Tag Archives: Road Trip

March 13, 2008

Leading up to March 13th, 2008, I was preparing for my life changing trip. My car had been looked over, new tires put on, tearful goodbye’s said,  boxes packed with what was being shipped, car packed and everything else was snugly tucked away at my parents. We even went to the Lincoln Inn in Essex to have a final Tuesday night ritual listening to bluegrass. My roommate and I were regulars, they would save us a table and know what we were ordering every week – oh what was I leaving behind?! On the 13th, I woke up around 4am, planning to begin my long journey around 5am. The temperature outside was around 10 below. Just a little on the chilly side. (It’s amazing how weather is, I talked to my mom today and it was 75 degrees in Vermont!). Alright, back on track… my car was packed, and ready to go. I did my tearful see ya laters with my parents and brother and we were off. I say we – Sy had flown up to take the 2,000 mile drive to Texas with me.
(This picture was taken a couple days before we left at Oakledge Park in Burlington, VT.)
The first leg of the trip was going to take us from Northern Vermont over to New York and down to Philadelphia where we were going to stay and catch up with my friends from college Audrey and Dave. Seriously, I haven’t seen these two since this visit and it’s long overdue but I was so excited to spend some time with them. Looking back, I remember this surreal feeling like “am I really about to do this?”. Moving out of state was always something that I had in my mind. “If I move and hate it, I can always come back so why not do it” was really what I was thinking. I also remember this feeling like, once we get through Kentucky, I can have a sigh of relief. I’m not really sure why, I think I was more nervous that something was going to go wrong with my car than anything else. Have I mentioned I’m slightly paranoid?
After an eight hour drive over Lake Champlain, thru the Adirondack Mountain where the snow was so high we couldn’t see the picnic tables at the rest areas, trash flying around in dirty Jersey and over the Ben Franklin bridge, we finally arrived at our destination in historic Philadelphia, where there was no snow. And most of all – Hello Audrey and Dave!

Happy Jack Road

Happy Jack Road (aka Wyoming Highway 210) is a road in the middle of nowhere. It stretches about 40 miles between Cheyenne and Laramie, Wyoming and amazingly enough it was probably one of the best 40 mile drives I could’ve asked for. I’m sure the people who live out there think “What’s so great about a road?” but to me, there’s absolutely nothing out there – that’s what’s so perfect!
Leaving Cheyenne, I had a slight detour trying to find Happy Jack, I accidentally turned onto this dead end road facing the F.E. Warren Air Force Base. Whoops… I didn’t want to go there. Then I found my way back and off I went.
You ever see those “I Survived” shows on TV where they talk about how you probably shouldn’t have survived this event in your life, but you did? For some reason it always gets me, those people who get stuck on those roads when a blizzard hits and they’re literally in the middle of nowhere (even though they drove thru the gate at the beginning of the road telling them not to pass)…. yea I’m pretty sure Happy Jack is one of those roads. When I hopped on this two lane stretch, there was a gate, and a sign, “Do Not Proceed When Closed”. Dually noted.
When I started out, the landscape was pretty flat. Little did I know how much that would change by the time I reached the end of the road. I would occassionally pull over to take a picture or two and try to soak it all in. The wind was blowing so hard my car door wouldn’t stay open.
I think this was the only group of homes that I saw along this entire 40 mile journey.
I wonder if it’s changed at all.
Imagine waking up everyday and seeing the Rocky Mountains like that?
Lucky folks. It’s gorgeous!
Occassionally, I would run into these, well I’ll just call them driveways. You could never see a home, barn, shed, nothing. Just the entrance.
This would be my kind of place to live!
The more I traveled down this forty mile stretch, the more the scenery changed.
No longer was it a prairie where I didn’t need a jacket. Soon there were plateau’s off in the distance. The sky was so vast, so large. Vermont doesn’t have red rocks embedded into the side of the mountains like this so it grabbed my attention, it was beautiful.
Plateau’s off in the distance welcomed rock formations, colder air, higher elevation and snow!
Two water reserviors were also nearby (Crystal Reservior and Granite Reservoir). These reserviours supply water to Cheyenne.
Medicine Bow National Forest is a little over halfway down Happy Jack Road. Created in 1902, it was named for the numerous Native American tribes who would meet for powwows searching for Mountain Mahogany. This wood was excellent for making bows and used in rituals to heal disease and illnesses.
It really makes you think back to a hundred plus years ago what the land was like. Besides this road winding through, I really don’t think it would’ve been much different.
  
Happy Jack Road eventually meets up with US 80 / US Hwy 30 which leads to Laramie.
The end of the road brings visitors center (hello bathrooms!) as well as this giant statue in honor of Abraham Lincoln. Sitting like a prize at the end of the road… He and his giantic head statue.
The monument was built to commemorate Lincoln’s 150th birthday. Sitting at 48.5 feet tall, the head alone is 13.5 feet tall. You can’t miss it!

That’s it for Happy Jack Road, one of the best drives of my life thus far. Vast and diverse you definitely clear your mind on this drive.

Now we’re hoping on I-80 and heading the Laramie!

Has anyone else driven Happy Jack?

Cheyenne Frontier Days

In October 2007, I found myself in Wyoming. Where did I go first? Cheyenne Frontier Days, of course! Cheyenne Frontier Days is one of the two most popular destinations for the rodeo, besides Calgary.
This rodeo has been going on for a long time. Cheyenne holds a ton of history in the cowboy and cowgirl department. Started in 1987, the Cheyenne Frontier Days is one of the largest and most popular annual rodeo celebrations in the world, drawing in hundreds of thousands of visitors during the 10 day span in July!
Rodeos and concerts – if you are a rodeo star or musician, I would be amazed if you haven’t ridden or played here. Reba McEntire use to ride here before she turned to singing.
When I arrived at Cheyenne Frontier Days, it was obviously not July, and they did not have a rodeo going on. That’s ok – I’ll be back! So I checked out the museum. :)
The museum showcases a ton of history. Costumes of cowgirls, cowboys and the rodeo clowns.
 
The museum showcases some many stars including Tuff Hedeman and Lane Frost
 
Something I admire are the photographs. They show the everyday details of the cowboys, cowgirls and their loved ones, not only in the arena, but off as well. These are hard workers, who appreciate and challenge themselves everyday. This isn’t cut out for everyone.
 Now you know they don’t all ride their horses in. Various forms of transportation are showcased from current to way back when.
Something that draws me to rodeos is really the simplicity that is at the base of it all. It all comes back to working the land, getting your hands dirty and proving what you’ve got and that you can make it. It gets back to the roots of what this country has to provide. This country wasn’t built on corporations and big businesses, it was built on working with the resources that you have. At the end of the day, it’s about being proud and seeing what you can do with your own two hands. These men and women take the tools they learn on their ranches and farms and put them into the competition to prove that they are the best.
Get on out there!
Enjoy the ride!On my way out I asked the ladies in the Gift Shop the best way to Laramie. They gave me two options, the quicker (highway) way and the more scenic way. Scenic way it is – Happy Jack Highway here I come!