Manderson, Wyoming At 730 in the morning the sun is just cresting the tall cottonwood trees on the other side of the levee down to the Nowood River on our friend’s property. She has three acres that run wild on the levee side of her land and two on the front side with part in the City of Manderson and part in the county. She jokes that her house “is THE suburb” of Manderson.
Manderson is a small Wyoming town, roughly on the route of the old Bridger Trail going west through this area. Jim Bridger was the fabled trapper, frontiersman, guide, and scout who is legendary to almost anyone with dust on their boots. Driving south as we crossed from Montana to Wyoming on the state highway we had passed over a small town carrying his name, a Bridger Creek, and state historical landmarks on the trail. Bridger’s name is also on national forests, mountain passes, and peaks in Wyoming as well. We were following his footsteps it seemed.
Saying Manderson is small is almost an exaggeration. How a town that has disagreeing population signs on either side varying between 108 and 116 has a fire department and a 2-person police force is a mystery we’ll sort out in time. The police off days are Wednesday and Thursday, so we were told to obey the signs carefully on the other days, since this is a small patch and the force is looking for business. We got to meet the fire people within an hour after our arrival, when first they came roaring past, and later stopped to visit. Turned out their operation is hardly a half-mile away, so they didn’t have to travel far to get here. It also turned out that they were roaring up and down the highway because some neighbor had called us in as an accident on the road.
We weren’t, but we could understand why they might think so. Getting through the back gate into our friends property involved a pretty sharp turn and fairly steep drop from the road to land, so the rear of the Airstream was dragging in the dirt and had wedged us half-in and half-out of her property, like a giant silver whale beached on the foot tall dry grass. There was also no room for error for us, since one of the fence posts and the barbwire gate could rip the trailer up if we didn’t clear it in the millimeters we were allowed. Once again we were jacking up the trailer to realign the truck and remove the sway bars now packed tight in the dirt. The maneuver ended up involving two jacks, one for the trailer and one to remove the first jack! Then rehitching the truck and putting it in four-wheel drive, it wasn’t so much a matter of rocking back and forth which would have worked if only the truck was stuck, but sidling left and right by inches, and widening the arc of our turn to the left, until we cleared the back end and narrowly squeezed by the fence.
From there we felt we were home free, except of course needing to back the trailer into a narrow space behind the garage between two trees. By the time we were done, I finally felt like I had the hang of steering the trailer and why turning the wheel right would move the trailer to the left and vice versa. Chaco and I may have taken vacation days to do all of this, but there was no question this had been six days of steady, hard, and stressful work, so once we unhitched the truck from the trailer to celebrate, we took the hitch off, and just sat down to look around and enjoy the moment.