That Thermopolis Junket, Part 2

I’m almost never awake at 9 am anymore, especially after a horrendous multi-state drive which took several hours longer than expected. Ah, but this is Wyoming. I’m here to do things and see stuff!

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But not everything though. Drive-through Bud Light? Nah, not my style.

Although the original intent of this journey was to stay in Thermopolis, the lodgings there proved to be just a bit spendy. I stayed in Riverton instead, which is about an hour away. The drive from Riverton to Thermopolis is quite nice. In particular the last part of the drive through the Wind River Canyon. It’s a must for all you armchair geologists out there. And tunnels? Yeah, they have those too.

The first thing I do when I visit a town for the first time is check it out as much as I can. Thermopolis struck me as kind of two towns in one. The “real” Thermopolis, which anyone who grew up in the American West would find very familiar, and the “tourist” Thermopolis. Yeah, the geography and the hot springs were cool, but even on this Saturday morning in early May the swimming areas were jam-packed. Once the summer season hits I imagine it’ll be cattle call time. In short, I was underwhelmed. When it comes to hot springs, for my money Lava Hot Springs out by Pocatello is a better choice.

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“Sulfur? Pfft, seen it.”

Fortunately I didn’t go there to relive my Hydrotube days (even though Thermopolis still totally has one). I went for more Thoreau-esque purposes, to suck the marrow out of life or something. Speaking of marrow, Thermopolis has plenty of bones for public perusal. Where? At the Wyoming Dinosaur Museum, silly!

“Dinosaurs,” I thought to myself. “Of course!”

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“Wyoming is world-famous for dinosaurs!”

OK, I went to the dinosaur museum mainly to take some pictures to send to Beachy. Still, I was quite impressed with the place. They have a triceratops, a T-Rex, a nest of baby dinosaurs and even an aptly-named supersaurus. It was actually worth the $10 admission.

The gift shop? Not so much. Damn. Beachy is lucky I found something for only four bucks.

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Good thing there were baby dinosaurs.

I spent about three and a half hours in Thermopolis, which as it turns out was about as long as I wanted to be there. My curiosity sated, it was time to head back to Riverton to check that town out. Riverton turned out to be a rather surreal experience.

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Thermopolis was just the warmup.

History Wednesday is tomorrow, so, um … continued on Thursday!

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That Thermopolis Junket, Part 1

Another pointless vacation is in the books. I’m glad to say my trip to Wyoming inspired all sorts of great material for SB. I’ll be spending the better part of this week writing about it. So settle in, this entry is the first of one of those muliti-parter deals.

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Grab a snack or something.

As mentioned earlier, I have an an atrocious sleep schedule. This bit me in the ass in a big way on Friday. Late Thursday night I had everything packed and ready to go. I set an alarm to wake up at a reasonable time for what I expected to be an eight-hour trip to Riverton. However, a few minutes later I said to myself, “Nah. I don’t need an alarm. I’ll be OK.”

Next thing I know it’s 2:30 pm. Dammit!

After scrambling around the Command Center for a full half hour looking for my glasses (the cats hid them), I bolted out the door. Taking care of the standard going out of town tasks (i.e. gas, cash, Oberto Bacon Jerky, etc.) took another half hour. Oh yeah, I was looking at a late night.

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With only big buttes to keep me company.

The first half of the trip to Idaho Falls was uneventful. I’m very familiar with most of southern Idaho; directions to Idaho Falls weren’t necessary. However, I had never been east of Idaho Falls in this manner, so I printed out some Google directions beforehand. This is all fine and good, as the directions tell you what street to turn on. What they don’t tell you is what TOWN said street is located in. That would be helpful, Mr. Google, especially when in unfamiliar territory at twilight.

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As I found out later, the answer in this instance was “Swan Valley.”

Having missed the turn, and not realizing it until well over an hour later, I found myself traveling through areas not on the itinerary, such as Irwin, Palisades Dam and finally an unexpected entry into Wyoming at Alpine in Lincoln County, nearly 40 miles south of where I expected to be.

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Dammit.

As it turned out my detour cost me 30 minutes at most, but that was no comfort given I pulled into Jackson well after dark. Although it wasn’t THAT late, and Jackson is a fairly large city by Wyoming standards, I had difficulty finding an open store. This proved to be a recurring theme.

Immediately past Jackson is Grand Teton National Park. Being stupidly late I didn’t find this terribly interesting, especially considering I couldn’t see anything anyway. I found this even more annoying:

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The last thing I wanted to see.

Increasingly tired and in an unfamiliar area, by the time I exited Grand Teton I was ready for this drive to be freakin’ over. It was still well over 100 miles to Riverton, though. Driving across the Continental Divide at the snowbound-even-in-May Togwotee Pass is a challenge even in the best of conditions, but even worse when sleep deprived and attempting to pass a clearly confused motorist bearing Iowa license plates. Iowa not being known for its mountain passes, you know.

At 1:30 am I finally reached my destination, the extremely small and basic Riverton Motel 6. No one should be that glad to see a Motel 6. This day is OVER.

Continued tomorrow ….