to provide protection for settlers following the Oregon Trail. Later on it became the main staging point for troops disembarking to the Indian wars.

As forts go, Fort Laramie was one of the first built in the format that we now use, where the fort is actually a small city for the soldiers. Fort Laramie had no walls surrounding it. They were originally planned but the budget was never approved and it was decided that they weren't needed anyway. The center of the fort is this large parade ground. This was used for forming up the troops, inspections, and yes, parades each Sunday. Because this was the jumping off point to the wild west, the troops needed this area to form up their ranks before marching out of camp. In this picture you see the rows of buildings that surround the parade grounds. Most all of the building in the camp are built in this circle. Later on improvements were added so that there were board walks and white picket fences between the buildings and the parade grounds. In it's later years the fort was quite a comfortable place to be, well for being in the wild west that is.

Here we see inside one of the barracks of a company of cavalry soldiers. There were two companies of cavalry permanently stationed here and many others passed through on their way out west. These barracks don't look that much different from modern day barracks.

While the enlisted men stayed in the barracks, the officers has their own quarters. Most of the officers were married and brought their wives out west with them. They lived in houses built on the fort grounds for them. This picture is of "Old Bedlam" which has the distinction of being the oldest military building in Wyoming. It is one of the original buildings in Fort Laramie. It was originally used as company headquarters and for administration. Later on it was converted to housing for the bachelor officers. I guess you could say that this is the early version of the BOQ. The name "Old Bedlam" came from the many parties that the bachelor officers threw and the bedlam that could be heard coming from this house.

While the forts original purpose was to guard wagon trains, it's role in history was quickly expanded. Fort Laramie became one of the primary stops in the Pony Express. After 18 months of operation, the Pony Express was replaced by trans. continental telegraph. Fort Laramie was once again a primary location and relay station for the telegraph. It's troops were tasked with the security and repair of the telegraph wires. This monument is placed in memory of the service provided by Fort Laramie to both the Pony Express and the Telegraph.

After our tour of Fort Laramie is was back on the road and headed south. I crossed over the 41 parallel and into Colorado. I can smell California now! The GPS says we have 890 miles to home. Well that's as the crow flies but I know we can be home in 16 hours from here. I have mixed feelings about this. One the one hand, my day off in Casper left me caught up on the rest, I'm still feeling the grind of the constant travel. Sancho and I have been getting on each other's nerves lately, I think we are both getting a little burned out. Maybe we need to go and blow off some steam. Part of me is excited to be this close to home and wants to run out to the car right now and burn up those miles. The other part of me is seeing the end of the adventure and seeing it come to an end. Who knows, this is all the babbling of a tired nomad. I've heard it all becomes clear at the continental divide. I hope so. Let me know if you have any suggestions.

I've shacked up in Highlands Rancho CO at one of my dearest friends house, Kevin and Jodie. I haven't seen their son Cody in 2 years. Boy has he grown. I'd never meet their daughter, who's name I'd love to tell you but I have no idea, (Hey Mary, the name thing is getting better but it's not completely cured. I think it might be stress related.) Anyway, it's great to get together with old friends and to meet new portions of their families.

I hope you and your families are also having great days!



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