The word for the day is wind. We packed up this morning and headed northwest to Lander, Wyoming. As soon as we hit Interstate 80 the wind came up and didn’t stop. There were signs on the highway warning of gusts of 35+ MPH. It was more of the + than the 35. The gusts were from the side, the front, the back and sometimes it felt that the gusts were coming from all sides at the same time.
The other word for the day is nothing. That more or less describes what we saw in this part of Wyoming. Nothing. Lots and lots of nothing. For 300 miles all we saw was rolling hills, a huge wind farm that reminded us of home, sage brush a few cows and 3 antelope. There is a reason why Wyoming is the least populated state. There is nothing here. There are more pronghorn antelope than people.
We blew (literally) into Lander around 2:00 this afternoon. After setting up camp guess what we had to do??? Give up? Let me give you a hint. “Casino” Yep, we visited one of the local casinos. A friendly lot they were. They actually gave each of us $20 seed money to play with and we actually walked out with $40.28 of their money.
Tomorrow we will check out the Sinks State Park and probably another casino.
Today we explored a lot of Cheyenne mostly by hunting for geocaches. We did a lot of walking and found 9 of them bringing our total finds to 624. One of those was very creatively hidden inside the free Montana State Museum in downtown near the capitol building. Wonderful museum that we might not have visited had it not been for the geocache. A bonus was the instruction to let the clerk in the museum store know when we found the geocache and receive a free gift. The lady in the store who gave us our tiny ½ inch bison was more excited about us finding the cache than we were and kept congratulating us J We also received a coupon for free dessert at a nearby Mexican fast food restaurant and since we needed to eat lunch anyway we walked four blocks to the restaurant and used our coupons.
Took a picture of the Dinneen Garage building that was a family owned car dealership for many, many years. The spacious building featured a special hydraulic lift that raised cars to the auto shop on the second floor. Using only city water pressure, it would take just 50 gallons of water to silently lift a car to the top level in under a minute. Also took a picture of the Tivoli Saloon and Brothel. Prostitution was legal in Wyoming until 1938 and the upper floors of the Tivoli were well known to many. Wyoming was the last state to ratify Prohibition and the basement of the Tivoli housed a popular speakeasy during that time.
After a quick stop a Walmart for some food supplies we headed back to the RV Park for the evening.
Tomorrow we head for Lander, WY – a 271 mile day. Supposed to be hot again for our visit there.
There are two more casinos there.. Send money….
The question for the day is “Why is it that the person with the loudest engine in the park has to start it up and run it at a fast idle at 6:00 AM for an hour?” In other words we were up fairly early this morning. Looking out the window we thought that we were transported back home. It was cloudy and the temperature was around 46 degrees. After a month and a half of 80 and 90 degree weather all we can say is Burrrrr. Once we thawed out we loaded up the truck and skedaddled down the road to Laramie. Why Laramie? Why not? On the way there we picked up a couple of geocaches and came to a little town called Buford. This town is so small it boasts of a population of 1. A population of 1 is stretching it a bit. Everything in the little town was closed and boarded up. There went the neighborhood.
A little further down the road we came to a rest area that advertised a point of interest – a tree. I guess a tree is interesting when there aren’t any other trees for miles around. In the tree’s defense it was growing out of the middle of a rock. It was such a novelty, a nearby sign said, that the builders of the railroad diverted the tracks to bypass the tree. It also said that the trains stopped here while the locomotive firemen “gave the tree a drink” from their water buckets.
Not too far from the highway we spotted an odd shaped mound in the middle of the prairie. It turned out to be a 60 foot tall pyramid shaped limestone monument that watches over the lonely remains of the one-time rail town of Sherman. The monument was built in 1881 to honor the Ames brothers, Oliver and Oaks, who were influential leaders in the construction of the transcontinental railroad. The Union Pacific Railroad built the monument at a cost of $65,000 despite a scandal about the brothers and mismanagement of railroad money. Hmmm??
At another rest area on Interstate 80, dubbed the Lincoln Highway, is a 13 ½ foot tall 4,500 pound bronze bust of Abe Lincoln sitting on a 35 foot tall stone base. The bust was cast in 30 pieces and bolted together much like the Statue of Liberty. This is the only monument to Abe Lincoln along the Lincoln Highway and is the largest bronze head in the US.
Once we got to Laramie we took a self guided tour of the old Wyoming Territorial Prison. The prison was built in 1872 and for 30 years it held violent and desperate outlaws (including the notorious “Butch Cassidy”) during the dramatic time of Wyoming’s territorial days. Butch Cassidy’s first arrest came at the age of 17. At 22 he robbed a bank to the tune of $10,500 in Telluride, Colorado – a town we visited several weeks ago. He was in this prison for stealing horses and a story says he was pardoned by the governor after promising never to rob banks or steal horses in Wyoming again. Unfortunately there were still stagecoaches, trains and banks all over the west to rob. Wayne found it interesting to visit here as a visitor instead of as a resident this time. They even let him out without a letter from the Governor. Brooms are still being made there today to be sold at the gift shop.
