Category Archives: Cheyenne

Cheyenne to Salt Lake City – 440 miles

One of the first instructions we got from Sally Sat Nav was, “Stay on the i80 for the next 429 miles”.  From that instruction we hoped we were in for a reasonably fast run on a decent road, and, true to form, we completed the journey in slightly over 6 hours, including two petrol stops and a bathroom break. We left Cheyenne in hot sunshine and brilliant blue skies and nothing changed the whole way…lovely.

 

For much of the journey we were in Wyoming, so the long dusty plains and the soaring mountains came as no surprise. What was a bit of a surprise was the number of trucks on the road. Maybe Sunday is their day? They are very speedy on the down slopes and swing in and out to pass each other at about 70 mph (although the regulation is 65 for trucks) but much slower on the inclines. Our aim was always to get beyond a bunching group before the climb, and ensure we had squatters’ rights in the fast lane. Not that we could stay there for too long as, unbelievably, people wanted to exceed the speed limit!!  The other surprise was the distance between civilisation and services.  We passed one stopping place with a loo, which declared the next stopping point to be in another 102 miles. OMG…even if you didn’t need a bathroom at the first point, the thought of having to wait for another 102 miles was painful. And, no, there were no trees, no hiding places off the roadside just the pain of trying to focus on something else.

The scenery changed as we crossed into Utah. In addition to the sandstone cliffs, there were verdant valleys with occasional houses, which grew in numbers and size.  Before long we were doing a fast cruise down the mountains with the number of lanes on the highway growing quickly.  Lots of exits loomed and almost without us realising, we were nearing the end of our journey.  It was the first city we had really experienced since leaving Vancouver and, although the traffic was plentiful, the hurried pace of city life was noticeably calmer on a Sunday afternoon.

Having booked into another nice hotel, we decided some exercise was on the cards and Temple Square was about a 30 minute walk.  The Mormon Tabernacles in Salt Lake City are world famous, so of course we went to look. The setting and the two temples are quite spectacular, but, of course, you can only enter if you are of the Mormon faith. There is a visitors’ centre and lots of kind and friendly members who want to share their “unusual” brand of the Christian faith.  It would not be appropriate for me to be critical in any way, but suffice to say I was uncomfortable and happy to leave Temple Square. Dinner in a restaurant where we were the only customers was our next surprise. No music, no alcohol, blimey that was the situation last time we visited the State of Utah. However, further down the street on our walk back we found bars selling alcohol and one with live music.  We know where to go next time!  

 

We now have the luxury of another full day here tomorrow. Perhaps a visit to the lake that gives the city its name?  Perhaps some exploration of the city, and perhaps even via the electric scooters you log into via an app, sign off when you are done, and leave by the roadside.  Cool!

 

 

 

Carolyn’s Curios & Curiosities

It is very tempting merely to write…

“Set Sat. Nav.

Left Cheyenne

Set Cruise Control 

Drove 440 miles on the I80 

Arrived Salt Lake City”

However, I am renowned for never using a word when a paragraph will do!

So,…

As we travelled, we listened to an odd playlist which had found its way, somehow, onto my iPhone. The tracks seemed to be a shuffle from albums I had purchased for some reason in the past. Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers, Ian Dury, The Hollies etc.  segued with Snow Patrol, Adele and In The Night Garden Dance! Wot?! The best inner smile for me came with Kath’s facial reaction to hearing Barbie Girl by Aqua for the first time (No.1 in the UK for three weeks) and her almost falling off her seat laughing to ‘Dogging’ by the incredible Fascinating Aida! The Hollies brought a wry smile from me when the lyrics, “The road is long; with many a winding turn” seemed particularly inappropriate in one aspect. Long, it was; winding, it wasn’t!

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The Hollies track from 1969 brought a wry smile from me when the lyrics, “The road is long; with many a winding turn” seemed particularly inappropriate in one aspect. Long, it was; winding, it wasn’t!

