Thursday, July 26, 2012

2012-24 Lander Wyoming


Lander Wyoming

Campground:  Twin Pines RV Park.  Full hookups.  $31, no discount, Passport Not accepted during summer months.  Convenient Location. (one night)

Campground:  Mountain View Campground:  10 campsites, full hookups.  $12.50 Passport rate, 3 night max stay.  I got the weekly rate of $97, great deal.  The small park is surrounded by ranches, very quiet setting and only a 15 minute drive into Lander.  Great views of the ranches and surrounding area.  Additional note:  this park is very scruffy and is not being maintained, not even trimming the grass around campsites.  A number of campsites have gone into disrepair and no longer function.  This park may not be for everyone.  you decide.

Wyoming:  Lowest State population with around half a million folks in the entire state.

I couldn’t leave the Flaming Gorge area without commenting on the difference in scenery from the south end to the north.  I’ve already described those mountain ranges on the southern end with the Ponderosa pines and dramatic views.  Heading north into Wyoming from Flaming Gorge the scenery is quite different.  For one, it’s relatively flat with low mounds of bare hills and large stretches of high desert country.  Dry as can be with the short prairie grasses and sage as faded in color as the gray and tan sands and surrounding hills.  Traveling along, I don’t see a single building or man made object for 50 miles except for the endless rows of barbed wire fences and  lonely telephone poles reaching towards the horizon.  A lone pronghorn elk stands by the edge of the road until I pass and then it runs a short distance before looking back.

My intention is to drive to Lander where I’ve noted a Passport America park is that has unlimited stays.  When I get there I find the park (Dallas Dome Ranch RV) empty and abandoned along with a re-creation of an old western town.  Obviously I didn’t take my own advice and call ahead to see if they were still a Passport America member or that they were still open.  I quickly go into Plan B, but before doing so I have to walk around this empty deserted park and take pictures of this old western town re-creation.  With the grass growing knee deep, I wander through the old set and take as many pictures as I can, which of course are never enough.

And then it’s onto plan B.  Find another park, set up camp and figure what my next move will be.  Obviously at $31 a night I won’t be staying here more than one night.  I’m sort of at a crossroads, in that I haven’t really decided which direction I really want to travel.  Finding another park in the area that takes Passport America with a 3 night max stay, I’ll move there tomorrow and have a few more days to explore this area and hopefully decide which direction I’m going to head afterwards.  My dilemma being that I would enjoy visiting the Grand Tetons, but I don’t have reservations which are recommended during the height of the summer season.  Or head directly into Idaho which doesn’t have a straight path to get there by any means.  There are no short cuts from this point on.

As luck would have it, I got an unbelievable rate of $97 a week at Mountain View Campground, so I have plenty of time to explore and decide which direction I’ll travel to next.

Entrance to Lander WY
Lander is a nice western town, with approx. 7,500 folks living in the area.  Though it doesn’t have any big stores like K-Mart or Wal-Mart, it does have a couple good food stores and restaurants as well as a good size downtown area.  Of course this is a town that one would normally stop at overnight on their way to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone.  I like exploring small places like this and just hanging out.  After all it’s not necessary to “tour” all the time when on the road.  I’ve already checked out the local library which is pretty nice, being it’s the main one in the county.  Oh and I get to wear my cowboy hats all the time, as it’s the norm out here.

Here’s an interesting story about Wyoming.  Back in the early days of Wyoming there was a huge influx of grasshoppers.  But there were also tons of seagulls in the area.  Well, seagulls enjoy munching on grasshoppers and saved the state from what could have been devastating to the state farmers.  The seagull is Wyoming’s state bird.  Now that’s the folklore told to me by the owner of the Mountain view Rv park.  With a little research, I found out the state bird is actually the Western Meadowlark.  How did they pick the Western Meadowlark?  At the time (1927) they had no state bird, so they put a bunch of bird names in a hat and picked one out of the hat.  So the story goes.

South Pass City, WY

I did go on an adventure today over to Atlantic City and South Pass City.  Both old mining towns. South Pass has been preserved by the State of Wyoming with over 24 buildings being refurbished.  I must admit, even though the building have been preserved to their 1890’s state, they are all so perfect, especially on the exteriors that it all seems rather fake at first glance.  The other thing that completely irritated me was how they had each buildings interiors behind glass or plastic walls.  Not only was it difficult to view the rooms what with the glair coming off the windows, it also gave the feeling as if one has come all this way to tour an historic town and only being able to see it all at a distance.  It’s hard to get a feeling for each building when I cannot walk through them fully.  Very sterile in feeling.  Now I did enjoy the drive up through the mountain passes and leaving the paved road.  Driving on a fairly well maintained dirt road does give me the feeling of being on an adventure as I go deeper into this rugged mountainous region.  And of course seeing the occasional deer and free range cattle as they graze along the sides of the road is pretty cool too.  There were even a few old gold mining structures still standing that are in pretty good shape.

