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Casper, Wyoming…

Posted by on September 26, 2014

SEPTEMBER 27, 2014.


It’s about 200 miles from Casper to Cheyenne, Wyoming.

CASPER, WYOMING is about 300 miles down the road from Billings. We made it all the way there today…quite a day’s drive for us. Another “new” state and another sticker goes on our United States map. I’ll take a picture of it and post it soon…we’re definitely making progress on our trip across the country. It continues to feel as if winter’s coming. Last night in Billings it was breezy and cloudy…leaves were falling from the trees and swirling about the roads and driveways. Distant lightning punctuated the darkness…followed by thunder, although it didn’t rain where we were camped. There were gusts on the highway today that made driving a bit of a challenge…we have a heck of a lot of surface area to catch the wind! Summer is definitely over and Fall hasn’t really had time to happen. We’ll stop here for a day or two…just enough time to see a few of the sights and learn a bit of local history. Winter last year in these parts…Montana and Wyoming, was unusually severe. The locals keep telling me about deep snow, icy roads and temperatures that dropped as low as 20 and 30 degrees below zero. We don’t want to be anywhere near that kind of weather, so we’ll keep pushing south…headed to much warmer areas.

INDEPENDENCE ROCK. Casper has a long history of oil boomtown and cowboy culture. It’s gateway to the Teton Mountain Range in the Rockies. The summit at Grand Teton rises almost 14,000 feet above sea level. Independence Rock is one of Wyoming’s most treasured symbols of frontier spirit. More than 150 years ago, emigrants were forging West toward the promise of  a new, brighter future. Along the way, many stopped in Central Wyoming at a large granite formation located near Casper. As a testament to their journey they carved their names into the behemoth rock that stands over a hundred feet tall, nineteen hundred feet long and 850 feet wide. This incredible landmark is now known as Independence Rock. It memorializes the strength, fortitude and sacrifice of those who believe in the dream of a better future.


North Platte River. Casper, Wyoming.

HUNTING AND FISHING. Folks reconnect with nature the old-fashioned way, spending days here fishing for trophy sized rainbow and brown trout that thrive in the historic North Platte River. This is the same river that challenged early settlers on their historic pilgrimage west on the Oregon, California, Pony Express and Mormon Trails. Outdoorsmen appreciate the area’s wide variety of game animals, including antelope, deer, elk, pheasant and duck. And when it comes to antelope, North America’s fastest land mammal, it doesn’t get any better than Casper. There are more antelope here than people! Hunters enjoy great success rates here…Casper issues more hunting tags than anywhere else. Probably Casper’s most famous citizen is Dick Cheney, former US Secretary of Defense under Bush ’41 and Vice President for 8 years under Bush ’43. He remains a serious outdoor enthusiast, hunter and fly fisherman, despite being 73 years of age and the fact that he had a heart transplant a couple years ago. In fact, because of it…if you follow.


Remember Casper the Friendly Ghost? Maybe this is where he calls home.

THRILLS, CHILLS AND GOOSEBUMPS. If you’re fascinated by paranormal activity, Casper is the place to be. It was an outpost on the old western trails and it’s full of history and haunted lore. Casper’s historic Sand Bar was famous for gunslingers, hard-partying cowboys, murders, thieves and prostitutes back in the roaring 20’s. Violence was rampant…a nightly affair, evident from the record number of killings on one block where City Hall now stands. The busy gallows just behind the old firehouse did a brisk business in raw Wyoming justice.  Tours are offered to view the old buildings in town, rumored to be inhabited by ghosts. Others visit the Highland Cemetery as buried spirits rise from their graves to ply you with tales of life in the old West. Stroll through the Sand Bar at night and you might just hear an old player piano livening up the denizens of a vanished saloon.

NATIVE AMERICAN HISTORY. Before settlers arrived in the Casper area, Native American tribes flourished on the plains for millennia. The earliest known inhabitants of Wyoming were the Clovis, paleo-Indians who lived here some 12,000 years ago. The historic Indians in Wyoming were nomadic tribes who are known today as the Plains Indians. Among them were the Cheyenne, Crow, Sioux, Shoshone and Ute tribes. Of all these tribes, the Cheyenne and Sioux were the last to be stripped of their native lands and traditions and confined on reservations.


Wild Bill Hickok (1837 – 1876) – Lawman, Gunslinger, Gambler.

THE MYTH ABOUT WESTERN GUNSLINGERS. Part of the American credo is a belief that famous shooters of the West were expert marksmen.  Much early Western literature deals with seemingly incredible shooting that has never been equaled.  The very names of the pistol experts are ones that people have traditionally regarded as “the cream of the crop” when it comes to handling a gun.  They include, for instance, Wild Bill Hickok, Jesse James, Buffalo Bill Cody and numerous others.  But, were these guys really that good? It can truthfully be said that, of all the myths foisted upon the public, the one about frontier sharpshooting is probably the most exaggerated.  And probably the most ridiculous. How did the myths get started?  The answer goes back to a man named Edward Z. C. Judson.  Possessing boundless imagination and unlimited confidence in the gullibility of people, he wrote Western novels, all covering subjects about which he knew nothing.  Judson signed the books, “By Ned Buntline.”  He authored many tales about the Wild West.  A “Buntline” hero could do anything with a gun that “Buntline” wanted him to do.  He shot from the hip, fanned, and slew Indians with his revolver while riding a hard-charging mustang.  Readers’ eyes bulged as they followed the adventures of a “Buntline” hero.  Many people believed, literally, what they read.  Consequently, right under Americans’ eyes, a mythology was created—the mythology of frontier marksmanship.


This is Wyoming…big, open, rugged. It’s truly the Wild West…the real deal.  Awe-inspiring.

WIDE-OPEN SPACES. As we leave Montana and enter Wyoming this evening, I am again impressed with the wide-open spaces and all the early American history evidenced by various natural and man-made monuments in the area. Our route today took us East on I 90 for about 150 miles and then down Wyoming 25 to Casper. We drove long stretches…miles at a time, without seeing another vehicle or even a farmhouse on either side of the road. We saw lots of cattle grazing on the hills, we saw Little Bighorn, where one of the most famous battles in American history occurred at Custer’s Last Stand and, as we approached town we began seeing lots of cowboys, 10 gallon hats and pickup trucks with rifle racks across the back windows. The posted speed limit for most of today’s drive was 80 miles per hour and in a car I assume it would be safe to drive lots faster than that. There just aren’t any hazards. This is big sky and big, open range country. It’s the least populated state…there’s lots and lots of room! A 65 mph speed limit sign would look out of place here. This is mountain country…it’s wide-open and beautiful.

blowing-wind2THE WIND IS FEROCIOUS TONIGHT at our campsite, and it’s getting colder day after day.  I’d guess the gusts are pushing 40 miles per hour, and I’m sure the sustained winds right now are at least 25 mph. If the weather doesn’t improve, it wouldn’t be much fun trying to explore the area tomorrow, so we may just move along. On the other hand, if the wind doesn’t subside, we may have to stay right where we are until it does…it might not be safe for us to drive. We’ll see.

SEE YOU TOMORROW. Stay tuned…you’ll read about it here. Next stop: Cheyenne…Wyoming’s capitol. It’s going to be a particularly fun stop for us…steeped in western lore and railroad history.


Wyoming has lots of wide-open spaces, where the deer and the antelope play…literally.


We drove in Wyoming for hours with this view on each side of the road…vast areas with not much but grazing cattle.

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