Home on the Range

We’ve been in Wyoming for almost a week, so I can officially say that it is very different from anywhere we’ve ever lived. You can drive for hours on the interstate and not reach another town or see anything but open range and wild antelope.  The residents of the capital city of Cheyenne wouldn’t even fill the AU stadium on game day.  Our “large town” of Rock Springs is home to about 20,000 people.  Ethnic dining options include a certain international house of pancakes. It’s just different.

And we like it.

Last Wednesday, we said goodbye to California with one last breakfast at our favorite spot in downtown Brentwood, MJ’s.  Oh, banana pecan french toast, what will we do without you?

We then drove about three hours to Reno to visit the National Automobile Museum before spending the night about an hour east down the road.  We had such a great time at the museum!

We both love old cars, and it has a huge collection of rare and lesser-known models.  One thing we really appreciated was the amount of cars from the very early years of manufacturing (late 1800s thru 1930s).

While most local car shows have a good variety of later models, you usually see the same thing from these earlier years (“Look, there’s a Model T!” or “Here’s another Packard.”)  But it seemed like half of the museum was dedicated to the early years of car production, and we loved seeing what a wide range of styles and features this time period produced.  Charlie, of course, was in heaven and took over the photography duties!

We even saw the Dodge that the first wife of my great-great uncle, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, drove!  I’m not sure I even knew he was married before joining our family, and it was a fun surprise to stand next to the exact car he would have ridden in.

On Thursday, we drove 500 miles across Nevada to Park City, UT.  The landscape was barren and rocky in some places, but then would open up to a green field with cows as you neared an irrigated ranch.  We kept our atlas out so that we could name the mountain ranges as we passed them (and to assure ourselves we were actually making progress since it seemed like we were driving on a hamster wheel of the same sights for six hours!).

When we crossed into Utah, we were immediately blinded by the Great Salt Lake Desert.  Driving I-80 across white salt flats really played tricks on our eyes as we kept thinking we were approaching water, only to realize it was the sun reflecting off the salt.  When we looked over at the mountains in the distance, it seemed as if they were being reflected straight down into a lake when really we were seeing their image on the desert floor.  It was like we were on another planet!

Also, Charlie almost had a heart attack when we came across the exit for Bonneville Speedway, where they race cars for land speed records.  It’s a good thing I was driving or I think we would have been in for a major detour!

We spent the night at a beautiful B&B in Park City, the Silver Moose Ranch.  It’s tucked away on 13 acres, but still right near downtown which made it easy to get out and enjoy buffalo burgers that night.  I think we could have just forgone Wyoming and stayed on their back porch with a cup of coffee, reading and listening to the creek flow by, for the next three months!

On Friday, we finally pointed the car towards our final stop of Rock Springs.  I’ve always pictured Wyoming as a land of waist-high grass, majestic rivers and vast, open skies.  Since we’re at 7,000 feet in Rock Springs, the Wyoming we’re surrounded with is more high-desert than grassy plains. We’re surrounded by rocky buttes that have been striped with color by ancient mineral deposits, but the sky still seems bigger and has left us speechless with its beauty.

Every day the sky is filled with huge puffy clouds, but yet they don’t detract from the sunlight.  It’s almost like they’re there just to cast beautiful shadows over the buttes and set up for incredibly dimensional sunsets.  We live only minutes away from open land where wild horses and antelope run.  And as beautiful as it is, I’m also excited that we’ll have plenty of opportunities to experience other parts of the state, like Yellowstone, as well.

Charlie’s first days at the hospital have gone really well.  He says the people are extremely friendly, and the facility is much nicer than he was anticipating when he heard it was a county memorial hospital.  I think he’s looking forward to the unique challenges of working in such a small, community environment.

We have found a new church home, Emmanuel Baptist.  We enjoyed Sunday’s service and then returned Sunday night for a small Bible study.  That gave us the great opportunity to meet some of the young families, and we felt very welcomed.  The youth minister’s new wife is even from Picayune, MS!

We’ve mainly spent the week exploring the town (that took 10 minutes) and the surrounding area with long drives down the back roads.  We’ve seen wild antelope run, enjoyed the biggest ice cream cone known to man, rafted down a gorgeous river for our third anniversary (more on that later!), and stood at the crossing of the Oregon Trail and the Pony Express path.

Rock Springs is definitely a small, blue-collar town built on the back of coal production.  It’s not quite the “Wyoming” I pictured, but hey, at least there’s a Wal-Mart!  And it doesn’t take but just one look out our window at the rainbow colored buttes or a short drive up the road past the power lines and into the open range to be reminded that the Lord must love us more than we can imagine to make all of this beauty just for us to enjoy.

It’s certainly the complete opposite of the Bay Area, but I think we’re settling back into small town life just fine!

See more pictures from our journey to Wyoming here.


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