Our boondocking eventually came to an end and we pulled out of the Routt National Forest headed for the Yampa River State Park near Craig, CO. Our first stop was in a little town called Oak Creek where we had seen an old-fashioned drug store with a soda fountain on our way back from Steamboat Springs a few days ago.
Bonfiglio Drug was a real flash from the past; what a general store is supposed to be like. Wood floors, a little bit of everything, and most importantly a working soda fountain. I have this thing for vanilla malts and about the only place I will indulge this passion is at a bona fide soda fountain. I think the last one I had was last summer in La Veta, CO at Charlie’s General Store. It was a marvelous treat and we were soon headed west out of Oak Creek on County Road 27 taking the back roads to Craig. This turned out to be a great decision as we soon found ourselves in a wide open range land which couldn’t help but make me think of how the land would have looked to the pioneers as they traversed the territory.
We enjoyed the towns of Craig, Oak Creek, and Steamboat Springs, and would consider living in that area as it’s pretty nice. We spent a week in the State Park and got to know some of the businesses in Craig as we took care of some Chiropractic and brake repair issues. It was a bit of healing time for me and the truck. We also found a nice little bookshop and Hawaiian café/bakery called Mauka which got more frequent visits;-)
RHonda details our trip north from Craig…
This day started early with an almost pre-dawn trip to Chase Automotive in Craig. Yesterday, while in town we had spent a couple of hours at the chiropractor and our second favorite coffee spot, a little Hawaiian café/bakery called Mauka, while our brakes were evaluated. We had a little ‘smoking’ adventure on the Twenty Mile Highway. So as today dawned we prepared to pull out to our next adventure spot and also to get Clifford’s front brakes done so he could descend mountains safely. J.B. the owner, had assured us that if we were there at 7, he could have us on the road and headed to Idaho no later than 8.30. One can always hope that car repairs will go that textbook!
When 9 AM rolled around and I had done all the laundry, packed everything that needed to be packed and still had not seen my Honey, I knew that the textbook was wrong. I got a text, “will be a bit longer, they have the wrong brake pads.” Well, so now I have time to try and find us a campground in Idaho. I set to work trying to use my phone as Matt has the hotspot on his. It was marginally successful and I got some calls placed. No real answers as to availability except for a stay in Ririe, ID that would allow us to stay almost a month. We have been looking for a place to ‘land’ for a few weeks so we can get our feet under us. A long drive was not an option with Matt’s back up until now so we have taken small bits of remoteness and healed. Matt stated yesterday AM when I spoke about how he was up and down, grouchy and happy, I think I have a lot of government ‘crap’ to drop off”. No doubt. Its been a long time that he has worked for the government and it was eating him alive!
When he got home shortly before noon, we raised the ‘landing gear” and the back jacks, raised the hitch, hooked up and out we went. The brakes felt very different so we stopped for one last time in Craig for a conference with the mechanic. Got his OK and off were to the open road! Whoo Hoo!!
The first segment of the drive on US 13 was a 40 mile segment of rough road that tossed us all over the place! I wondered if my eggs would be smashed again as they were on the trip from Yampa. The trailer was pulling on us as we bumped along so we decided to stop and reposition our load. That helped. Driving to the border did as well. The Wyoming end of that highway was MUCH smoother. After that lovely segment of bumpy, barren road we entered South Central Wyoming and MORE very barren landscape without the bumpy road. Always something to be grateful for!!
This part of Wyoming is so desolate and remote. The reason is apparent, there is nothing there! Unless someone creates a HUGE market for sage, there could be no crop. Often there is just sage as far as you can see – one horizon to the other. Much of the way there is not even enough grass for it to be range land. When we reached I-80 and head west, it became abundantly clear why God would put so much sage on the ground, to cover up the minerals and natural resources! The coal mines and gas wells are plentiful! At one point we drove at least 30 miles and all that covered the landscape was wells. About every ¼ mile in every direction!
After a brief fuel stop, trying to snag what we figured might be the last decent priced diesel in a while, we left the Interstate at exit 66. Scenic US 30 crosses Western Wyoming north toward Jackson. Though the topography changes the dryness and sage does not. We have tried to visualize riding this land as a cowboy/girl 150 years ago. Or crossing by wagon train, I reminded Matt that it takes a strong and committed woman to have followed her man across this vast land, both then and now. The numerous freight trains stretch across the landscape moving coal and generally have minimum of 90-100 cars. The only green parts are around any of the rivers and it is hard to call it lush. In some locations even the sage is dried up and almost black.
It was pretty as we drove passed the Fossil Butte National Monument. It is still dry but the massive, stately buttes gave form to the landscape. We had driven about 150 miles without seeing much of interest and along the road side, relaxing in a field opening, was a large praghorn antelope. Beautiful! Happened so fast that we didn’t get a photo, unfortunately. We put down 330 miles to Cokesville, WY that night. The landscape changed and got greener about 30 miles out of Cokesville. Our destination, The Hideout Motel, was right on the highway but is still quiet. There are several RV sites out in the back. Nice little place, it is what today’s kids would probably call ‘retro’ but it is a flash from my childhood. Nice play area for the kids, teepee, beautiful flower garden out back. We attempted to back into one of the sites. After several attempts by both of us (yes this is STILL very new) with obvious attempts at controlling our frustration and trying to find laughter in this, we succeeded.
It’s 6.30 and it’s been a long day with no real stops or real meals. We had snacks and our protein shakes but that’s it. Blondie’s Diner is the only place to get a meal in town so we walked across the Highway to fill our tummies. Cute place and it is for sale so we discussed owning a restaurant in Cokeville WY. How we would change it, etc. but, no we are not going to buy Blondie’s Diner. There actually are a lot of reminders that the economy has been tough. Next to Blondie’s were several businesses that were closed up and even the for sale signs were gone. It seemed so odd that a Flying J truck stop was alive and well down the street.
The next morning we awaken to chatter in the parking lot at 6 AM. Seems we were so tired that the parking lot filled up with folks traveling through last night and, even though, one had parked facing us with headlights shining in our bedroom window, we never heard or saw it. WOW! So we grabbed a quick breakfast and pulled up our landing gear and back on the road we were. Idaho here we come! It is a shorter driving day and we should be there before lunch.
We found a good deal at a place called Heise Hot Springs & RV Camp which we had determined would make a good base camp to explore the area from. We bought a month’s rent which ended up costing around $14/day and it includes our electric/water/sewer. We have access to the other amenities on the resort but have to pay for them (Golf, Pool, Hot Spring, Zip Line) if we want to use them. The resort is along the Snake River and we have found plenty of nice hiking opportunities in the area.
The nearest town is a little burg called Ririe. They had their annual Ririe Days summer festival yesterday and we went to that. Particularly enjoyed the drag races and the car show. They shut down Main St. and run a nice little event where you are only 15-20 feet from the cars at the start line so it’s pretty neat. It’s a really short drag (100ft) but was still fun. The snowmobile was extremely FAST!