Leaving Rock Springs was something akin to leaving a well-loved history book behind when visiting a friend: you want to share it and return to discuss at a later date but you hate leaving that beloved tome. Rock Springs had so much to offer but our time was limited; we managed a fleeting glimpse of Flaming Gorge, its red sandstone crags blending with the green of the valley as if Christmas was on its way.
Scooting up the road towards our turn-around destination, Jackson, we passed so much I’d like to return to see: the Wild Horse grazing grounds, the old historic district, the sand dunes, even the Reliance Tipple, and then the old stage coach route and all the various trails cutting through our road. But we knew we were headed to our beloved Jackson hideaway and a rest of eight days before turning around and heading east via a different route. A kind of elation hit us, silliness and singing and thinking of games we couldn’t possibly play while driving.
As the skies opened for their regular mountain afternoon summer downpour, I felt cleansed and happy, even with the mammoth unloading and unpacking before us. Not really home, but home at last.
We have to be thankful for the modern innovation of the tire gauge light. Without it, Cristal and I might have started across Trail Ridge Road and ended up with a flat tire on the top of a mountain, far from help. As it was, the inconvenience of sitting and waiting an hour and a half while it was worked on and patched was minor, and gave us the added benefit of an early start since we had to be at the tire place at 8 am.
Trail Ridge winds its way through spectacular scenery with an abundance of wildlife and wildflowers to please the jaded traveler. The varied tones color the land like a giant quilt. The hairpin bends, the twists and turns of the road, incur a leisurely journey through this patch of the Rockies,
Trail Ridge Road
this area of outstanding natural beauty. A stop in the popular, well-preserved western town of Steamboat Springs was also a delight; less flashy and more down to earth than Jackson, it had a laid-back feel that had us wanting to return for a less rushed visit.
Elk on top of Trail Ridge Road
But it was the road after Steamboat to Rock Springs, WY, from where I write, that had us in awe. Here were the wide open spaces of the west, here was the prairie the pioneers crossed on the Overland Trail, Chimney Rock, endless ranchlands, miles of sagebrush: SPACE. At times, the road ran beside the railroad, those seemingly endless trains taunting us with the unspeakable possibility of getting caught at a crossing. But at other times, the road met, for a few miles, the cross-poles of the telephone lines, standing like crosses on the Via Dolorosa. But there was no grief here, no pain, no suffering, no sorrow for us. If you’re a believer, it was God’s Country.