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Lunch in Laramie

December 31, 2009

Before the husband got locked into the daily grind, on a whim we decided to take a road trip to see some of the countryside. Destination: Laramie, Wyoming (about a three hour drive), with stops along the way.

First stop: Pine Bluffs, Wyoming. Just over the state line off I-80, there’s a rest stop that offers short nature hiking trails and (in season) a live archaeological dig where visitors can talk with the archaeologists. How cool! I would definitely recommend that cross-country travelers looking to stretch their legs stop here.

Rather than take I-80 all the way to Laramie, we took a scenic detour at Cheyenne and caught Happy Jack Road (a.k.a. Wyoming 210), which passes through Curt Gowdy State Park and a portion of Medicine Bow National Forest. The drive through the national forest was beautiful, especially with the pines and rock outcroppings decorated with snow, but this route can be closed in bad weather. The road was open when we drove it, but snowdrifts were encroaching on the traveled portion of the highway in places. Check weather conditions before you go.

Happy Jack Road takes a steep, winding, scenic route into Medicine Bow National Forest.

Poor Honest Abe appears to be trapped in a brick wall.

At the point where Happy Jack Road intersects with I-80, there’s another rest stop that may be worth a stop for some folks. I-80 travels the same path as historic Route 30 in this area, and there is a monument to the “Lincoln Highway” that includes a somewhat disquieting bust of Abraham Lincoln staring out over traffic.

Laramie has a nice, lively downtown area with plenty of places to shop, including several antique shops featuring western-themed paraphernalia. Since we were just there for lunch, the star of the show was Jeffrey’s Bistro. I fell in love with the place and want to try just about everything on their menu. Wish they were closer to Scottsbluff!

On our way back home, we took I-80 and stopped at two more “roadside attractions”. First, the Ames Monument: get off the highway, cross a cattle gate, turn right, turn left onto a washboarded gravel road, drive past windswept grasses and a few ranchettes, and head up a rise to find a railroad-related pyramid monument in the middle of frozen nowhere. Booorrring. Next, take a *left* exit off I-80 to a spot in the median containing (drum roll, please) . . . a tree growing out of a rock. Wow. How exciting. But it is somewhat novel to be legally stopped within the I-80 median.

The Ames Monument and the Tree Rock, off I-80.

One more item of note from our daytrip west: our first sighting of a few small herds of pronghorn antelope, which are fairly common in the eastern part of the state.

Oh give me a home, where the buffalo (ahem: bison) roam, and the deer and the (pronghorn) antelope play . . .

Copyright 2009 by Katie Bradshaw

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