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Another smile along the way was the sight of a three wheeled motorcycle. Not humorous in any way… usually. Ours today featured a guy in full leathers driving at variable speeds and blocking overtaking by changing lanes. Not funny, neither.

On the pillion, though, was a woman who was not a ‘Girl on a Motorcycle’ but one of older years who was wearing a pair of baggy cotton shorts and waved to us as we overtook them and then they accelerated past us at our cruise controlled steady speed. The speed was 75 mph and she must have had the wind blowing very hard in places the wind shouldn’t be blowing. 

Several curios occurred to me on the journey:

Imagine sending a letter before the telegraph was invented. Stagecoach? Pony Express? During the Pony Express’ “18 months of operation, it reduced the time for messages to travel between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to about 10 days. From April 3, 1860 to October 1861, it became the West’s most direct means of east–west communication before the transcontinental telegraph was established (October 24, 1861), and was vital for tying the new state of California with the rest of the United States.”

The enormous distance required travelling across this country is mind blowing. Even crossing one State, Wyoming, is demanding even using modern means.

Talking of distances, today was the second longest distance we are travelling and you may ask, “Why?”. We did! The reason is that there are almost no staging posts on the journey. Mile after mile of countryside and… well, almost nothing else. Hints for tourists from these two travellers: go to the toilet before you set off, fully fill up with fuel whenever you can, carry water and the odd snack.

Oh, and be aware of ‘Semis’. (Stop chuckling!) Warning signs told us that ‘Semis’ need the length of two football pitches to stop. As Kath indicated, they’re agile in changing lanes but not as agile climbing hills or accelerating. Seemingly, not as agile at stopping, either! Yes, this is a Semi!

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‘Semis’ need the length of two football pitches to stop.

So, we arrived in Salt Lake City. As we walked to Temple Square in a very dry heat we felt a little breathless and checked to find we are 4226 feet above sea level. For comparison, the height of the highest mountain in the UK stands at 4413 feet. Only four mountains in Scotland are higher than we are and there are none as high in England or Wales! No wonder we felt a little breathless. 

Kath wanted to see the Mormon (Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints) temples but felt uncomfortable when we got there and I can understand why. Again, I had a couple of events from my past which resonated. The Mormon Church mission to the UK started in our home town of Preston which now (actually in Chorley) has a brand new temple.

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Mormon Temple, Chorley, UK

Of course, that was way before either of us was born but I remember going to a Mormon youth club as a teenager. Indeed, I played my drums on the stage which was above, and hid, the baptismal font – full body baptism – underneath. Adding to that, my dad had tiled the font! The young men who did their two year obligatory missionary service were polite, well-dressed and suited and… chewed gum. No alcohol; no tobacco. What’s not to like, we thought. What’s not to like is the hugely mistaken beliefs they have, in my view. I suggest, the premise and practice of their religion is deeply misguided and potentially dangerous in a number of ways. I don’t want to dissuade anyone from their personal belief unless it will do them harm. If their views don’t correspond to my own, that’s fine but I will object strongly if their beliefs interfere with my basic human rights. I’ll leave it there.

Tomorrow is another day. Planning is already underway with live jazz a possible for tomorrow evening.

Keystone (Mt Rushmore) to Cheyenne – 268 miles

I think today might be designated our official “be kind to ourselves” day.  Having created the plan to see all these wonderful places, there is no doubt that we have been arriving at our various destinations ready to collapse in a heap after an evening meal. Today is something of a staging post (pardon the pun) as a mere 268 miles on open roads is now small fry to these intrepid travellers. Salt Lake City is the main event another 440 miles down the road.

