“The world is too dangerous for anything but truth and too small for anything but love. ~ William Sloan Coffin
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People in Rhode Island are always saying, “What a small state we live in.” One, because geographically it is the smallest state but, more so, they say it because when you live in such a small area everyone knows everyone, someone you know probably knows someone else you know. If you talk to a stranger on the street in “Little Rhody” he/she will probably know someone you know. It’s like one large village – you can’t keep secrets in Rhode Island.
Well, I also say we live in a small world. The more I travel, the smaller this globe seems to become. Scientific progress in travel and communications means our network of friends can now span greater distances making our social distances seem much smaller. Case in point…

Saturday, after mozying out of the town of Deadwood, South Dakota, I traveled Highway 90 West to get to Devil’s Tower National Monument in Wyoming. I stopped at a rest stop for a Coke and a smile. When I returned to my vehicle I saw a car with Rhode Island plates parked next to mine, the only two cars in this parking lot, here in the middle of Nowhere, Wyoming! This was the only Rhode Island car I’d seen since leaving my home state forty days ago on this Great American Road Trip. What are the odds?!
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Then I met Heidi, the driver of the vehicle.
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As it turned out the car wasn’t hers, instead she was delivering the car to Portland, Oregon. Curt Columbus, the Artistic Director of Trinity Repertory Theatre in Rhode Island was donating the car to his nephew. Heidi, who had some free time, offered to drive his car to Oregon.
I know Curt! I’ve met him a few times, I’ve seen a number of his plays at Trinity such as The Merchant of Venice, The Odd Couple, The Receptionist, The Cherry Orchard and Our Town when I was a season subscriber at Trinity Rep. I also know most of the actors associated with the Tony Award-winning Trinity Rep. So here I am meeting Heidi, at a desolate rest stop in Wyoming, who also knows all of the same people because she is also a director of plays – Treva and I saw her production of Middletown at the Brown/Trinity Consortium two years ago! That is what I mean when I say it’s a small world!
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So we chatted for a while, took a few pictures and then said farewell. An hour later, with Devil’s Tower National Monument now in full view, I pulled to the side of the road where some other tourists had decided this was a good place to photograph this majestic monolith…


…and there was that silver car again with the Rhode Island license plates and there was my new friend Heidi snapping pictures of Devil’s Tower. What a coincidence!

After chatting again we decided to take a hike together around Devil’s Tower…
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Before we reached the tower we visited a Prairie Dog town. The last Prairie Dogs I visited, back in South Dakota, were too skittish to approach me; these Wyoming Black-tailed Prairie Dogs were clearly accustomed to humans…

Then we hiked around Devil’s Tower…
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It’s a 1.3 mile hike around the base of the 867-foot high columnar monolith that many American Indian tribes consider sacred ground. Film director Steven Spielberg made Devil’s Tower famous in his ground-breaking film, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which many film critics include on their list of top-ten movies of all time. On this particular Saturday it was a sunny 76°, which attracted dozens of rock climbers to this daunting vertical challenge.

We said goodbye after an enjoyable hike. Heidi had a schedule to keep and so went north to Billings, Montana and I, who was gallivanting around America, went west to explore Wyoming.
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I stopped at a rest stop between Gillette and Buffalo. There I met Jim, the 75 year-old resident caretaker of the rest area who was going to retire in three weeks. We talked for a half an hour or so. When I asked him if I could “boondock” there in the parking lot he just pointed to an abandoned campground past a line of trees. “Help yourself”, he said.
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So I camped at an unused campground along the Upper Powder River and fell asleep thinking about what a great day it was and what small world we live in.

I hope your travels make the world seem smaller and your friends (like Heidi) make your life seem larger.

The gam continues…

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