By Ernie Over
This past Sunday Morning, I rose early to catch a ride with Cody Beers up to Park County where he was going to pick up a lawn mower from his brother-in-law. It was to be a fast trip, just up and back with a breakfast somewhere along the way.
It was dark when we started out, the bright lights of his pickup truck illuminating the way. As the District 5 PR guy for WYDOT, I received an update on all the highway projects we encountered along the way. I like knowing that kind of information so the beginning of the trip was quite entertaining.
At Shoshoni we discussed the new Travel Center under construction there and that some new approaches were being planned to the new Fast Lane C-store. The framework was up on two sides of the new building, and in the distance the new truck fueling bays and canopy was up. This project will be a big boon to the town, and for all the folks traveling US Highways 20 and 26 to and fro.
Inside the Wind River Canyon on US 20, Cody pointed out the rock removal work that was done earlier this year and a new “attenuator” down the canyon from the tunnels above and on the east side of the canyon. This big heavy cable mesh device will capture rocks before they fly onto the highway. It’s designed to stop basketball size rocks. It could also slow down those huge boulders that come down from time to time. I doubt it would stop them, though. There’s been some paving underway in the canyon, too, and all of that work is now done. It was a nice pleasant ride.
At the north end of the canyon, where the landscape opens up, the brilliant green fields on either side of the highway looked great, sitting adjacent to the red iron rich hills, even in dawn’s early light.
Thermopolis hadn’t awakened yet, but there were a few cars moving about. I was amazed to see all of the new residential construction activity north of Thermop on the Cody highway. There’s also a bentonite open pit mine west of town that you ordinarily wouldn’t know was there.
We passed the relatively new Hot Springs County Airport that was relocated 10 miles west of town some years ago from its previous location just above the town at the golf course. Funny story about the new airport… as you may know, pilots approaching can turn on the runway lights with their radios. I learned that when that system was first put in, when the commercial flights were heading into Riverton, they not only turned on the runway lights at the Central Wyoming Regional airport, but at the new Themop runway as well. Hot Springs Airport had to turn down the sensitivity control just a bit on its radio and that problem went away.
Just aways past the airport, after the turnoff to the Legend Rock State Archaeological Site, Old Sol made an appearance on the Eastern Horizon. We were talking about sunrises and sunsets and noting the especially orange coloration this time of year, due to the big forest fires in California, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. Very colorful, but I wish the smoke wasn’t there.
Not wasting a good photo op, Cody pulled over and hopped out to grab an image. I just rolled my window down and got a nice photo from inside the truck.
We cruised into Park County and Cody stopped again, this time to point out the just barely visible buildings of the big monastery on the flanks of Carter Mountain. You might’ve heard of Mystic Monks Coffee. This is where it is roasted. The monastery is quite a sight, built in the Gothic style, if you’ve seen photos. The official name of the monastery is Monks of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel or The Carmelite Monks. If you want to taste their coffee, you can buy some on-line.
So through Meeteetse we go and another big highway project is underway there to the Burlington turnoff. The company doing this work, Cody said, is the one that has the contract for the project between Riverton and Kinnear this summer. It’s coming up later this month.
We took the Beacon Hill cutoff pas the airport where a United Express jet was sitting on the tarmac to where we picked up the lawn mower. Then to breakfast downtown at Granny’s. I’d been there before, in 1990 when a group of friends gathered for a wilderness horse packing trip to the flanks of Francs Peak. That was a great trip.
After breakfast, we stopped to visit Cody’s parents, and then hopped in the truck and retraced our stops back to Fremont County. It was a wonderful relaxing quick up and back. Thanks Cody!