June 28, 2013
Gillette, WYSpent the last two days driving south out of Montana and then south and east across northeastern Wyoming to Gillette.
Wednesday we again stopped at Little Bighorn Battlefield National Historic Monument.(Custers Last Stand). This time we unhooked the Suzuki and drove the length of the five mile road that goes to Reno's battle area and then points out the sequence of events leading to the end of Custer and his men.
This guy was lounging about 10 feet from me as I got Carbus ready to travel in small RV park in north central Montana
We arrived in Gillette about noon Thursday. First stop was a quick lube place that has a coffee and baked goods shop attached. Have a bearclaw and do some wifi while you wait for your cars oil change. We wern't into goodies but the oil and lube was quick. Drove right in and drove out 15 minutes later. Didn't even have to unhook the car. Just drove everything right over the pit. Carbus is now good for another 3000 miles. Next stop Flying J to top off propane and fill both vehicles with gas. Then a first for us - we parked in the far reaches of a Walmart parking lot to spend the night. Did some minor shopping there and walked several blocks exploring stores in the area. We did not want to run the generator to cook dinner so we we had our first dinner out of the trip. Mexican of course. Tiny little place that served very tasty food in HUGE proportions. Prices were lower than we have seen in quite a while and the service was speedy. A bit removed from main part of town but the locals know about it. Placd was packed with people waiting. We lucked out and walked in to the last open table for the duration of our meal.
This morning we did early check-in for the Escapde. Set up camp, had lunch, and then went on a tour of an open pit coal mine. Free bus tour provided by the mine. Our driver happened to work at the mine a couple years earlier and gave a very good description of the process and was able to find areas where we could see most of the pit coal mining operations real time. Pretty cool.
Each tire costs over $30000
Bucket used on older shovels. Holds 23 cubic yards in one scoop.
Bucket on todays shovels holds 52 cubic yards.
Not unusual to find petrified wood associated with coal deposits.
Truck on right dumping coal. Truck on left backing in to dump.
Remember picture above where Sue didn't even reach center of tire. Some perspective as to how big these trucks are.
Coal being loaded into coal cars. Coal comes out of a chute just behind dust area on silver bar above car. Trains are 120 cars long +/-. Train never stops. Rolls through fill tower @ .6 mph with chute closing between cars. Takes 45 sec. to fill a car.
These machines are huge.
Literally an endless process. Mine operates 24/7, 365 1/4 days a year.
Work shifts are 12 hours long. Scheduling is such that everyone works days and nights and works about 14 days a month.