Alright, so we didn’t take covered wagons, but it sure felt like it at some points…
[Edited to add… in my excitement, I forgot to mention this is the beginning of our Wyoming trip. Whoops!]
My dad’s family is quite small — my dad has one brother, and my dad’s parents were both only children. I’m an only child, and my uncle has four children. The last time we all got together, I was four years old, and we went to an amazing dude ranch in Montana. Horseback riding! Berry picking! Hiking! Swimming in the pond! Swinging on a rope in the mess hall!
This time, they decided we had to go back to a ranch/lodge that my uncle worked at one summer in high school. I call this a ranch very loosely — usually when you think of ranches, you think of rolling landscapes covered with scrub or grass, in valleys or plains. This was like…mountains with baby valleys.
My mom and I are the queens of preparation — so when we looked at the website of this place, and saw it was under new management, and they didn’t respond to emails very quickly, and they were still advertising for staff positions to be filled late in spring… we braced ourselves and stopped at a gas station for peanut butter and crackers in case nothing was edible.
We were a little worried — we knew the place had no electricity, and a communal bathroom/shower (like a campground). Boulder (WY) was the closest “town” (a gas station) at an hour and a half away. The closest actual town with a grocery store or medical anything was Pinedale, another 20 minutes down the road.
The road out of Boulder turned from blacktop into a very nice dirt road (we were still able to go about 65 mph!)… but then once we turned off onto the road up the mountain toward the lodge it was 45 minutes of bumpity bumping on a one lane dirt road — gaining 2,000 feet in elevation. We were in a minivan, others had Suburbans… I can’t even imagine how anyone with a horse trailer or cattle trailer went on that road!
…oops, let me backtrack.
My aunt, uncle, cousins, and the associated kids drove from Pennsylvania. My grandparents drove from Arizona. Luckily, my family flew from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City (Utah), and my grandparents picked us up and drove the rest of the way!
I guess the flight is a popular route, but not popular enough to warrant a large plane. I think it was even a propeller plane! We were crammed in with a large group of performers from the Polynesian Cultural Center (in Hawaii) traveling to Salt Lake City for a conference. Most of the guys were from the Pacific Islands originally, then moved to Hawaii. They did dancing, fire spinning, all sorts of cool things! I felt bad — I’m tall, but they’re built like football players — I bet the plane ride was pretty uncomfortable.
After my grandparents picked us up, we drove towards Park City and slightly beyond to stop at a restaurant my grandparents have been to in the past that they found in Sunset Magazine.
The Road Island Diner — what a cool place! It was originally a train car, on exhibit at the 1939 NY World’s Fair, then a diner based in Rhode Island. After carting it across the US, it was plopped in Utah and opened in 2008. It’s all Art Deco old fashioned, and they only have one guy running it. What a sweet guy — Irish, wears a bowtie and old fashioned soda jerk outfit, and memorizes all the orders.
I had a burger and fries and a shake — mm. Delicious. Don’t go if you’re counting calories!
After lunch, we booked it as fast as we could for Wyoming. I was pleasantly surprised by the area around Park City — very green, fluffy grass and open spaces for horse farms. Once we got into southern Wyoming though it was …sadly, sort of dull. I’m used to the flat desert spaces of Arizona, and this was pretty similar, except not even any mesquite trees.
The ranches and farms of the flatlands were pretty, once you started getting higher in elevation. I could see having a house there…in the summer. ;)
Thankfully our GPS and mapreading skills were up to par — the directions weren’t amazing, but we made it to the lodge just in time to meet up with our family and settle in to dinner.
Next Wyoming post — exploring the cabins, lodge, and the area + food and a hike!