W is for (what else) WYOMING! By Liz Harris

Having very recently unpacked my suitcase on my return from the States, there is only one W that is on my mind, and that is  …… WYOMING.

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The Capitol Building in Cheyenne, a lovely town

The Capitol Building in Cheyenne, a lovely town

So, welcome to a few glimpses of Wyoming, known as the Equality State because it gave rights to women way ahead of the other states, and ahead of most places in the world (1st woman governor, 1st women jurors, 1st State Senator, and so on). Wyoming is the second least densely populated state in the USA (Alaska is the least densely populated), and it is, of course, at the heart of The Wild West.

It was a fantastic research trip/holiday.  I shall always remember the dramatic scenery I saw, the delightful people I met and the great excitement of discovering the elusive answers to questions that had been plaguing me about the life of homesteaders in Wyoming, 1887.

I took my camera with me (naturally), and although I recognise that I’m not a good photographer and that this was not a photographic outing, I thought I would share some moments of the trip with you. There were some lovely buildings.  There were some not so lovely buildings.

An outhouse

An outhouse

Fair enough. The outhouse, which dates from the late 1880s.  It would be used, then eventually filled in and moved to another location.  I’d always wondered how they dealt with such matters.

There is some really beautiful scenery

Driving from Baggs towards the small town of Savery, population 27, set in a lovely area that led up to the Sierra Madre.

Driving from Baggs towards the small town of Savery, population 27, set in a lovely area that led up to the Sierra Madre.

The State abounds with rivers edged with shining white pebbles of various sizes, a scene that I find really attractive.

The State abounds with rivers edged with shining white pebbles of various sizes, a scene that I find really attractive.

We saw row after row of glorious aspen trees as we left Savery and went towards the Sierra Madre.

We saw row after row of glorious aspen trees as we left Savery and went towards the Sierra Madre.

Yellowstone, most of which is in Wyoming, deserves a special space to itself. It isn’t an area to walk through unescorted, though, because of the prevalence of brears – grizzly, brown and black. There are Be Bear Aware signs everywhere.

A view of the Grand Teton Mountains from Jackson Lake, Yellowstone

A view of the Grand Teton Mountains from Jackson Lake, Yellowstone

Yes, Yellowstone again.

Yes, Yellowstone again.

The Grand Teton Mountains almost obscured by haze

The Grand Teton Mountains almost obscured by haze.

among the scenic views, there were different varieties of geysers.

I thought Castle Geyser, next to Old Faithful, more scenic than the better known Old Faithful

I thought Castle Geyser, next to Old Faithful, more scenic than the better known Old Faithful

And there is some not obviously beautiful scenery. Below is a typical vista of Wyoming. I find the aridity very attractive, but I recognise that it’s not to everyone’s taste.

The wide open spaces of Wyoming, and its big skies, were too much for my camera to capture.

The wide open spaces of Wyoming, and its big skies, were too much for my camera to capture.

And this is my husband, Richard

And this is my husband, Richard

All over the State, there were references to its Wild West heritage – in every street of every town, and in the markers and tracks across the State.

Old Trail Town, Cody, comprises houses & shops dating from the 1880s

Old Trail Town, Cody, comprises houses & shops dating from the 1880s

100 miles south of the railroad town, Rawlins, is Baggs, formerly a stage coach stop. My heroine did the Rawlins-Baggs trip by stagecoach; we did it by car.

100 miles south of the railroad town, Rawlins, is Baggs, formerly a stage coach stop. My heroine did the Rawlins-Baggs trip by stagecoach; we did it by car.

Not surprisingly, there were plenty of opportunities for exercise, most of which involved horses.

Getting on to the horse was the best thing of all, though.

Getting on to the horse was the best thing of all, though. We stayed on a working ranch at the foot of The Rockiesand had unlimited riding.

A typical sight

A typical sight

A ride on The Surrey with the Fringe on Top was a must

A ride on The Surrey with the Fringe on Top was a must

It was an amazing way to research a novel, and I feel very lucky to have been able to go and see where the characters in my novel lived their lives.  If anyone else is thinking of going to Wyoming, I’d say Go For It! You won’t rgret it.

Goodbye, Wyoming!

Goodbye, Wyoming!

25 thoughts on “W is for (what else) WYOMING! By Liz Harris

  1. Wow – you lucky lucky thing Liz. My research is never remotely as exciting. Wasn’t it hot?! Sx

  2. Many thanks, Sarah. I have really struggled with getting this up. It wasn’t too hot – in fact, it was the perfect climate for sightseeing. My husband, who hates the heat, has never once complained. Our short drives through Colorado showed that Colorado was much hotter.

    Liz X

  3. Wow!! A wonderful Wyoming Wednesday! Great pictures, looks like you had a fab time. I so wish I could go back. I will one day! xx

  4. I thought of you when I was out there, as I remembered reading your blog inspired by your trip. Wyoming is a State with a great deal of beauty, and with some areas that are not to everyone’s taste. I love aridity. My favourite part was not Yellowstone – I’m not really a lake/mountains/trees sort of person – I loved the middle of the State where there were wonderful yellow and red rock formations. It was stunning.

