Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Wyoming and Me

The title comes from a Black Crowes song and I have been playing it since I arrived in Wyoming. What a beautiful place. Everywhere I have driven is gorgeous. Sure you see some mobile home clusters around the "cities", but what a neighborhood they live in!

There is such variety of terrain and landscapes just in the little bit I have seen. Breathtaking views abound in all directions. I left Sundance this am late and headed west on I-90. Nice open view and cloudy, so I figured I would skip Devil's Tower. I just thought it would not be worth a 4 hr detour (1 hr off the HWY north each way and hiking/photos etc). I was anxious to get to Yellowstone and the white skies do not make for great photos and frankly there are millions of Devils Tower photos. I was lucky however at one point to glance off to my right and see Devil's Tower in the distance. Unreal. I was at least 60 miles from it at that point, if not more. You can see off on the horizons for 100+ miles I would guess all the time. I got off at Buffalo to figure out the days route. Good thing. I was gonna head up to MT and take the Beartooth pass or figure out another shorter route from WY, but I called the 511 and it said the pass was closed due to winter weather (I know it snowed a few days ago and been unseasonably cold). I opted instead to visit Thermopolis and check out the hot springs. Well, I was in for quite a surprise drive. I hit the pass on 16 over though the bighorn Nat. Forest...of course, it was foggy/cloudy so I couldnt see, what I was missing, but as I neared the top of the pass a hole in the sky opened up and I could see some snow capped peaks, and that got me excited. I kept pulling over to take some photos, and noticed many dirt roads the state park service has to beautiful open terrain. What a place for solitude and exploring the country. On the west side of the pass, the skies opened up and the amazing vistas, got even better. Just stunning. Mt. Lakes, ski resort and then the spectacular 10 sleeps canyon. This is a destination in and of itself. Steep canyon walls, fast running river, with trees and vegetation growing on the banks and ridges of the canyon. The sun was beaming nicely and felt wonderful as I had not seen it for 4 days since St. Louis. I wanted to stay here and enjoy the view. At the base of the canyon I was greeted by the cute town of 10 sleeps pop. 304. Houses along canyon walls with lush green lawns. Mesas and mounds everywhere. Painted rocks and scattered trees. I passed a campground, that was not readily visible and was tempted to stay the night, but it was still early. I stopped at Crazy Sallies general store/saloon for a milkshake, took some photos and moved on to Thermopolis.

Another spectacular drive. This time more desert like, but with enough vegetation to keep the cattle grazing, but lined with layered rock outcroppings and mesas. To me it looked like a cross between Arizona and Montana. The road followed a river and train tracks (many many train tracks out west compared to the east coast...you see them everywhere). I even passed what resembled Wyoming's version of the badlands, with similar mounds and weathered hills, only less colorful than the badlands...and further on spotted with oil wells, but not much of an eyesore. The view in my rearview mirror was nothing short of amazing. You could see the "badlands", the canyonlands, the mountains and beyond that the cloud kissed snow peaks way off in the distance. It reminded me of the views from the central valley of california, only better.

Thermopolis is a sleepy little town. I stopped at the worlds largest hot springs. The free state run one was closing at 530 and it was about 515 (my watch proved to be 10 min fast later on). I quick grabbed my bathing suit, towel and sandals, but this was feeling too rushed. I opted to pay $10 and go to the Tee pee spa next door. The water is 98-104 F and reeks of sulphur, but felt great after the cold am and cold days I spent in SD. They even had an indoor waterslide, steam room, sauna, outdoor waterslide, pool, whirlpools, basketball hoops. It wasn't very crowded thanfully. The sun stayed out most of the time and I hung out in the park adjacent to it for a bit. A very peaceful place, with a river running by, well manicured lawn, picnic facilities and walking trails though the park, along the river and to the travertine. Even a swinging suspension bridge. I think I had read this, but I was reminded of it when I got there. The river appears to flow uphill. I had to keep looking closely and just couldnt figure it out. The road down to the town was down a good sized hill and it felt like the river should be flowing the other way, but no matter how much you look, it still appears to flow uphill. Interesting. I assume it must be a switchback before going down Wind River canyon, which I did not get to see, but hear is beautiful too. I considered staying , just for the warm weather and maybe catch a morning dip, but I instead headed up 120 towards Cody/Yellowstone to get a closer launching spot for my initial Yellowstone visit. I found a quaint riverside campground in Meteetsee and was greeted by a deer while I set up camp. It has everything I need and a few luxuries (wifi, shower, ice, laundry). Hopefully this will be a better camping experience than Badlands.

I have to say I am falling in love with Wyoming. Its not the boring flat square state I thought it was in elementary school. It is anything but. The scenery rivals, if not beats what I have seen in CA, MT, CO. That remains to be seen for sure. Definitely the best part of the trip thus far. Bighorn was better than the Black Hills of SD for sure. Pictures to follow.

No comments:

Post a Comment