Monday, July 09, 2007

vacation highlights (part five- i'd sell my soul for rock 'n' roll, but not a room at motel 6)

vacation highlight number fifteen: maybe i can't talk my way to the penny squisher, but dammit, i can still schmooze the park rangers

during one of my visits to kansas city last year, daddy witnessed the discovery of my strange ability to chat up park rangers when he had to drag me away from a fifteen-minute long conversation i was engaged in with a rather good-looking ranger at the brown vs. board of education national historic site. with that in mind, what happened at the bighorn canyon nat'l recreation area should not have come as a huge surprise, though i admit even i doubted i'd walk away with a fresh yellow stamp on my national parks passport.

as you may have deduced, i am slightly obsessed with acquiring cancellations in my national parks passport. fortunately, so is daddy. so, as we drove through lovell, wyoming, on alt 14, the highway that would take us across the bighorn mountains to sheridan, wyoming, i was not the only one excited to see the bighorn canyon visitor's center.

unfortunately, the parking lot looked pretty deserted, and when i walked up to the front door, passports in hand, i discovered why- the visitor's center had been closed for forty minutes. mildly disappointed, i trudged back to the car and delivered the sad news. mentally filing the attempt along side those at alibates nat'l monument (texas) and petroglyph nat'l monument (new mexico) last thanksgiving, i settled back into the backseat and we headed back out to the main road.

as we waited for traffic to clear so we could continue our trip east, a park ranger vehicle pulled into the staff parking lot. sensing my excitement, daddy asked if i thought we should give it another shot.

which is how i found myself leaping out of a slowly moving car and shyly approaching a park ranger as he fumbled with his keys to let himself into the building.

"excuse me?"


"i came all the way from south carolina and was wondering if it would be possible to stamp my passport here."

to my semi-surprise, the ranger replied, "let's see what we can do" and led me into the building.

five minutes later, after thanking him profusely, i emerged from the building, waving the passports so the ink would dry just a little bit faster.

too bad my abilities seem to be restricted to park rangers, as they would have come in handy later, though then vacation highlight number sixteen just wouldn't be the same.

bighorn canyon, as seen from above scenic overlook

vacation highlight number sixteen: will that be my whole soul, or just half?
some time after our brief stop at medicine wheel (we didn't get to see the actual "wheel" as we'd gotten a late start that morning and didn't have time to take the 3-mile walk to the site and back and make it down the other side of the bighorn range before dark), we pulled into sheridan, wyoming.

helpful travel tip number 412:when traveling, be sure the town you wish to stop in for the evening does not have any festivals or conventions (i.e. "buffalo bill days" in sheridan, wyoming) that would fill up most hotels and leave the others feeling entitled to charge exhorbitant rates ($100 plus half your soul at the motel 6) for their remaining rooms.

interestingly enough, motel 6's greediness resulted in our spending the night at the very same hotel my dad stayed in for a period of time nearly 30 years ago.

after we unloaded our bags at the hotel, we set out in search of something to eat. we wound up being the only patrons of the local pizza hut that evening. the employees had set the radio to a rock station, and all was well until a certain song by buckcherry hit the airwaves.

i never, ever thought my dad would ask to hear country music over rock, but crazy things happen when you're in a restaurant after 10pm and a song inappropriate for an eight year old comes on, i guess.


Jo said...

Those mountains are awesome.....we drove through them en route to Chicago! The cool red roads are pretty fun!!!

Jo said...

And the funny thing is, we also had a hard time finding a room, although I think it was a result of not a festival, but the fact that driving through those mountains is a B&*%H, and anyone in their right mind would rest before or after driving through them! And HEY, we also ate at that pizza hut. We stayed at the Super 8 though!! Funny.....

Callie said...

I hated Wyoming. Miles and miles of nothingness, topped off by a sleepy little dirty town that packed up its streets at sundown.


duff said...

jo: i know what you mean about those roads- sort of. we couldn't take the medicine wheel hike because the last time my dad drove on it, apparently mama white-knuckled it the entire way....and that was in broad daylight, not in the dark.

thankfully, the road has been widened and guard rails have been put up since then.