Monday, September 10, 2012

Yellowstone Road Trip - Day 12

“Morning pleasant. We went out to the hills. The wind soon commenced blowing a perfect gale. Sand blew with such violence as to be painful even to our hands. We were almost blinded.”  ~Celinda E. Hines  Day 5 on the California Trail

“I have just washed the dust out of my eyes so that I can see to get supper.”  Amelia Knight, 1853  Day 22 on the Oregon Trail

Day 12 on the Old Buzzard and Fannie Mae Trail  The old buzzard entourage left their Motel 6 room in Gillette, Wyoming at 8:03. All were very pleased with the clean and pleasant accommodations. And a first for the buzzards at a Motel 6 – the room even had a fridge and microwave. Wahoo! Since our last experience with a Motel 6 wifi wasn't so great, John decided to see how good the signal was before paying their $2.95 plus tax charge. The signal was excellent! So, John saunters back up to the front desk and tells our friendly clerk, Jonae, he wants to pay for wifi and get the login. She said, "Since I didn't ask if you wanted wifi when you checked in, it's free". Now we know how to handle wifi at Motel 6.

We took Hwy 59 south after gassing up for $3.659 at the Flying J (a new one to us). At 17 miles south of Gillette we stopped to take photos of a snow fence. Linda thought John was teasing yesterday when he told her that's what the open slanted pieces of wood were for. Wikipedia has a very good explanation of how they work if you didn't know either. To get a better photo vantage point, Linda took down the rancher's barb wire gate, ignored the No Trespassing sign on the gate post and went right in. John was listening for gun shots. Fortunately, he didn't hear any. The gate latch is a pretty clever device and there's a photo of it in today's gallery.

In the same area there were oil wells in operation and we soon saw a train hauling lots of cars heaped with coal. We have seen wind turbines off and on. Energy is Wyoming's largest industry and the state is the top exporter of energy to the rest of the country.

At Douglas we turned onto Interstate 25 but first John decided to get out of his Starbucks comfort zone and have a Hava Java. Wilma said “Destination ahead . . . on the right” then “Destination” but there was only a pipe plant and various other non-coffee businesses. So he searched for the Golden Arches and had a McCoffee. Seems like some McDonald's just aren't with the up-scale coffees, so he had to settle for a senior coffee at $0.41, including tax.

When we got on 25 headed west we were on the lookout for a turnoff for Ayres (StWW) Natural Bridge Park. It is a park operated by Converse County. The turnoff was just a few miles out of Douglas. Linda's maiden name is Ayers, so STWW stands for "Spelled the Wrong Way". It was soon green, green, green after the turnoff with cattle grazing and lush fields aplenty. We reached the Ayres (StWW) park after about 6 miles. It was lush and well-maintained but not at all pet friendly. If it was spelled Ayers it would have probably been more pet friendly. So our visit was fairly short, just long enough to photo the Ayres (StWW) Natural Bridge and for Linda to relocate (that's what her friend Pat calls it) an Ayres (StWW) rock. John calls it "pilfering". The Ayres (StWW) Bridge is 20 feet high and has a 40-foot span at the base.

Soon after we got back onto 20 (header for Casper, Wyoming) we could see smoke from a fire going at Casper Mountain. You will see some photos of the sky in today's photo gallery. The fire started around 4:00pm yesterday and the origin is still unknown. It has burned more than 6,000 acres, including two structures and, as of this afternoon, was 0% contained. Fortunately, we had some rain later in the afternoon.

When we got to Casper our LaQuinta room was not ready so we went to a park and had a picnic lunch out of our snack bin. When Linda wandered off to check out the river (i.e. take a leak) she disturbed a deer who came out to stare at her and then loped away across the open, grassy park. John looked up just in time to see the deer run across the park and thought, what's a deer doing here?

The Fort Caspar Museum was just down the street so we went there next. Haven't figured out yet why the Fort is spelled Caspar and the town is spelled Casper. Didn't notice to ask while we were there. UPDATE: John found that it was due to a typographical error when the name of the town was registered. It should have been named "Caspar". Took a printer to figure that one out! Fannie Mae was permitted onto the grounds to explore the fort with us (after we paid the appropriate admission fees) and it was quite interesting.

Native Americans, mountain men, fur traders, emigrants and the U.S. Army all visited or lived in the Casper area during the mid-1800s. The North Platte River valley was the pathway for the Oregon/California/Mormon Pioneer and Pony Express Trails across the plains. In 1847 Brigham Young led the Mormons from Winter Quarters in present day Nebraska to their new home in the Great Salt Lake Valley. You can see some photos from Fort Caspar in today's photo gallery.

After our tour of Fort Caspar we returned to La Quinta and since our room was still not ready we headed out for another museum, this one dedicated to the various trails that came through the Casper area in the mid 1800s. John had been told that it was at the top of a hill and he spotted a building with a red roof so he let Linda out at a path leading towards it and parked to wait for her. As she got closer and closer to the building it seemed that they were not having a very busy day. Then she noticed the words Box Office across the end nearest her. The Box Office was closed but she found two workers who explained that it was an event center and that the museum was on the opposite side of the road from where the path started. So she trekked back to where the path started, went across the street and made her way to the museum. There were some interesting engraved rocks along the entrance with quotes from various people who had journied on the various trails across the Caspar area during the mid-1800s. When she got to the door it was locked because the museum is not open on Mondays. Oh, well, maybe some other time. There was a nice statue of two pony express riders that was out in the open.

Finally our room at LaQuinta was ready so we moved in and set up camp – John began downloading photos while Linda went to do laundry and dangle her feet in the indoor pool next door to the laundry.

Today's photo gallery has 74 images. You can view the gallery by clicking here.

Below is a 6 minute video of Ayres Natural Bridge, a shot of the Casper Mountain fire and some clips of Fort Caspar.

We had dinner at the Wonder Bar in downtown Caspar. Linda had the salad bar, a bowl of green chili, homemade tato chips and a glass of Merlot. John had The Mexi Burger (normally, open-faced, but he had no bun at all). The Mexi Burger is a burger covered with green or red chili (John had green), jalapenos, cheese and onions. He also had a dinner salad. Oh, and The Mexi Burgers also came with homemade tater chips. (Not tato!)

Everything was excellent, especially the chips and green chili and it was a really cute place with lots of historical photos and decorations.
Happy trails!

1 comment:

  1. Thankfully in your film, the cows in the pasture appear to be fat, sassy and alive! Not like in the movie... whew!