The next day we went to Arches and to Canyon Lands NP’s. They were OK but not as good as Zion and Bryce.
Off again to Vernal UT - 217 miles. We stopped at the campground gas station to fill up on the way out. Their price board was blank. Regular was $2.89 in the town. It was $3.69 at the campground – no wonder they left the board blank. We had 100 miles worth of gas so we didn’t buy any there. When we got to the Interstate there was a small gas station with another blank price board. They wanted $4.79 a gallon! We drove to Green River 50 miles further on and got it for $2.89.
Taking Hwy 191 North was nice, 2 lanes thru nice little towns and picturesque scenery. Then after Price where it was marked on the map as “Scenic Route” it started to climb and get really twisty. 20 mph curves. 8% grades! At one point we were down in 1st gear and the engine was redlined. My foot was literally on the floorboards and we were going 30 mph! I didn’t get to see much of the scenery and there was nowhere to pull off. After cresting at 9150 feet we had the same only downhill. I was like a wet rag after 50 miles when it got back to more normal (less scenic) surrounds. Thank goodness for being in the RV. We pulled over and had lunch!!
Vernal is near Dinosaur NM and the city lets you know it. We were staying at the Fossil RV Park! Not a bad little place right in the center of town and $35 a night with full hookups wasn’t going to break the bank. Compared to “Arches Resort” in Moab I was a steal. It even had shade trees and grass.
Of course we had to visit the Dinosaur NP. This is where the Carnegie Museum quarried thousands of dinosaur fossils out of the rock, many of them are still on display in their natural state.
Next we visited the Dinosaur Brew Pub and finally the Utah Natural History museum where they had a very good display of --- you guessed it---Dinosaurs.
Still the beer from Vernal Breweries was pretty good!
Barbara LOOK OUT!!
North to Rock Springs had us climbing more 8% grades in 1st gear past Flaming Gorge NRA then on to the high plains. Along the way we went thru miles of road works and gravel which resulted in a cracked windshield for the Fiesta being towed behind.
We spent the night at Walmart and sampled a brew at the Bitter Creek Brew Pub then moved on to Riverton for a night in the casino there. We’re aiming for a $25 a night average camping cost so some free nights at Walmart and the like help counter the expensive nights in Moab.
Bar rail support
The next morning sipping coffee I realized that we had done things the day before that I could never have dreamed of when I was a kid back in England.
We’d crossed the Rocky Mountains and the Continental Divide, seen the ruts left by the wagon trains on the Oregon Trail and now we were camping in a town surrounded by the Indian Reservations.
I watched the usual cowboy movies and TV shows as a kid. My imagination would conjure up gunfights and Indian attacks as we played. But if I’d told my parents that one day I’d do the things I had done in just the last day, well even they would have warned me not to get carried away with my dreams.
And yet my Mum always did say that when I was little I’d told her that one day I’d live in America and send her $100 a week! Sorry Mum the check is in the mail!
I’m kind of tingling writing this as I realize how blessed I have been to be given the opportunity to go from a rough inner city area like the North End of Birkenhead (a notoriously violent area) to the freedom of travelling this wonderful land.
The next 120 miles were less interesting, except for herds of prong horn antelope, the high plains are just that. Plain! Undulating grassland with occasional “Nodding Donkey” oil wells, each with a cluster of tanks to store the oil until it’s picked up by a road tanker. We had never thought of Wyoming as an oil and gas state but arriving in Casper revealed miles and miles of engineering shops and other support activities for the fields out there.
We stayed at Fort Casper RV park and using our Passport America membership got 2 nights for $44 instead of $88. That paid for the annual membership in one go!
We’ve used Escapees, Good Sam and Passport America to get discounts so far all of which have paid for our annual dues in each. Especially Good Sam - because we got a free 1 year trial membership at an RV show last year!!
Casper was nice, the park very busy with Oil Field workers, was clean but fairly basic. It was owned by the Isaac Walton League and had 2 fishing ponds as well as being on the Platte River.
The Platte is the reason for Casper being here. A fort was built to protect the best crossing of the river for the Oregon, California and Mormon Trails. Later the first transcontinental telegraph used the same route. There’s a very nice little museum right next to the campground and a reproduction of the original fort.
Another 120 miles closer to our immediate goal of Rapid City brought us to Gillette WY of which we knew absolutely nothing. It was a pleasantly modern city of about 20,000 people based around the low sulfur coal that’s mined there. Another night at Walmart let us sample a delicious brew at the Prairie Fire Brewery named Bushwhacker which deservedly won a gold medal recently.
Leaving Gillette things began to get more interesting the hills started to roll and pines sprouted at the side of the road. By the time we crossed the state line we could see why they are called the Black Hills.
We had reservations at the Tee Pee campground just outside Rapid City. I think we’ll enjoy this place, it’s very quiet and pleasing to the eye.