Between Cheyenne and Laramie is the Medicine Bow National Forest. Seeing this make you wonder what the definition of a “Forest” is. If you did not know better and used Medicine Bow as a model, a “Forest” is a place that has roughly 45 trees between 6 and 7 feet tall with trunks roughly 6 inches in diameter. We decided there must have been a budget cut when they made the signs for the forest and they had to leave out a word to cut costs. The real name should have been “Medicine Bow National Scrub Forest”.
Just after we finished dinner we heard raindrops on the motorhome roof – a torrential downpour of about 20 drops. Those fighting the fires and whose homes are threatened around here could certainly use a real torrential downpour for about 5 or 6 hours.
We have one more day in Cheyenne and plan to do some more exploring around the area. Hopefully none of the noisy engine rigs near us will decide to leave early tomorrow.
Woke up to another day of beautiful sunshine. We have only had as much rain in a little over 6 weeks as we usually get in a day at home. There is soooo much smoke in the air above us from the fires around here that rain would be very welcome.
Packed a lunch and headed north to find the Oregon Trail wagon ruts and Fort Laramie. The first place we stopped was the small town of Chugwater where we found 3 geocaches.
The wagon ruts (try saying that fast 3 times) preserved in limestone were very impressive and we found another geocache there. Places like this are spooky. It seems like you can hear the sounds of the wagons, animals and people while gazing at the trail they traveled.
A few miles down the road we visited a large sandstone cliff called Register Rock. This area was one of the major campgrounds for the emigrants headed west and thousands of pioneers camped here and inscribed their names upon the sandstone. We were appalled at the amount of graffiti that was done before Register Cliff came under protection as a historic site. The graffiti obliterated some of the names engraved during the 1800’s but we found a place that had been fenced off from the vandals and took pictures of some of the early names. One signature was made by 19 year-old Alvah Hunt Unthank who was headed for the goldfields of California. He carved his name into the sandstone in June 23, 1850 and a week later he died of cholera. Hardship and illness were inevitable along the trail. Of the approximate 55,000 emigrants who traveled these trails during the peak years, some 5,000 died enroute. Only 2% of the deaths are attributed to conflicts with the Indians. At one time a small trading post was located near the cliff, which became a Pony Express stop in 1861, and later a stage station. The people running the trading post blasted a deep hole in the cliff to use as a root cellar. The old Oregon Trail is visible a few yards below the cliff and the North Platte river flows nearby. As we headed out for Fort Laramie we found a very nice park in Guernsey and enjoyed our picnic lunch in the shade.
Fort Laramie was the principal military outpost on the Northern Plains. It was the primary hub for transportation and communication through the Rocky Mountain region. When the fort was abandoned in 1890 the buildings were sold to pioneers and served as homes and businesses. Because of this, much of the fort is much better preserved than it might have been. Some buildings have been restored to their 1860’s historic appearances including furnished rooms. The Post Trader’s Store and Enlisted Men and Civilians Bar were particularly interesting. Just before leaving we stopped in the bar and had a Sarsparilla. Dianne had never had Sarsparilla and didn’t know what it was but decided that it was just a fancy name for root beer. The temperature had risen to near 90 degrees and the nice cold root beer was very refreshing.
We found several more geocaches on our travels back down to Cheyenne. Amazing huge smoke cloud blowing over our campground totally obliterating the sun at times. Hope we leave all the fires behind in a few days as we travel northwest.
Oh! Forgot to mention that we learned during our tour of the Coors Brewery that they get the hops for their beer from Washington. We have seen them harvesting hops in the Prosser area. As we were driving from Denver to Cheyenne we passed one of the 12 Anheuser Busch breweries in the US. They also have 18 breweries in other countries.
Well, it sounds like it was a good day to move on to Cheyenne. It was 99 degrees in Denver today and at 9 AM, while we were getting ready to hook up and leave, the power went out in the entire RV park. By the time we left around 10:30, it was getting very hot in the motorhome. We would be willing to bet there were a lot of frantic campers trying to remember how to check their rig’s fuses before figuring out it was a campground power outage. There were a lot of campers becoming friends and visiting as “Do you have power?” rang out all across the campground. The last we heard before we left is they were hoping to have the power on before 1 PM and we never did hear what caused the outage. We hightailed it up I-25 to Cheyenne and got a good view of the fires to the west of Fort Collins. Lots of smoke in the air but we couldn’t smell it while inside with the air conditioner going. Got checked in and set up at our campground, fixed some lunch and headed for the Wyoming State Capitol Building to get a picture of our last addition to our collection for this trip. While driving to the historic train station we saw a sign for free horse drawn carriage tours and by the time we found a parking spot, took a couple of pictures of the big boots and the train station the carriage was available. It was big enough for about 10 people but we ended up getting our own personal tour. Really nice since the next tour was overfull and had a lot of little kids aboard. Learned that Wyoming didn’t become a state until the year after Washington did. One of their problems was coming up with the required 20,000 registered voters. They solved the problem by being the first state to allow women to vote. Many cattle barons made Cheyenne their home in the past and nearby F.E. Warren Air Force Base is one of three strategic missile bases in the US. Found “Big Boy” one of 25 of the world’s largest steam engines, that were built exclusively for Union Pacific by the American Locomotive Company in Schenectady, NY, between 1941 and 1944. Each locomotive was 132 feet long and weighed 1.2 million pounds. Because of their great length, the frames of the Big Boys were hinged or articulated to allow them to negotiate curves. During construction of the first engine, a worker chalked “Big Boy” on the smoke box door, and the nickname was adopted. The engines normally operated on the rugged run between Cheyenne and Ogden Utah.