The town of Atlantic City has a number of old mining buildings from the late 1890’s as well, but it is an active summer community.  Where people live in those older homes on the sides of the hills as they either enjoy the area as a vacation retreat, or attempt to make a living with the few motel/cottages and a couple of Mom and Pop eateries and stores.  It all seemed so much more natural than South Pass.  The buildings are more weathered and yes some are in total disrepair.  Which is what I expect to see when visiting an old ghost town or old mining town.

Of course another week another laundry day.  I headed into Lander to the only Laundromat in town.  All  colorful in red white and blue.  You’d think with all the times of done laundry it would be no big deal.  So when I went to the counter to get change for my change, I’d brought 4 bags of small coins already counted out to $1 or $2 combinations to make it easier to exchange for quarters.  The gal behind the counter said they didn’t accept small change and I could go to the local bank about a block away.  So off I went to the bank on the corner.  It was closed.  Trekking back to the laundry I thought let me just use some paper money.  Come to find out they don’t even use quarters.  They have a machine that take paper money and issues a credit card for use only in the Laundromat. Okkkkay.  So of course I purchase one for $5 figuring that would be enough.  When I put it into the washing machine it said I had 50 cents.  What happened to the other $4.50.  Surely the washer was only $2.50.  So back to the counter, where I had to call out about a dozen times to get the gals attention again.  A guy was standing near the counter and quickly hid behind a wall partition.  I guess he didn’t want get involved.  You see the attendants do the dry cleaning and ironing behind the counter or hide in the far reaches of the work area, I wasn‘t sure which.  Come to find out there’s a $2.50 fee for the credit card, refundable when one returns the card to the counter lady.  That is if you can get the counter ladies attention.  After all that, I had to add more money to the card to be able to dry the clothes.  In the mean time, a sprightly well dressed lady walked in and started to talk to me.  Pointing out that I was reading something on my Kindle, she pointed to an article about some kind of monkeys with huge noses and thought I might be interested.  I’m not sure what she was suggesting, surely I don’t have a big nose.  We chatted and of course I told her about my laundry saga and then she informed me that she was a Jehovah Witness and if I had any questions I could ask her.  About God, life, where we go after death, you name it.  I looked at her most pleasantly and didn’t respond, having no questions I needed her to answer.  She was all very pleasant and eager to help, like a little puppy that had learned a new trick and was just hoping someone would ask her to perform.  She finally left.  It all worked out well in the end and of course I have a load of clean laundry and a story to tell.

A quick note on my Verizon smart phone saga.  I was unable to get any of the tethering apps to work on the new phone and finally bit the bullet and have signed up for the $30 fee to Verizon (monthly) to be able to use my phone as a wi-fi hot spot.  If you know me, it was difficult for me to sign up for a feature I had previously been able to get around by using a free app.  But Verizon has gotten smarter in figuring out that some of us were getting away without paying them those extra fees and have done a pretty good job of making it impossible to get around paying them.  I guess if I look at it that it is only costing me $1 a day for the wi-fi hotspot, I should be happy with that.  All right already, I’m happy.

Books, books, books.  Do you go through periods where you enjoy reading and then you stop for no reason?  I do, that is until I discovered Agatha Christie all over again.  I’ve been reading her Miss Marple series.  Books like “Destination Unknown”, “A Murder is Announced”,  “A Pocket Full of Rye” and “Murder at the Vicarage”.  Of course I was able to find a number across the country in the $1 bin of used bookstores but I’m also signing up for many through my Library and getting them on my Kindle.  I hope you use your local library to get your digital books as well. Why pay when you can get them downloaded for free.  Getting back to the Christie books.  What fun to read stories that hold up so well over time and give a glimpse into the lives filled with English culture at the turn of the century.  Agatha’s second husband was an archeologist and she travels to many exotic places with him.  Incorporating those places in her stories.  So if you like stories based on life in the early 20th century and enjoy exotic locations, start reading Agatha Christie all over again.  Fun mysteries with all the intrigue you’d expect.

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