Devil’s Tower, Black and White, and Stall Tactics

Weeding phone pictures is a task that I am unapologetically bad at until warnings start popping up about full storage.

I don’t carry a camera most days and instead rely on my iPhone for walking around pictures. That means there are fun pictures of cool things collected here. There are also funny memes, images of recipes and pictures of things to remember. Products in the store and their barcodes save time later but they also accumulate until cleaning house is forced.

At this moment, photo weeding is supposed to be a priority. Instead I’m reliving adventures and converting some western vacation pictures from last summer to black and white.

Who needs productivity when you can have art?

Here’s a scene from Lusk, Wyoming. Classic and western, right?

And this is Devil’s Tower.

It’s sacred ground and it is monolithic. To call it impressive would be an understatement.

Here’s the view from the trail.

It was here that I saw my first Prairie Dogs and, I know how ridiculous this sounds, but that was a trip highlight. Cute little guys, those prairie dogs, but they’re prone to carrying disease so don’t try to pet them!

So that’s enough stalling. Time to resume photo weeding and back up. Tell me I’m not the only person who postpones organizing phone pictures until it’s an absolute requirement!

The Church Around the Bend

Church in day

We came around a bend somewhere near Douglas, Wyoming and I gasped in delight at this view. Frequent flyers of this blog know that I have a thing for churches and this is one of the more unique that I’ve seen.

The word picturesque comes to mind but that really doesn’t do justice to how lovely it is or how perfectly it is framed by the mountains. You don’t often see a log church but it was exactly the sort of thing I expected to see along a rural Wyoming dirt road.

It’s called Esterbrook Church and the day we stopped by two congregants were there preparing for a wedding later in the day. They were delightful and happy to talk to us about recent renovations at the church and about where we were visiting from.

It was constructed in the forties and the congregation is not large but they are loyal to their little church in the mountains. And with good reason. In fact, it’s a bit of a destination for tourists, photographers and weddings. She said it is not uncommon to have visitors join them for Sunday worship.

Wyoming winters are severe and this road is not maintained in the winter so they try to have their first service of the year on Easter and their last, a candle lit service, on Christmas Eve.

The interior and pews are rustic wood. But the centerpiece of the church is on the altar –  a large picture window that frames Laramie Peak in the distance.

It’s stunning. It’s also impossible for an amateur like myself to photograph. But this will hopefully give you a glimpse at how amazing it is.

church interior

We left there and went about our day to climb Laramie Peak and to see this beautiful rainbow.  Our timing was perfect to catch the sunset at the church on the way home.

Church at sunset 2

It was a picture perfect ending to the day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Great Sign And An Even Better Friend

Stardust Motel

If you’re going to travel with a friend, be sure to go with someone who understands your oddities and compulsions. It’s even better if they can appreciate your weirdness too.

I’m fortunate to have a few such friends who wait patiently while I chase covered bridges, vintage signs and great old buildings. My Western Adventure friend Johnna is one such pal who doesn’t hesitate to turn the car around for a picture.

She slammed on the breaks in Newcastle, Wyoming when I swooned over the sign outside the Stardust Motel. We were on the road to Devil’s Tower and had places to be but she was happy to help a gal out for a quick picture.

The Stardust is a classic roadside motel, opened in 1954, and less than an hour from attractions like Devil’s Tower and Sturgis. That’s the extent of my knowledge of this place. Google reviewers commented on how nice the owners are and one called it a great place for “the budget minded traveler.”

That should tell you something.

Johnna’s a good friend and possibly a saint for putting up with me and my camera for days at a stretch. I’m grateful for her and for great vintage signs like this one.

Somewhere Over The Rainbow

Sometimes when you miss your goals, something even better happens.

The day we attempted to climb Laramie Peak and were forced out by a nasty storm, we encountered something we would’ve missed had we made it to the top.

We saw this beautiful rainbow. My friend Johnna took the above picture. It was exciting to see both ends and it was all the more impressive against the big Wyoming sky.

So while we hated not making that last mile up the mountain, this was a fantastic reward for the sacrifice. And it’s a timely reminder that when things don’t work out as we wish, we may be getting set up for something even better.

That missed job opportunity? There could be an even better career change waiting for you next year.

That broken heart? Maybe it taught you to be a better partner to someone else down the road. Maybe it taught you how not to hurt someone the way you were hurt.

That rain shower slowed us down and turned us around so we could see something truly spectacular and I am grateful. And I’m trying to be grateful for all the other stuff that I hope to someday learn were blessings in disguise.

Have a good day and go looking for what’s over the rainbow, my friends. You deserve it.

A Mile Shy Of Laramie Peak

One goal for my western adventure was to climb Laramie Peak. Once a landmark for weary travelers along the Oregon Trail, today it is a popular area for recreation as part of the Medicine Bow National Forest in Wyoming.

There is a nice hiking trail up the 10,274 foot mountain and Johnna and I were stoked to climb it. It’s about five miles up so we set out with packs full of water and supplies but felt no sense of urgency as the forecast was for blue skies all day.

This was the view early in the day.

Laramie Peak rocks and sky.JPG

Lovely, isn’t it? The sky was blue and clear, punctuated with puffy white clouds that my friend calls “Simpson’s Clouds.” It was the perfect day for a long hike.

Around mile three, we started running into rain showers. Just a little drizzle but we could see that a dark cloud was settling over us.

storm cloud.JPG

At mile four, the sky turned ominous and the rain picked up.

And then came the wind: wind so powerful that it sounded like a train coming up the mountain and so strong that it could knock you over.

The terrain turns rockier as you near the top, making travel treacherous when the ground and rocks are wet. There’s no cell service here and we saw just one house in the vicinity after traveling for miles without seeing another living soul – even at the campground.

In other words, it would be a long, lonely trip down the mountain to run for help for your friend should someone get hurt. And the rescue undoubtedly would involve a helicopter ride.

We discussed continuing on with our journey and considered sheltering in place if we could find somewhere safe. We had seen a number of natural rock ledges and shelters along the way but none were in sight in that last leg of the journey.

Ultimately, we abandoned our plan and headed back down the mountain toward safety.

It was the right thing to do, even if we were disappointed to abandon our goal. But there will be other trips and other mountains. And we still got in an eight mile hike which isn’t too shabby.

It was a friendly reminder that plans don’t always work out and that sometimes circumstances simply get in the way. We made the best of the day anyway and celebrated eight miles rather than be sad we didn’t make it to ten.

That’s a pretty nice victory too!