Everybody knows about western Wyoming. Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Tetons are heavyweights, so they tilt the state west. I had never had any intention of stopping there. Maybe another trip, when they are not in season. And then there is the whole fire thing. I’ve had enough smoke to last me a while. I decided to go east instead, from Green River in the SW to Sheridan in the NE, about 25 miles south of the Montana border. There’s a lot to be said about the lighter side of the state.

The people are nice. More cowboyish? I saw plenty of horses and cattle on my trip, along with a bunch of other stuff that I’ll be getting to. I saw a sign that said “Wyoming beef is delicious!” I thought to myself: “and pretty damn cute too.”

My first destination for the day was the hot springs of Thermopolis in Hot Springs State Park. Beautiful place with two main attractions. The hot springs of course. All hot springs get diverted. This is the biggest hot spring in the world (so says the sign). There is a public bathhouse and then two commercial businesses with outside pools and waters slides. Open year round. Another attraction is the buffalo herd–though there aren’t actually any buffalo left in the US. They are American Bison. You can go on a loop drive through their territory. You can get as close as you want as there are not any fences but they highly recommend not getting too close.

The ride there was amazing. I passed through the Wind River Indian Reservation and one pass said it was the continental divide–I ooked at a map and realized I crossed it quite a few times. I also passed through the Shoshone National Forest. (The map I am keeping will come in handy when I’m writing the book.)

Looking at the continental divide on the map makes sense. It passes through around Moab, Utah as well. The ride was similar but different. Mountains, passes, valleys and rivers. The final ride up to Thermopolis included something very like the ride away from Moab. I followed a river with mountains on either side of me, down through valleys and up through passes. The colors are different, more on the earth tones pastel side and the mountains are higher with the gorges deeper.

Another scenic route took across the Bighorn Mountains. I passes a lot more cattle and a bunch of goats that were chomping away on the side of the road. It’s all just so incredible. Pictures, videos and writing about it just doesn’t do it justice. I’ll try better for the book. I’ll need the map and a thesaurus.

As I was standing outside of the hotel waiting (it’s laundry day), I heard the old Rod Stewart song. “I wish I knew then what I know now, when I was younger. I wish I knew then what I know now, when I was stronger.”

In the next few days is the time for the big decision. I’ll pass through Montana tomorrow on my way to North Dakota. It is much later in the year than I expected. Today saw a high of 70 and the land drive was bathed in sunshine with a cloudless sky. But how long do I have? Colder weather and snow comes earlier this far north. All of my good cold weather stuff is in storage.

I already have the title for the next column: Eastward Bound. On the maps, the main highways are shown in a purple and the scenic routes in dotted reds. 94 can take me to Chicago and then something or another in the purple range back to the east coast. The last “place” I wanted to visit is just a little out of the way in South Dakota. Friends I want to visit are along that northern route. But it leaves a patchwork of red roads throughout the center.

Someone just mentioned to me that it is the getting sidetracked that makes things interesting.

Well, hopefully my laundry is dry.

The Drive

Hot Springs State Park