Wyoming the Beautiful



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Heading west today. Leaving South Dakota on the prettiest day we’ve had here. The weather is warming and that is good since the road west has some mountains to explore and we intend to explore them.

As is par for the course, we headed off the I-90 onto backroads to arrive a Sheridan, Wyoming. What a drive. Firstly, Gillette is an oil and coal town and it is mighty ugly. Don’t ever bother going to Gillette unless you enjoy seeing big holes in the ground, those oil pump machines that look like grasshoppers, and a plethora of manufactured homes that have seen their better days. Actually, it is amazing how many old double and triple wide homes there are in these parts. We’ve seen them in all the states we have visited. And most of them look down and out. The other thing that we have seen are fences. Everywhere. Everything is fenced.

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This is one of the fancy fences.

One thing fences don’t discourage are antelope. Driving down our two lane road today, we slowed and followed an antelope about 300 yards before the darn thing darted across the road exactly in front of us. Sure glad I slowed down. We also saw another hawk flying with a snake. As we cruised along at about 50 MPH, we saw three sheep running at us. They had “slipped” through the fence and were hightailing it down the road. A truck was turning out of a driveway (out in the middle of nowhere) and the driver stopped so that two young women could give chase. One was in flip-flops and on her cellphone. Modern cowgirl? Don’t know. It was a funny sight all the same. Didn’t realize sheep could run that fast!!

We did see many herd of antelope on the back road. A lot more antelope than cars or trucks combined. I estimate that total vehicle citing numbered about 30 for over 100 miles. Easy rider takes on a new connotation in my lexicon.

So, tomorrow we’re off to Cody, WY. We plan to stay there a few days and then we got to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. Hope to see elk there.

Oh, and today, we saw a bald eagle. First one this trip. it was nesting on top of pole that looks like it was placed there just for that reason. Quite a thrill anyway.

Beau is doing good and, therefore, so are we.

Today is the first Friday in June. My, how time flies. We packed up early and left Sheridan because we heard it was going to be a windy day. And when it’s windy, driving the Dog House is akin to riding a bucking bronco. You don’t want to do it. Weaving a bit of west into this blog.

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The view on the highway between Gillette and Sheridan, WY.

We took the i-90 to the 14 and headed for Cody, Wyoming. We plan to spend the weekend here before we head to the Grand Teton National Park. Let’s see now. That will make it the 5th national park for us on this land voyage. What a fabulous national park system we have. In addition we have seen state parks and national monuments. And we have traversed national forests which is my segue for my next topic, Bighorn National Forest.

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A Wyoming traffic jam.

 

Highway 14 intersects this national forest and what a highway it is. Hairpin turns while climbing, climbing, climbing only to peak out and have hairpin curves down the other side of the mountain. These mountains are huge and part of the Rockies. The road was in perfect condition and there were no cars on it. We did see one bus when it passed us!!! But, by and large we kept up our winning strategy of traffic avoidance while maximizing the wow factor. We also observed many deer and antelope and two moose (meese?).

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Our first moose sighting.

Just kidding. And one squished snake on the road. But the majesty of the mountains was just breathtaking. Wallace Stegner, I am not but sure wish i had his writing ability. One feels entirely insignificant when wandering this part of the West. The sky was blue, the rivers were full and running with great purpose, always downhill. The wind wasn’t bad, thankfully and our trip was just punctuated with oohs, and ahhs. We drank it in and it was filling.

Stopping at the top (8,000 ft), we visited a Dept. of Forestry exhibit manned by a young woman who was very informative and, dare i say, attractive in her Smokey the Bear hat. Not sure why they wear those hats indoors.

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Man and dog at the top.

But I digress.

We followed some steps down to observation decks that were built for people to look at the raging Shell River/creek. Wow. The noise the water generated was louder than a Bruce Springsteen rock concert. Quite amazing. There was still some snow here and there. I dubbed it “shady snow” because it was snow under trees in the shade. Incidentally, the forest has a beetle problem. It’s a different beetle, one native to this area. But it is ravaging the trees just the same.

Rayman was a scream. Literally. He didn’t want me to drive because I love to look for critters and he is afraid I’ll drive us off a cliff. I tell him I won’t but he is too caution to believe it, I surmise. So, he drove until we were back down on the other side of the mountain. While he was driving we talked about the pioneers moving across the country and encountering these behemoth mountains. And once on the other side, seeing a whole other chain of mountains in the western distance. OMG. We imagined it must have been very dispiriting.

We arrived in Cody in one piece. Set up the Dog House and drove around town just to check the place out. It sure has changed since I was here last in 1964.  Duh. Then we saw a park and walked Beau over it to let him run and get the lead out. Well, now. Along came a horse with a rider on his back clomping down the street and then into the park.. Beau chased the horse and Ray had a coronary. Enough said about that!!

Since it was Friday night, we decided to splurge and eat out at Irma’s Historic Hotel restaurant. It was average food but the inside of the place was fun…except for the guy that was carving the prime rib at the buffet table. He was with gun on his hip. I did not approve and thought it completely inappropriate but we stayed and ate because we had already ordered our food and drink. The old place had very high ceilings and the tin ceiling that was quite impressive. On the walls were trophy heads of various animals which is a bit off-putting but that is what they do here. And loads of old pictures including William Cody himself. It also had a great oak bar that ran down one side of the room. Our young waitress didn’t know zinfandel was red. The croutons were out of a bag. The pepper was on the table. Haute cuisine hasn’t arrived at irma’s yet.

It’s quarter to 9 and the sun has set but it is quite light out. The days here are very long. Plenty of time to get in trouble during day light!! Think I’ll close this out and post it tomorrow. Time to tuck myself in and read my book. No TV here and we exhausted our Borgen DVD and must send it back to Netflix.

Oh, one last observation. Our Dog House looks like riff raff compared to the towering RVs that are in this park. Huge diesel pushers with 27 slides. I’m looking out our front window at a Prevost Millennium. It is huge. Oh, well. it’s the start of the season and all the RV parks are filling up now. I’m sure we’ll see plenty more swank rigs. Today, on I-90 we saw a big truck pulling a big 5th wheel and a huge recreational boat. it is an amazing subculture on wheels.

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