Tuesday, May 8, 2007


I'd forgotten how much I like Wyoming. I came here several times when I was younger to backpack thru the mountains, and we saw plenty of the state while driving thru it, and touristing a bit in and outbound. Hard to say what I like about the towns and people (a certain genuineness I suspect, but its hard to put my finger on) but the landscape is cool because its amazingy varied. One place we were today went from desert southwest looking with red buttes and rolling desert, to sharp gray snow-capped mountains, all within like 2 miles.

The Wind River range was always where I went years ago, and the detour of late exposed us to more of that range. We'd always previously driven up the west side, but this time we actually followed the Wind River itself. That was neat as well, as we watched it go from river to a stream you can cross on foot.

Anyway, we woke up this morning in Thermopolis, and went to the hot springs itself. This was pretty neat. The hotel was built in 1918 -- but has been recently renovated very nicely and is right on the grounds of the park. The park itself is very nicely done, and there is a beautiful state-run bath house thing. We used these facilities, but there are a few private concessions and yipes, do they crap up the place.

Alison tried to break into William Krueger's hotel room. Yes, the mystery writer. Okay, we'd never heard of him either, but he mentioned it because he was thinking horrible, improbable things when someone tried to break into his room. Nice guy, apparently, as I barely saw him. If a fan, ask Alison. Oh, and his next book is based in Thunder Bay, and I presume will be called the same thing, if you look at his other titles.

The drive itself was nothing much of note. Not as dramatic as yesterday, but plenty of scenery. As I mentioned above, the variability is amazing. We're in a narrow canyon of dense, dark rock, running thru tunnels is so steep and dense and... its done. 10 miles of that and it instantly becomes gentler red rocks. Such a weird place, I gather from the relative youth of the geology.

Stopped for lunch in Dubois. Nice working town, that has managed (on purpose) to keep its original feel. There's an old downtown strip that could be out of the 40s, if it wasn't for the newer cars. Not to mention the food; I cannot suggest the Cowboy Cafe enough.

I really missed the backpacking now that I am here, and think the wife is only getting so much exposure to the mountains with driving thru them, so I picked a random Forest Service road, and tried to get up in the hills a little so we could hike at least out of sight of the road. That didn't work, and we got about 200 yards before the road went to hell. Its very snowy still up here. Regardless, we hiked about a mile up, and got some nice scenics, saw a bird or two.

That wasn't as exciting as I wanted it to be, basically because we couldn't take the car back far enough. Shoshone, at least on the side we were on, seems to all be about grazing concessions. But when we entered Bridger, there seemed to be be actual recreational activities. So, we took one of those down a couple miles before... it also petered out in impassable snow and mud. Fair bit of reverse driving, then come back out. And we both see

Now, I've been right next to a less than happy moose before, and even at this range I am amazed how huge these are. Shy, also. We're like 70 yds away with difficult to impassable terrain in between and they got up and left. Sorry, mooses (meese?).

Another random photo to show off the scenery. This is the Teton range, facing west from around Moran Jct. Grand Teton is 20° off the frame to the right.

Tonight we are in Jackson, left of that last photo about 15-20 miles. Despite expected wonderful scenery across Idaho and Oregon (which I have never seen), we have to move to make 10+ hours of driving, so probably no adventures and little sightseeing tomorrow, sadly.

Oh, one more note. Its Jackon, WY. Not "Jackson Hole." That's the name of the valley in which, among other things, the town is located. Alison was wondering why I kept saying it like that, so asked some townies, and that's right.

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