|G is moving to Wyoming and buying a horse.
She announced this at least 27 times during her first full day in Wyoming. Actually, her first several announcements were merely that she is moving to Wyoming; she even texted a friend to say so, and he freaked, thinking that she meant NOW, as opposed to in the distant future, when she has graduated from medical school and become a rural doctor. It was only after we had seen our first thousand or so horses in Wyoming that she added the horse part (not surprising at all, really); previous to that she had done a little bit of running, and since she loves running, and apparently running in Wyoming is extra awesome in some way (could be the view), she wants to move there. Definitely.
We spent last night in Sundance, WY, which may or may not be a one horse town, but it is a one street town.
Sundance is in eastern Wyoming, chosen as our hotel because of its proximity to Devils Tower, which was where we went that morning after checking out. Devils Tower is something of a freak of nature, I think, and well worth an exceptionally long drive to see. In fact, once you catch a glimpse of it it's hard to tear your eyes away. There are several hikes in the park, and we had intended, mostly for time purposes, to take the one mile hike around the base of the tower, but then decided that it wouldn't be enough of a hike (and it was on a paved path - no fun), so we took the three mile hike instead. The good thing about that is that it was a beautiful hike (and Sarah ran most of it - she really needed to burn off some energy, and was in the beginnings of her massive infatuation with Wyoming), but the bad thing is that the informational plaques about the tower were all on the paved path, so we didn't see them and I didn't get to read about how the tower came to be there. There's not much else out there like that. It was enthralling.
When we were finally able to tear ourselves away from the tower, it was time to make the very long drive across Wyoming. Much of Wyoming is very beautiful. G really liked it, I think especially because there seemed to be more horses than people. J enjoyed reading the population signs as we entered each tiny little town. The smallest we saw had a population of 10. G thought that was awesome, but we pointed out that it might be awkward to live there if you didn't get along with the other nine people in town.
At a certain point during the drive I thought I saw snow-capped mountains in the distance, but when I said so, I was pooh-poohed, and J said I was probably seeing clouds. Well, it wasn't clouds, it was snow-capped mountains, the Big Horn mountains to be exact. as we got close and closer we began seeing signs telling us the shorter, safer, and more picturesque route through the mountains, and it was not the route that Jill (the gps) wanted us to take. We debated whether or not to trust Jill or the signs, and finally stopped in a small town just before the mountains and consulted the Tourist Information person, and she confirmed that we should ignore Jill's advice - the other route, she said, was about ten miles shorter, but it was steeper. Plus, she said the route suggested by the signs would have us on the inside edge of the cliff (which was not true the whole way). We opted for less steep, though for me, Ms. Fraidy-Cat-Scared-of-Heights it was still pretty dicey at times.
After the mountains there were some parts of Wyoming that were not especially picturesque, very barren and dry, but we saw some prong-horned antelope, so that was cool. And a lot of horses. And cows. And much of the scenery really was incredible. Seeing all those cows gave me a real craving for a steak. All the billboards encouraging people to eat beef only made it worse.
It took all day to cross the state, so we arrived at Yellowstone at dusk. Our first, crepuscular view of the park was of whimsical, spooky skeletons of pine trees silhouetted against the pink sunset sky. The trees were the remains of a forest fire a couple of years ago. It was shocking to see so many dead trees, but they really were interesting to look at.
The resort we were staying at was just outside the park, but it was outside the southern entrance, so we entered the park at the eastern entrance and had to drive through a good part of it to get to the resort. On the way we saw our first Yellowstone buffalo (contrary to what people told us to expect, we did not encounter massive herds of buffalo crossing the road in South Dakota, and only saw some from a distance), and the first of many, many elk. It was quite late - and quite dark - when we arrived at our cabin, and shockingly cold. I had read that the temperature can drop quite a bit at night at Yellowstone, but I wasn't expecting it to be 46º! There were a lot of signs telling us to be "Bear Aware", but I took it to a new level - Bear-anoia. I was very, very nervous walking to our cabin - I had to balance a need to make noise to alert any bears nearby that I was there and a need to be considerate of the people who were sleeping in the other cabins.
It's not easy to go on vacation when you're a Scaredy-Cat, but it's well worth confronting some of your fears, because you see a great deal of beauty out in the world.