We seriously considered staying longer in the attempt to spy even more cool factory Frankenstein creatures, but at that point we were already way behind schedule and desperately needed to leave. On the way out of the summit parking lot we gave a friendly wave to the GM guys, who responded with a vulgar "you're number one" hand gesture. Nice professionalism, guys. As we descended the mountain, it began to rain, allowing Kiwi to realize his mitzvah of the day: he offered a ride to two young hikers who had climbed the mountain starting at 4:50 a.m. and finally summitted to skies strobed by increasingly frequent bolts of lightning. The cost of the ride down to their SUV was an interrogation of their true opinions of the H2.
Though Kiwi wanted to take a tour of the U.S. Mint in Denver, it was decided that rolling north on Highway 25 towards Cheyenne, Wyoming, would be a more prudent choice. At a food-and-fuel stop in Cheyenne the H2 was surrounded by a herd of biker guys returning from the annual Sturgis Rally held in Sturgis, South Dakota. Initially the bruiser-looking Harley riders absolutely hated the H2, but after letting them crawl in, out, and over the Hummer, their opinions began to change. By the time we left, the crowd actually took a liking to our copper-colored ride as evidenced by one tattooed rider responding, "That's one helluva rig."
As we again traveled north on I-25 the skies opened up and turned our once-speedy adventure into a slow, rain-soaked crawl. Silver-dollar-sized raindrops splashed off the H2's cracked windshield, and we were treated to an absolutely amazing display of lightning and thunder accosting the nearby hills like warring Greek gods. The Hummer's tall, wide sides were regularly blasted by sizable wind gusts generated from the storm, but the weighty H2's on-road handling remained relatively undisturbed.
After hours of slow, eye-straining travel, we finally arrived at our destination -- Devils Tower -- to discover that every motel roomas sold out thanks to the annual Sturgis Rally. As our hula-skirted, bobble-bellied companion Homer Simpson would say, "D'oh!" After scouting out room availability in several nearby towns (with no luck, of course), we were told to go far out of our way to the town of Gillette where rooms would certainly be available.
Driving more than hour west in search of lodging, we learned that Gillette (and other nearby towns) were also completely sold out. We were flat out of luck. Sensing our pathetic situation, the friendly desk lady at the Holiday Inn Express took pity on us and slipped us a key card to the hotel's business center so we could write our Web update story, edit our photos, and check e-mails. Once again, at 2:30am, the technology demons conspired against us by confounding our efforts to send our story and photos to Los Angeles for posting online. It took an hour's worth of system sleuthing to transfer images and properly upload the "Leg Two, Day 3" content. As evidenced by this daily update, we finally got the material sent.
Dejected and weary, we lifted our spirits and energy level with a spicy microwave burrito chow-fest at a local gas station. In between bouts of heartburn, we reluctantly decided to head back to Devils Tower to spend the night--napping on the infinitely adjustable H2 front seats. Thoroughly exhausted, we arrived in town at 4:40 a.m. and scouted out a desolate sleep-worthy dirt road near the ominous monolith made famous in the film "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." Like a dog circling before lying down, a babbling and obviously sleep-deprived Stick Boy endlessly explored a bumpy dirt patch in search of the perfect sleeping spot. Was the Devils Tower playing mind games with young Brian, or was he just in a state of super stuper? Either way, we were both asleep before the H2's interior dome light faded out.