Monday, September 14, 2009

On the Road Again - Crossing Wyoming

For those who receive these updates by e-mail, please note there are photos available at the blog site.

It's been quite some time since we've had Internet available to our travel computer. Sorry for the delay in updates. I'll date these posts so they flow correctly, then carry on with our most recent travel story...

After a relaxing visit to Utah visiting family and friends, hiking to Big Rock in Brigham City, geocaching with family (click here for their perspective), meeting with college friends and finding festivals, we carried on east through Wyoming. Our intended destination: friends' ranch near Bridgeport, Nebraska.

The drive is grueling; it's straight, long, fast (if you're not towing a trailer), generally dry this time of year, often windy (though not this time, thank heavens). I'm also thankful for the iPod my dad bought for me before last year's big trip, Florida's Lit2Go audio stories and poems collection, and the local broadcast of classical music by Nebraska's NET radio out of Alliance. These high-tech travel buddies were great companions as the girls caught up with math, reading and writing, the kitten caught some Zs, and we put on some miles.

The girls were troopers. It helped that they had one goal in mind that day: arrival at the ranch in Nebraska. The kitten, Arvin Fern Muffin Dustbunny Lintball McDonald, also served as a great distraction, alternately play with toes, chewing on fingers and trying to steal E's knitting away from her.

We had a long lunch stop in Green River, Wyoming, where I followed the signs to the kayak park on the river. The park doesn't appear to be complete yet, but there were bulldozers at the water's edge, apparently also on lunch break, and the park was on an island in the middle of the river. While the girls ran wild in the park, the AFMDLM (aka "Muffin") and I made lunch for a picnic in the shade. Muffin made quite an impression in the park as we munched on fresh Utah fruit, sandwiches, crackers and cheese.

From Green River, we forged on east on a wonderful travel day - dry roads, clouds ahead, little to no wind, light traffic. We stopped at the Tree in the Rock, an interesting historical point of interest along an otherwise long, straight stretch of freeway through gently rolling countryside. (Warning: While the department of transportation has created easy access to the site from both directions, restrooms, fencing and numerous signs, there are no restrooms available here.)

We stopped for dinner in Cheyenne, Wyoming, the state capitol. Because I've grown up in the West, I think of capitols being big cities. Sacramento, for example, has more than 450,000 residents (more than 2 million in the metro area). Salt Lake City has a population of more than 180,000, though it's tough to delineate between city limits and the other communities which, combined, are home to more than a million people. The community I live in is the largest in Santa Barbara County with some 100,000 residents in the valley, yet not even the county seat. So, finding a state capital with just over 55,000 residents was surprising for me, particularly given the size of the state. Cheyenne felt like a small town, complete with helpful locals who pointed the way to kid-friendly dining. I hope to return here for Cheyenne Rodeo Days in future - horses, rodeo, parades, repeat for more than a week.

We drove into the night, following remarkably precise instructions over decreasingly maintained highways and county roads until arrival at the ranch some time after dark. In all that open, dark, moonless space, the yard light was a speck of warmth and welcoming on the prairie.

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