It is difficult to say anything different about our journey, except, for me, it was particularly frustrating. My youngest grandson was 3 years old today and I wanted to FaceTime and wish him a happy birthday.  We couldn’t make it work from the hotel at Mt Rushmore so set off intending to stop off at somewhere with WiFi and catch him at what would have been his teatime.  So off we went and experienced the wilderness of South Dakota, which is very much like the wilderness of Wyoming…mile after mile of nothing.  No houses, no service areas, no gas stations, nothing.  Well, there were sporadic herds of cattle but no civilisation.  Not even a phone signal, never mind WiFi.  It makes you realise how much you rely on technology and how frustrating it is when it is not there.  Sorry Oliver, I will try tomorrow.  I did, eventually, manage to speak with his Mummy. 

The most exciting part of this particular journey (!) was coming face to face with the most abnormal load I have ever seen.  It needed various escorting vehicles, special flag wavers to slow down the traffic and most of the road.  Miles into the distance you could see this large object and wondered what it was.  I still don’t know. It was a huge truck carrying something twice its width and forcing cars going towards it onto the non-existent hard shoulder (a soft dusty track). 

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So, here we are in Cheyenne, the capital city of Wyoming, wallowing in the luxury of a nice hotel, having had a very nice lunch and wondering whether to explore the place, have a swim (it is very hot and sunny but the pool is indoors), or whether to just sit and chill. Apparently, Cheyenne is home to the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum, with exhibits about early rodeos and artifacts like 19th-century passenger wagons. The landscaped Cheyenne Botanic Gardens includes a labyrinth. Collections at the Wyoming State Museum include dinosaur fossils. Wot?  I think not. It’s a long drive tomorrow!

Carolyn’s Curios & Curiosities

So, we checked out from Rushmore and decided that we wouldn’t visit the monument again. Partly, as we wanted to ‘hit the road’ but, mainly, because we couldn’t see it! We drove off through a cloud – literally!

However, the Sun powered its way through, dried up all the rain and then dispersed the clouds as we sped across South Dakota back into Wyoming. Different roads but similar scenery and lack of both habitation and cultivation. Long, straight seemingly endless roads bereft of other vehicles for much of the time but a 70 mph limit which allowed great progress. Fortunately, we’d filled with fuel, taken some fruit from breakfast and had water and cola cans in the car. Fortunately? At one stage, we drove for an hour and a half (100 miles) without seeing a garage, café or human being. Strange. Wide, wild wilderness with new vistas appearing after each small crest you rise as the road stretches beyond the present, then towards every new, horizon. What a State!

Driving towards Cheyenne, we passed through a couple of ‘cowboy’ towns and Kath and I reminisced about TV and film Westerns: ‘Maverick’ (James Garner with an English cousin played by Roger Moore), ‘Wagon Train’ (Ward Bond and Robert Horton), ‘Rifleman’ (Chuck Connors), ‘Bonanza’… etc. and, of course, ‘Cheyenne’ itself with Clint Walker playing the eponymous Cheyenne Bodie.

As we passed through Laramie, the TV (me) and Film (Kath) came up in song! As did Davy Crockett, Roy Roger’s Four legged Friend (aka Trigger) and others. I scored bragging points because I’d had a Davy Crockett hat (as a child!) and had had Roy’s record played for me on Uncle Mac’s Children’s Favourites (also, as a child!!!).

After driving over several ungated and unguarded level crossings, we, again, marvelled at the length of the trains as we overtook one. 

On Route 66, two years ago, I counted the number of wagons on a passing train. Today, it was Kath’s turn to count.

148 coal wagons with two engines at the front and three at the back. Doing some calculations,…

Each truck loaded weighs 286000 lbs

Each engine weighs approx 400000lbs

Therefore, the train weighed 44,679,936 lbs

Or,… 19946 tons (20266 tonnes)

Which is the equivalent of 199460 16 stone people. 

Wow!

So, we drove into Cheyenne. It’s bigger than I thought and, after lunch at Applebee’s, we checked into a very pleasant and inexpensive hotel… early for once!

We’d covered the 268 miles and got here by lunchtime. Yes!

Now relax. 

Was this the way to Amarillo?

