6100 Miles. 15 States. 18 Days. (Part 2 of 4)
Our journey of 6100 miles, 15 States in 18 days will be told in a four part blog by taking excerpts from my travel journal. This was a life changing experience that I hope can inspire others to take the chance on a solo road trip across the beautiful Northwest. (Read part 1 here)
9/17/17 Day 4: We Woke up in Loveland, CO and left early enough to watch the sun rise over the mountains as we made our way into Wyoming. Our first stop was Cheyenne where boots and Wrangler wearing cowboys flood the streets . . . literally. I believe there was a boot statue for every year Cheyenne has existed. We drove around and walked some of the streets but Chance was extremely hyper so we ended up at another dog park. It was so cold that I had to bundle up but Chance didn't seem to care as he played with the few dogs whose parents braved the chill.
Next, we stopped at Vedauwoo Medicine Bow National Forest about 30 miles west of Cheyenne. The dirt roads can make your brain rattle, but the forest is a must stop if you are in the area. It's really known for the challenging rock climbing adventures, but it also offers some great hiking/biking trails that allow leashed dogs. As a female traveling alone, I try to chose the more popular well-traveled trails on our hiking adventures just to be on the safe side. At Vedauwoo, that meant we hiked the Turtle Rock Trail (TRT), which is a loop about 3.3 miles around the rocks. The trail was a great break from all the driving over the last three days and not too difficult. If you are interested in more information about hiking here, there is a great detailed description of the trails on www.vedauwoo.org/hiking. The drive through the forest, at about 15-20 mph, takes at least an hour and the TRT took us about 1.5 hours to hike. The visit could easily eat up 3-5 hours or more if you want to camp or do some rock climbing, so plan ahead if this is a desired stop.
We arrived in Rock Springs, WY, to check into our hotel around 1:00 p.m., just to find out that the hotel's water was off; no bath for me after our hike. So, I unloaded and then googled things close to us where I found the Flaming Gorge Reservoir, which was about 1.5 hours south of us. So, we took our first unplanned detour and headed that way. It was a well-worth it detour. Words can't describe the beauty of the reservoir, and you soon discover how the name came about, as the setting sun danced on the rocks like flames of a fire and reflected the most beautiful color of red. The roads were fun to drive with lots of curves, and the scenery was just magnificent. We stopped on our way back at the only restaurant/market on the drive and ate dinner outside on the huge porch. We talked to some locals who immediately asked if I was from the south. I never think my accent is that bad until I travel outside of Tennessee.
We hit 2000 miles today, crossed two more state lines, Wyoming (State #5) & Utah (State #6) and we have completed 4 full days of our journey. Crazy! We are making excellent time on this adventure but I need to shower, now that the water is back on, and then get some good rest in the nice king size bed at the Holiday Inn. Can't wait for Day 5!!!
9/18/17 Day 5: Well . . . the Holiday Inn did not provide me with the rest I so desperately needed. I hardly slept due to the sound of a running toilet that started around 2:00 a.m. I was too tired to call the front desk until this morning. When the service guy came, he informed me the toilet couldn't be fixed. The front desk offered me a key to a room down the hall to use instead. After much complaining, they cut my bill in half which was something, but if I hadn't been so sluggish, I would have negotiated better. I have found that getting too angry about situations out of your control isn't the best way to spend your time on a road trip. So, even though I was upset, when we packed up and left, I decided to leave all ill feelings behind me.
Unfortunately though, we faced another challenge for the day. Chance has been coughing about every 2-3 hours. I'm hoping it isn't anything serious, but I called our Nashville vet to see what they recommended. They said to give him a Zyrtec to see if that helps, since we've been traveling in new areas and it could be allergies. It has me worried though. My poor little nugget. If it's not better by tomorrow, I'll find a local vet to make an appointment. But we will lay off the dog parks for the time being to be safe, so we won't spread it if it's something contagious.
