Cheyenne to Green River, Wyoming. We have to change our plans....
05.05.2016 - 05.05.2016 50 °C
Room 407, La Quinta Inn, Ely, Nevada
Saturday, 7th May
“The gladdest moment in human life, me thinks, is a departure into unknown lands.” – Sir Richard Burton
Today (Saturday), turned into another surprisingly spectacular day (I need to get myself a dictionary of superlatives as we're running out). This, despite a real threat of thunderstorms which were there, alright, working there way round this part of the Great Basin Desert. Anyway, will be writing about today tomorrow, we hope. We have two nights here so a sort-of rest day tomorrow.
So this day (Thursday) was carefully planned, as ever, but some of it went a bit wrong. We were in this area in 2007 and we were aiming to avoid where we'd been before but drive again, at least in part, the road over the Sierra Madre as it poured with rain then and we vowed to come back one day. So we did!
From Cheyenne, westwards by I-80 to just beyond Laramie, which we had visited back in 2007, back onto the empty roads into Colorado, a sharp right then back into Wyoming and up to Encampment. Left onto State Route 70 which is the road over the Sierra Madre. We had planned to get up to a campsite high on the Sierra then turn round and retrace our steps to Encampment. It would have been too long a drive to have driven the whole road.
But we soon encountered the sign "Road Closed after 9 miles". So we drove as far as we could, the rest of the road being closed by snow. But this meant there had been no traffic on the road and deer were running up & down the road in delight at its emptiness, and then in terror at our approach. We had speculated how deer got over the fences ranchers use to manage their cattle. I thought they might jump them, but no, they squeeze through gaps in the fence, presumably made by other deer!
After a few photos we returned to Encampment, a tiny community well off any beaten track, as planned. We stopped to buy some coffee and we got talking to the locals. In the shop, apart from the coffee, Bob was also "forced" to buy home made cherry pie just out of the oven. Bob also learned that Encampment can get snow at any time of the year and, yes, it had even snowed there in August! Meanwhile John was chatting to an ancient local who creaked out of his almost-just-as-ancient Ford (unheard and forgotten model).
"Cowboy Wadsworth" as he introduced himself, had returned to live in Encampment. He claimed to be descended from Wordsworth. I think he may been confused as judging by his nose, his ancestor may well have been Wadsworth, the brewery people. But it was fascinating talking to him and learning about living in such a remote place.
Encampment was on our "Historic Forts" tour as, though it was founded as a Copper Mining town, there was a military encampment to provide protection, for a while. We like this little city very much.
As promised to "Cowboy Wadsworth" who was on the Carbon County visitors' committee, we drove on to Fort Fred Steel, also on our "Forts" list. The sign, as we pulled off the Interstate, seemed to imply that the place was CLOSED! But it turned out the sign was just confusing and it was actually OPEN. We had the place to ourselves and it was yet another of those magical moments when we drove down the track to it. Right by the Union Pacific railroad AND the North Platte, it really was a magical place. And we watched enthralled when a goods train pulled up at the bridge over the river and the driver and his mate(!) got out of the cab and walked across the bridge, giving us a cheery wave. We walked under the railroad, by the river, to view what remains of this fort. We sat a the picnic table and ate our cherry pie. We then drove off and got another wave from the driver and his mate. What fun!
Our journey continued on I-80 and along to the oil town of Sinclair (renamed after the oil company that bought the oil refinery from Parko the original owner and name of the city). Here we planned to visit the local museum. But it was CLOSED! An old boy pulled up in his pickup to leave a letter at the "City Hall/Police Station" next door. We chatted and learned that he was a retired teacher from Rawlins the next big town. He also said that the City Hall lady would be back in an hour, after lunch, and she would unlock the museum for us. Unfortunately we did not have time to wait.
Next on the list was the old State Prison and Carbon County Museum, both in the busy town of Rawlins and both CLOSED, of course.
We filled up with gas and carried on on the freeway to our hotel for the night, the Hampton Inn at Green River, which turned out to be a bigger town than we thought.
We also stopped to wash the car in Rock Springs. Not a good idea given the forecast for tomorrow!
The only place to eat, however, appeared to be Penny's Diner, the other side of I-80. Had we eaten at a Penny's Diner before? YES! And it was dreadful. And this meal was not much better. John's fish filet ("feelay") sandwich was OK but Bob's meatloaf special was as good it looked. Not! We had a funny conversation with the waitress about the English and American languages, starting with the pronunciation of filet (or fillet).
Despite the food, we had a magnificent day, with a view from our room of the unusual rock formations here which Arthur found fascinating, not!