The temperature this afternoon crept up to 98 degrees Farenheit which, coupled with a strong wind, made the car journey in its air conditioned comfort a pleasure, despite the distance.  Of course, I did the Peter Kay walk and sang happily as we loaded up the car and it must have been the right way as we reached Amarillo late this afternoon.  Needless to say, there was an adventure along the way.

We both agreed that a visit to the highly recommended National Route 66 Museum in Elk City was a ‘must’. Our optimism was justified and the transportation element was great fun with the chance to sit in a Cadillac, climb aboard a fire engine and ogle the motorbikes provided many a giggle. The funniest moment might have been Carolyn’s determination to come down the firemen’s pole – which she did with aplomb!

The Old Town element showed us a two storey Victorian house, the top of which was devoted to early cowboy and rodeo way of life. There was an Opera House, a Livery stable, Railroad depot, drug store, a church and, of course, the jail.

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We had found some quirky 66 stuff shown in one of our books in a place called Erick. Oh boy, was that a story.  I will forever think of it as “Revenge of the Sat Nav” after we had decided to do our own thing in Oklahoma yesterday.  We thought we were being clever when we put in a rather obscure but very precise address.  After turning off onto  smaller and smaller roads, we realised we were really in the heart of nowhere. We came upon Erick Cemetery and reasoned we were not too far away, so reprogrammed and, at that point, you could almost sense, “You have to be kidding me”, from the sat nav.  We went from narrow country lanes (without a building or vehicle in sight), to narrower dirt lanes, to ones where the grass growing in the middle was rattling the car’s undercarriage.  All I could think was, “Please don’t let me break down”. Eventually we made it into “town” to find the exhibit which we were looking for was both delapidated and closed. Thinking about it, the town seemed closed too. Nowhere for a coffee, not that I was remotely interested in lingering longer and was just itching to get back to the highway.  We found said road in just about a mile, which is when I knew the sat nav had been having a laugh.  This was real redneck country and not for the faint  hearted!

Because we were in Texas, it had to be steak for lunch.  By this time, we were in Shamrock, saw more Route 66 antiquities but were seduced by Big Vern’s Steakhouse for a sirloin and a salad.  Time was moving on, so onwards to another hotel. Because it is a Holiday Inn and same chain as last night, we are instantly at home. We were invited to Happy Hour in the lobby with snacks, beer and wine, all free. Amazing.

Tired now and 300 miles tomorrow but still looking for “Sweet Marie who waits for me”. Come on, sing the song!!

Carolyn’s Curios

When we look at modern day America with Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric (and some in the UK!), we may forget that all Europeans in the US were immigrants. More than that, they were invaders! Recently, we’ve driven through ‘homelands’ of Cheyenne, Navajo and Shawnee. Deprived of their ancestral birthrights, I can only imagine how they may feel as Native Americans.

As we could needed the miles we’d set ourselves for today, we noticed that the land had changed. The brown and grey of the soil had given way to take on a red hue.

Reminding us of the flatness, likelihood of high winds and, of course, tornados, it was salutary to see roadside billboards broken but still advertising ‘Camping’ with clean rest rooms and… storm shelters

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A few interesting road signs have caused me to smile. Wrong way signs on one way streets, Yield, instead of Give Way, and, the best of all, for me, the speed sign in redneck mid-America pronouncing firmly ‘No tolerance’!

Wild life isn’t too evident here. Black Angus cattle, a few horses and a couple of squirrels but today I saw a coyote.

I’ve commented elsewhere about my experience of music -especially ‘popular’ – so the Roger Miller Museum prompted slightly off key versions of ‘King of the Road’ and, of course, ‘England Swings’.

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So, we hit Texas and the Purple Heart Trail. Suddenly, for me, we now seem a long way from the UK. However, the journey continues… more exploring, more sights, more music, more fun!

Again, to end, as Kath misses out in the main blog her part in the posing for photos, a few here…