Day 6 Summary
Casper, Wyoming to Scottsbluff, Nebraska
Friday, July 21, 2006
So long as you don't mind the city’s isolation, Casper seemed like it would be a real nice place to live. It’s set in the fertile valley of the North Platte River and enjoys a view of mountains to the south. The city seemed clean, had all of the basic amenities that would suit most people, and is currently enjoying a booming economy thanks to the oil wells and coal mines in the surrounding area.
The only cities of significance within 60 miles of Casper are Glenrock and Douglas, both found to the east along Interstate 25. Douglas is probably best known as being the city that hosts the annual Wyoming State Fair and Rodeo.
A little south of Glenrock is the Ayres Natural Bridge, one of the only rock-carved natural bridges in the country that has water running underneath. Even though it was extremely difficult to reach before a paved road was built leading to it, the natural bridge was visited by a few noted explorers during the 19th century. Even some of those who traveled along the nearby Oregon Trail fought their way through the hilly countryside in the vicinity of the bridge in order to catch a glimpse.
East of Douglas, the landscape fills up with deep canyons slowly created by the North Platte River. Amid the canyons are two large lakes quickly created after dams were placed on the river during the 20th century. The land surrounding both of the lakes has been turned into state parks so that people may enjoy lakeside camping, fishing, and swimming.
I got a chance to enjoy the scenery in the Guernsey State Park, which, appropriately enough, is the home of Lake Guernsey. Although there were a couple of other people out and about, for the most part, the park was a dead place on the Friday I visited. The water level in Lake Guernsey is exceedingly low this year, and because of that, nobody was on the beach, nobody was swimming, and nobody was camping. I pretty much had the entire park to myself.
East of the park, U.S. Highway 26 passes through the valley of the meandering North Platte River. The countryside ceases looking like Wyoming here and looks more like the Midwest. The land is relatively flat – with no mountains or hills to be seen in the background – and a few farm fields are spread out on either side of the road.
The last Wyoming city the road passes through is Torrington. 8 miles east of there is the Nebraska border and the small Nebraska town of Henry.
The next small towns the road passes through are Morill and Mitchell. After that, the road comes up to the twin cities of Scottsbluff and Gering. With a combined population of 22,483, these two cities are the most populous in the Nebraska panhandle. Scottsbluff is where I stayed overnight during day 6 of my vacation.
The view from my hotel room in Casper included mountains and some sort of Welcome to Casper monument
On proud display above the Perkin's restaurant in Casper was this huge flag
The best picture I could get of the natural bridge - the creek that flows underneath is called LaPrele Creek
This steep cliff can be seen if you climb a trail that leads to the top of the bridge
Also visible from the top of the bridge is this scene, which shows a landscape of sagebrush turning into a landscape of trees and lushness
Lake Glendo near the city of the same name
Another view of Lake Glendo
Some roadside scenery between Glendo and Guernsey
The following six photos were taken in Guernsey State Park
The shores of Lake Guernsey
There are a couple of rail tunnels located within the park
During an ordinary summer, most of the sandy beach in this picture would be covered by water
A westbound empty coal train takes the siding at East Stokes as it passes through what was once a massive tunnel - the railroad demolished the tunnel and created the trench in 1998 in order to lengthen the siding
A lonely picnic table usually located along the shore of Lake Guernsey
Although sandy and rocky, the soil within Guernsey State Park supports evergreen trees, as this photo illustrates
A typical banner on the streelights in Mitchell
Low-grade camcorder picture:
Nebraska...the good life