day two: Utah, Wyoming, Colorado
Route: North from Provo on I-15, then east on I-80 to Cheyenne. At Cheyenne, south on I-25 until just north of Denver, and then west on 228 until it hits 6, northbound to Boulder.
The landscape through Wyoming is absolutely beautiful, rugged and forbidding on the one hand, while otherworldly and delicate on the other. The dry scrub of the high plains gives way to sandstone mountains that look almost like giant salmon-colored layer cakes that have been eroded by time. This is exactly the landscape for dinosaur bones, not only on account of the geologic makeup of the place, but also because an inherent aesthetic appropriateness, a fit between femur and thighbone and the light greys and reds that permeate the soil here. If I had had time, I would have loved to leave Interstate 80 and go north to investigate the Como Bluff Dinosaur Fossil Site, Fossil Butte National Monument, or the JC Penny House that lies just outside of Kemmerer.
Wyoming is big sky country and I drove for hour after hour across the state under skies that looked like they had been taken directly from the opening sequence of The Simpsons. The open stretches of desert plain here lend themselves to wind farms, and there are quite a few stretches where the view is dominated by spinning blades of white turbines. Somewhere between The Hogback and the Haystack Mountains you cross the Continental Divide, the place where all the waters start to flow into the Mississippi.
Back on the road, I sped across Wyoming with the convoys of delivery trucks, trying to make up for lost time. Somewhere near the Medicine Bow National Forest snow started cropping up, and by the time I hit Laramie it was starting to look like late winter, rather than late spring. Apparently a snowstorm had just come through, part of the series of storm fronts that have resulted in persistent flooding along the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. Although I try not to let any single event define a place, as I drove through Laramie I couldn’t help thinking of Matthew Shepard, tied to a fence and dying alone in the snow.
The highway climbs steeply out of Laramie as it heads back into Medicine Bow National Forest, reaching a summit of 8,640 feet, somewhere near the Ames Monument and the Vedauwoo Rocks. After reaching the summit, the long descent into Cheyenne was marked by some of the thickest fog I’ve ever driven through on a highway, brake lights appearing through the fog like ghosts. The fog eventually broke up just around Cheyenne, where I turned south along I-25. It was already dark , but I managed to make it to my grandmother’s house in Boulder at a reasonable hour.
Filed under: personal, sweet story of Trout Monroe, travel | Leave a Comment
Tags: big sky, cross-country trip, driving, Green River, Wyoming