I have been looking forward to visiting Wyoming for as long as I can remember.
In fact, I detailed a little bit of my “why” in this post about traveling to Wyoming. But guess what? I didn’t get to follow any of the advice from that post!
Here’s what happened to Wyoming…
As you may know if you read this site regularly, we have been traveling across the country with our kids. This trip took about 6 months of planning. Our initial time frame was 1 week (just flying out West) and it evolved into almost a month.
Of all the places on my list, the one I was most excited about was Jackson Hole, WY.
Admittedly, it was a tad off the rest of the route. And it was going to make some of our other stops more difficult. But it was MY place and I was determined to get us there.
Then Mary Grace begged to go to the Grand Canyon. “We’re going to be SO close,” she said.
Since Brent has an actual job and could only be away from his office for so long, we had to make some tough decisions. One of those decisions came down to eliminating 2 days of our trip. We had to draw a boundary on how far we’d be willing to drive. And, at some point we had to change the trajectory of our travels and start heading home.
Jackson Hole and the Grand Canyon were our two furthest points, by far. Eliminating one of those stops was the obvious choice. And, because I love my child a lot…we decided to pass on going to Jackson Hole.
So essentially, Wyoming turned into (mostly) a pass-through state.
I say all of this to confirm the fact that I KNOW we missed some of the best parts of the state. In fact, we have been talking to so many people throughout our journey. Not one single person agrees with our decision to miss The Grand Tetons. It’s the overwhelming recommendation from everyone.
I know. I get it. And I’ve gotten over it. I know we’ll get back to Wyoming soon.
But, for those wondering (and because I’m trying to document every day of this trip), here’s what we did in Wyoming…
Day 16 started out in Denver. It was cold and rainy and the kids were having the BEST time with their cousins. To say that it was hard to leave is an understatement. We reluctantly loaded our car and got on the road to Wyoming.
Our stop in Cheyenne was very low-key. We parked our car and walked around the square. I thought it would be fun to shop in the largest Western store. But apparently my definition of shopping is different from the kids. (In hindsight, this is TOTALLY my fault. I’m not really a shopper and we generally only go “shopping” when we need something!)
They were completely not supportive of the idea of not actually BUYING anything.
Miller felt like he really needed a $200 cowboy hat. And Mary Grace could not understand why I didn’t want to buy her a $350 pair of cowboy boots that were her favorite color (aqua.)
Shopping ended quickly and I made a mental note NOT to plan this kind of thing for any future travel! Even if the place is “famous,” it’s not worth it!
Side note: one thing we’ve noticed after 16 days on the road with our kids. About 95% of bad attitudes can be traced back to food. Or a lack of it.
That being said, leaving the Western store, we went in search of food. ASAP.
A couple of steaks later (when in Wyoming!)- the sun came out and everyone’s attitudes improved drastically! We headed to our afternoon destination, Fort Laramie National Historic Site.
For Laramie is known as the “crossroads of a Nation moving West.” Though originally established as a fur trading post, it became the largest military post on the Northern Plains. This stop was incredibly educational (especially since we’d just studied Westward expansion in our history curriculum.)
We all really enjoyed touring the various town buildings and seeing some notable landmarks from the Oregon Trail. It was very easy to imagine just how the area functioned during the 1800’s. We even got to see some soldiers (actors, I think) do some marching drills and a flag ceremony.
In all honesty, if we’d been able to go to Jackson Hole there is no way we would have made time for a stop at Fort Laramie. But things work out for a reason. The kids were so excited to get a passport stamp in their National Parks Passport Book. I also feel like we were really able to make history come alive for them at this stop!
Essentially, Day 16 of our trip was just a day between Denver and Mount Rushmore. It wasn’t a highlight of our trip so far, by any means. But it was probably just what we needed. We didn’t do a a lot driving. Our kids (and their parents) learned a ton about Westward expansion. The scenery along the route was gorgeous. And, we ate really, really well (steak for lunch and dinner!)
Up next…South Dakota! We have SO much fun planned for this state, from Mount Rushmore to The Badlands to Little House on The Prairie Homestead!
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