After three days of major preparation -- if you don’t count eight years of talking about it, 14 months of figuring out how to drive/operate a motor home, and seven months of getting the house ready -- Jim and I left Salt Lake at about 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, August 2 on our retirement extravaganza RV trip. We both retired Friday, July 29 and Jim wanted to leave Monday, August 1, but I got a one-day reprieve and we really needed that extra day. So we’re heading east toward Ohio via Wyoming and then Nebraska. First stop: Fossil Butte National Monument in south east Wyoming. We’d been to Fossil Butte, one of the least visited national monuments, a few years ago and really liked it. Fifty million years ago a huge lake covered the area; today, it’s semi arid with flat topped buttes that contain some amazingly preserved fossils. The visitor center brochure says the fossils are “remarkable for their abundance” and include plants, insects, reptiles, birds, mammals and over 20 kings of fish, and that millions of specimens have been uncovered.
After a trip to the visitor’s center, Jim and I started to hike an interpretive trail; about a half mile in we ran into a family from New Hampshire who told us they’d just seen a mountain lion; that shortened our hike. Actually, they said they saw a mountain lion and a fawn, and we didn’t want to see carnage or be carnage. With all the hiking we’ve done, I wonder how many many times we’ve been close to mountain lions and bears without knowing it.
|Where we spent our first night: A Fossil Butte ranger told us we could stay on BLM land near the park, and a flat space recently used to stage equipment used for resurfacing the road might be good bet. It was perfect.|
|Jim and Cooper hiking.|
|View out the back of our rig.|
|View while driving to Kemmerer, about 8 miles from Fossil Butte.|
August 3, 2011
It rained hard last night. The bottom of our “sleeping loft” is about three feet from the top of the rig, so that made the rain seem even louder. I thought we’d wake up with mud over our wheels, as we spent the night parked on a flat space at the side of a county road near Fossil Butte. But all was well. Before leaving the Fossil Butte area, we took a 2.5 mile hike called he Old Quarry Trail, near the no-longer-in-existance town of Fossil, where we saw an “A frame” shack used by fossil-farmer David Haddenham, who eked out a living mining fossils for 50 years.
We planned to camp near Atlantic City, Wyoming, a funky town 4 miles off Rt 28 via a gravel road, but didn’t see any good spots, so we decided to drive to Lander. What a nice town and a beautiful area. We visited Sinks Canyon State Park. Water from the Popo Agie River rushes into a limestone caverns; two hours later the same water (they’ve actually done dye tests) appears in a much more peaceful pool just a quarter of a mile away. Why the water takes so long to get that short distance is still a mystery, said an interpretive sign, but there was some thought that it just travels much more slowly through rocks and crevices of the limestone.
|Bev at David Haddenham's summer home of many years.|
|Where the water enters the sink hole...|
|And where the water comes out two hours later just one-quarter of a mile away.|
|Jim and Cooper at the Popo Agie River just outside of Lander.|
|Our second night home: Jim called a casino on the Wind River Indian Reservation just a few miles out of Lander and asked if we could stay there over night. Really, another perfect spot and also free.|