Wild West

Road trip! Wyoming is so great. I think it was our favorite state, which was a bit of a shocker. It's part of a cluster of states that've got big ranges like you see above, like in the Dakotas it's called the Hell Creek Formation and they dig for old dinosaur fossils there. (I just learned that at the Museum of Science, can you tell?) They're very mystical and eerie, and the fact that much of it was layered with a thick veil of smoke from the wildfires raging at the time only made them more so.

Look at that! Incredible, and when you're driving for hundreds of miles and seeing only stuff like that, you begin to wonder if you're on Mars and/or if you'll ever make it to Cheyenne without seeing a prehistoric creature.

I think when we drove into Cheyenne it was nighttime, we'd powered through all the way from Salt Lake City, stopping only for some sketchy tacos that were actually pretty bloody delicious, considering, and having stared aghast at 80mph through the darkness at the fearsome red glow in the distance - the fires visible in Colorado.  I remember a spattering of fireworks, falling into yet another mediocre La Quinta bed, and then it was morning, and we steeled ourselves for breakfast and a bit of souvenir shopping downtown.

That's when we fell head over heels for Cheyenne. We grabbed some coffee and just wandered around the streets, which were pretty empty for a midday morning, or maybe not. We found a bookstore where we got some old books and country CDs for the road, hit up the enormous Wrangler, and then we followed a trail of horseshoes in the sidewalks to a fantastical wonderland called Wyoming Home...

...and we basically just emptied our wallets in exchange for a beautiful cowhide, longhorns, and sundry other home goods that we didn't have room for in our car.

When we got back to the La Quinta, M corralled the dogs while I made some, uh, edits in the existing cargo to make room for our new loot. We stuffed more crap into the soft roof rack storage my mom loaned us, I ripped open a few boxes and decided half of it could go into the dumpster across the street, and after a little bit of Tetris-ing, we were ready to go AND had improved visibility in the back of the ride. Hot-cha-cha!

Old-fashioned melodrama?! Nobody in their right mind says no to that, my friends. Boy, were we sad to leave. The people were so warm and friendly and it was so wild West we just didn't want to go. I hope we get to return for some adventures on horseback. I have my eye on a weeklong, 80-mile pack trip through Yellowstone, and to my delight, the tomboy is game! Giddy-up.

Don't ask me whether this Cabela's megastore was in Wyoming or Nebraska, but bless their hearts either way. It was over one hundred degrees and we were loath to stop (and step out of our A/C bubble), but we had to grab some lunch and let the dogs stretch a bit. Fortunately, Cabela's provides shaded kennels so M & I were able to enjoy a lunch outdoors alone, save the busybody ducks that waddled over from a pond.

Holler, California bear flag in the house!

We were melting. We needed to get new tires but refused to give money to Sam's Club and the only other place didn't have ours in stock, so we had to cross our fingers and wait until we got to Omaha. Wearily, we watched as the temp remained in the triple digits, and gritted our teeth through the next few hundred miles.

There's always time to hop on a train.

Ah, the Fort Cody Trading Post in North Platte, NE. It just does not get kitschier than this. Did we have time for it? No. Did we have to pee? Yes. Did we look at each other, do the mutual YOLO shrug and take turns running in while the other person stayed put with the dogs for like 45 minutes? Of course we did. And damn it, it was worth it. We're never going to stop here again, I'm pretty sure of it, so we might as well just do it and never struggle with the mind-numbing regret of having not stopped there, right? Right. Great, let's move on!

I have no earthly idea what the fresh hell this was, but it reminded me of the Riddle or Sphinx Gate from The Neverending Story and that really freaked me out.

Clearly filthy hipster Bird had some feelings about it, too.

Omaha was unremarkable, but we got in late and left early (after getting brand spanking new tires), so what do we know? Next up is Illinois, where we'll see my mama's hometown and a sliver of the epic night out we had with our friends who reside in the Windy City, and then a few shots speeding through Ohio and onto the Fourth of July in Erie, PA. After that, it's home sweet home, y'all. It still feels nuts to say that!

Hope everyone had a safe and spectacular Labor Day weekend - I'm not-so-secretly hoping that September throws a few more summery weekends our way.