Waking up from my luxurious parking spot at the Flying J in Casper, I felt pretty good overall. Most nights, I've stayed up until I've been exhausted... in hopes that I sleep better than the night before. So far, so good. I topped off the gas tank, topped off my hunger tank, and headed west out of town.
A photo I'd sent Aaron earlier this morning... I had told him that I got the motorcycle rack muddy (it's worse now).
And there it was... like a beacon... the Historic Trails Interpretive Center! Just what I needed to locate the elusive Oregon & Pony Express trails. While the folks at the center meant well, they just didn't seem to have the answers I needed. Instead, they directed me down the road to the Casper BLM office... which ended up being JUST what I was looking for. The folks at the BLM were great - they told me exactly which unmarked dirt roads I needed to take to get where I wanted to go. Part of the conversation was their inquiry as to whether or not I had functional 4-wheel drive. I do, and told them so. Their major concern wasn't so much clearance issues, but the weather. Apparently when these roads get wet, they are quite 'fun' to navigate. And there was rain in the forecast today.
So off I went, following the instructions I was given. I did get turned around a couple of times, but corrected myself in short order.
Lo and behold!
Oregon Trail to the left, Pony Express Trail to the right... and I am where they converge and travel together.
I drove this segment of the trail for approximately 50 miles before hitting pavement again. Gorgeous views, and the impending weather made for a great backdrop. Other than a few sprinkles, it didn't do anything.
Back out on the highway and down the road about 10 miles, I came to Independence Rock (I have the full image on my camera - I was just too close with the cell phone to get it all).
Leaving Independence Rock, it was already past noon and nearing to 1:00pm. I had originally wanted to hop on a few more backroad segments, but I figured it would be best to stick to the paved surfaces if I wanted to get near Yellowstone before it got too late. But even the state highways were very scenic through the mountains, prairies and deserts. I pulled off a few times for photos.
I am currently in Cody, Wyoming. I haven't been here too long yet, and I think I'm going to wander around downtown and see what I see, and find some place to sit for dinner. I'm about 50 miles outside of Yellowstone. So I think most of tomorrow (if not some of Thursday) will be dedicated to Yellowstone... and the Grand Tetons - I'm going there after Yellowstone and before driving into Idaho. I hoped to get to spend a couple of days in this area, getting my hike on and lots of photos. It seems I have made decent time and can do so.