Today is Aug 23rd , day 5.We drove 90 miles today from Rawlins, Wyoming to Centennial, Wyoming.
Things started out well for us thismorning but then turned a bit sour. The kids had a good night, andonly Calum was up for a while. Our car didn't get broken into, alwaysa bonus. And we headed out for a hearty hot breakfast with our 50%coupon and the best of intentions to crush the day with awesomeness.
On the way to the attached restaurant,where our coupon was valid, we stopped by the pool. A quick swimbefore hitting the road sounded like just the thing. Alas, we werefoiled, the pool had no water in it! Wait a second, if you'llremember from yesterday we had actually called ahead to this hotel...We spoke to someone at the front desk about the amenities, and yesthey had in fact told us that they had a pool. Well technically Isuppose they're right, but come on!!! That's not acceptable.
We slunk off to breakfast with theintention of confronting the staff before leaving. Breakfast was donewrong as well. But with the best of intentions. The bar / restauranthad a few early morning hotel guests and what seemed like a nice butflighty waitress. She got our orders wrong, but really it wasn't ahuge deal. Hash browns instead of homefries is totally acceptable,and who needs bacon anyhow... and really cutlery is only necessary tothose fancy city folks.... ok there were a few things missing, but atleast they had a jukebox and Alec loved the rainbow decorationspainted on it. Eventually we all got a good enough meal and headedback to the room to pack the car and check out.
Erica made a stop by the Quality Innfront desk on the way out and was unfortunately met by Mr Kim, theowner and manager of the hotel (are these franchised?) I was with thekids in the car, but apparently he was very rude to her. He somehow implied that it was our fault that we were disappointed with theservice, and then tried to complain that he had done us a favor bynot charging us for the kids in the room. Come on man! They're onlybabies, and more importantly we told the hotel about them when wechecked in! Even if he couldn't have done anything about the poolissue and them telling us the wrong thing on the phone, there wasabsolutely no reason for him to be rude about it. Frustrated anddiscouraged we hit the road for further hopefully happier adventures.
And thankfully we found one rightaround the corner. In the little town of Sinclair just outside ofRawlins we drove through the main street only to find yet anotherawesome little park with great playground! Wyoming is really doingwell in the playground department.
This playground had a super high curlyslide, as well as a cool old Union Pacific train car off to the side.They had one of these at the Green River playground as well. Theyaren't open so I wonder if they're just used as storage for theWyoming parks department.... Anyhow, Alec and Calum ran around whileI wrote scathing reviews for the Quality Inn on Yelp and Trip Advisor;/
Good times were had by all and then itwas time to push on and make our way out to Saratoga for lunch. Weheaded east on the 80 for about 20 miles, then turned south onto the30 East (basically headed south at this point. Alec was happy to beoff the big highway. He's such a funny little guy. Sometimes hedoesn't want us to go too fast. In this case he was grateful saying“thanks mom. Thanks for getting on the little highway.” Then weplayed the animal game for most of the rest of the way down toSaratoga. The animal game basically involves someone describingthemselves as an animal then the rest of the players have to guesswhat animal it is. It's a pretty fun game. Alec has a lot of turns.
When we pulled into the sleepy littletown of Saratoga we were greeted by a charming main street full of amix between obvious shops for locals and a few places for passerbys.It's hard to tell what was real and what was a put on there. Meaningthere was a Gift Shop along main street that was obviously fortourists, but also some of the local stores, like The Wolf Hotelwhere we ended up having lunch were so kitschy and full of rusticcharm I wonder if just a little of it was a put on for tourists. Dothey get many tourists out here?
Today is an exciting day, especiallyfor the boys. We're meeting up not only with my Uncle Dan and AuntCarolina, but also my parents, their grandparents! My Uncle Dan livesoutside Laramie, in a suburb of Centennial, Wyoming; my parents onthe other hand live in Vancouver, Canada. They just happen to be traveling around the States at the moment and our paths are crossingright here. Pretty fun. The kids we're very happy to see theirgrandparents in Saratoga. We met them on the porch of The Wolf'sHotel around noon. We waited for Uncle Dan to show up since he wasdriving separately, and Alec got a popcicle with Erica, then blewsome bubbles with grandma. Soon enough we were joined by my Uncle Danas well. My Aunt Carolina had decided to stay back in Centennial, sowe'll see her later; but my Uncle's friends from Guadalajara werevisiting him so we all stepped inside the Hotel restaurant for areally great lunch of pub food.
Erica, Alec and I all had sandwiches.Calum ate a bit everything as well as some good chicken noodle soup.Thankfully the kids are eating well now. Its always a concern thatthey get enough veggies. Lunch was really wonderful and the kids hada good visit with their grandparents. We split an order of chocolatemousse and a vanilla ice cream for dessert,
After lunch we all hopped in the carand headed a few blocks away to the Saratoga Hot Springs, aka HoboSpring. These are natural hot springs that come up joining a river.Over the years the Spring itself has been built up, so now there's avery nice swimming pool area, that's been designed with kids in mind.Big shallow end, a water-slide, and generally a lot of fun. We stayed inthe pool for maybe 30 minutes while the kids played and swam.
Beside the swimming pool area are somemore rustic cordoned off springs coming out of the rocks. These weretoo hot for the kids, but beside that and not officially connected tothe hot springs facility officially was the river and a shallow areawhere the ho water mixes with the cool river water to make a nicewarm pool in the shallows of the water. After some time in the poolarea we moved over to the river and enjoyed a really relaxing timeresting in the warm spring water. Alec explored up the little sidecreek, while some big local boys hunted for Crawdads, and weeventually found a pool with just he right mix of spring and riverwater.
