TMI Perhaps, But Never TMWH
30.08.2016 - 31.08.2016
Too Much Wyoming History? How could there be too much Wyoming history when there is so much available in less than 100 miles in any direction!
I awoke around 4 AM on the cliff overlooking Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park. Another car had pulled into the parking lot during the night but they weren't up and stirring yet. It was hardly dawn and the smoke still hung heavy in the air, but I could no longer see flames across the water..
It took me about three minutes to decide I would head East and leave the park.
Route 26/287 is a nice drive into Dubois. The history as to why they call it DewBoys instead of the correct French pronunciation is interesting I will let you read it if you want,
I stopped for breakfast, but the conversation at the surrounding tables and the Vote for A.B.O. and Make America Great Again posted everywhere I looked made me want to just get on the road after I had enough coffee.
The 100 miles to Riverton doesn't seem to stand out in my memory, but I stopped there because of the two museums shown on my paper map.
The new curator at the Fremont County Museum has worked diligently to make a haphazard collection of donations into nice displays. It is in a former church with at least three additions of different bricks.
I saw two things I had never seen: a very unusual lady's evening bag that is too difficult to explain and a bushel basket rim used as a hoop for weaving chair pads from old stockings.
Signs directed the way to the site of the 1838 Rendezvous. I discovered later, however, that I had not followed them correctly when I expressed my disappointment at what I found.
Another place just down Federal Street is the Wind River Wildlife Center and Wax Museum. All the contents in these two buildings are private collections. The taxidermy for the over 100 animals has all been performed by a father and son. (The father is no longer living and the son is probably close to my age.)
The entire collection is almost overwhelming, but very nicely displayed and labeled, However, it appears they don't let you view it on your own. At first, I thought the woman who kept talking to me was just being friendly. Then, I realized she was going to tell me in detail about every stuffed animal. Then she took me into the wax museum and recited entire histories of the characters in each display. After 2 1/2 hours, even I had to say that I had to get on the road.
"Wait, wait," she said. "I want to tell you about the importance of Wyoming in women's suffrage." I already knew Wyoming was the first state to allow women the right to vote and inherit property, but she wouldn't let me get away.
Less than 30 miles southwest is Lander with two more museums. I thought I had better check these out. I don't think that there is more history in this part of the world than elsewhere. I just think that a larger percentage of the small population believes it should be remembered and displayed.
The Fremont County Museum contains well-designed and curated displays. They let you view it independently and aren't very helpful even when you ask them a question!
The Museum of the West is a collection of settler buildings moved from throughout the county to this location. It is run by volunteers, donations and grants; the county museum across the parking lot is supported by the county.
You can't travel this part of the country without learning about Chief Washakie.
Sacajawea Cemetery is in Fort Washakie on the Wind River Reservation
On the road, I had passed a sign to Castle Gardens. I asked about it at more than one museum and learned it was a grand display of ancient petroglyphs. I decided to spend the night in Sinks Canyon State Park and head out to site in the morning.
This is a beautiful park, so called because here the Popo Agie sinks underground into caverns too narrow to be explored, One quarter mile and two and a half hours later, the water surfaces into a beautiful pool were fantastically large trout live.
The trout grow so large because fishing is prohibited in this spot. They also sell handfuls of food you can toss in to the fish.
Lander was a surprising young, healthy, and liberal looking town. I asked one person about it, but she was so busy answering work-related email she told me she didn't have time to chat with me. The Wikipedia link gives you a bit more information. I think Lander is my favorite town in Wyoming.
I had been told it would be about 45 miles on the prairie to Castle Gardens. Actually, it was more like 70. I passed two ranches and two compressor stations - which I had no idea what they were until I Googled it just now!
I think this is the only time I felt unsure about traveling alone. Fortunately, I had filled up the gas tank before I left Lander. For some reason, I kept thinking I might have car trouble and no phone service.
There were several archeologists from around the country being escorted by some Wyoming archeologists. I made sure I left the site before they did and asked them to stop if they saw me stranded.
I decided it was time to head home. I managed to coast into a gas station about 40 miles inside the Colorado state line and arrived in Denver about 10:30 PM.