Thermopolis to Saratoga, WY, through the high desert.

Miles Travelled Today:      223     Total Miles Travelled:4224

The second day of our journey from the Grand Tetons to Rocky Mountain National Park.  We had breakfast (very good) at the Best Western Thermopolis – thoroughly recommend this place by the way.  Very comfortable, well equipped and reasonably priced.  Thermopolis grew on us too.  It’s like a time warp of the 1980s….

We headed off down the canyon again, making stops to admire the incredible rock walls and the tunnels.  The railway tunnels look especially “wild west”.  The train must be pretty small.

After Shoshone we retraced our steps as far as Riverton and then turned south on the 135  to the 287 across the high desert.  Long flat stretches of sagebrush interspersed with rocky buttes and outcrops.  We crisscrossed the Oregon Trail a couple of times and the Overland Trail.  We saw the wagon ruts headed out across the plain in several places.

There were sparse sightings of cows and quite a few antelope along the way.  Sometimes horses.  But really, just a big empty landscape.   We also crisscrossed the Continental Divide twice, albeit at about 6800/7200 feet, much lower than  yesterday.  Incidentally, we heard on the radio today that snow is expected above 9000 feet in western Wyoming tonight and Togwatee Pass, which we drove through yesterday, is going to get a goodly amount.  Timed that right then!  It was about 22C all day today.  A few more clouds than yesterday but still shorts and t shirt weather.

We stopped along the way for a picnic lunch.  Arrived in Saratoga at 2pm.  Saratoga itself is very small and sits on the North Platte River.  It’s main claim to fame is the hot springs that occur alongside the river.  Unlike Thermopolis, it doesn’t look like it should have hot springs ie no obvious volcanic components.  However, there are two spa resorts, one free, one not.  We intended to partake but in the end we just opted to explore the very small town and then rest.

Our reason for choosing to overnight in Saratoga (other than its position on our route) was to stay at the Hotel Wolf, the historic lynch pin of the centre of town.  website It was built in 1893 and has hosted several famous guests including Teddy Roosevelt and actor Christopher Reeve.  It did not disappoint on arrival.  Quite small in comparison to some of the others we’ve tried, but with an atmospheric saloon and dining room.  We had booked one of the cheaper rooms which used to be a sitting room.  It is really spacious with two queen beds and a sofa bed.  Decorated in keeping and with nice views over the historic centre from the windows.

We had a walk around the town centre, enjoying the boardwalked pavements which seemed very “western”. There were some interesting shops, some cafes and bars.  It’s not a big place at all.  One night would be enough.

On the other hand……  we booked dinner in the Hotel Wolf restaurant because it is pretty famous around here.  When we opened our bedroom door at 7pm, we could hear the hum of noise from downstairs.  We peeped into the dining room – packed!  We peeped into the main bar – packed!  We found a corner table in the pool room part of the bar and had a drink.  Got chatting to a total biker bloke and his lady.  His Harley was parked outside and we’d been admiring it.  Bright red with shiny chrome etc.  Despite his slightly scary appearance, he was a really nice guy.  Enjoyed our chat.

Dinner was outstanding.  It’s not a restaurant for vegetarians.  It’s a meat eaters place.  We went for the prime rib which is a dish of fame for them.  But they also do steaks and other entrees.  For the price of the main, you get soup, salad bar, garlic toast and a side to go with your MEAT.  OMG.  We chose the middle size which was 12 oz.  We love prime rib.  It was a revelation to us back in 1989 when we moved to Chicago and it remains so.  It is not at all like English rib of beef because somehow between the different beef strains and the way they cook this cut, it is just the most mouth-wateringly tender, yet full of flavour thing you’ve ever tasted.  I don’t know how they do  it!  I’ve tried at home and it’s not even close.  Some of it is down to the sheer enormity of the original piece of meat the chef is cooking.  Anyway, yum just yum is all I can say.  The salad was good too.  I washed it down with a glass of Francis Ford Coppola’s wine from Napa.  Very nice.  The restaurant was rammed with locals enjoying their Friday night.  That’s a good sign and it was priced for them too.  Bit like last night in Thermopolis.  Not tourist prices.  Not Jackson Hole prices either.  Would definitely return just to eat here.

Our last night in Wyoming.  Tomorrow we will re-enter Colorado and the rest of our trip is moving around that state.  Will be a bit sad to bid farewell to Wyoming and Montana, such long wished for states to visit.  But much adventure lies ahead!

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