We drove a lot today, exploring back roads before we slowly crept up the highly evaluated (8400 ft,10% grade) Teton Pass into Driggs, Idaho (State #7). A lot of people who live in Driggs and Victor, Idaho, work in Jackson Hole, WY. They commute via the Teton Pass on a daily basis . . . I can't imagine doing that drive every day and the wear on their vehicles. The Dodge Journey seriously struggled climbing it and wow, holy brakes coming down it. BUT THE VIEWS . . . I could definitely get used to that on a daily basis so, maybe it's worth it.
We will be resting for 3 days in a nice Airbnb in Driggs that has a beautiful view of the Tetons. I lined up a doggie daycare for Chance so I can do some hiking in the Grand Tetons over the next two days, but if he doesn't get better, I'll have to cancel and change plans. Dogs aren't allowed on the trails in the National Parks, so I may not get the opportunity to hike much. It saddens me, but I'll figure it out. We are in the freaking mountains... nothing can get us down for too long!
9/19/17 Day 6: We are now at the 1/3 point of our trip, but another sleepless night for me because Chance coughed a lot, so the first thing I did was call around to local vets and got him an appointment at Victor Vet Hospital at 2:15. We hung around Driggs and drove around just to find this cute little park less than a mile from our Airbnb that has a short trail and lots of green grass for Chance to play. As I mentioned in part 1, this is sort of a working vacation, so I worked in our room till about 1:00, before heading to Marigold Cafe for lunch and to shop a little. One of the things I always do on my road trips, is send my daughter post cards from all the states I travel through. She tells me how much she looks forward to receiving them. I found some really pretty ones at the cafe to send and a few to save for myself.
We arrived on time for our vet appointment. The doctor looked as though she stepped out of a Hallmark movie. Her long perfectly braided blonde hair draped down on her plaid button up shirt. Wranglers and boots completed her small town veterinarian style . She came outside to examine Chance, just in case he was contagious. Poor Chance was scared of her at first, but she got down on her knees and quickly gained his trust. After a thorough examination, she tells me he has kennel cough. So, even though he was vaccinated, apparently it's not 100% effective. He is now on antibiotics and a cough suppressant. This has made us alter our plans, so I canceled the doggie day care.
When we left the vet, I decided it was time for another detour. We left Victor and headed into Targhee National Forest towards Idaho Falls. The drive was what I enjoyed the most though. The views of the Tetons and snake river were stunning. The falls at Swan Valley off a dirt road were captivating. We stopped a lot to take pictures and stretch our legs while admiring the beautiful terrain. Chance posed for me even though he wasn't feeling 100%. He knows when I get my Nikon out that we will be in a spot for a little while, as I scan for the perfect shot to capture my vision. He is the most patient dog and co-captain I've ever seen. I think he really loves our adventures.
Idaho Falls was not great . . . the wind was so cold, I couldn't stay out in it for more than 30 minutes on our short hike. So we ended up leaving and driving back through the forest again to take in the landscape from a different angle, which was just as beautiful. By the time we rolled back into Victor, the sun was setting behind us. I stopped to watch it. Sunsets here aren't like the ones in Nashville, which are also beautiful, but very short. No, in the Northwest it seems like they last forever as the sun falls down around the mountains, its rays reflecting up from behind the rocks creating one of the most stunning displays of light. I was so in awe, I had to watch it from beginning to end.
I'm not sure if I captured everything I saw today the way I saw it, but I am sharing the many pictures I took in a slideshow below and throughout the blog, hoping they give it justice.
Day 6 ends with 2800 miles, 7 state lines crossed, one sick puppy, who I hope gets better soon, and a tired mom that needs some sleep!
There are 12 more days of this adventure to share. Stay tuned to parts 3 and 4 where Chance and I visit Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Glacier and Badlands National Parks. We get a very (almost too) close encounter with a grizzly and her cub, we see Bisons, Elk, mountain goats, coyotes, and more.
Until then . . . Keep Wandering!