Thursday, April 14, 2011

Two Hours in Wyoming

  The drive north from Craig to Baggs is a lonely one, the scenery not particularly inviting in April.  During the first few miles snow-covered peaks are visible along the northeast horizon, but they soon disappear from view and rolling sage-covered hills fill the landscape.  Raptors—red-tailed hawks and bald eagles—patrol the sky; these fields contain tasty snacks for birds of prey.  A few marshy areas to the west of the highway host ducks and geese.
Wyoming's New State Sign.
40 miles later I come to the Wyoming sign and am happy to see that the state of Wyoming has installed beautiful new signs.  They show a cowboy in front of the Grand Tetons and the slogan on the bottom of the sign proclaims:  “Forever West”.  And I hope that will always be true.  Father Time grinds to a halt in Wyoming.  He throws back his head, inhales deeply, then takes a look around.  What does he see?  Wildlife, fields, meadows, mountains, a land seemingly unchanged from the time of Lewis and Clark’s westward trek.  Yes, there are oil and gas fields, ski towns and tourist meccas.  But it’s the absence of people that stalls the hands of time in Wyoming.  And it’s this lonely place that I’ve come to see.
What is in the town of Baggs?  Not much.  I find a general store, a motel, abandoned homes and run-down businesses.  There is a small cabin—the sign out front informs me that Butch Cassidy had used this cabin as a hideout.  Is there an old cabin remaining in the mountain west where Butch Cassidy did not hide out at one time or another?  I read that there's a "Museum of the Little Snake River Valley" in the town of Savery, 11 miles east of Baggs.  That will be my next destination.  When I get to the town of Savery (population 25) I find the museum at the end of a dirt road.  The museum is closed; the sign out front reads: "Open - Memorial Day, Closed - some cold day in October."  I'll have to come back this summer.

Every town has a Butch Cassidy cabin.

Driving west to Baggs I see a pronghorn buck by the side of the road.  I slow down to take his picture but as my car approaches the antelope he looks up and lopes off.  He stops some distance up the hillside, too far to get a good picture but close enough to appreciate his regal stance, his furtive glance.  I get out of the car and the antelope moves farther away.   A slight breeze rustles the sage in an otherwise silent setting.  It’s what I come to Wyoming for.  There is a kind of nourishment here you can'’t find anywhere else.

The scene between Savery and Dixon.

          Near the town of Dixon an old rancher walks along the road.  Behind him, in front of the barn, sets a tractor loaded with hay.  In front of the tractor a fluffy black Keeshond sits stock still, waiting for his master to open the pasture's gate and deliver hay to the hungry cattle and horses.  I imagine the Keeshond loves to run alongside the tractor, cavorting in the hay and with the livestock.  The rancher nods and gives the “Western Wave” as I pass by.  Entering Baggs I turn south toward Colorado and stop to take a picture of the new Wyoming sign.  

             I continue on, passing a ranch where 12 shiny new shepherd’s trailers stand in a row, ready for sheep season on the high plains.  I stop at a place called Fortification Rocks—a row of rocks protruding from the plains.  The Indians used these rocks as their bastion during battle.  Now they’ve become a "point of interest” along the highway.  While photographing the rocks I hear the calls of ducks in the marshes below the road.  A great sound, waterfowl returning to spring’s thawed out marshes.

Fortification rocks and waterfowl marshes.

Back in Craig I stop at the Serendipity Coffee Shop for lunch—a warm cup of coffee and a pastry nourishing my body as the two hour trip to Wyoming has nourished my soul.
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  1. Rita, I can picture the landscape and these little towns through your writing. Can't wait for the next post - and the book! Would love to see more of your photos, too.

  2. Rita,

    I am trying to reach you to acquire permission for the use of this photo.

    Please reach me at your earliest convenience.

    Pete Garcia