STATS – Day: 89 | Distance: 10,280.1 miles | Location: Casper, Wyoming | Money Spent To Date – Gas: $1096.55 | Food: $1,265.88 | Play/Misc: $582.41| Lodging $1,405.51
I’m in Casper, Wyoming on the grounds of “Firefly Hackerspace”, a starter outer fringe non-profit “do-it-yourself collective” community hangout and education workspace. The space currently isn’t open to the public, but it did host several events this past year involving music concerts and movies. It is the brainchild of Lance Crain who received his Master’s in Industrial Arts (apparently there is/was such a thing) and wanted to use his skill and knowledge to keep the creativity, idea generation and craftsmanship going.
Lance is a big fan of Firefly, of Mad Maxx, and of Pirates among other things. It was his love of pirates that peaked my interest when researching wwoofing stays and experiences.
The Firefly compound looks like a junk yard. In fact IT WAS a junk yard and Lance along with his steady crew are slowly converting it into more useable space. Most of what I did during my stay was move junk from one location to another to either free up space, organize like items, or pile for further disposal (old ATM machines, toilets, tires, chunks of wood and scraps).
There is no running water either and only minimal electricity. Basically it’s both a test and a guessing game at finding electrical outlets that work. If they are not dead, or don’t shock you, you’re good. I didn’t bother and just left my phone and laptop in the car since I had no cell service anyway. Water was brought on site in big containers (200 gallon size) and was left on a truck bed out back, covered with a tarp so that the sun wouldn’t start algae growing in the water. If you needed water you’d go fill up a bucket with a hose. Simple as that. The only toilet was a porta-john just outside the garage. At night it got REALLY dark, so I used my good ole piss-bucket in my room until morning. For showers we went to the local recreation center.
One of my jobs was to help clean the room I’d be staying in so that future wwoofers would have a place to sleep. The room was in bad shape and dog poop (from a new puppy arrival named “River”) was everywhere. Lance said if we could get the room’s drywall up, that would be a success.
I didn’t spend a lot of time with Lance beyond the first day of him walking me around the compound and sharing with me about his vision.
I spent most of my time with Dutch. He ROCKS!!! He’s about 70 years old and been living on the compound in his trailer. Dutch works non-stop starting at 7am in the morning where he’ll build a fire in the living room portion of the garage, have a smoke and some breakfast. Then we’ll spend the next 9+ hours working on about 6 different projects taking smoke and soda breaks along the way and sharing some of his amazing stories with me.
From the start he told me he’s done time in San Quentin and spent 20+ years riding the rails. He said that the only way he found to stay out of trouble was to keep moving. He started riding the rails in the dead of winter and he was a “cold son-of-bitch”. He loved Portland, Oregon the best because he said it was easy to steal there. He felt that if you weren’t family or friend, you were fair game. He makes no apologies for who his is or was.
One of his personal projects is building a teepee! He fell a bunch of trees and is prepping them by stripping off the bark and then sanding them down. He’s hoping he can have it ready by Halloween, but if not it will be ready by spring/summer (whenever the snow melts in Casper). It is going to be amazing! Dutch calls me “little lady” which makes me smile. I don’t know what Firefly would do without him.
I met several other wonderful people during my stay like Alyss who was one of the first people Lance met when he first moved to Casper, and Hawkins (“Hawk”) who is one of the guys who comes to hang out from time to time working on stuff. Hawk dreams of going to India one day. He became fascinated after watching the movie “The Darjeering Limited”. I said “GO”!
Hawk came by the other night after working in a local convenience store. He wanted to share a crazy story and chill for a bit. He said that when he was ringing up a guy at the register, the guy asked to borrow a pen and paper. Hawk gave it to him and the guy wrote something down and then politely handed the pen and paper back to him saying “I’m sorry, this was as nice as I could put it.” Hawk thought maybe the guy was asking for drugs (they get those kinds of requests sometimes), but he read the paper. It said “give me all your money”. Hawk just stared at him like “is this for real dude?” Then the guy grabbed the note and the stuff he just paid for and left. Hawk called the police explaining what happened and asked them to make a couple of extra stops during the rest of the night. Then he told the next clerk to only keep $100 in the till and if anyone wanted change to say no and send them packing. Maintaining a calm presence on the exterior while panic is raging inside is pretty cool. You Go Hawk!
There was a grass fire that got out of control the day I arrived and burned down several homes in the area. One of the homes was of the local veterinarian, Doc Keith James, where he also ran his practice. Luckily all the animals were able to be rescued but nothing else. I heard from several people at Firefly what a rockin’ human he was and how he did services basically at cost for many who needed help but had little money. There is a GoFundMe link below if you would like to help the doc.
GoFundMe for Vet Doc Keith James: https://www.gofundme.com/ac66maq8
If you can’t fix what’s broken, you’ll go insane. – Max Rockatansky (Mad Max Fury Road)
Firefly Hackerspace Website: http://www.fireflyhackerspace.org/
Articles: “Rail cars that hoboes ride”– blogger about riding the rails
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