Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Following the Oregon trail west to Lander, Wyoming

We left the Bluebirds' nest at the Central Wyoming Fairgrounds this morning and followed a portion of the Oregon Trail to Lander, Wyoming.

Following the auto route that brings you by sites along the trail...

We stopped at Independence Rock. Many emigrants left their names here. This rock was a very visible landmark. Some say it got its name because you needed to be here by July 4 to ensure a safe passage (not to be caught by snow like the Donner party). The other story is that there was a big 4th of July celebration here one year.

We went on to Split Rock...

Miss Doozie and the Jee-rage in the Split Rock parking lot.

We had visited Split Rock in 1990 on our trip to Yellowstone with Dad Talley and David - this picture shows Dwayne and Dad as we stopped to make breakfast at the rest area at Split Rock.

At the rest area, you can't really see the split rock - but a few miles further on, it is obvious. This is from west of the rock, but it was said that you could see the "gun notch" for 2 days of traveling both before it (from Independence Rock) and after it.

Not zoomed in - you can see the notch there to the right of the information sign.

We had debated whether to stay in Lander City Park (free, probably would have internet, may be crowded) or in one of two BLM campgrounds up near South Pass. We got to Lander mid-afternoon and found a place we could park (it is all boondocking) and decided that was the best choice. Later - after we visited South Pass, we stopped by both BLM campgrounds - they would have been ok, but no internet service (no phone signal).

On the way up to South Pass, we stopped at an overlook of Red Canyon.

 Information about South Pass
The South Pass, in which you are now located, is perhaps the most significant transportation gateway through the Rocky Mountains. Indians, mountain men, Oregon Trail emigrants, Pony Express riders, and miners all recognized the value of this passageway straddling the Continental Divide. Bounded by the Wind River Range on the north and the Antelope Hills on the south, the pass offered overland travelers a broad, relatively level corridor between the Atlantic and Pacific watersheds.
Mining plays a fundamental role in the history of the South Pass region. Gold may have been discovered as early as 1842, but gold fever did not strike until 1867 when a sample of South Pass ore arrived in Salt Lake City. News of the discovery spread swiftly and hordes of expectant millionaires descended on the new towns of South Pass City, Atlantic City, and Miner's Delight. The boom played out quickly. The easily obtained placer gold was rapidly exhausted and miners began leaving the area in the early 1870s.
Despite the brief duration of the boom, mining activity did not cease. In 1884, an enterprising Frenchman named Emile Granier began organizing the construction of a hydraulic gold mining system which employed many local residents over a ten year period. The Fisher Dredge Company recovered considerable gold ore from the bed of Rock Creek during the 1930s. More recently, the United States Steel iron ore mine operated near Atlantic City from the early 1960s until 1983. Hard rock mines also reopen periodically and some are presently operating. Until the next boom arrives, travelers can experience the flavor of a Rocky Mountain mining town by visiting nearby South Pass City, which has been restored by the State of Wyoming.

We stopped at South Pass Rest Area and read some information about this area.

We followed directions found in a booklet that we got from the National Trails Interpretive Center in Casper to get us to South Pass. It was a bit off the main road...

South Pass - this particular area was fenced so there were not cattle grazing it, so theoretically the plants and land would be much like it was in the mid-1800s when the emigrants were passing through.

The book said that we should turn around at that point, but also said that the road would connect back up with route 28 (the road that would take us back to Lander), but that it could be rough and impassable in bad weather. The weather has not been bad, so we figured the Jeep could make it!

At one point we noticed that the grazing land for the cattle changed dramatically - this was "Pacific Springs" - the first water source on the western side of the continental divide.

The road we had travelled...

The road ahead wasn't looking any better, but no worse either... so we continued on!

Until we got to the gate! We had crossed a few cattle guards, but this was the only one that had a gate. We figured out how to get it open and continued on through. It turned out that we were almost back to route 28 (and we *really* did not want to traverse all the way back!). We think that it was gated here to discourage folks from taking the very rough part of the road.

