Overwhelming Wyoming – Part II

Travel 26/09/2012 – Buffalo, WY – Tensleep, WY – Thermopolis, WY – Shoshoni, WY – Riverton, WY

Travel 27/09/2012 – Riverton, WY – Route 267, 26 – Jackson, WY and the Grand Teton National Park

A late night drive from Devil’s Tower took us via Moorcroft, WY and a fuel stop onto the I-90 Westbound to cross this vast state. Originally we planned to drive to Sheridan WY. However given the time (19:15) we drove through Gillette, Wyoming (Pedal to the floor as neither of us wanted to experience any side effects from Gillette Syndrome) and onwards to Buffalo, WY.

“There are no stops for the next 59 miles” said Alison’s face illuminated by the dashboard. “No Stops?” Indeed, no stops. 59 miles of nothing but the occasional porch light from a dwelling somewhere to the left or right. Stop overnight at the Best Western hotel in Buffalo, WY. Another beautiful autumn morning.  We left this pastoral smallltown, and headed out on Route 16 to Yellowstone National Park’s Southern Entrance at Moran Junction.

Welcome to your next 75 miles in the Bighorn Basin, WY

Pookaverse drove hairily through the Bighorn Forest we began to see that the timing of our visit was perfect. The first yellow’s and slight hues of red began to seep into the cascading evergreen slopes. Cascading soon became plunging as the roads many switchbacks culminated in a magnificent descent through a vast gorge – strata of rock on each side labelled by the now familiar white-on-brown information signs.

“Cambrian Period – 505-562 million years”. And so on. A descent through a multi-coloured kaleidoscope of time from the Cambrian to the Jurassic period – the latter of which conveniently  starts at the small town of Tensleep, WY (Population 307 – up from the 260 posted in wikipedia) and two foaming cups of joe.

The transformation on leaving was astonishing. From the Bradburian bucolic to the dark side of the moon and into the Bighorn basin. A harsh and sparse wilderness of rolling hills. Bleached earthen mounds of rocks and golden scrub dotted with sleeping or nodding oil derricks – their doting white storage tanks  standing hazily nearby.

Is it a basin or a crucible in which the truth is driven out? Bighorn Basin, WY

Temperature rose into the ‘god-forbidden. How unspeakable must the temperature be in high summer? No wonder this area became a hideout for outlaws including Butch Cassidy near Meeteetse where he formed the infamous Wild Bunch.

Mouths ran dry as we pushed on through the first (and welcome) drop of civilisation in many miles – Worland, WY for hoom fuel and machine refuel at the lowest gas price of $3.67 per gallon.

Derrick meet Pookaverse. Pookaverse meet Derrick…and Derrick…and Derrick….and Derrick, Bighorn Basin, WY

You buy your fuel in American imperial gallons here. Quick comparison then. 1 US gallon = 3.9 liters. $3.67 divided by 3.9 = $0.94 per litre. Convert to Pounds based on the price at 28/09/2012 and the cost per litre is 0.5816 – 58p per litre.

Our excellent KIA Sportage hire car  (believe me this is a Brobdinagian Gulliver when parked up against some of 5.9 litre monsters that seem to abound on the roads through the Plains) averages about 30.94 miles per gallon.  Put simply, Gas is cheap here.

You pay differently for gas here. If by cash, you walk into the gas station and say “$40 on 3, please.” The attendant takes your money and logs the credit onto the pump. You pump gas differently here. When the display reads zero you clip the trigger on the pump handle into place and pump gas hands free – it automatically stops. You then make your way back to the booth/shop/supermarket and queue up “Change on 3 please.” And you’re done.

Public baths entrance at Thermopolis, WY

From Worland we left on highway 20 originally intending to stop at the Wyoming Dinosaur Centre at Thermopolis. Instead we were directed by another helpful local information guru to the Public Spa located near the  Hot Springs State Park – part of what is claimed to be the largest mineral springs in the world. They even staked that claim in big white letters on the side of one of the hills as you enter the town. Our guide at the baths informed us that the Public baths are free.  The springs are open to the public for free as part of an 1896 treaty signed with the Shoshone and Arapaho Indian tribes. You must shower when entering and leaving and you must time yourself.

“20 minutes maximum – no return for two hours – towel hire will cost you a dollar”. After visiting the Széchenyi Bath in Hungary and the Blue Lagoon in Iceland – the chance to experience  was too  good to pass off. So Pookaverse divided into two hoom sexes, changed – showered and waded into a concrete holding tank of what smelt like a school chemistry experiment and looked like milk mixed with curacao.

Public Baths at Thermopolis, WY

There were other Spas that looked more glamorous on the outside. But you would have to pay for essentially the same experience in the hot open air of a Wednesday afternoon.

From Thermopolis, Pookaverse drove to Riverton, WY via the Owl Creek Mountains through the stratospheric Wind River Canyon ( the upper reaches of the Bighorn River) and past the Boysen Resovoir.  To Riverton, that beautiful sounding place in deepest Wyoming

Imagine this around your taps…Large mineral formations at Thermopolis, WY

Oh Riverton. With your depressing and oddly threatening Days Inn. Your ‘Smiths‘ supermarket and drug with the scary screeching lady shouting “Where you from” at the entrance where you promised Pookaverse “the best” in terms of Customer Service.

Thanks for talking at us for ten minutes and ringing the dinner bell to the local thieves, of which there may have been more than a handful. With your silver dentures, foul breath and endless list of personal and entirely fatuous non-facts about yourself. It only stopped when your co-employees finally led you away. God bless them. Each and every one.

Here is a picture of some kittens… unsoiled by Riverton, WY

Then on to the oral assault of a ‘burger-something’ at Arbys  that we went to as we were so tired of waiting for someone to serve us at your deli counter. So salty we almost gagged. Never again to all of that. God bless Pabst Blue Ribbon to knock you out cold in the evening and a half tank of gas to screech away to our escape the next morning.

You look so beautiful Riverton –  in the rear view mirror at 45mph.

Sometime you must wade throught bitter waters to reach the sweet.

And the waters of the Snake River running through the Grand Teton National Park have never been sweeter. To be continued…

P.S. New pictures have been uploaded to the Dailies page. Drop by when you have the time. Will try and keep this updated more regularly

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