Sunday, August 6, 2017

Wyoming Road Trip.

I have just returned from a three day adventure around Wyoming. When I decided that I was going to move, I started to think about the places and things that I would never see again, as I likely would never make it back out here in the future. I put these things on a list to weigh how much they meant to me. The downside to my list was that the places I cared about were quite far away from both Laramie, and each other, however I did not want to regret not seeing them again, so off I went. I had planned on taking Georgia, which would have meant it would have been quick drive by visits, as she doesn't like to get out and hike, and it is too hot to leave her in the car. The night before I left I made arrangements with my former co-worker Jessie to stay at my house and take care of her, which left me open to do more on my trip.

Wednesday morning I headed out of Laramie towards Devil's Tower. I collect the Great American Road Trip Stickers that are given away at Welcome Centers around the state, so I stopped in Wheatland and got stickers and talked about their plans for the eclipse and what they are expecting as far as traffic. I then visited Douglas, which has a cool mini train museum with historic train cars that you can walk around inside of. I was fascinated by the sleeping car, and the dining and commuter cars were cool as well. I've never been much of a train aficionado, but I can see why people love them so after visiting this place. My next stop was Gillette, where I learned about coal mining and it was recommended I drive the Spirit Highway and visit the Vole Buffalo Jump, which was on my route because of the Welcome Center in Beulah. I went round that way first to make sure I got there before they closed. The Vole Buffalo Jump was a good historical stop, and I am glad that I went there and learned about it. When I got to Devil's Tower, I regretted not spending the night here, as it was even more majestic than I had remembered. It's just a big rock formation, but it is so much more, and I think I really cool just look at it forever. I laid back on a big flat rock at the base and stared up for longer than I had intended before hitting the road again on my way to Buffalo.

Having planned my trip to have Georgia, I had planned on being in Buffalo for dinner, and wanted to spend time at Mishap Brewery, which belongs to my friend Emily's brother. I did not make it into town until 9pm, and all but one restaurant was closed for the night. I had dinner there and then went back to the Indian Campground where I'd rented a cabin for the night. Harold at Indian Campground is wonderful, and I would recommend staying there without hesitation. He remembered me from two years ago, and that I worked for Christa, which is how I heard about them in the first place. They've also got a more than decent shop with knick-knacks and souvenirs galore.

Thursday morning I got up and went to the visitor's center where I chatted with the lady that works there for way longer than I had planned. She's from Arkansas, and we talked about the weather and history, Longmire, and the stickers that I was collecting. After that I had breakfast at the Busy Bee Cafe. It's next door to The Occidental Hotel, and is mentioned on the Longmire TV show, based on the Longmire books by Craig Johnson. The author is from Buffalo, and his fictional town is based on the city of Buffalo. It really is a lovely place with lots of history. I had just finished breakfast and was wandering through the Occidental again when Emily texted that she was at the brewery if I wanted to stop by. I was about 60 feet from there, so I quickly found a geocache that was right next door practically, and popped in to see her. She gave me a tour and showed me how everything works in the beer making process. Mishap Brewery is a darling business and is just the kind of place that I would enjoy spending time in after work.

I left Buffalo right about 11am, and headed to Thermopolis. There was crazy fog all the way from Buffalo to the highest point of the Bighorn Mountains, but the rest of the drive was pretty clear, through Ten Sleep (where I have previously found a geocache in the back room of a bar – it was a once in a lifetime find, that's for sure), and into Thermopolis. My first stop was the visitor's center where I got my stickers and then I went to the State Bath House where I had my free soak in the public mineral hot spring pool. The temperature is kept at 104 degrees and it is soothing and relaxing. I left there and drove up the hill to where the state buffalo herd lives in Hot Springs State Park. I had a good view of them as I picnicked in the sun and dried out my swimsuit. From there I drove through the Wind River Canyon to Shoshoni, where I met a lovely couple that ran the visitor's center which is also the town library. They were wonderful to chat with I wished I had more time to get to know them. I made a mad dash for the Tetons and crossed the Togwotee Pass right as the sun was setting. I was disappointed to see the haze, which was from fires in Idaho, but the mountains are still impressive. I descended down and got to watch the sun set from a pull off just North of Jackson. I drove just South of Jackson and found a pull off where I could sleep for the night. It was quite late by the time I found the right spot, and I was knackered, which meant I got a very good night sleep.

Friday morning I woke up at 6am, when traffic increased on the road I was next to, so I got up and headed to the nearest grocery store in Jackson to use the restroom and get a coffee. I was in the city center taking photos of the antler arches and finding a geocache before there were many people out and about. I had an amazing breakfast at the Silver Dollar Grill, another historic business. From there I went to the visitor's center and got a map of the Jenny Lake area. In discussing my plan with the man at the desk I forgot to get stickers (!). I headed to Jenny Lake, took the shuttle boat across the lake (it saved me a two mile hike each way), and headed up to the falls a half mile up the trail. They were gorgeous and the temperature was mystically cooler than even 50 feet away from them. I continued up another third of a mile to the Lower Inspiration Point (the original Inspiration Point was unreachable from this trail due to maintenance, and the alternative trail would have added about three miles onto my hike and I just did not have the time). The view was still magical, and I am very glad that I did it.

I took the boat back across and at that point remembered the stickers. I could not believe that I had forgotten them. I debated with myself, but decided to go back, as I needed the Salt To Stone, and I knew Jackson had a cool one for the town as well. Twenty minutes back into town, nearly thirty minutes back up to Jenny Lake (traffic was getting crazy at that point), and then on the way to Dubois. I got my stickers there and took some photos on the Jackalopes at a gas station in town. I'd meant to do it the last several years when I'd gone, and forgot each time, so this time I had to get it done. I was in Lander just before 5pm, and my only bad experiences on my trip happened at this point. First, the lady at the visitor's center was rude when I asked about the stickers and told me I had to go to the Commerce Bureau or whatever it's called. She was way more testy than she needed to be. Second, I went to the building she directed me to and there was a sign on the door saying they were closed for the weekend. It wasn't even the weekend yet, and I feel like the visitor's center should maybe have known that they were closed. Third, I went up to Sinks Canyon and they were out of stickers. So three disappointments on my entire trip, and they were all in Lander. Those of you who know me will know why this is significant, and why it figures, to be honest. I still took time to sit at the Sinks and let the sounds of the water surround me, and then I fed the fishes at the Rise. On my way I went. I was well after closing time before I got to Rawlins, so no stickers there, but I did take some photos with the Sinclair Dinosaur in Sinclair. There are other Dinosaurs, but I wanted mine with the one in actual Sinclair (I was probably delirious at that point). I got home just after 9pm, brought my things inside, showered, and literally fell into bed.

It was a fantastic trip overall, and I am so glad that I made the decision (with some help from friends) to do it. I am grateful to Jessie for being able to stay with Georgia so that I could actually do things on my trip. I collected a great number of stickers, met some great people, collected rocks (apparently that's my new thing, I guess it could be worse), and saw again all the places that I have loved since I've been out here.
 I have not added lot of photos to this post, but my complete collection of photos can be seen on my Shutterfly page HERE.