Left or right. The choice was not clear. The quickest route from Devil’s Tower to the Grand Tetons is a seven hour journey south through Wyoming, then northwest to the park via the highway. However, the scenic route broke mostly to the northwest through the mountains and added another five hours to the trip.
In the spirit of speed, I opted to skip the scenic route this time (everything is scenic when you haven’t been there) and head south towards Casper, the halfway point.
A few hours later, I found myself on the roof of a downtown Wyoming fly shop trading stories, brews and Pokemon with the locals. The choice worked out fine.
After rendezvousing with a college friend from Tennessee (shoutout to Hannah), I find myself in a basement with reduced scenery but improved sleeping conditions. For tonight, at least, I’ve found a real bed with real running water for my real toothbrush.
I have to admit, the sudden return to “reality” feels strange. Part of me was getting used to the isolation, to the idea of breaking camp every morning and working from a roadside coffee shop before hitting the road. But beggars can’t be choosers, and for now I’m happy that I chose to go left.
Like most places in Wyoming, Casper looks big on the map. It’s planted firmly in the mid-southern section of the state in big bold letters. And, like most places in Wyoming, the actual city is much smaller than you might imagine: bars close early, people don’t stay out too late, and even with 50,000-plus residents, everyone seems to know each other by name. It’s home to a fly shop, the Platte River, and a handful of (new) friends.
Tonight, I’m glad I chose left. Tomorrow, it’s right back to the wild.