Bill Sniffin: There Is A Lot To Like About Wyoming Roads – But A Few Things Could Be Improved

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher emeritus
Cowboy State Daily

There is not a lonelier highway in America than some of those isolated stretches of pavement that crisscross the Cowboy State. Especially when bad weather occurs.

Last week, we were almost stopped by low visibility on Highway 287 between Jeffrey City and Muddy Gap as we headed from Lander to Cheyenne. Once again, the skies had opened and we were drenched by an epic gully washer. 

Luckily, the highway was virtually empty. Nobody coming toward me and nobody was closing in from behind. That 24-mile stretch of highway along the original route of the Oregon Trail was thankfully barren on that day.  

It’s easy to love that about our roads. We have good highways and often they are almost deserted. Despite all the rain, we could take solace in the fact that at least it was not snowing.

One of the unwritten golden rules of Wyoming is that you NEVER drive past a stranded motorist. Especially on cold, dark wintry days. 

Of course, you need to be careful out there and sometimes your Good Samaritan act can be just alerting the authorities that someone is in trouble. But an accident? You gotta try. 

Two Routes Can Make Any Trip A Loop

From our base in Lander, there are two routes to go to Cheyenne. On this trip, we did another of my suggested loop drives. We drove south down to Rawlins/ Then, in the face of amazing rain, we took highway 30/287 past Hanna and through Rock River, Medicine Bow, and Bosler, rather than stay on the Interstate. We were already tired of dodging thousands of semi-trailer trucks in the fog and rain on Interstate 80. On our alternate route we were darned lonely.

As we passed Hanna, it was easy to reflect on the terrible mine tragedies that happened there over 100 years ago. Reporter Mark Heinz had a wonderful feature about those events in Cowboy State Daily last week. 

Back in Sinclair just east of Rawlins we ate at SuCasa – and yes, it was amazingly good Mexican food. 

We saw Tucker Fagan of Cheyenne there sitting at the “community table” with some new friends from around the state. Rather than put people alone in booths, this table for six or eight ends up hosting folks from around the state and they leave having made new friends. Tucker was headed west to Green River for a swim meet for his granddaughter. 

We were delayed getting out of the Sinclair area by a gigantic semi carrying the vertical post of a huge windmill. There were obviously some problems and later we heard a rumor that one of these rigs had maybe clipped an overpass, but I am not sure where? The overpass heights are all clearly marked. As big as these monsters are, surely, they would have mapped out their routes so this does not happen? 

In Cheyenne, we celebrated the opening of Cowboy State Daily’s new office in Cheyenne and then, on Sunday, headed home by the longer route home through Casper. On this date Oct. 2, I could not believe how green the fields and pastures were along Interstate 25 going north. Really in October? It was beautiful and obviously we have not had hard freezes or early snowfalls in most of the state. 

I am fond of unique convenience stores and one of the best is the Interstate Gas Conoco Food Mart in Wheatland. Every kind of Wyoming-themed sign or trinket can be found there plus great food and an amazing ice cream store. 

Next time you go blazing through Wheatland, take the south exit and visit this unique store. These folks obviously love all things Wyoming. You will definitely find something of interest. (Pro tip: Its book collection is amazing, too!) 

It sits next to an amazing family restaurant called Western Sky’s Family Diner. Well worth the visit. 

We always think of friends Ray Hunkins, Chuck Brown, Linda Fabian, and the folks at the Wandering Hermit book store when passing through this Platte County seat. Truly one of the nicest towns in the state. 

Broncos Game Helps Miles Go By

I was looking forward to listening to the Bronco game on the radio on this Sunday afternoon but was disappointed to find that it was very hard for my car radio to pick up a signal in the Casper area. Obviously, some station must be carrying the game but I could not find it on the AM or FM dial. Oh well. 

Maybe one of the radio stations owned by the family of our presumed newly-elected Secretary of State Chuck Gray carries the games, but I just couldn’t figure out the dial. Ultimately, I was able to tune in to KOA out of Denver on my cell phone and connect it to my car so I could listen to that disappointing Broncos performance.  

On another topic, here is where I think we fail our travelers. As much as I love Wyoming roads, I really wish we had decent WIFI service at the rest areas. And good cell service, too. Many of these outposts are in the middle of nowhere but this should be a top priority. People need to be able to communicate during difficult times. It is a safety issue. 

We headed into Shoshoni and finally had some good radio signals and listened to the Broncos blow it against the Las Vegas Raiders. New construction at the Fast Lane convenience store in Shoshoni might make it one of the biggest in the state. It’s massive. That intersection is one of the busiest in Wyoming and they do a fantastic business. 

A column like this about long lonely stretches of road and rest areas should always include the first rule from the 2007 film “The Bucket List” – never pass up a chance to go to the restroom. There are actually two other rules, but I will let you look them up for yourself. 

Safe travels. Hope to see you on Wyoming’s roads. 

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