Thursday, June 20, 2013

Crossing Wyoming

Last night over dinner, when I told my new friend Lisa that I was going to drive to Cheyenne, she told me how she used to take the drive from Lyman to Cheyenne a lot, and she found it incredibly boring. I was fascinated by the newness of the beauty of Wyoming from my North/South drive yesterday, but I could see how, seeing it every day, one would get used to it and it could quickly become a long, monotonous ride. I have noticed that the cars with Wyoming plates were the ones that didn’t seem to have any patience with me going the speed limit as I gawked at the scenery.


The terrain today was all flat and pretty uninteresting. There were some of those awesome mountains off in the distance, but Lisa was right, they lose their novelty pretty quickly. You can see in the first section of the video, there’s nothing around. I pulled off the road after about an hour of driving because my body was really protesting being in the C-shaped-spine car seat position. I folded up a blanket and put it against the back of the seat so I could sit in my natural spine position instead of reclining and so the head restraint would no longer force my head into a forward position.

River got out and started to explore while I was doing that, so since there was no one for miles, I let him roam free and I took the opportunity to finish up the job that yesterday’s car wash had started. But it didn’t get any of the dirt out from inside the door jambs. Still, every time I slammed a door, I got another dust cloud. And all of the windshield wipers were also coated in dust that was somehow missed by the big brushes. I was prepared to get a nice mud smear the next time I had to use them. So I took a break to wipe Thumper clean in every spot I could reach.

We drove for a few more hours until, in a town called Elk Mountain, I saw a brown sign that said Public Access. I didn't know what it was referring to, but I’ve learned to respond to the brown signs, because they usually mean cool, naturey things, like state parks or natural points of interest. And considering what we’d been seeing all day, this minor, mosquito infested creek seemed like an oasis.  But once we got up close to the water, it wasn’t as tempting as I had originally thought.

We drove on and on, not really impressed with the region. The difference between driving South along the western edge of the state and driving East along the southern edge is vast. I’d take that western drive again and again, but this East/West drive was B.O.R.I.N.G.

If it weren’t for being high on coffee and singing along to Jefferson Airplane’s Surrealistic Pillow album out the sunroof at the top of my lungs, it would have been a dull day. But instead I had a great time.

I was about to pull off at a Rest Area to give River a pee break, but as I took the highway exit, I noticed that if I turned the opposite way than what was indicated by the Rest Area sign, it would take me into Medicine Bow National Forest. So, it was a no-brainer for me to choose between a parking lot with a public bathroom or a road side turnout in a forest. 

The last part of the video is a quick look at the latest national forest 'marked' by River.



Just as we were about to enter Cheyenne, I saw some pretty incredible rock formations along the side of the road. Did you ever make drip sand castles at the beach?  That’s what these looked like, only giant. I tried to take a picture of them, but they don’t read as impressive on the photos I took with my phone. At the same site, there was a Wyoming landmark; a tree growing out of a rock. I took some video of River there, but it got accidentally deleted. Only this one photo survived.

When we got to the Motel 6 in Cheyenne, our room wasn't ready, so River and I walked around for a while. They said they would call us when the room was ready. I took the opportunity to practice his 'heel' and 'come' and 'stay' all through the outdoor corridors of the motel.  We walked past people and past open room doors. These things, in the past, would have drawn River's attention, but today he stayed right at my side.

In my book River gets a big gold star for this one: A young boy being walked by a dominant Miniature Doberman on a 20 foot leash came around the corner. I told River to stop and sit and he did. Even as the little dog strained to reach us, growling and cajoling River much to the chagrin of the ineffectual kid at the other end of the leash who was resignedly letting the dog really taunt River, who dutifully sat there, perplexed, watching him.

Finally, after I thought River had displayed an impressive amount of restraint, I asked the kid, "Can they say Hi?" but he just looked at me with his mouth open so I realized I had to make the decision myself. I told River, "OK!" He, taking the cue, approached the ferocious doglet. As they did their sniffs, the kid finally opened up to me, saying that his dog was usually too afraid of other dogs to socialize. But I guess because of River's good manners, the little guy wasn't afraid.

Then the dog made a snap at River. I'm not sure if it was 'play' or 'fight' but River kind of looked at him like, "You've got to be kidding me. Do you know that I could kill you and eat you with one bite?" Then he looked at me like, "Get a load of this 'tough guy.'"  So, I rescued him, saying "River, Come!" which he did, and "Heel!" which he did.

As we walked away, I thanked the boy for letting us have that experience. I'm sure he had no idea how important it was to us.

This evening I’ll do my laundry and tomorrow for breakfast, will be finishing up the last of the food I had prepared before I left Seattle. 

From what I’ve seen so far, I don’t see any reason I’d ever come back to Cheyenne.
Next stop: Breckenridge, Colorado.

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