Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Blue Lady Travels in the Red Lands: Northeast Wyoming Road Trip 1

Wyoming has excellent Welcome Centers
I have to say I love Wyoming. It's right next door to both Utah and South Dakota, and when I drive from one to the other it's pretty much all Wyoming all the time.

Utah is NOT the only place in this part of the world with lots of red earth.
It is for sure a red land, both literally and figuratively. The orange haired man will, no doubt, win this state without even trying. Energy policy is simple - all fossil fuels all the time forever and forever. And then there was that whole Matthew Shepard thing several years ago; I'm told things have not improved a whole heck of a lot. But still, Wyoming gets to me.

Over the years I have at least driven the car through most of the towns all over the state. The only town I can think of that I have missed is Lander. It it a bit of a detour on the routes I usually travel, and so I  have not yet made the time to just take that detour. But it's on the list.

I have visited all the national parks and monuments, and of course, Wyoming has the Mother of All National Parks, Yellowstone.
The little lime car is meant to ride the roads in the west.

This week the weather here turned real nice, probably summer's last hurrah. I got restless, and so I just took off in the little lime car for an afternoon on a circle trip through northeast Wyoming.

Wyoming Public Radio has really good music programming, so I switch over from all the talk coming from South Dakota. I give money to both of them, because I want them both to stay in business.

Both Wyoming and South Dakota do their very best to not collect taxes from their citizens, and as a result (plus the fact that we both have tiny populations) our schools leave things to be desired, but one thing both states spend money on is roads.

Of course, there aren't all that many roads to start with, and there is not that much traffic on them either. But I think the politicians recognize that good roads are totally essential to the rural population that lives all over the large landscape. There is always some construction some place every summer, but the construction is just making pretty good roads better which is so different from places further east, where streets and roads can get to be visibly dangerous before anyone comes up with the money to fix things. (Illinois, I am thinking about YOU!)
Blue sky, straight clear pavement...let's go!
As long as the weather is good, driving is a real pleasure. Now, when the weather is bad, it is very, very bad. I have already had years taken off my life by having to drive in bad weather around this part of the world. You may have seen those gates they have at various places on all the numbered highways that tell you, when they are down, to turn around and go back to whatever town you just passed through. They really do use those gates in the winter. But right problem!

So, I just lit out for the territory on Saturday. I started on I-90, with a stop at the welcome center for the newest map and some literature and to marvel at the tiny museum like displays the taxpayers have given us travelers. Then I went on to Sundance,
If you enlarge the photo you may see the teeny tiny
climbers. There are four & they are going down.
and from there I went up to Devil's Tower National Monument.

I have been here many times in the past because it is not that far from my home, so I didn't feel like taking the time to take a hike around the base. Instead I used my seniors pass to get in and treated the place like a picnic ground. I had lunch, watched the climbers (who does that kind of thing? and why?,   It's positively frightening to me), bought some postcards, used the facilities and then continued on.

There's not that much of what you would call towns in that part of Crook County anymore. I drove through Hulet, which is the gateway town for the monument and does have things like a grocery and hardware store plus restaurants and services. I thought about stopping but decided to keep driving. The town makes much of its old west style. The business district features a lot of log buildings. Another time,  maybe, I'll not bring lunch but will stop and sample the local fare.

On to Alva which does have a post office and zip code of its own but that's about it. Next is Aladdin. There's a "famous" 125 year-old C-store there. The whole town is owned by one family and is supposed to be for sale ... or at least it was a few years ago. There were for sale signs on the motel and store. Again, I did not feel like stopping any more, so I kept on.
Smaller roads off the main highway lead to where the people live on
the ranches.

Out in this part of the world, the people don't live in towns, they live on ranches.The roads mostly lead just to the private properties, and a little green car like mine would be rather conspicuous just driving up one of the secondary roads just for the sake of the driving. So I stay on the highways. This is so different from places out east especially in states like Pennsylvania where there are a zillion tiny roads that set out in all directions with no rhyme or reason except to get to the various farms.

Some of the properties are quite plain and look mostly functional.  But every once in awhile you run across something like this gate. I suppose the family here has a bit of money and who knows how what the neighbors think? But I appreciate the gift the family gave to those of us who are just passing by and get to leave with a big smile.
Bears! Cute ones!
Wyoming is like that. I love it all.

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