Tomorrow we plan to head north to Guernsey WY to see the Oregon Trail Wagon ruts and Fort Laramie.
This is our last day in Denver and we decided we needed to be able to say we have been to Boulder, Colorado. So we hopped in the truck and set off. First we drove around in the park where we were staying. Cherry Creek State Park is HUGE with lots of open space and is anchored around a 880 surface acre reservoir. The park offers a natural prairie environment of gentle, rolling hills and complete outdoor recreation facilities, including camping, picnicking and facilities for group events. It also has a huge marina, model airplane flying, horseback riding and a family shooting range. When we were driving around this morning people we saw people waiting in line to get into the park and then waiting in a long line to try to launch their various types of watercraft. Tonight there was a long line of cars trying to get out of the park. Of course it is Sunday, Father’s Day and a record breaking 98 degree temperature day. This is the second place we have been while they had record breaking high temperatures. There are so many bicyclists using the park roads and trails that we think the 2500 bicyclists we met in Rocky Mountain Natl Park came here for their next leg of Ride the Rockies. We have to wonder whatever happened to their event since the big fire to the northwest is worse and today there is a new one to the southwest. All of the rain we get at home seems not so bad compared to roaring wildfires-with no end in sight.
But, as Sophia would say, I digress. We had a nice drive to Boulder and even found a route that didn’t involve getting on the dreaded I-25 through downtown Denver. Boulder seemed like a nice, very modern town and now we can say we have been there. On the way home we decided to check out another state park that we had considered for our stay here. There were so many people lined up to get into that park, that also has a reservoir, that we figured it would take us more than 45 minutes to get in long enough to drive around for five minutes and drive back out. Was it worth the wait? No way!! We got out of line and headed back to the motorhome.
Arrived back home to the news that a great niece born today has a heart murmur and lots of stuff in her lungs and that a good friend came through brain surgery with flying colors only to suffer a stroke, have a second surgery and be in very critical condition. Lots of praying going on here.
Thank you Brian, Tessa and Valerie for the Christmas gift card that we used for dinner at Applebees. Such a great time to use it – 98 degrees outside… too hot to cook.
The good news is tomorrow’s trip north to Cheyenne is only 105 miles. The bad news is we heard on the news tonight that smoke from the fire northwest of Denver is blowing into Cheyenne.
When we got up this morning we asked each other what we wanted to do today. We had several places to go see today but they are closed on the weekends. We have only had one day so far in 4 ½ weeks that we haven’t traveled or gone sightseeing and couldn’t find anything open than tempted us so we decided to have a down day and do nothing. That is just what we did-Nuttn’ absolutely Nuttn’. We just stayed around the motor home walked around the campground and took naps. After all we are on vacation… Great weather in the 70’s. Felt like home without the rain – except for a short sprinkle in the afternoon. Walking around the campground wasn’t exactly nothing. This place is huge – 129 sites plus 3 group camp areas that aren’t numbered. There could have been 3 times that many sites but whoever designed the place left a lot of trees and spaced the sites far apart. This park even has free Wi-Fi and vending machines in the nearby bathroom/laundry room that include ice cream treats. We are very spoiled now after 9 days with lots of elbow room in beautiful Colorado state parks. Going back to parking lot camping in RV parks is going to be a shock.
We did have a couple of unexpected visitors this afternoon though, a deer, a squirrel and a turkey (the feathered kind, not the human kind). Neither one was not overly concerned about all of the people gawking at them. Speaking of animals, when we found one of our geocaches yesterday there was a lizard sitting on top of the rock we had to move to get to the container. Taking its picture and speaking nicely to it seemed to be the key since it scurried off. When we checked back at the site later it was once again stationed on the rock guarding the geocache.
It sure felt good having a down day.
Not sure what is on the docket for tomorrow –besides melting – they are predicting 96 degrees. Not good for the fire situation to the northwest. This fire has destroyed more homes than any other Colorado fire. If we were thinking of visiting here and saw the reports about the fire on TV we would choose not to come but it really hasn’t bothered anything we wanted to do.