Tuesday, September 21, 2010

2010-33 Thermopolis Wyoming, A BONUS REPORT


A Bonus Report

Thermopolis Wyoming
Legend Rock Petroglyphs

Campground:  Fountain of Youth Rv Park, Thermopolis.  $33 per night, full hookups.  No Tv reception.  Large mineral hot spring pools included in cost of camping. Older campground. Small concrete pad and picnic table at each site. Spectacular view of red rock cliffs and surrounding mountains.  Trains, but no whistle blowing.

By golly by gosh, what a spectacular drive from Cody Wy to Thermopolis.  Broad vistas of open range, rugged grass and sage covered landscapes that change with each passing cloud and splash of sunshine.  Pronghorn standing in groups or alone like statues on these wild range lands.  A lonely black cow grazing of the dry fall grasses.

As I drive down the hill into Thermopolis, 3 mule deer walk out into the road, with not a care in the world.  The next day as I drive back into town, their they are again.  Maybe they’ve been hired to greet newcomers.  And of course with a name like Thermopolis, I just had to put it on my list of places to visit.  The name alone sounds so Orwellian doesn’t it?  

And here I am after arriving at the Fountain of Youth.  You may not recognize me the next time you see me .  These campers are serious about their hot springs bathing, as I see folks walking to the pools early in the morning, midday and into the evening.  Often going back several times each day.  The owner sings his heart out in the evening while we paddle around the large heated pools.  


As you know, for those of you who have followed my travels, I have quite an interest in the Native Indian rock art.  While touring the Thermopolis area, I discovered that they have a great state park called Legend Rock.  It’s about 20 miles north of Thermopolis. Down a road pointing to Hamilton Dome, across open range land, right onto a well maintained dirt road ( have I mentioned how dirty my truck has become lately), left down an unmarked dirt road and through a gate I had to sign for access earlier and obtain a key to enter.

The State/BLM has built a small new visitor center which isn’t quiet open yet and they also have hookups for one “work camper”.  Should probably be completed in a couple more months.  Might make a neat location for anyone looking to sign up for a remote work camp experience.

The site contains over 300 petroglyphs, some being over 11,000 years old to as new as 100 years old.  Legend Rock contains Dinwoody petroglyphs that are only in Big Horn and the Wind River Basins.  They contain some most interesting features such as unusual amount of toes or fingers and figures that are upside down.  Some containing human figures with interior lines in the torso.  These are features seldom if ever seen at other sites.

I had the place to myself and it was neat to experience an historical site in silence.  With just the soft whistle of a breeze occasionally or the sound of water flowing over rocks along the Cottonwood creek.  The sun was bright yet the air was a chilly 48 degrees this morning.  Though it felt warmer up against the rock cliffs where the petroglyphs have been etched.  Giving me a chance to experience the warmth that the Indians enjoyed when they built their winter dwellings along the south facing cliffs.

Climbing up to the cliff walls, I was able to get within inches of the petroglyphs.  Seeing the deep chipping action used to create some of the glyphs, others were much finer and barely showed where the chipping away of stone had occurred.  They were so smooth and fully pecked away as to look smoothly formed figures.  I was intrigued by the figure that was portrayed upside down and some of the human forms that seemed to stretch and have multiple arms or unusual headdresses on.  

This is the kind of exploration I enjoy.  Seeing an ancient Indian art form from 11,000 years ago, still speaking to us today and having the time to contemplate those who walked this land thousands of years ago.

The following morning, as I soaked once again in the hot mineral springs pool, steam rising up into the chilly morning air, the owner, a cowboy preacher came on stage and sang a few “non-denominational” songs.  Mostly from my point of view anyway, poorly written songs, but done with good guitar backgrounds.  Then a preachy sermon on not condemning others.  And how each of us hears the same thing, yet interprets it in our own way.  Spoke a lot about his own life, making a lot of money early on and being quite arrogant but not knowing it at the time.  (He owns a number of businesses in town including the Fountain of Youth Rv park.)  So he used his life as a reflection of change and growth along the way.

Folks either sat in chairs around the stage or continued to swim in the pool, some lined up along the sides to listen more intently.  Others playing quietly with their kids in the hot mineral pools.  The sun sparkling across the blue waters and the sky.

I wander off after a while as the lessons he is preaching about just don’t seem to resonate with where I am on this sunny crystal clear day.  I feel very in tune with the natural surroundings and life feels very good.

And I haven’t even mentioned the Hot Springs State Park, where one can take a plunge in the hot springs for free as well as entry into the park for free.  It having been a part of the local Indian Reservation.  When the Indians sold this section off, they insisted that the springs always be free to get into.  And so it is to this day.

And, and even more, I visited the famous Wyoming Dinosaur Center, which has the largest Supersaurus on display at 106 feet long.  Weighed about 40 tons.  But more than that, the displays chronicle the evolution of our planet for single cell organisms on up through the ages of dinosaurs.  An excellent exhibit if one takes the time to read all the placards and view all the fossil displays along the way.    

Whew, I’ve seen enough for a couple of days, I’m jumping back into the hot springs one more time.

Till the next adventure come around, have a super great day.

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