The Saratoga Sun -

Surviving small-town Wyoming Part 6: Road trips

 


I came to Wyoming to scout out my then-future home 20 years ago.

The plan was for me and my employer at the time to fly into Denver and rent a car to drive to Saratoga.

Eventually I asked how long the drive would take.

When I heard, I thought four hours a long drive after a flight.

I was then assured that “people from Saratoga drive to Denver all the time” and that it was “no big deal”.

I took it with a grain of salt then but have come to learn there is a good deal of truth in those statements.

Folks who live in small towns love their small towns and our particular berg is no exception. There’s lots to see and do (consult our FREE Adventure Guide), but every once in a while you just have to get the hell out.

Folks from the city do occasionally escape the concrete jungle for wilder venues, but when you live in the wild it is often nice to see the bright lights. Sometimes it is even desirable to go from everyday wild to twisted hermit, can’t get a signal, full nowhere uncivilized.

Either way, you have to drive to get there.

Here are some points I find helpful for my road trips:

TELL PEOPLE:

If you mention that you are “going to Casper to go shopping”, there is a very good chance that someone will ask you to pick something up for them. It’s a kindness you can do your friend when they either can’t rationalize spending the gas money or just can’t get out of town.

CHOOSE YOUR FOOD:

We have awesome restaurants here but no cheapie fast food places. Periodically I crave Long John Silver’s fish, Popeye’s chicken, Arby’s roast beef or even something else you can’t get in town like sushi, Thai or Indian. If I am going to be gone all day I usually have two places picked out and sometimes even add another stop to bring home tasty travel-worthy takeout.

PICK A ROUTE:

A lot of places you want to go have more than one way to get there. If you are going to Casper, you can go through Rawlins if there was something you needed to get or drop off there. You can go through Medicine Bow and the Shirley Basin and see that mountain that looks like a pyramid from the right angle and distance and lots of windmills. There is even a third scenic way that goes through Sinclair, by Seminoe Reservoir, across the Miracle Mile and comes out at Alcova. These decisions should be based on time constraints, needs, weather conditions, and vehicle/road compatibility (My itty Ford ZX2 can make the mostly-gravel scenic route).

Even if you are out for a scenic drive destination like the Flaming Gorge loop tour there are several ways to and from there worth seeing.

MORE THAN ONE GOAL:

I find that most folks getting out of town have several things to accomplish on their road trip. If you can consolidate several tasks into your route this makes the onus of paying for gas (have you heard about high gas prices?) almost acceptable. For example:

1) Take borrowed tool back to friend in Cheyenne.

2) Run by your favorite stores (My favorites: Target, TJ Maxx, Ross, and Petco).

3) Lunch (see choose your food).

4) See that new movie.

5) Pick up that thing that guy wanted you to get (see tell people).

6) Head back through Laramie to pick up some other stuff at Walmart (be sure to say “Hi” to all the other Saratogans you happen to see there—just don’t say you saw them at Walmart when you get back to town, nobody wants to admit they shop there).

7) Dinner (see choose your food).

CARRY A SPARE KEY:

Unlike the Valley, where you can leave your keys in your ignition, you will have to lock your car up in a larger town. This having to lock things sometimes results in the dreaded “look-through-the-window-in-your-just-locked-car-door-at-the keys-dangling-merrily-in-the-ignition” situation. I find the previous hyphenated dilemma much easier to take if I have remembered take any of three preventative measures:

1) Put a car key in each front pocket (yes, this does require you have two keys).

2) Give the person you are riding with a key (for when they come out of a store alone with their own stuff to put in the car).

3) Attach a key to your car somewhere (fair warning: if I see you under my car looking for a key, I’m going to kick you).

TAKE GEAR:

If you go to anywhere in Wyoming in spring (heck, summer for that matter), carry a jacket because it can always get cold. I try to leave some outerwear in my car at all times. If you are driving in the winter a sleeping bag, some kitty litter and a shovel are a good idea. If you are taking someone with you, a pillow doesn’t hurt so they can rest while you drive. I am not going to even mention those little insidious little “smart” devices since we all carry them everywhere anymore. GPS devices are handy but also kinda annoying. There are also these funny little folded paper things called “Maps”. They are kinda helpful too if you can figure out how to read them and manage to re-fold them acceptably.

There are probably more trip tips to pass along but I can’t think of any now. Besides, I need something for part 7.

Here’s wishing you good luck and good fun on your journeys.

 

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