Friday, May 14, 2010

Five States in Five Days

First day: Denver to Dubois Wyoming. 260 miles on I-25, I-80 & US-287

After about 175 miles we noticed a memorial to President Lincoln located just off Interstate 80. This massive structure can easily be seen from the Interstate, set on top of a small hill in the harsh terrain of Medicine Bow National Forest. Lincoln’s craggy features seem to match the ruggedness of the countryside.

Text provided by Road Trip

This historic monument was constructed in 1959 by Robert Russin, who was an art professor at the University of Wyoming. The bronze bust of Lincoln's head is thirteen-and-a-half feet tall and required ten tons of clay and eleven months of work to create. The original casting was done in Mexico City (the artist needed a favorable climate in which to work), and the sculpture is comprised of thirty pieces that were bolted together. The bust sits on a thirty-five-foot tall granite base of stones. The base is hollow with lighting rods and ladders inside. Originally it was mounted at the summit of Sherman Hill, (about half a mile to the west and 195 feet higher), the highest point of the Lincoln Highway. It was moved to this location, (about 10 miles east of Laramie) in 1969 when Interstate 80 opened.

Heading west on Interstate 80, we continued our journey to the Pacific. Our destination that first night was Lava Mountain Lodge in Dubois, Wyoming.
Between the memorial and Dubois we stopped briefly in Lander, Wyoming, and wished I could have spent more time. There are lots of book, antique and boutique shops but not enough time in the schedule to enjoy them, so I’ll have to go back another time.

We were rather tired having left Colorado at 9:00 AM (six hours) and were pleased to be warmly welcomed into the lodge where a private party was in process. James Jackson, owner of the lodge, offered us free food with our beers, and everyone was friendly and upbeat.
One of the members at the party was Jim Hardin. Mr. Hardin went out of his way to show us around the area, and introduce us to his friends and lovely wife, Carrie. He told us stories about his youth, how he had to “earn” his cowboy hat and his life as a cowboy growing up and working in several different states. How he hunted with his father and how hard his life had been at times. He also told us about his grandfather, the notorious outlaw, John Wesley Hardin.

I wondered what was coming when Jim’s eyes narrowed and looked intently at us. “How long have you two been married?” he asked. When I answered, he threw his head back and laughed. “I haven’t had a horse that long…” Then we all had another beer!

The Lava Mountain Lodge has undergone a lot of new development including new cabins and a huge greenhouse. The newly built the greenhouse is already yielding fresh produce that will be used in the lodge’s restaurant. Mr. Jackson told us that people in the neighborhood are so pleased with his new endeavor; they have donated seeds that have been in their families for more than 100 years.