HLWT Day 8 – Rockies to Flat Wyoming; Above the Timberline, Below the Rocks

It’s always been a question of endurance, right? How many miles can we do? How long can we sit in the car? This isn’t a long trip by any imagination, but even short jaunts can take it out of you if you’re not careful. Fortunately, we seem to be getting more careful with this.

Before our morning started, we were startled out of our sleep by the most insane and intense screaming we’ve ever heard. While it was clear that it wasn’t human, just what it was, we couldn’t tell. It sounded almost like a woman, but also had elements some sort of wild cat. The way it moved though, silently and seemingly from every direction – it could only have been a bird. We concluded that it was some kind of demoniac owl.

Our morning actually started with the sun, just south of Rocky Mountain National, where were driving by dawn. We passed beautiful lakes and thick woods and finally saw our first moose! Actually, we saw three young moose chasing each other in a circle. It was cute and beautiful, but unfortunately, we didn’t capture it on camera.

As we entered the park, we passed a plethora of other lakes and wildlife.

Most of the latter were elk.

This road is easily one of my favorite, especially after it rises above the tree line.

Even Timber Rattler the Jackalope got into it!

A marmot (perhaps) poses while I snap a photo of him with my 1938 German camera.

Since we love deserts, it’s only natural that we should love tundra! And that’s what we’ve got here 12,000 feet above sea level.

At one time, you used to be able to drive on up to the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado (Stephen King’s inspiration for The Shining) and walk into the lobby. No more. You now have to pay to park and they will only allow “our invited guests” into the lobby.

Sadly, we had to take the interstate for a bit. We never like this. Ever. Thankfully, the Lincoln Highway used to run along the same corridor. This gave us a few interesting things to see. Dome on the Range, for example, in Granite. It’s the old State Capital building. How it ended up here, I have no idea.

Also, Tree in a Rock. This was way more interesting than you’d think. It’s an old tree. It’s been there since they build the railroad (late 1860s). The tracks, the Lincoln Highway, US Route 30 and now I-whatever actually preserved and protected it. It now lies between the east and west bound lanes and can be visited going in either direction.

A bit off the road (by a mile or so) is the Ames Monument. It was bad for Oliver and Oaks Ames (Civil War Generals-turned-crooked-railroad-tycoons).

Some old alignments can be found, as well as a memorial to the Lincoln Highway – at the highest altitude of the old cross-country highway that started and ended at sea level.

Finally getting off the super slab, we followed a US Route and a fairly busy Union Pacific line. Of course, I had to take some photos.

Our true reason for heading out into the middle of Wyoming was the Fossil Cabin – a former museum built entirly of rocks containing fossils.

We had some more drama with time and distance – we really really need to get better at this. But finally we found our way to Douglas and the train museum – home of the biggest steam engine I’ve ever seen.

Here, I’m fixing a fake meal for Smartz in the kitchen of the old Burlington Northern diner car!

This one! It was, of course, absolutely delicious.

We could also checked out a Great Northern sleeper car. This room has a divider (for his and hers, of course) with a super sneaky sink and toilet.

Douglas, Wyoming is, apparently, the home and origin of the jackalope, a creature near and dear to our hearts. They’ve got two huge jackalopes in town. Smartz found true love.

And decided she needed to do a cute little happy dance in front of this one. The jackalope appears to be ignoring her. So sad.

Though our trip wasn’t dinosaur-themed, we spent a lot of time in the land of dinosaurs. Sinclair service stations used to have small concrete dinos in front of them. No more. We only found this one, in Douglas, that had a dino. It wasn’t an original and wasn’t concrete, but it was still a nice homage.

We stayed in Gurnsey, Wyoming, home of the most amazing wagon wheel ruts I’ve ever seen. Now, this might seem odd, but they were made by settlers moving upon the Oregon Trail.

Over the twenty or so years that the trail was heavily used, so many wagons passed over the same rocks that it actually wore huge grooves into the stone.

A couple of miles away was Register Cliffs, where these same settlers carved their names into the soft cliff face.

Most have worn away and many have been surrounded by more modern names (ranging from the 1870s to 2012). Many have been preserved, but it’s hard to save them all.

We wandered the strage little town for a bit, got a couple of slushies and retired, staying at the local golf course/town park for about $10. Such wonders!

To see many more pics, go to our Facebook gallery!

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2 responses to “HLWT Day 8 – Rockies to Flat Wyoming; Above the Timberline, Below the Rocks

  1. enjoyed your pics Eric, some of those places we’ve seen (Rocki e mt , nat park , register cliffs , oregon trail .

  2. The only time I’ve been by the Fossil Cabin, road construction prevented anyone from stopping. And I didn’t even know about Dome on the Range. I’ll gettem both next time, though.

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