“Let ‘er buck!”—the battle cry of the University of Wyoming athletics fans. It means: Bring on the bronco and let her (or him) buck! Metaphorically it means: Face adversity and try to conquer it, even if it throws you around. A put-up-your-dukes, stick-out-your-chin, bring-it-on attitude. And why not? A tough land makes people tough.
Wyoming—state of vast sage-covered land and really big mountains. It’s a thrill as the Bighorn Mountains, a subrange of the Rocky Mountains, rise in the distance. Take Highway 16 out of Buffalo and in no time you’re in the mountains.
On this trip we revisited places from a trip 30 years ago.
The South Fork Inn, a few miles into the mountains, has changed but not in a bad way. The name is different, but still recognizable, South Fork Mountain Lodge and Outfitters. The new cabins are neatly folded into the landscape. And the 100+ year old cabin we had stayed in is still there—a bedroom on either side of a center kitchen with a wood burning cookstove (now unusable).
After having a look around the South Fork Inn we trucked on to the next revisit—Crazy Woman Canyon Road—the reason we drove our 4-wheel drive truck. Single lane, gravel, and rutted. Not a road for cars with low oil pans. It’s a crazy road leading to fantastic scenery and gorgeous campsites (bring your own water or water treatment tablets). No facilities—I mean NO facilities—if you know what I mean. This eighteen-mile road can be driven in either direction, from south of Buffalo, or from Hwy 16 in the mountains, or you can just turn around like we did.
By this point in the road, (photo at left), I wasn’t feeling so good—a bit of a headache and mild nausea. OK, I’m a flatlander, and it takes me a bit to adjust to the altitude, but not long. Fortunately, my husband did 97% of the mountain driving. Well, fortunately, I think. He likes to drive, which means I was sucking in my breath or closing my eyes on occasion. Mountain driving is much like aging, not for sissies.
Down in the valley, me driving, a storm piled up black clouds and raced across the open range; a wall of rain bounced off the dry ground. Storms in the West are like that: fast, frequently in the afternoon, and sometimes violent. A beautiful storm.
Hot and tired, but exhilarated from being back in the mountains, we pulled into Cody, Wyoming. Cody is for tourists, and we fell right in step, enjoying a gunfight staged at the Irma Hotel.
Next morning—whoa, we’re not in the city anymore!