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Western Wyoming

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29 Sep 11: Time to bid adieu to the Tetons. What a spectacular range of mountains. This morning we began our slow trek a little further southward, still enjoying incredibly beautiful weather. The bright blue sky is somewhat dimmed in some directions by smoke from forest fires, some wild, some controlled burns. We drove all of 69 miles today - it's great to be able to slip back into our more customary slow mode of travel.

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Along the way we began to see more broad valleys with more ranches. That meant more livestock, such as the horses and large herds of cattle. That tan horse on the right was absoutely beautiful with a golden mane that glistened in the sunlight.

Today's destination was a BLM campground, Warren Bridge, about 20 miles NW of Pinedale, WY. It's a nice, very sunny campground out in the wide open spaces - the horizon is miles away in all directions. Tomorrow is a problem - there are no designated campgrounds in the area where we'd like to stop, so we need to check out the boondocking rules for dispersed camping. Stay tuned for how we make out.

30 Sep 11: September ends with a tour of the backroads of western Wyoming. At the suggestion of a fellow at the BLM office in Pinedale, we decided to take a scenic road down along the west side of the Wind River Mountains and then go up to South Pass, along the route of the Oregon, Santa Fe, Mormon and Pony Express Trails.

wy026 The road started out pleasantly enough, rolling over hill and dale through open range country, with its occasional iron cattle guards. Cattle in the road was not an uncommon sight.
But.....after about 15 miles, the pavement suddenly ended and we found ourselves on a reasonably well-maintained dirt road that stretched on...and on as far as the eye could see. This little adventure lasted for 38 miles, leaving us well-covered in dust.

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There was plenty of wildlife to be seen, from horses (yes, not really wildlife) to antelope. The dude at the right ran across the road just in front of us. wy036
wy058 At last we were back on pavement and headed up into the hills toward South Pass. The pass is the low point in the saddle and the combined pioneers' trails came down from there toward us and on westward. It's hard to imagine what the journey must have entailed. But I just happen to have Francis Parkman's The Oregon Trail with us and began reading it this afternoon.
As we got into the hills, we found more vegetation and some spritzes of fall colors here and there. wy060

Finally....we arrived at our destination, although it took us two tries to get settled. There are two BLM campgrounds quite close together, Atlantic City and Big Atlantic Gulch. We went to Atlantic City first and found it rather wooded with the sites feeling closed in. So we went over to Big Atlantic Gulch which we found much more to our liking - more open with some views of the surrounding countryside. It's a small campground with only 8 sites and no amenities beyond a vault toilet. But hey - only $3 with the Golden Geezer card.

2 Oct 11: Oh no - the BOSOX fired the best manager in major league baseball !! Some players should be the ones to be canned. Ah well - life goes on.

Meanwhile we're on our second night of slumming it in Rock Springs, WY. Yesterday morning we came down from South Pass into town. We were facing a situation in which we need to dump our waste tanks, fill up on water and get some laundry done. So last night we spent at the local Wal-Mart, and then after a tough day's travel of 4 miles today, we're at (gasp, you'd better sit down for this) the Rock Springs KOA.

rockspringskoa08 Yes, the dreaded KOA. Actually the Wal-Mart was better. This place is nothing more than a gravel parking lot behind a tank farm beside the interstate. But hey, they did give us a 10% discount for being retired military. We took advantage of their amenities, however: luxuriated in looong showers, did a couple loads of laundry, dumped tanks, filled water, and filled the propane tank. Now we're all set for Serenity Now.

We saw a number of these barrels in our travels in western Wyoming. The attached sign asks grouse hunters to cut off one wing and deposit it in the barrel - not in a plastic bag. A little research came up with this:

"The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is asking hunters to drop one wing from each sage grouse harvested into a barrel placed in the field. Biologists use the wings to tell the age and sex of the birds, which helps determine reproduction rates and population trends, the department said in a media release." The Billings Gazzette, 14 Sep 2011

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This probably was once someone's dream house.

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A tired looking farmstead.

 3 Oct 11: We said our farewell to Rock Springs this morning and headed out towards Flaming Gorge NRA. Got sidetracked (pardon the pun) in Green River by the large BNSF railroad yard there - had to stop for some photos. As we were heading out of Green River, we stopped at the USFS district office and got some very useful camping info, both for our immediate use and for The Ultimate US Public Campground Project. To our pleasant surprise, there are still a few campgrounds open in the gorge area, but they're steadily closing down as hosts decide to bug out before the snow hits.

Every dip and rise, every turn brings an entirely new panorama to one's eyes.

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We learned that among others, Lucerne CG was still open, so we headed there. Yeap - still open - one loop. Right next to major construction on adjacent loops. After eating our lunch on a decent site near the water, we decided it was a bit too noisy for us, so we headed over to nearby Stateline Cove Dispersed camping area, where we got even closer to the water, and with only one other RV here, quite a ways away, we found peace and quiet.

statelinecove09 After lunch we took a short hike up a nearby rock outcropping, then settled in to relax.
Now doesn't this look peaceful and quiet? Yeap, it is! statelinecove24

It's slowly getting colder and the threat of snow gets closer; guess it's time to wander a little farther south into Utah.