Sunday, July 31, 2016

Fort Laramie

Last week my friend Margaret told me about a cool new National Parks Passport book she'd found, it was spiral bound and had a checklist for each region! I found one at the Grand Teton Visitor Center and when I saw that it had a dedicated section for each park I was sold! No more filling up one region and having the other empty! And, now I can see if I've been to all the National Parks!
When I bought my new book I took it right over to the passport station and stamped it, the book is arranged by region and then state so I had a list of all the National Parks in Wyoming and discovered there was only one I hadn't been to, Ft. Laramie. Hmmmm...where was Ft. Laramie?
Surprisingly, it was right on route! I was planning to take US26 all the way across Wyoming into Nebraska to get to 80. I was planning on stopping at Chimney Rock - it was mentioned in the Top Ten National Parks book and looked interesting as a quickie stop. Ft. Laramie was 50 miles from Scottsbluff!
I left Colter Bay a bit after 8 this morning and started driving east! I had a hard time getting out of the Tetons since I kept stopping for more pictures! There was no smoke today and the first 20 or some miles of US26 climbed high to get over Togwotee Pass (9658 ft) and had views the whole way up that I had to stop to look at since I was heading east! After the pass it was all downhill - elevation and scenery. It quickly turned to desert and wide open nothingness.
I stopped for lunch at Boysen State Park. It appears that the state park goes around a lake, probably a reservoir, but I just stopped at the picnic area that was along 26 and sat at the one table that was under a cover. It was almost 100 degrees!
I was very surprised by Caspar - it's a huge city! Biggest city I've seen since Colorado Springs! After Caspar, 26 joined up I-25. It was really more of the same, just 4 lanes instead of two. And the speed limit was 80 rather than 70 (although I was still going 70). Finally I reached the turn off where 26 goes east and 30 miles later reached Ft. Laramie.
Ft. Laramie was really neat! It's the meeting place of three historic trails - The Oregon Trail, The California Trail, The Mormon Pioneer Trail and the Pony Express came through! It was a major stopping spot for all the pioneers! Most of the stuff on display was about the officers and military installment of the fort, I was more interested in the pioneers, but it was still a good stop to walk around (yes it was 100 degrees and the sun was blazing!) and got my passport stamped! Now I've got them all for Wyoming!
Most of the road I've been driving was part of the Oregon Trail. I can't even imagine making this trip in a wagon. And not only that, the pioneers didn't even ride in the wagons, they packed the wagons with their supplies and walked! Just walking around the fort today I was thinking about what it would be like to walk across the desert! And I thought it was long and slow to drive!

It was 4:30 when I left Ft. Laramie and it was so hot I decided I'd rather keep driving the 50 miles to Scottsbluff rather than stop at one of the overnight options that were closer. I found a lovely campground in a city park - Riverside Park. There were plenty of sites available and the ones that were filled seemed like normal campground people, not many permants, a mix of RVs and trailers, even some tenters. I got a water/electric site for $20 and settled right in!
Since I had electric I decided to use my convection oven for the first time ever to heat up dinner. This involved pre-heating the oven then cooking. Took me a few tried but I managed to get the over preheating! Since it had never been used for this purpose there was some dust on the heating element that had to burn off as well as some crumbs in the microwave that burned a bit. This was apparently enough for the smoke dectector to think something was on fire! I had the sliding door open and was standing right there and head this wasn't the oven...oh! The smoke dectector! Ha! Well, I'm glad it works!
After dinner I took a walk on the walking path I'd found near the campground. It had gotten cloudy and the wind kicked up which cooled things off and made it very nice outside! The one path lead to a nice paved bike path that went along the North Platte River! The bike path wasn't very long though so I was glad I was just walking!

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