Bill Sniffin: Here Is A Kuralt-Like Spectacular Wyoming Road Trip

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher emeritus

Apparently, I love windshield time. Long road trips around Wyoming seem to be my specialty. They have been a consistent part of my Cowboy State life for over 50 years.

Last weekend, a new colleague, Greg Johnson, kidded me about all the miles I drive. “You are like the Charles Kuralt of Wyoming,” he said.

Now that is a huge compliment. Yes, we do drive around Wyoming a lot and we do write about those trips a lot.

And here comes another one.

This trip involved my wife seeing a doctor in Denver. That might be a story itself, perhaps, but for another day. Her appointment went well. But the 800 miles to and from were full of fun experiences.

By far the greatest was spending five hours at Cheyenne’s Botanic Gardens. For more information on that wonderful place check out Wendy Corr’s excellent piece in Wednesday’s Cowboy State Daily.

Two guys named Smith were prominently involved in that unique facility. As far as I know, they were not related.

Shane Smith was the driving force behind the facility for over 40 years. He is retired now but what a visionary. The place is unique. Especially in a high and dry place like Cheyenne.

We were lucky enough to attend Saturday’s Heirlooms and Blooms Harvest Market, which included dozens of vendors selling unique products. The place was jammed.

After a half century in Wyoming, how could I not have visited this place before? Nancy loved it and we will be back.

One of the more unique aspects of the facility is the Paul Smith Children’s Garden. Paul was an old friend who owned the Hitching Post Hotel for years. During its heyday it was truly a second Capitol of the state. Folks who came along later just cannot imagine what a positive effect Paul and the “Hitch” had on everything. Paul is missed and so is the Hitch. His garden at the Botanic Gardens is wonderful. What a gift to everyone, especially the kids.

Rain And Fog Dogged Our Trip

Our trip started out Thursday morning in the rain and it poured on us all the way from Lander to Rawlins. What unusual conditions with lots of fog and low-hanging clouds. At times the rain poured. As we drove by Jeffrey City, we recalled they were flooded out a couple of weeks ago by a real gully washer.  

We had planned to have lunch at SuCasa, a wonderful Mexican Restaurant in Sinclair. Again, we have always heard about the place but, alas, it is not open on Thursdays.

Driving around Sinclair is a treat. These old Spanish-style buildings were created in 1925 by PARCO, the company that originally build the big refinery. Getting close to all those pipes is just amazing at the refinery. How do they keep all the gases and fluids coming and going in the right directions? Looks like a huge high school chemistry experiment to me.

We stopped at Dave Rader’s Econolodge to eat but his restaurant was closed, too. “Can’t get any help,” he said. He said that is affecting everybody in Rawlins.

He said Rawlins had an unusually un-windy summer. It was very hot and little breeze. Now, that is news worthy.

We ended up having a fun lunch at Buck’s, a former Sanford’s. Food was great and so was the service and atmosphere. I recommend the Shoot on a Shingle, which was a burger on toast, with french fries, chili, and two eggs on top. Yeah, a lot of great tasting food.

Later that day we made it to Cheyenne. Our late colleague, Jim Angell, loved to smoke cigars and talked repeatedly about looking forward to opening up the garage-style door at the boardroom at Cowboy State Daily’s new offices to smoke a cigar late on Friday afternoons.

On this day, Jimmy Orr, Dave Simpson, Dave Lerner, Rod Miller, and myself indulged. We had a great time telling Jim Angell stories and puffing away on a perfect late afternoon.

We stayed at the Red Lion and had an excellent dinner that night. On Friday night, my brother Ron (who lives in Cheyenne) hosted us to watch the Cowboys beat up Air Force. Was that result fun or what. What an upset.

On Sunday, we enjoyed a great breakfast at Little America with old friend Pat Schmidt and his wife Emily. Pat was a long-time publisher of both the Lovell and Thermopolis newspapers.

Born In A Barn Is Great

For lunch, we dined at the famous Born in a Barn in Laramie with our two grandsons, Hayden and Wolf Johnson, both of whom attend UW. That restaurant was featured by Guy Fieri on his Diners, Drive-ins, & Dives TV show recently.

By the way, Charles Kuralt died back in 1997 but hosted a famous road trip show on CBS from 1967 to 1980 called On The Road.

It is a huge compliment for me to be mentioned in the same sentence as this famous traveling journalist. Thanks Greg.

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