But all good things... before we gottoo wrinkly we decided that it was time to hit the road, the sun washot and crazy bright and despite the extra sunscreen, we didn't wantto kids out in it too long. They got a lot of good hard playtime tooand were both tired. We packed them up in the car and headed out.
My parents followed in what was once mygrandfathers car for trips to and from the store when they lived inArvada, Colorado. And Dan rode with Franklin and Alma, his friendsfrom Guadalajara.
From Saratoga we headed South and thenEast along the 130. entering the Medecine Bow National Forest andultimately through to Centennial. The kids both fell asleep almostimmediately but we had a few more stops we wanted to make along theway before we got into Centennial so at our first stop after about 30minutes of driving we got out for a fantastic lookout onto the rocksbeside Mirror Lake. Alec and I even walked out a bit to check thingsout for ourselves. I believe there is some sort of a hike here but wewe're not up for anything that big.
Pretty amazing rocks. In fact all ofthe landscapes here in Wyoming are beautiful. This is reallyfantastic country. Out on the rocks Alec and I saw a number ofchipmunks and not to be out-cuted by Calum refering to them asmonkeys yesterday, Alec kept calling them “chittermunks”. It waspretty adorable.
We all soon got back in our cars anddrove on a few more miles to the old mining trail and a short hike.The trail here went by an old (apparently not overly successful)silver mine. It was all closed down and boarded off now, but theForest service did some very nice work setting up a hiking path andsome good informational signage along the way. Of course with twoyoung kids there's never much time for reading things like that, but Iappreciate the effort. Alec was pretty cute again on the hike whenupon seeing the blue tipped Spruce trees e declared “I believe itsa Christmas tree!” The mining trail led eventually to an old cabinway off in the woods. Until last summer it was totally accessible andstill had hundred and thirty year old wooden bedframes inside youcould explore. Unfortunately the roof collapsed last summer and nowits a real hazard. Dan thought the forrest service would probably earit down :(
The walk was only a mile or so but ittook a long time and was pretty tiring. I forgot how tough hiking upin the mountain is. We're at something like 10 700 feet and itsdefinitely less oxygen here than we're used to. Although with thatsaid Alec and Calum don't seem to be having too much trouble runningaround. I chased Alec a bunch on the hike, and was mostly justthankful we didn't run into any bears. We did however see a grouse,and a pine martin!
We finished and then it was time for asnack and back in the car. One more stop on the way took us to whatwe shall call the Castle. Actually it was more of a circular stoneplatform with what could be interpreted as battlements, and in thecenter of it was a mounted set of binoculars. For all intents andpurposes this was another fun lookout point, only with a bit morebuilt up design work :)
Alec ran around the castle lookingthrough the “spyglass” and generally being in a good mood, whileCalum started getting pretty cranky for food.
We packed back in the car one last time(almost) and headed back along the 130 and over to Centennial.
We arrived and “checked in” to ourhotel. The B&B in town. The only hotel in fact. It may seem weirdbut there was no checkin desk, no processing, this was really just uswalking up to the door, finding a charming note for us and walking upto our ready and waiting room. And what a nice room too. More on thattomorrow though. We dropped our gear with the kids still in the carand headed 5 more minutes driving away to North Fork where my UncleDan lives.
When we got there the first thing wesaw was the beautiful and massive wooden house. My Uncle was in theUS foreign sservice for his professional career and I always wonderedwhy he ended up living out here in the middle of what a lot fo peoplewould call nowhere. But I'm sure the cost of land and building wereattractive incentives. I found out later that the state mandate forzero income tax also helped make his decision.
My parents as I mentioned have been traveling around the States in their camper. The kids really lovetheir grandparents and seeing them, and their camper was a lot offun. Alec almost immediately clambered up inside for a poke aroundand Calum soon joined.
My dad, being my dad, decided to giveAlec a gift of a fly swatter. A very touching, if odd gift. The “flyswapper” as Alec puts it lasted about 15 minutes before Calumdropped it down between the deck floorboards and below the housewhere we couldn't get it. Perhaps that's for the best though. As muchas Alec would like swatting flies in the car, I predict we wouldn't haveended up getting swapped a few times ourselves.
Aunt Carolina greeted us at the doorand kindly invited us into their really nice home. Its great to be here,and wonderful to see our family that we don't get together withenough.
We headed out onto the back porch for aquick glass of champagne and a visit, but our boys were gettingreally overstimulated and overtired. We did finally get a load oflaundry into the wash. Our first load in 5 days, I'd say we're doingpretty well on that front so far.
Since the kids we're loosing it, weheaded back in the car really really for the final time today andback into Centennial. We parked at the hotel since our dinner restaurant was literally right next door at The Trading Post.
We thought abut eggs for the kidsdinner but it was just too much to deal with so both kids ate cheese sandwiches and yogurt for dinner in our room. Erica and I tookshifts heading over to the Trading Post for food for us.
Its a nice local town pub and restaurant. And even though it took a long time for the food to beready, they were very nice and we had a great dinner. I ate a buffaloburger and had a 1550 dark beer. Erica ended up with a broiledchicken dinner so we all went home happy.
Walking between the buildings at night,the stars are out in force here. I guess this really is out in thewilderness. Bedtime for us, this blog is getting too long and I'mnot going to post it until tomorrow anyhow... Too many pictures todeal with now.
Looking forward to a good day tomorrowthough as we head out somewhere with my Uncle Dan and parents foranother adventure in the morning and then drive on out to pointsunknown tomorrow night.