Monday, June 15, 2015

Chapter 11 - Casper to Dubois, Wyoming

Sunday, June 14th:
The photograph to the left does not adequately show the beauty of the drive today.  No photograph can. The rock formations, the herds of cattle, the antelopes, and the snow covered mountains in the distance that rose to over 13,000 feet.  The mountain range that shows faintly in the photograph came into view about two hours into our trip and for the next hour and a half we followed these mountains all of the way up to Dubois. Our map told us that these were the Wind River Mountains and that along the ridge of these mountains ran the Continental Divide. We were also intrigued by the name of the mountains for we knew that our campsite for tonight and tomorrow night, The Longhorn Ranch Lodge and RV Resort, sits along side the Wind River and our reserved space in the park sits directly on the river bank.  Obviously our destination will be close to the mountains and as it turned out, the town of Dubois and the Wind River sit deep within a valley which carries the obvious name of the Wind River Valley.

The drive today was almost entirely void of 18-wheelers and not surprisingly there were almost as many travel trailers as there were cars. Fortunately the traffic was light. The highway that we followed to Dubois continues on to Yellowstone National Park which clearly explains the abundance of trailers like our own. The numerous cattle ranches along our route would also explain our delightful delay having to wait for a team of cowboys to drive a small herd of cattle across the highway.  We have never in our 46 years of marriage and traveling together encountered a "cattle drive" delay.  Got to love the west!

About five miles south of the RV park where we plan to spend the next two nights, we pulled off the road because the view of the Wind River and the adjacent rock bluffs was just too much to pass up. On the drive up to Dubois we have crossed the Wind River several times.  In some locations the water was rushing at such an intensity that white water rafting on the river would have been a thrill.  In other locations the water was not quite so intense but it was still moving at about ten miles per hour. Fly fishing for trout in the Wind River is a popular local sport and a tourist attraction. The source of the Wind River is of course in the Rocky Mountains. As with other rivers in the west, the waters of the Wind eventually end up in the Mississippi River and ultimately in the Gulf of Mexico.

As I mentioned our campsite at the Longhorn Ranch is right on the bank of the Wind River and as this photo to the right shows it is nestled among a collection of large cottonwood trees. We were fortunate that the RV park was only around 30% occupied as both Kathy and I agreed that our RV space located right on the river bank has to be one of the best and most popular in the park.

The photograph to the left of the Wind River was taken about 100 feet from our travel trailer. We had an unobstructed view of the river Sunday evening while we enjoyed dinner sitting at our picnic table under our awning.  Hard to ask for more, especially with a blue sky and temperatures in the mid-70s. If a nice home were built on this lot it would be worth in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Despite the incredible beauty of the area along the river, we were surprised not to find any really deluxe homes sitting along the river. Perhaps most of the local residents preferred to spend their money on homes on mountain sides with incredible mountain views.

For dinner tonight, Cabo and I enjoyed the most incredibly delicious grass fed Angus beef burgers that I cooked over our grill. The beef was purchased at a local food store and obviously we can thank a local cow for providing his life to give us such a treat. Kathy as a die hard vegetarian, missed out on this wonderful meal. A salad dinner just does not do it for me.

Monday, June 15th:
We woke up this morning with the temperature outside and probably inside our tin box, at a cool 46 degrees and for a few minutes we found it necessary to turn on our heater. Please, I know we are campers, but really, we were just not prepared to take a shower even with really water hot, when the temperature in our bathroom was in the 40s.  This quickly changed however, with the heat soon flowing in our 130 square foot home. Unfortunately, the skies were cloudy and according to the local weather forecast there was a strong chance of rain. Notwithstanding the weather, we were enjoying ourselves, so at 9 AM we enthusiastically set out to explore Dubois, Wyoming.  After driving through the streets of Dubois which did not take us very long in this town of only 950, we soon found ourselves driving up a steep gravel road identified with a sign at the bottom as a scenic overlook road. Despite the low lying clouds, the view from the top of the mountain after we slowly climbed uphill for 15 minutes was just incredible. Unfortunately as we wound our way back down the mountain it started raining.

Not really discouraged by the rain we decided to visit a local museum that featured local area history as well as the local wildlife. The Dubois Museum was really wonderful and because we were the only visitors on this rainy Monday morning, the museum curator gave us a personal guided tour. She was gracious enough to take several photographs of Kathy, Cabo, and myself including this one to the right. With the rain still coming down we decided to return back to the park and wait out the storm.

By the early afternoon the weather greatly improved (at least the rain stopped) so we decided to give our tourist enthusiasm another try and take a drive out into the countryside.  If nothing else we also needed to fill our car with gas.  Just to the south of our RV park we found another gravel road that seem to head up into the mountains so we decided we would give it a try.  I cannot even hope to describe how beautiful the scenery was as we wound uphill. Off to our right we saw a horse rider off in the distance. A perfect picture if we had a better camera.  Rocks and scraggly trees dominated the hillsides and off in the distance were tall mountains, many with snow on their tops. We discovered as we drove for a couple of miles, that this road led to a viewing area where Bighorn sheep are viewed on the high mountain sides during the winter months. Both Kathy and I cannot remember ever visiting an area where we were more awed by the beauty.  What a trip. This photo of Cowgirl Kathy Baker and Cabo is the best that we can do to share the beauty of what we have discovered here in northwestern Wyoming.

Tomorrow we are going to challenge our car by asking it to pull our trailer over the Continental Divide and across the Togwotee Pass at 9,658 feet above sea level.  We will let you know in our next blog whether or not we made it unless of course we end up like the Donner Party in 1847.                


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