    Liz X

  5. I thought Penrith great fun. It was such a shame that we didn’t manage to get everyone together to have a group photo on the last evening. We must do one on the next occasion that we’re all together :-)

    Liz X

  6. W is for wow from me too! What a wonderful trip – I am so envious, so it’s great so see your photos. Gosh, you’ll have so much to soak up from that experience.

  7. Many thanks for your comment, Chris. I’m sorry that the text and the pics wouldn’t align. I had done some of them in wjhat I thought was a jokey sort of way. However, it was either give up trying to make it work, or looking in the mirror and finding that I was bald!

    It was truly wonderful to find out how the homesteaders lived at that time. Walking in the shops and homes that they’d walked in was thrilling. I’m very lucky to have been able to have done it.

    Liz X

  8. Would love to go to Wyoming and Yellowstone. It’d be almost worth writing a story that took someone there. Someone said once that the whole of Yellowstone is a massive crater of a dormant volcano whose awakening is now seriously overdue. Vulcanologist then, measuring things and comparing present and old photographs. Would the wildlife disappear before an eruption, I wonder? If so how long before? That sounds the sort of thing Pooh Bear might say. Are there Heffalumps in Yellowstone? And do they have honey there? And Very Big Pits? Do vulcanologists come when you whistle? In the summer months; if they don’t have young? And why is it oming?

  9. I love seeing the pics, thanks for sharing! I’m most envious of your time on the ranch. I’d love to experience something like that!

  10. Thank you, Rachel and Fennie! I’m so sorry that I couldn’t get the text with the pics, as I’d planned. I had arranged the pics so that some of them were there in a jokey way, but the problems I had in getting them to stay where they I wanted them were insurmountable. Even with Lyn’s help, we couldn’t get it right.

    I’m sorry to say, Fennie, that there were no heffalumps – there were bears, elk, moose, bison, chipmonks, but no heffalumps.

    I believe that about the volcano. All over the Yellowstone area, steam is escaping from fissures and throwing up silica. The Castle geyser – one of the pics – is a silica cone that encloses pine trees. Around it are small springs that bubble with boiling water continuously. The area feels on the verge of a giant explosion.

    Liz X

  11. So envious! I have an ambition to tour the USA in a camper van, especially the west/north west. I still enjoy watching old Westerns on tv. What a wonderful experience.

  12. It all looks fabulous, Liz, and despite your worries about the arrangement, the pictures are fantastic! I envy you the ranch bit with the unlimited riding – I’d so love to ride somewhere you don’t have to stop and open bl&*^y gates every five minutes!

  13. We saw a phenomenal number of camper vans crossing the State, Liv. They seem to get up to a reasonablke speed on the hills, too. There’s a huge advantage in having your accommodation with you. It’s something I’d certainly be happy to do. It’s such a lovely country.

  14. Tara – it wasn’t that windy, fortunately. The weather was perfect. It was hot – but not too hot for my husband, who hates the heat – in the middle of the day, but slightly cooler in the mornings and evenings. And it was a dry heat, so you were never too sluggish to see what there was to see. Ideal.

    Jane and Juliet – the countryside was wonderful in parts. My camera just couldn’t catch it well enough – especially the amazing rock formations in the middle of the State, which flanked the route from Rawlins to Lander. The ranch, located at the foot of The Rockies, was bliss. It wasn’t single line riding – you just told the wrangler if you wanted to go out, and out you went with him.

    Christina – a little different from Herefordshire, and certainly a lot yellower in colour, but lovely nevertheless.

  15. Crikey….this is going to make my cycling holiday along the Nantes/Brest canal pale into insignificance….one bit of water and a few trees is much the same the length of it! Great post, Liz…..can’t wait for the book!

  16. Fab photos, Liz! After writhing in the agony of pure green envy sluishing through my veins, I’ve decided that my next research trip is going to be Hawaii. I wonder if my publishers will sponsor me…? Okay, thought not :-(

  17. Liz, you look very elegant and completely at ease on horseback, what a great trip.

  18. Henri – I see that my comment to you didn’t come out on the CL blog, I see. Oh, dear. I’d hoped that our publisher my see my hint that when they sponsored your Hawaiian trip, it would be wise to send along with you someone who had already done a research trip ;-)

    Linda – I love cycling, provided that it’s on totally flat ground. I cycle regularly to the village. Admittedly, that’s only 4 minutes each way! Sounds good when I say it, though. Have a brilliant holiday.

  19. Many thanks for your comment, Sallie. I’m in the middle of writing a blog for kindle. I’ve just described the horse as a ‘bucking bronco’. Please, don’t tell anyone that ‘docile’ might have been a more apt adjective :-)

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