Wednesday, August 3. I decided I had better work in the morning since I only worked a week and a half since Girls’ Camp. At 12:30, I left and picked up my dad, younger sister NJ, and niece Bubba. By 1:30 we were on our way to start our adventure. Since we were getting a late start, our first goal was to get to Casper which is just a little less than halfway to Mt Rushmore. And because Casper was just a pit-stop and not our destination, I decided to skimp on the boarding expense.
We stayed at Motel 6. My first impression of our motel was the front desk clerk sporting a black eye. “That’s comforting,” I thought. Our room was tiny and the reason it was so cheap was immediately apparent. There were no brochures to welcome us to Casper or even the hotel. We also didn’t enjoy the luxury of a microwave, tv guide, or even clock. Internet service would cost extra, hence the late post. That was okay because it all added to the adventure, and also because it was only for one night. We unloaded the car and quickly decided a whole evening in that tiny room with four people would not be pleasant. So, we decided to go get something to eat and sight-see Casper.
No one could decide on where to eat so we headed down the road looking for a restaurant. My rule for eating while on vacation is to eat at places not available in my hometown. So, no McDonald’s, Burger Kings, KFC’s, etc. Just down the road from our motel a family dining establishment caught our eye. The name, “Casper’s” wasn’t original but under the name it promised, “Good times. Good food.” It wouldn’t lie or exaggerate, right? We pulled into the parking lot and on the marquee I saw another promise, “We are here when your ready.”
“I don’t know if that’s a good indicator of this place,” I said. “They aren’t using good grammar.”
Everyone laughed at me. Next to the door was a cup hanging outside the garbage and dried pop spilled down the side. Another bad indicator.
For some reason none of us can now explain, we persevered. The hostess/waitress asked us if we preferred smoking or non-smoking.
“Non,” Bubba and I said in unison. However, Bubba’s tone came out a bit snooty.
The hostess sized her up three times while getting our stained menus. After showing us to our table, I whispered to Bubba, “I’d be careful about your drink. I think there might be some extra seasoning in it.”
We soon appreciated the no-smoking laws in our hometown as the smoke from the smoking section wafted over to us. But we still hung in there. A host/waiter/busboy brought the bill to the guy in the booth next to us. “Has anyone ever told you that you look like Steve Zahn?” He asked the lone diner.
“No,” the customer smiled politely and laughed. “I’ve never heard that.”
“Really?” the waiter said while his pants where quite low and we had an excellent view of his maroon Hanes. “You’re, like, a dead ringer for him. Good job!”
Our food was good enough. Though dad used a napkin to pick up the salt shaker and didn’t use any ketchup because he didn’t want to touch the bottle. We laughed at him but when we got out to the car each of used the hand sanitizer.
It was still early when we left the restaurant but we had no idea what to do in Casper. So we decided to drive around and see if we could find anything worth doing. We drove through downtown and the vibe I got was that Casper is a small town wanting to be a city. I even started a little bed-time story about it but nobody seemed interested in it. The town has invested in a host of statues and sculptures. Some appropriate, others just odd. A huge statue of a fisherman in the middle of the North Platte River piqued our curiosity and we pulled over to get a closer look.
Once back at our motel we settled in for the night. We could put up with our cramped quarters for one night because our true adventure would take place the next day.