Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Along the Oregon Trail

We left our camping spot in Wheatland, WY on Monday morning to go on a side trip adventure.
 Our view of the park.
 Our side trip took us to the Laramie Range of the Rocky Mountains. Here we are at the Rest Area, scenic overlook.
 Tina heading for the walkway to the overlook.
 On the way we read about the wildlife.
 Laramie Peak is the highest of the Laramie Range at 10,272 feet. Emigrants on the Oregon Trail could see this peak 80 miles away in Nebraska.
This view of Laramie Peak marked the start of their journey through the mountains, even more treacherous than what they had already endured in the plains.
We headed east on US 26 to see some state and national historic sites along the Oregon Trail. We circled the wagons at Guernsey State Park while we decided what to do first.
 The decision was made to visit a site near Guernsey where history was gouged into the sandstone outcrops by countless numbers of wagon wheels in the mid 1800s. At the trailhead we spotted this osprey.
 He was fishing successfully.
 We started along this paved walkway to see the Oregon Trail ruts.
Birdie, of course, is looking for birds.
 Mitch went on ahead.
I stopped to notice the little things.
 The trail was longer than we realized...should have brought my water.
The sign says turn here.
 Birdie says this is a Lark Sparrow.
 Oh, you mean we could have driven up here?
 We start by reading a sign about trails west....the California Trail, the Oregon Trail, and the Mormon Trail all passed through here.
But first we have to take a trail to the trail.
 Rugged terrain.
 On the rock in the foreground you can see a tiny pine tree taking root. A larger one grows on top in the background.
 Here you have to start imagining what it was like back then. Ladies pick up those long skirts as you walk along.
 I was surprised how narrow the ruts are, and therefore how narrow the wagons must have been.
Who came this way?
 Tina and Mitch hiking along. 
 The view from the top.
 Not much different from what the pioneers saw from here.
The North Platte River is below...a place to rest, but too wide and swift to cross here.
 Mitch demonstrates how deep the ruts are....over five feet in some places. (That's deeper than Mitch is tall...hee, hee)
 On the way down.
We persuaded Carol and Nan it was worth the hike up. There they go.
And while we wait for them...Tina,
and Mitch did this.
 I climbed another small hill to visit this gravesite.
Lucindy Rollins was one of those early pioneers.
Who is remembered here on a hill.
 Overlooking the river.
Our next stop was at Register Cliff, just a mile away from the trail ruts. Pioneers and others who traveled west on the Oregon trail etched their names into the cliff and the date they passed through, some as far back as 1829. These are still visible today.
 The first thing we noticed on the cliffs were the myriads of cliff swallow nests.
 And myriads of swallows busily building more.
 Many of the names on this part of the cliff are more modern.
 Tina's looking at the cliff swallows.
 These swallows are waiting for their mates to bring more building materials, and then they will arrange it in the nest.
 "What are you looking at?"
This sign points toward the older signatures.
 About Register Cliff
 There is a large tunnel at the base of the cliff.
The sign says it was dug by settlers for use as a root cellar...cool in summer, and warm in winter.
 Reading the signs.
 And looking at old photos.
Signature of a wagonmaster.
 Tina contemplating what it must have been like for the pioneers.
 Looking back at the parking lot.
Some of the old signatures:

 This one has a drawing of a woman in a long dress.

 The oldest signatures are protected by this fence.
 On the road again to a Passport America campground near Fort Laramie. From there we all took Liz's tour bus to the National Historic site.
Where we celebrated Tina getting her old-age pass.
 We watched a film about Fort Laramie and looked around the Visitor Center.
 And then toured the grounds. This was a barracks in one of the restored buildings.
This was the post hospital. Many buildings were dismantled by settlers after the fort closed to reuse the building materials.
 Graves of unknown soldiers from the Indian wars.
 More barracks, partially being restored.
My rv was chosen for the tour bus because it has 6 seatbelts. Passengers were wishing for ice water service though. Some people are never satisfied.
 One more stop at this iron bridge built by the army to transport supplies across the river. No one wanted to take the 1.6 mile trail to the confluence.
 Back at the campground, 5 of us ate at the small cafe. 
 On Tuesday, we only traveled about 15 miles back to Guernsey State Park where we had beautiful sites on the water.
It was a day to relax on the beach.
 And enjoy the view.
It was too hot and windy for a campfire, but we sat around the fire pit and chatted.

 Birdie pointed out a pair of Mergansers swimming by.
And then, just as a perfect day was ending....flashing lights....we are busted.
 Well not really, it was just the Park Ranger coming to greet us and see if we needed anything. Almost as good as the mayor. 
On the road again tomorrow, maybe get a little rain.


  1. Liz, it's hard to find words to describe my delight in seeing you all together. This is what RVing is about in so many ways. Thanks -- again -- for thinking of us as you all journey together.

  2. What a wonderful tour you have given us today. Enjoying every minute of the ride with you.

  3. Simply awesome! It almost brings tears to my eyes as I think of the hardships the pioneers had crossing the mountain range... they sure were hardy!
    I liked the perspective it gave with Mitch standing in the wagon wheel ruts... hard to believe...
    Thank you again Liz for a great view of your travels...

  4. Just finished reading Parts 1 through I think it's 7? Especially enjoyed the 'rendezvous' of all the travelers!

  5. Great living history post Liz. Those ruts were even more impressive than those at the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center in Oregon. And I was impressed with those!

    Glad y'all are having a great time enjoying life! :)

  6. Thank you for taking us all along with you. Pictures are stunning and your narrative is great. Wishing you all safe travels.

  7. I am really enjoying your blog Liz. You are traveling to some of the same parts where I will later this summer but you all seem to like the smaller roads more so you are seeing different things. Very Cool!