Hot Springs, SD to Cody, WY

Today (Saturday) was mostly just a travel day. The Rodeway Inn did not have a single item among its free breakfast offers that contained any protein. So we treated ourselves to breakfast at the Flat Iron Cafe in Hot Springs. Turns out that they have a pretty limited breakfast menu, but what they had was great. I had a yogurt and granola bowl that was filling and tasty. Kris had oatmeal, but it was not your basic Quaker Oats. It came close to the flavor and texture of the oatmeal we had as part of the Irish breakfasts we were served in the west of Ireland, still the best breakfasts in the world in my book.

We then spent an hour rearranging everything in the van. Then we stopped at a grocery store for supplies for a picnic lunch. So we did not get on the road until 11AM. Hence, we decided to forgo stopping at Mammoth National Monument. Sigh. As we like to say, it gives us a reason to come back.

The highway west out of Hot Springs exits the Black Hills and enters onto the dusty plains of eastern Wyoming where we turned north. We had our picnic lunch at a shady picnic table in Newcastle, WY. It was nice, though being literally right at the intersection of US-16 and US-85, we can well imagine why the locals will be glad to see the end of the Sturgis Rally. The roar of passing motorcycles was continuous the entire time we were eating.

Leaving Newcastle, we tacked to the northwest and hit I-90 at Moorcroft, WY but then left it again at Buffalo, WY. At this point, one heads west into the Bighorn Mountains on US-16 toward Worland. As we approached the mountain range, we were treated to a lightning display from a thunderhead that hung over the mountains just south of our line of travel. Climbing up into the Bighorns the grasslands give way to a vast forest of lodgepole pines with a small admixture of birch. Someone has placed signs where the road building has exposed a rock face to tell the traveler how old the rocks are. So, we passed Pre-Cambrian rocks that were 33 million years old. We even passed a section of Jurassic rock. The climb ends at a 9963 foot pass and the down hill run is through a narrow, winding, gorge that defines scenic.We stopped in Worland for a picnic supper in a beautiful, empty, tree shaded city park.

The west side of the Bighorns is very hilly. Leaving Worland, we traveled north along the Bighorn River. The river valley is farmed, and we saw a facility to process the barley for Coors Beer. At Greybull, WY, US-14, US-16, and US-20 join together to continue to the west. Along this segment we saw a lot of idle oil well pumps and an open pit coal mine. I remarked to Kris that one could take all the high level nuclear waste in the United States and dump it out here and no one would even notice. Finally, one can see the Rockies looming ahead. Again, we were treated to a lightning display from a lone thunderhead, but this time there was the added attraction of a spectacular sunset. Kris said it was like being in one of those Western paintings you see being sold in the gift shops. Finally, Cody, WY appeared on the horizon and we are now comfortably ensconced in a nice room at the Comfort Inn.

Tomorrow, we take a pass through Yellowstone and spend the night at its northern entrance in Gardiner, MT.

Tim

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