09/19/2001: Wednesday 9/19/01
I got up at 7, as the doors and floors creaking, and voices from the dining room became constant. I showered and went out to breakfast. Coffeee mugs and silver trays and home made muffins and kuchen. A convention of Lutheran ministers, and two couples who were able to get rental cars to return home from places to which they'd flown. Rental cars were hard to get a day after flights stopped. Karen hadn't gotten as good a night's sleep as I had. She woke sleep deprived.
I just lost a couple of paragraphs because of the ergonomic peculiarities, and software obsolescence of the Mac. If you actually try to use this laptop on your lap, as I am in the laundry room at the campsite near Thermopolis, your clothes are prone to bumping the mouse button, there is often a couple of second delay between typing or mousing and display, and the undo on this machine is only one character deep.
So, after we got going, we drove west on US 16 through Powder River pass in the Big Horn Mountains and via Ten Sleep to Worland. The scenery as the car struggled up the apparently flat, yet quite steep roads was quite nice. Snowy patches are starting to show on the mountains. The foliage is beginning to yellow.
The mountain pass was 9,666 feet. We stopped there, and climbed the rocky peak beside the pass. Well, about 200' of the 300' granite prong. There was a nice eye slot through which we spied the other side of the mountain. I had to rest every 75 feet up or so. Also, the jeans, flannel, down vest, wool scarf, and ear warmer were barely warm enough in the strong winds up the rock pile. The climb at this altitude is not what my flabby body is attuned to. We did see guinea-pig-like Pikas living among the rocks. We carried a few veined rocks back down the jagged slope for our garden.
Driving downhill to Worland was like the painted desert in Arizona. With pine trees. I'd lost my sunglasses in a crack, so we looked for replacements in Worland. They don't believe in polarized glasses, or pretzels in this town. We tried 2 places. We also filled our gallon jug from a drinking fountain across from the Courthouse in Pioneer Park. This drinking fountain is fed by an Artesian well.
So, south to Thermopolis, home of the world's largest mineral hot spring. We picnicked lunch at a table in the State Park. I walked around the terraces. Then again with Karen. Finally, a third time with camera. Then we went into the free spa. The Indians allowed the whites to have the spring, as long as it shall remain free. Well, there are fancy pay spas to either side, with water slides, saunas, etc. The free on is cooled to (!) 104, and has both indoor and outdoor concrete pools with sitting benches, stairs, a ramp, and even a hoist for the handicapped. It's free, but limited to 20 minute in-water sessions, not more frequently than once every 2 hours. This is plenty for most people. We soaked. Karen loved it. It even relaxed me. The water just flows from the spring, over the terraces, and through a couple of extra cooling ponds, and then through the pools, and on into the creek.
Karen has been wanting to camp. We finally did, just north of Thermopolis in the Country Campin' campground. After checking in with the owner and his Basset and other, bear-like dog, we set up the tent, built a fire, and spread out dinner at dusk. The mosquitoes were fierce. They went through my jeans to get to me! Then the wind came. Serious wind. I was expecting a storm. We had about an hour of wind. I'm glad I staked the tent. The column of heat from our small, but now bright fire swept horizontally 25 feet. The wind did not deliver rain to us. We saw lightning in the distance, though. It was 60ish when we turned in, the stars showing through gaps in the clouds. It was a clear night.