Wyoming to Portland

Portland Travel Blog

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So, I gotta say, Wyoming sure has a lot of variety to it!

When last we left our heroine (that would be me), she was making her way across the state line from South Dakota into Wyoming.  Let me say this about eastern Wyoming:  yuck.

Apologies to anyone from eastern Wyoming but what a desolate, gray, sparse place!  Yowsa.  But all the little towns (and they were ALL *little* towns) had signs declaring them to be the best places in the world to live.  I'm not sure who they were trying to convince, the visitors or the residents.

The land is all-but devoid of trees.  The soil seems....gray.  The scrub brush is gray and dark green.  The towns are tiny and far apart.  Yikes!

Then I came over a rise, just as I was about to get of the highway and head west and saw....the mountains.  Actually, it was a set of 3 mountains.  The *middle* one was the height of the mountains I'm used to in the east.  And then there was that big one looming behind it......once again, my jaw dropped.

I decided right then and there that I was NOT driving across that mountain tonight (it was already 4 pm) as I had originally planned.  I was staying on THIS side of the mountain tonight.

So, I ended up driving up to Sheridan and finding a KOA campground for the night.  The campgrounds have been pretty sparsely populated this time of the year.  Just me in a cabin and several RVers, all of whom stay inside their RVs.  So I've been spending a LOT of time alone.  This campground had lots more RVers (turns out it was because it was deer season) and I got a chance to chat with a woman in the bathroom the next morning.  Helped satisfy my need for human contact.

Everyone seems surprised that I'd want to drive cross-country and just stunned that I'd do it alone.  I live in downtown DC.  Is Wyoming any more risky than that???  I've probably reduced my risk factors by leaving DC!

The next morning was Sunday, so I found an early church service and then headed west.  I gotta say, I was feeling pretty intimidated by that mountain.  But it was not as daunting as I feared.  Oh, yeah, it was way big (it was the Big Horn Mountain, if you know the area).  But the roads were wide, multi-laned, and not too steep.  The Shenandoah Mountain between Harrisonburg VA and Franklin WV is a tougher driving mountain to my mind.

But, oh, the views!  I took so many pictures.  It was just beautiful and amazing.

And then I got into this valley that looked like something out of a Clint Eastwood movie (maybe High Plains Drifter).  It was just so cool!  And THEN I got caught in an honest-to-God cattle drive!!

I'm driving down the road and realize the cars in front of me are stopping because there are cows in the road.  LOTS of cows in the road.  And several, well, cowboys (y'know, on horses with cowboy hats and weathered faces and everything?).  They were taking probably 200 head of cows down the road.  They were trying to keep them to either side of the road but, well, cows don't follow orders so good.  They'd get a notion to go visit their cow-buddies on the other side of the road and traffic would have to stop (I am NOT putting the Jeep up against a cow.  Neither me nor the cow is going to enjoy it!). 

I would have taken a picture but (1) there was no where to pull over, what with all them cows and (2) that would have been just too east-coast-tourist, darn it.  :)

Finally got to Yellowstone.  I drove through it.  Had a wonderful experience at Old Faithful.  It had been drizzly off and on since I'd entered the park.  I decided to give Old Faithful a try anyways.  I had no idea what it's "schedule" was but I got lucky.  I arrived about 20 minutes before its next expected eruption.  So, I thought "what the heck, it's worth standing in the rain for a few minutes for". 

Except that about 5 minutes before the eruption, the rain stopped and the sun came out!  The crowd was pretty small because of the rain too.  And thar she blew, right on time......triggering a perfect half-circle rainbow from the base of Old Faithful over to a parking lot!  Stunning.  And 10 minutes later, the rain started again.

Am I living lucky or what?

Got sleeted on that night but what they heck, I was in a cabin.

The next day I drove through Idaho.  I like Idaho.  It's kinda like Iowa and South Dakota.  Lots of sky.  Lots of agriculture.  Easy-going, so it seems.

I stayed that night in a youth hostel near Boise.  Ended up talking to a recently graduated young woman who was trying to figure out what to do with her life.  I tried not to sound TOO much like a mom, gray hair notwithstanding.  ;)

Tuesday, I drove into Oregon.  Eastern Oregon is about as inspiring as eastern Wyoming.  Except it has even fewer trees and it's brown rather than gray and green.  It's...well, I guess it's desert.  I found it fascinating and depressing all at the same time.

Once out of that area, though, Oregon is just as pretty as every postcard you've ever seen.  I stopped at a few places related to the Oregon Trail.  I learned more about it than I'd ever known.  What an incredible feat, to walk your life across the country in the hope that (1) you won't die, (2) you'll get there before the snow, and (3) you'll be able to build a life when you get there.  It was a gamble beyond anything most of us have ever done or ever will do.

Oregon is also...full service only!  That is, you can't pump your own gas.  I just think that's weird.

Wednesday, I arrived at my friends’ house in a Portland suburb.  Luann used to be a massage therapist in DC and now lives out here with her husband.  They've got a great 1920's house (well renovated).  Luann is trying to decide whether to start her business anew AGAIN here.  We spent the whole afternoon talking shop and it was really great!  She's a neat person (so is her husband).  Good-looking cats too.

I've spent all day today at the conference.  It's not as meaty as I'd hoped but I'm still enjoying it.  Seen a few people I know from DC.  Walking funny, as my back is just KILLING me.  Long about Monday, my back said "enough, get out of the car".  I, of course, kept driving.  Which my back is now making me pay for.  I had one massage today.  I hope to get another tomorrow.  I am in rough shape and will never finish the drive home unless I get this straightened out here.

I went to Powells' bookstore today, which is the biggest bookstore in the world I think.  It's ENORMOUS.  Bigger than anything I've ever seen.  I got out of there for $35, which is something of a miracle!

Otherwise, things are good.  I miss Jeff (he's a great antidote to my back-induced crankiness).  I could live without the rain.  ;)  I'm looking forward to my training classes tomorrow.  I hope my back forgives me. 

Talk to you all next week.

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photo by: alooides