Friday, September 18, 2015

Laramie, Wyoming

September 10 - 13, 2015:

There are two routes to get from Casper to Laramie, Wyoming, we choose the shorter, more back country route and it was a great ride.  We took route 220 from Casper to route 487 south, through the Shirley Basin to Medicine Bow.  Medicine Bow has a great old Hotel, the "Virginian Hotel" and is famous for Owen Wister, local author of the famous western novel, "The Virginian" based on the Medicine Bow area.  We then continued on route 30 through the small towns of Rock River and Bosler to Laramie.  This was one of the most uninhabited areas I’ve ever driven through with hilly, open range land as far as the eye could see for 360 degrees.

The Virginian Hotel

Medicine Bow Depot

The winding road ahead

The Roundup Cafe

We are staying at the Albany County Fairgrounds within a couple of minutes of downtown Laramie.  It has water and electric hookup at $20 per night, a good deal.  The fairgrounds are huge with a large rodeo arena where they also board horses.  I would like to be here for one of their events, such as the Smokey Range music festival which took place last week.

Albany County Fairgrounds gate

Laramie on first impression is very cool, a very nice vibrant downtown area and home to the University of Wyoming.  It is reported to be  one of the more progressive towns in Wyoming.  Laramie gets is name from French-Canadian trapper, Jacques LaRamie, who disappeared in the Laramie mountains in the late 1810's and was never heard from again.  It is another railroad town started by the Union Pacific Railroad in the mid-1860's.  The Union Pacific Railroad continues today with a massive freight operation.

The Ivinson Mansion

Fancy architectural details

Albany County Courthouse

The rail yard

The front of the old Buckhorn Bar

Interesting Mural

Another Mural

The Buckhorn Bar again

Elks Club sign

Fishing mural covers entire building side

The Johnson Hotel is a classic

Twinkles is recovering slowly but the sprain areas sure look nasty. No photos allowed ! She is off on Friday to get a pedicure, she was not pleased with my comments on that, “ If my foot looked like that, I wouldn’t let anybody see it”.  I will never understand the female thought process or learn to keep my mouth shut ?  

There is a downtown farmers market at 3 PM and some sort of university of Wyoming fund raiser event going on after that to midnight. There was a vendor selling pretzels which I just had to have and another selling cupcakes, so good !  And I so need to get back on healthier eating regime.  We then stopped for a beer at the Library, it’s actually a brewery with a slogan and Tee shirts that say, “Don’t lie tell your mom you’re at the Library”.

Downtown Farmers Market

In the evening I return back downtown to check out the night scene, stopping first at the Buckhorn Saloon and that was it, never got any further.  It is the oldest bar in Laramie, built in 1900 and still going strong.  The interior is classic old west, a great original bar back, some great murals over the front windows, old photos with the perfect percentage of dive bar vibe.  The bullet hole in the mirror behind the bar from a male patron who was upset after rejection from the bar maid also adds a nice touch.  There was nothing advertised, but it seemed to be an open jam session with three different bands playing and they were all different and great.  It went from driving punk rock to hair flailing guitar god to a crazy Bruce Lee, gyrating asian rock karate band.  In between sets a large group of the University of Wyoming marching band members filed into the bar and playing a couple of football fight songs at full volume.  The high energy asian guys followed and took it to even higher heights and the crowd went wild.  It was the most bizarre and entertaining music night for me this year, maybe ever.

The marching band arrives, there were about 40
of them !

Great painting over front window

A local attraction is the Wyoming Territorial Prison which famously held Butch Cassidy for two years.  It is actually one of the oldest buildings in Wyoming, built in 1872, and operated as a prison until 1901.  It then became an agricultural experiment station for the University of Wyoming until 1989.  It was then restored and opened as a state historic site in 2004.  I was very impressed with the broom making factory that was an assembly line production using 25 inmates and able to manufacture 750 brooms per day.  They have most of the original  machines or reproductions of them and still make brooms to demonstrate the art and sell in their gift shop.  The docent there gave us a wonderful explanation of the facility.  They also had a remarkable woman chaplain, Dr. May Preston Slosson, on the prison staff who was quite progressive.

Impressive prison complex

The cellblock

Nathaniel Boswell, the Albany County sheriff and 
first prison warden.  Theodore Roosevelt said, I
like a man with guts, I like Boz

An amazing woman, first woman to receive a 
doctorate in philosophy from Cornell

She was a cigar maker

Butch Cassidy's secret to sucess 

The Broom Factory

The finished product

This ends Wyoming, the next stop is Steamboat Springs, Colorado:

Twinkles and Slick

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