Day 24 - Tue 2 May 06
A bit of a sleep in today, I did breakfast at the lodge restaurant, it's almost impossible to have breakfast in the States without sugar - I wanted Cornflakes, but all they had was Frosties. Packed up and drove to J131 on the I90, filled up with petrol at the BP gas station. The woman didn't want my credit card first! Shock! Everywhere else you have you have to hand over a card before you can pump gas. The Minuteman site is in the car park of the BP station, and is just a collection of portacabins, but the park rangers are very friendly. It's the latest NPS site, so I guess they are still finding their feet. I looked around but couldn't see any other buildings near by. When the Ranger said, "Okay, follow me I'll be in the red car" the penny dropped that we were no where near the actual site!
A 10 mile drive down the Interstate took us to a rather non descript building surrounded by a wire fence. The NPS ranger stopped and opened the gate and let us all drive in. We had arrived! This building was the launch control centre for 15 Titian missiles in silos in the area. The topside building held all the security personnel who ensured that no unauthorised persons got to the launch centre buried 30 feet down, and surrounded by concrete.
The accommodation was rather basic, people top side were on duty for three days, and off for three. The guys downstairs 'Missiliers' were on for 24hrs and then off for 24hrs. We went down in the lift, through a huge blast door and into the launch centre itself, which is inside a huge sphere balanced on four massive shock absorbers. This was to protect the centre in case a nuclear bomb was dropped near by the theory was that it would not jolt anything..
The rangers talk was all about the logistics of what went on here, no really about the politics or effects of dropping a bomb.
Then we got in the cars again, and headed out to a silo site, but the South Dakota wind had really picked up by now, and you couldn't hear a word that the ranger said. So he abandoned the talk, and we just peered down at the missile below. A shame, but it just goes to prove that Mother Nature rules.
The rest of the day was spent driving back towards Denver. I gave up at Fort Collins about 80 miles north of Denver as a thunderstorm filled the sky and I pulled into a Ramada. The hotel is based around an indoor swimming pool. Kinda Weird. Anyway, my first room you couldn't lock the door and stank of smoke, so I headed back to Reception, to swap to another room. The trouble was, the next room already had someone in it. The third attempt got me a big room, right by the pool. I got a meal at the hotel restaurant and was served by an Avril Lavigne look-a-like.
NextView my route through the USA here