Point-A to Point-B is the rule of thumb in my family.
Except, that is, for me.
I can put a half dozen points between Point-A and Point-B, and be happy as a clam. I can stop for lunch, coffee, historical markers, and several blessed rest stops between Point-A and Point-B. What’s the ding-dong rush? You think I went to work every day for 40 years to rush from Point-A to Point-B?
I don’t think so, Bullwinkle.
Members of my family, however, get in the car and try to set the land speed record between, say, Cheyenne and Gillette. (Granny and Gramps live in Cheyenne. Two of the cutest grand daughters anywhere – red hair, blue eyes, downright feisty – live in Gillette.)
You’d think my wife and daughter were Barney Oldfield (winner of the 1909 Indianapolis 500, average speed 70.159 miles per hour). My wife can do the 242 miles to Gillette in three hours and 20 minutes, and she’ll tell you all about it, including every “slow dog” who got in her way. My daughter, who has been called “The Silver Bullet” in Gillette (you didn’t hear this from me), can get from Gillette to Cheyenne in a blistering, no-stopping three hours. (Wyoming Highway Patrol, please take note.)
And they laugh at me when I clock in at five hours. I’m “dawdling” again, my wife and daughter say, as if I was Mr. Magoo, staring out from under the top of the steering wheel, holding up traffic for miles on Interstate-25. A hazard to navigation.
But, Old Dave is stopping to smell the roses.
I’ll be the first to concede that the drive from Cheyenne to Chugwater isn’t particularly scenic. You won’t need your camera. And it can be brutal in the winter. But it makes the point that Wyoming is BIG, and if you can’t handle 50 miles of prairie, then, well Skippy, maybe you ought to get back to Rhode Island, or New Jersey, and leave Wyoming to us.
(That said, I once took the back roads from Chugwater to Cheyenne, and went through some incredibly beautiful territory – Horse Creek, Federal, Tom Horn country – but it takes about three times what it takes on I-25, so pack a lunch.)
There’s a really good soda fountain in the heart of downtown Chugwater, with excellent burgers and milk shakes that are out of this world. And on the north side of town is a restaurant with great burgers, and a fish and chips special that will blow your hat in the creek.
Too many folks in Chugwater? Tired of the hustle and bustle of the big city? Head east to Hawk Springs, where I once had an absolutely wonderful burger and fries.
In the 1970s there was a train car diner on the north edge of Wheatland that turned me into an omelet fan for life. Not there anymore.
Up in Glendo – a town that I’m told once had a bakery featuring square doughnuts – they have a convenience store that will sell you everything from fishing gear to fancy coffee, soup to nightcrawlers, and everything in between. I tell my wife and daughter about this great place, and you’d think I was speaking Greek. They go by so fast they can’t even smell the crispy fried chicken.
Then you get to Douglas, and the siren call of fast food is tough to resist. But I just gas up, and head north to downtown Bill, population 5, where a Penny’s Cheeseburger awaits at Penny’s Diner. My wife and daughter have been traveling Highway 59 for years, and have never stopped at the classic Penny’s. Can you imagine?
Best of all is getting off the interstate and enjoying the scenery between Wheatland and Glendo, the piney foothills, Laramie Peak to the west, State Highways 320 and 319 and the beautiful ranches along the way, the mesas to the east, the view south from Douglas, the awesome Thunder Basin up north, and the volcanic cones around Gillette.
Get off the interstates, folks, especially this month when Wyoming is at its most spectacular.
Don’t be like Barney Oldfield.
See how many points you can put between Point-A and Point-B.
Dave Simpson can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org