September 13,2014 Comfort Inn Room 117 Riverton, Wyoming The day dawned with an orange pink glow at 6:30 am across the interstate from our room. After packing and eating breakfast we were on our way north around the Laramie Mountains to Casper. At Glenrock and Glendo we were surprised to see the two reservoirs ( actually one large body of water but labeled as two on the map) created by damming the North Platte were rather low. Although I’ve been on this stretch of I 25 once before, this is really the first time I’m seeing the scenery. The last time was in a blinding snowstorm surrounded by semis. This was much nicer.
I’m going to have to try to figure out why this camera is developing the same strange round spot in the middle of my pictures. I’ve been much more careful about keeping the lens clean and smudge free since reading that a smudge can become permanent if not cleaned regularly. Well, that is what I’ll be doing while watching the PBS special on the National Anthem later tonight.
At any rate, we had the moon as our companion almost the whole way to Casper, by which time it had faded into the rapidly whitening sky to be lost from sight until tonight. You can see it to the left of the rig in the picture before my map shot.
There are several silhouettes nicely placed on bluffs along the road—the jackalope is near Glenrock which is the home of the jackalope and the Triceratops is there to advertise the dinosaur museum in Thermopolis. The oil rigs of Muddy Basin are lovely red and green and look like huge bugs. In no time at all we reached Casper and the wonderful rigmen memorial. The Lower Powder Basin of Wyoming is part of what is called the Muddy formation—ancient sandstone and clay deposits rich in petroleum, much of which remains untapped. The topography is really interesting—strata of sedimentary materials that have been tilted at 90 degrees so that their layers are vertical rather than horizontal. The clay is so obvious, it is as though a giant hand just threw mounds of clay in a childish tantrum and they landed with a thud on the surrounding land.
At Casper we left the Interstate which continues north to Sheridan and on into Montana and took 20/26 west toward Shoshoni. Took one last look at the northern faces of the Laramies and the remaining snow from the last few days. We entered the desert area of Wyoming. It is through this large hot, dry area of badland like formations that Betsy and Gus hiked from Gunnerson, Co to Bozeman, Mt a few years back. It is necessary in this wide open land where distances are so deceptive to develop what I call Western eyes. You can see for so many miles that houses look like Monopoly hotels and cars and trucks look like toy models. It is so easy to miss seeing things because you expect them to be much larger—but everything is at such a distance it is all miniaturized.
For example in frame 1222 can you pick out the herd of antelope that sit just to the right of the mile marker? Frame 1223 shows them using my telephoto lens. There were others closer to the road, of course and we could see them with greater detail. There were many lone males, youngsters looking to gather a harem, I imagine. Antelope cannot jump the fences so the ranchers leave a gap at the bottom through which they can crawl. We saw one male doing that –it was so strange to see this animal suddenly emerging from the grasses and ditch alongside the fence. We did come upon an elder, however, who had his harem all gathered. As we stopped, he quietly herded them together and farther from the road. Then he nonchalantly pawed something from the ground and ate it before lifting his head and telling us to move on—which we did, since we felt we’d unsettled the ladies and their master enough.
Finally we came to the Wind River—it comes down from Thermopolis through a wonderful canyon but we were following it toward Yellowstone so did not take the turn to the East entrance but continued on the way to the South entrance. Once we crossed the Boysen reservoir the land was irrigated and green. Like night and day from one side of the bridge to the other!
Arrived at our hotel just on the outskirts of Riverton and just loved the couple in the tree before us. We had driven exactly 300 miles and it was not yet 3 but since there really is nothing much between here and the Parks we chose it as our halfway point. Checked in and headed into Riverton for a steak dinner. Forget it—they want $21-25 for a steak—not paying that! Had a decent hamburger and a Blue Moon draft for $15 including tip. Loved the fact that despite the snow up here for two days the delphiniums, pinks, bleeding hearts, calla lilies etc are still in perfect bloom. Love those brick wall microclimates.
This was one of the easiest and most beautiful of our driving days, even with strong winds. They were just nice roads, the scenery was beautiful, the traffic fine and the weather perfect. The time just flew—we were amazed how much distance we covered.
Now, to grab a chocolate Silk and relax with some TV news and maybe Jeopardy. Have a terrific Saturday evening all—The Bedazzled Wyoming Rubbernecking Sisters, Kathy and Barb
PS—If you have an interest in the brutal and cowardly massacre of Arapaho and Cheyenne women and children commemorated in the Salt Creek Massacre Trail, go to this brochure. It is a sad but not uncommon story of white slaughter of innocent Native Americans ,motivated by greed. wyoshpo.state.wy.us/pdf/SandCreekBrochure.pdf
The Wind River Valley Reservation is home to the Shoshone and the descendants of survivors of the attack.