Our Summer 2010 Trip...Headed West This Time travel blog

sunset at our RV park in Laramie

one of the many creeks we visited on the Great Sky Road

we encountered snow at about 10,500 feet

we couldn't get enough of all the creeks!

entering the meadow area of the byway

a view from one of the CCC built overlooks

I had a hard time deciding which photos to post so I...






we took photos of each other while hiking

it was a VERY pretty day for hiking!











some of the trout we saw



the outdoor St. Alban's Chapel where we attended a Morning Prayer service

this is the view we saw to the left of the chapel!

and this is the view to the right of the chapel!

I know - one creek looks like another - but not really!

this snow pole helps explain why the road is closed from mid...











this old miner's cabin is a "fixer upper" now






we saw this old hotel on our way back to Laramie

the Victorian Ivinson Mansion in Laramie

this table was hand made at the territorial prison during the late...

the dining room at the mansion

the kitchen was quite modern for its time period

I think this looks a lot like the high chair where I...

one of the many bedrooms in the mansion

look at the fancy shower - bought at some early world exhibition...

a line cabin display

the parlor in the mansion

another view of the huge parlor

the study in the mansion - all the rooms were very spacious

Sunday morning was a beautiful day so we got an early start and headed for “The Great Sky Road” through the Snowy Range west of Laramie. This was another one of those “we passed it but didn’t see it” locations; in 2005, on a long motorcycle trip with friends to Yellowstone and the Tetons, we had wanted to ride this road, but our Harley was broken at the time so we missed the opportunity then. The Snowy Range byway, originally a wagon road built in the 1870s, was paved during the 1930s and designated as a scenic byway in 1988. The literature said to allow about an hour and a half to explore the scenic alternative to I-80, but we knew it would take us much longer – and so 5 hours after we left, we reached the end of the byway and ate our picnic lunch at the western edge of the Medicine Bow National Forest and the end of the Snowy Range byway. During that time, we drove past historical monuments marking the 19th century Overland Trail, past yellow and blue wildflowers standing sentinel at the edge of the roadway, and through the sagebrush prairie to the gorgeous Snowy Range with peaks of over 12,000 feet. We enjoyed the pastoral meadows, thick evergreen forests, deep glacier created lakes, rushing rocky mountain streams, and both snow capped and bare granite peaks that were awe inspiring! The forest consisted mostly of lodge pole pines, spruce and fir. We watched trout swimming in a clear shallow lake below a beautiful waterfall and hiked to an old mine and miner’s cabin. We drove off the main byway to find a small outdoor Episcopal chapel on a hill near clear Brooklyn Lake; a Morning Prayer service was being held, so we joined the congregation there. We spoke to the lady who led the service and she told us her late husband had helped to rebuild the chapel after the high winds it was normally exposed to started to tear the chapel apart. The highest point on the road was at 10,900 feet, and at that scenic overlook we could look up at the summit of the snow capped Medicine Bow Peak. We particularly enjoyed our stop at Lake Marie and Mirror Lake; these two glacier fed lakes are nearly across the road from each other and are so pretty, they often are featured in professional photographs and paintings. We know our photos aren’t as good as professionals, but we liked the photos we took anyway. When we finally reached the visitor’s center we were pretty hungry – I loved the picnic area because a rocky creek was right behind it and we could hear the rushing water flowing the entire time – great sound! The volunteer in the visitor’s center said he had been there for the past twenty summers, and he liked it because he worked five days on and then five off, so he and his wife could take their RV and go on trips to nearby places during their off days. He said he was also given a small stipend each day he worked, so that paid for his fuel costs from his home in Missouri to Wyoming each summer. The forestry service provides them an RV site near the visitor’s center with all hook ups so he says he gets a “free summer” each year. In the winter he said they go to South Texas and they spend the spring and fall at their own home. We are gathering lots of ideas for us to consider once we decide where we want to stay for awhile.

After driving back to Laramie, we decided to go see the Ivinson Mansion which houses the Laramie Plains Museum. Unfortunately, we didn’t know that the last tour was at 3:00 PM on Sundays and it was nearly 4:00 when we arrived. The young man who managed the gift shop was very kind though and took us on a whirlwind ten minute free walk and talk through the house as he closed it up for the evening. The mansion was built by a banker in the early 20th century and was very advanced technologically for its time period. With three stories and over 11,000 square feet of living space, the Victorian home is the finest house in Laramie. After the owner died, the Episcopal Church bought the house and used it as a girls’ school, and now the county owns it and runs it as a house museum and a museum for fine Victorian furniture, dolls, clothing, kitchenware, ranch gear, and even a line shack display.

We saw the most incredible sunset this evening; Fred was able to run out and get a great shot of it! He has taken tons of sunset photos from all over but this is one of the best he’s ever captured!

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