What an unusual day it was in Wyoming.
The kids slept in late this morning, though we were late getting to bed - we had too much fun with room service. Our goal was to leave by 10am, which means we will leave about thirty minutes after that set time.
Since we're in a hurry, Levi and Isaac help me with the luggage.
I was bound and determined to get some Starbucks to start the day, and I could see one from our parking lot - just through the trees and by some distant buildings. I told Jerm and Shirley to head on out to I80 and I would just swing through the drive-thru and swiftly get my coffee and catch up with them. I couldn't find the stupid Starbucks. I could see the sign one minute, I'd look down at where I was driving, and then look up and the sign would disappear. Very frustrating. The more wrong turns I took the more I needed the coffee. This was supposed to be a real quick diversion. It wasn't; so I gave up, and just as I turned onto a street to get onto the highway, we saw the actual Starbucks building. But it was too late. My wife wisely let me stew in my grief for a few minutes before she laughed.
For lunch we stopped in Saratoga, which is on the North Platte River. We decided that Mum would pick the restaurant, so she picked Mom's Restaurant. We were a little leery of the joint, since two bikers roared out of there as we pulled next to the little white building. But once inside the empty diner, we were greeted by a kind and warm hostess aka Mom. I was full from our room service breakfast of omelettes (which, by the way, were THE BEST omelettes I have ever devoured...), so I ordered an iced tea and bided by time to order desert: Banana Foster Ice Cream Pie. Ahhhh...vacation food tastes the best.
We took a side trip to Medicine Bow National Forest: Snow Cap Mountain. What a splendid park, with thousands and thousands of evergreen trees crowding the moutain slopes. And then we saw it: mounds of snow on the side of the road, on the cliff edges - and it was only sixty degrees outside.
Shimmering lakes that must of have been icecold dotted the landscape as we drove through. Just one more delightful experience in the Wyoming territory. The land would be flat and green, hemmed in by cloud-shadowed hills. Then the hills would morph into mini-mountains and the ground would be these myriad of mounds rolling along, like storm swells of earth rippling outwards.
Once through the forest, we arrived at our next tourist destination: Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site in Laramie. All I knew about it was that Butch Cassidy had been jailed there for about a year. It turned out to be a well-put together, well-financed, well-researched museum of that prison - its affect on the city and territory, as well as the forces that created it and the penal system it was promoting. Jerm and I spent a long time together reading almost everything, they had alot to read. Throughout the recreated prison were enlarged photographs of the inmates, with their story and name below. It added a very human touch to the place. Along with these pictures were many large plaques with insightful reflections on different elements of the prison, how it ran, how it developed, how it failed/succeeded. One insight: the prison was influenced by the belief that jail time was to be rehabilitative and redemptive. However, only one person out of the two-thousand inmates was rehabilitated. That one man went on to be a successful businessman in the area. This apparent lack of success was addressed in one plaque which critiqued some of the foundational philosophical and religious beliefs that created this system of imprisonment.
Emma, Isaac, and Levi enjoy prison life, Eva isn't so sure about it...
As Jerm and I walked out of the museum, we say that a huge storm was rolling in fast - drops of rain were already hitting. We walked briskly to the visitor center where everyone else was milling about, anxiously awaiting us because they had already seen the storm coming in. We hurried and got the strollers packed up, the kids piled in, and the vans on the way when a fierce prairie storm dumped on us. As we get on the drenched highway, Tara asks me if I got her wallet out of the stroller. No, I didn't; I didn't know to look for it. Did it fall out? No, I didn't see anything on the ground. What if it did fall out? What if we get to Cheyenne and we don't have it? We'll have to drive all the way back. You need to pull over and check to see if it is in the bottom of the stroller. WHAT? Arrgghhhh. So we pulled over at the next exit and find a side road, hoping for a break in the storm...which I get...it goes from torrential downpour to normal downpour. I jump out, open the side door and then jump on the back of the van to open the storage unit on top of the van where the strollers are stored. I was hoping that I could stand on the ledge of the open side door and just quickly reach my hand into the bottom of the tightly folded up stoller and extract the missing wallet. No luck, I couldn't even see it in there. Which meant I had to take both strollers out of the storage unit...while it is pouring rain. Fortunately (or unfortuantely, depending on who is wet...) the wallet was in the bottom of the stroller. Tara wisely waited a few minutes before she laughed at the soaked and bedraggled husband sitting next to her. We eventually both laughed...
Once at the hotel, we got changed and Tara and I went on a date with Eli to the Cheyenne Cowboy Club for authentic Wyoming meat. Neat place, but hardly anyone in the restaurant...which I will say again, annoys me. Anyway, the buffalo ribeye was delicious - I was happily full, and dry. On the way to the restaurant we drove by a Starbucks, which we planned on stopping at after dinner. As we drove back, we couldn't quite remember what street corner it was on - it being on a one-way main artery. So we drove around for ten minutes, finally finding it...today was not my day for quickly finding my coffee shop.
Now we're getting rested for our long trip to Omaha...eight hours of driving!