We spent most of the day exploring the Flaming Gorge and the Ashley National Forest. We started a the Red Canyon Visitor Center. They had a very old school movie featuring Loni Anderson! I'm pretty sure it was from the 80s! At the end Loni was dressed like a Barbie doll! After the movie we walked around the trail to see the view of the lake with the steep red rock walls!
After the visitor center we drove up and parked at the Sheep Creek Overlook and took the Jeep to explore the Sheep Canyon Geological Loop. The big feature on the loop was all types of huge and different rock formations!
A little over halfway around the loop we came to the road to Spirit Lake. It was 17 miles down the dirt road to the lake, but Fred, at the Visitor Center had told us there was a lodge with a resteraunt down there and it was a nice place for lunch, so we went down there.
Spirit Lake Lodge was quite a place! It was very eclectic and a bit run down, but the owners were very friendly! The menu was very basic, grilled sandwiches served on paper plates and bags of chips. The bags of chips were usually served by the owners 2 year old daughter, but ours were served by a young man. The owner/waiter/cook was barefoot, as was the little girl! And then, right after we finished, the owner called his daughters attention to the squirrel...sure enough the squirrel was checking out the crumbs on the floor! The other customers asked and the squirrel lives outside, but occasionally comes in. Very interesting place and the food was pretty good!
On the way back to the Sheep Canyon road we stopped at the Ute Fire Tower. The fire tower was built by the CCC back in the '30s and it is not longer used but they offer tours on weekends. Dad and I and the volunteer climbed the tower and learned a lot about fire fighting - they used carrier pigeons to communicate with rangers and others "in town", and they had some interesting tools to help them determine the location of the fire.
After the fire tower it was a quick drive back to where we parked the RVs and then it was off to Pinedale. We were planning on staying Pinedale, WY tonight and then drive the last 70 miles into Jackson tomorrow. We are trying to get first come, first served sites at the Gros Ventre campground and want to get in early in the day if possible.
Once we came down the mountain into Manila, UT, the mountains ended and it was back to desert. Very flat desert. We also crossed over into Wyoming very quickly! At the Visitor Center we'd gotten a tip about an ice cream place in Farson, it was a very easy stop - it's the only thing in Farson! Even though it was 5:00 and more dinner time than ice cream time, we had ice cream before moving on!
It was another 50 miles, across flat Wyoming ranch land, to Pinedale. The sun was getting low in the sky and the clouds were really cool! There was one cloud in particular that looked a bit different - looked liked a mushroom clouds, like maybe something exploded. It was pretty cool looking!
We reached Pinedale and kept going, we'd found a forest service campground 10 miles out from Pinedale and thought that would be better than the ranger station we'd found on overnight RV parking. When we reached Daniel Junction however, 191/189 was closed due to fire! What? That explains the funny cloud I was seeing!
There was an RV park right there but it wasn't satisfactory for a number of reasons that I won't go into here so we decided to drive back into Pinedale to the ranger station. But, first we walked over to talk to the Sherif who was manning the road closed station. He said the fire was started by lighting this afternoon, around 2:00, and the road had only been closed a few hours. He had no clue as to how long it would take to reopen the road. We can go around - it takes about 6 hours from here to go the other way (would have been easy from 80 had we known when we were down there.) but it's about 70 miles to go the way we were planning.
We tried to look up information on the fire online but there's not much available. We are camping at the Ranger Station and there's been a constant stream of people coming and going for the hour that we've been here. Hopefully tomorrow morning we can get an update and hopefully the road will be open!