By Bill Sniffin, publisher, Cowboy State Daily
After six months of behaving ourselves, my wife Nancy and I finally broke away for a road trip to Buffalo, Sheridan, and Casper. And boy, was it liberating!
The COVID-19 plague has forced folks of a certain age to pretty much stay home over the last six months. Now, we weren’t totally house-bound. We traveled all over our Wind River Mountain backyard and even ventured away from Lander to Riverton once in a while.
But a road trip? Not until now. And It was overdue.
We wore our masks, avoided crowds, used lots of hand sanitizer, and stayed in a very safe motel.
Retired lawyer and author John Davis was our first stop in Worland. He and his wife Celia live in the original Worland house, built by the man the town was named after. What a classic home.
They offered up great conversation and tasty coffee as Democrat John explained to me how important it was for the country to elect Joe Biden. This theme would continue on this trip as I kept visiting anti-Trumpers. Oh well.
The Davis-Worland home is magnificent. Once the plague is over, we plan to go back. Plus, I need to give them a tour of the Oregon Trail when they come visit us.
We then headed over the mountain through Ten Sleep and up through the magnificent canyons and wonderful fall colors. The traffic was light, but all the parking spots appeared to be taken up by hunters.
Lots of bow hunters out there. Road signs said watch out for elk and moose, which were the prey of the hunters. Some 15 moose licenses had been issued in the Johnson County area of the Big Horn Mountains.
In Buffalo, we felt safe at the super-antiseptic Hampton Inn. Timberline Hospitalities does a great job with their motels. The staff wore masks all the time and sanitizer was everywhere.
Newspaper legend Jim Hicks picked us up and we headed off to Crazy Woman Canyon. Visiting that area has been on my bucket list and Jim had been encouraging us to come over for the tour. He announced he is definitely disgusted with President Donald Trump. Not again? We decided to not talk politics.
The canyon was named for Crazy Woman Creek, which itself is named after a legend told in the book Jeremiah Johnson. Great yarn.
The canyon just keeps getting narrower until a vehicle can barely squeeze by between rocks the sizes of houses. Very BIG houses. It gets eerily dark at the bottom of this narrow canyon. The road was thankfully built by CCC crews back in the Great Depression. Nobody would allow such a road to be built today.
Colors were brilliant and the quiet was deafening. Just the gurgling of the stream and a breeze rustling the Aspens.
Jim says there isn’t much game deep into the canyon because even the animals realize that it can be inaccessible.
We popped out of the top of the canyon and then visited the Sheep Mountain fire station overlook. On this day you could see 70 miles out to some of my favorite bumps, the Pumpkin Buttes.
It was a wonderful tour and can now be scratched off my Wyoming bucket list.
Next day we went to Sheridan and had lunch with radio legend Kim Love and his wife Mary Kay. Kim wore a face mask that read BIDEN on it. Oh Lord. Here we go again.
The Loves own Frackelton’s Restaurant and the food was wonderful.
They had taken a Russian rail tour in February and barely got back to the USA ahead of the virus. What a trip. They ended up in Siberia on that long rail trip, which benefitted from a mild winter.
Later that afternoon, I visited with an old friend Pat Henderson who runs Whitney Benefits. What a huge asset to Sheridan County and Sheridan College to have that foundation providing so many spectacular things for the area. He gave me some books about Mr. Whitney, which I intend to read.
Also, Pat favors Trump’s policies, so finally I was around someone of sound mind. Ha!
That night Nancy and I watched the presidential debate in my room. I thought Joe Biden did well, easily clearing the very low bar of expectations that had been set for him. It was discouraging to watch President Donald Trump be so rude, as if he was trying to get his opponent to start blubbering. Not a good strategy on this night.
In Buffalo, we also visited with Roger Maertens at the Prescription Shop. He is going strong at 81. Later I found out that Hicks, at age 85, had split a cord of firewood that day. Wow, these guys are my heroes.
The weather and the roads could not have been better on this trip. We got home tired and very satisfied to have finally escaped from plague bondage. The colors of Lander had seemed to change in just three days – it was now fall. It was beautiful. And it was good to be home.