Our last view back toward South Pass (looking east).
We drove from South Pass to Atlantic City (the one in Wyoming) and went to see the two BLM campgrounds near there. They were ok - we could have found a site where Miss Doozie could have fit, but we're happy to be in Lander and with internet to post this blog entry!!!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Don's pictures in a video

Don, who was here at Casper with us, put together his photos into this 1 minute 21 second video:
So neat!

Tool organization

We've spent a quiet day around the campground and the bus - visiting with folks who have not left yet (many are going on the Trails drive tomorrow that we did last Wednesday), finishing up laundry (Patti) and cleaning the outside of the bus (Dwayne). Here is a report on something from a few weeks ago:

When we were in Virginia, one of the things that we saw were the wrench rolls that Granny and Regina's sister, Mary Margaret, had made for Jimmy. (I wish I had thought to take pictures of those - how wonderful to have the wrench rolls made by family!)

We had seen some available on Amazon, so decided to order a couple to see if they would help with organizing Dwayne's wrenches.
The couch was gone, so Dwayne set up a "desk" - a large piece of cardboard propped up on a couple of boxes - he spread out all his wrenches so we would know how many he had of each type (SAE, metric, ratcheting) - the cardboard was nice because Dwayne could make notes on the cardboard of how many of each he had. He also used the marker to play a tune on his various wrenches!

The wrench rolls order from Amazon came and Dwayne was able to get all his wrenches stored!

They wrap up nicely and keep the wrenches organized!
We think that these will be a good help in keeping the wrenches together and hopefully easy to find when needed.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Other folks who were with us in Casper for the Solar Eclipse

Such fun we had!

Lounge chairs provided a good way to view the sun, and the solar glasses hid whether you were viewing or napping!

The glasses were on and off a lot as you couldn't see anything with them on except the sun!

Erica and Al

The parking helpers, Darline and Tommy, for the west side (our side - Tommy helped us get parked) of the fairgrounds get to sit back and enjoy the eclipse!

Don Bradshaw had quite an array of camera equipment to record the event!

 Here is his video of the reactions at totality - really lets you see how dark it got! :
Go to this post to see some of his pictures - Amazing Creator!
Ginger was ready with her Eclipse Casper shirt!

Rick had an aluminum foil headgear designed to prevent aliens from taking over his brain (it may have been too little, too late...)

Ann and Nancy

This was down at the end where we were watching - I'm in about the middle of the picture standing in the back. The snowcone, popcorn, and cotton candy vendors from the fairgrounds also came by!

Our nextdoor neighbors - that's their windsock hanging from their mirror (a way to keep folks from running into your mirror!).

Someone was up in a hot-air balloon - we were wondering whether they would even be able to see the sun with the large balloon canopy over them, but maybe they would be able to see the moon's shadow. The lady who spoke to us (from the planetarium) said that the moon's shadow would travel across the surface of the earth at 1500 MPH!

Casper for the Total Eclipse

It happened! It was great!

It was clear enough for us to see the total eclipse, though some clouds moved in toward the end before the moon had completely cleared the face of the sun.

First contact: 10:22am Mountain time
"Pinhole camera" crescents through a colander! 11:17am

Crescent shaped light through the leaves of the trees 11:18am

Crescent shaped light formed by my "pinhole camera" 11:19am

Crescent shapes through another colander 11:20am

This is what the other colander looked like.
The tools that we brought - solar glasses, a thermometer, and a "pinhole camera" with our location and date on aluminum foil.

My honey took people pictures - they will be in a separate post!

The sun is a smaller crescent now!  11:34am

The light through the trees also shows a smaller crescent 11:37am

Totality!!!! 11:43:14am
 Totality here was from 11:42:42-11:45:08am.

There were "sunset" colors in the sky 360 degrees around; it was quite dark!  11:43:41am

The arrow is pointed at Venus that we could see in the daytime.  11:44:14am

The temperature went down to about 67 degrees F (back up to 87 degrees after it was all over).  11:45am

Leaf shadow crescents are now facing the opposite way!  12:02pm

Everyone posting their updated status on social media!  12:03pm
The moon left the sun's edge at 1:09pm. It clouded up some about 12:50-1pm, but was clear enough that we could see the very end of the eclipse too.

We are so glad that Joe and Pat, Larry and Barbara planned this event! We are so glad we came!