Wyoming is big. I mean, biggety big. And vast. And (mostly) flat. You can drive along and see off into the distance to the horizon, and it looks like the sun is setting on grasslands only a mile or two away.
And I think it’s beautiful. I don’t know why, just something about the state that appeals to me.
Perhaps it’s the vastness, perhaps it’s the nature, perhaps it’s the wind, or perhaps it’s the sparseness of people. Yeah, big, but not a lot of people. Friendly people, but…. sparse.
On this leg of the journey, Jessica and I passed through Wyoming and down through Colorado. In fact, we started in South Dakota (if you read the last post about Mt. Rushmore), then drove through Wyoming, then down into Colorado. Yeah, it was a long driving day.
But it was also a very relaxing day of driving. Again, the roads were…. sparse. Not a lot of traffic and, again, the beauty of these states to gaze at. And the fact that Jessica and I actually enjoy being together, even in a Jeep, for hours and hours. Pulling off the road to look at a strange pile of rocks can be an adventure with the right person. We are the right persons for each other.
There was still a lot of snow on the ground when we woke in our little South Dakota motel, so we bundled up, packed our stuff, and headed out just after the shadows across the white pack began to shorten.
Some of the photos here show you what we drove through (yes, for those of you living in the northern west, you’re yawning right now).
Now, as is the premise of our trip, we were apt to stop and look at things without explanation. “What’s that?” became the beginning of almost every side trip. So as we’re driving along, I see a sign that mentions a missile defense building. Well, if you didn’t know this already, during the cold war, much of these states were dotted with underground missile silos and operations bunkers. Many of these sites have been abandoned and some were turned into parks and museums. The Quebec 01 site was such a place. And, as I found out later, the only site remaining of its kind.
As a military brat and someone who lived through the cold war on the front line, in West Germany, this is something I’ve wanted to look at. So off we went.
The Quebec 01 was a Wyoming State Park now, located near Chugwater, Wyoming (so named for a Native American legend involving an altercation between the leader of the Manda tribe and a buffalo).
The base had been in operation as a defense facility from 1964 through 2005. It was restored and opened to the public in 2017. The building itself, mostly underground, housed personnel whose job it was to launch Minuteman and, later, Peacekeeper missiles upon command and authentication.
I was very excited to see this. As we drove up to it, it seemed innocuous. A couple of small buildings with a chain link fence around it. I knew most of it was underground and I couldn’t wait to get into the control areas.
And… disappointment. It was CLOSED!!! Closed for the winter season. In fact, it was scheduled to reopen just a couple of weeks before I wrote this (on May 1st). Still, we took some photos from the outside and reluctantly headed back to the freeway to continue our trip.
A few hours later, we were south of Fort Collins, heading toward Denver and ultimately Vail, where we planned to spend the night. Passing through the area, I heard a low rumbling sound, something familiar, like a low flying jet.
And there it was. Rather, there THEY were! It was the Blue Angels, the famous Navy flight demonstration wing! The strikingly blue colored F/A-18s raced back and forth across the sky.
I was driving at the time, so these photos were taken by Jessica. She really got some great shots. I have no idea why they were there, but it was quite a show for everyone driving along that stretch of the interstate.
Finally, we were in Vail, Colorado, the famous ski resort. It was the off season (the brief period between summer and winter when everything is practically deserted.) I’ve never skied there, but we weren’t going to be staying long enough to visit the slopes. We checked into our hotel, went to the main part of town to have a nice dinner, and came back to the hotel. The walk, the food, the company… I may be so bold to say it was a very romantic evening to cap off an exhausting but great day of travel.