The battle began at 10:00pm. Our perfectly pitched tent suddenly became the target of hurricane-like winds. I threw our bags into each of the four corners while Ten valiantly attempted to hammer the outside pegs deeper into the sand. The wind and sand seemed to get the upperhand.

“Ten!” I yelled from inside the tent. “Should we move up to the tree line?”

“Probably!” I heard him say through the tent walls. “But I think I’ve almost got this.”

“Almost” was a rather relative term. It took a good half an hour to secure our shelter. By then, the inside of the tent was coated in a layer of sand and a steady stream of it was pouring in through the screened-in sides.

Thankfully, we were so exhausted at that point, we were able to ignore the elements and fall right to sleep.

Another day dawned. The sun rose softly over the lake and the water was serene. We seized the opportunity to shoot the first of (hopefully) many video blogs. Ten is currently editing, but I should be able to post it soon!

Our day’s goal was to reach Denver by 6:30pm. We worked backwards from there, planning out the afternoon’s destinations.

“Okay, this might be kind of random, but what if we follow the Oregon Trail for a while?” I said, tracing the route on the map. A series of smaller highways followed the Trail north and west across Nebraska.

“Sounds great,” Ten responded immediately. After a moment’s pause, he asked, “Debby, what is the Oregon Trail?”

“Wait, what?!” I exclaimed, before reigning myself in and remembering he wasn’t from the States. “It’s the route the settlers took to get to the West coast. Gold rush and all that?”

Ten looked at the route. “What’s Chimney Rock?”

My mind jumped back a decade, to the elementary school days when I spent all my time in ‘Computer Skills’ class playing The Oregon Trail Game. “Do you want to visit Chimney Rock?” the game always asked. “It will cost you 50 food”. When I answered, “Yes”, a picture of the rock formation would appear.

And here I was, suddenly faced with that same option. Only replace “50 food” with “50 miles worth of gas”. There was not a doubt in my mind, though. “Let’s hit the road!” I told Ten.

We packed up and set off. Just a short ways down the road, a blue “Historical Marker” sign alerted us of an important landmark ahead. A large marker was situated just off the road, so I pulled over and we read that the rock ahead of us was known as “Frog’s Head”. Awesome. Two miles later, we found another marker. This time, it said a battle had taken place here. We quickly realized that there were a lot of Historical Markers. And we stopped at every single one.

We’re dedicated Oregon Trailers.

At last we turned off the main highway to get an up-close look at Chimney Rock. A small museum was just off to the side of the road. The ‘free admission’ sign convinced us to stop. A sweet old lady greeted us as we stepped into the room. She claimed to have been descended from several famous excursionists (and proceeded to tell us about each one). The museum was a hodge-podge of “old stuff”: arrowheads from Native Americans, wagon axles, old military uniforms, even an old printing press. Nothing was in cases, so as we toured the collection, the lady would pick up items and hand them to us. While we were there longer than we planned, it was neat to get such a tangible taste of the history of the area.

Minutes after we got back on the road, we caught sight of the Rock. It was not nearly as prominent as I thought it would be, rising only 300 ft or so. But it was a very distinctive feature on the flat plateau. The museum nearby provided a comprehensive history of the Oregon Trail. I’m happy to tell you that Ten can give a full description of it now!

The slight detour had taken us much further north than the Interstate. To get to Denver, we realized we would have to drive southwest, directly through the corner of Wyoming.

“How about we stop in Cheyenne for lunch?” I suggested to Ten.

We were not very successful at finding a “fun” lunch spot in Cheyenne. We settled for a little Mexican joint where Ten could watch the Euro 2012. I’ve got to admit, I’ve started to enjoy watching soccer on this trip. Just a little.

The last part of the day’s drive went by quickly. When we started hitting traffic, we knew we were getting back to civilization. The mountains were a truly blessed sight. The smoke, however, was not. We had heard the forest fires were bad, but seeing huge black clouds hovering over sections of the mountaintop was a whole different story. Please be praying for the people affected by those fires. Hundreds of homes have been destroyed during these past few weeks.

Thankfully, they did not interfere with our travels. We drove through downtown Denver, arriving on the south side at precisely 6:30pm. My golf coach from Wheaton, Janet Moore, had graciously offered us a place to stay the night. It was such a treat to see her and the rest of the Moore family! After a great dinner (and another round of Fro-Yo), we watched the NBA game. *Side note: While I have been a very supportive Oklahoma fan these past few weeks, I was pleased to find out the other day that Lebron is a big reader! Apparently he’s quit watching tv and now enjoys reading books before games. He just went up about 20 points, in my book.*

Off to bed early… My tee time at Cherry Hills is set for 8:03am!

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