The old-time rancher looked us up and down, and then in his best cowboy drawl, asked, “Where y’all from?” On naming our home base, he insisted: “Florida? That’s the other side of the world.”
And, in his way, he was probably right. From Farson, Wyoming, the Sunshine State probably seemed a world away from the immense reaches of this Western-cultured state, where round-ups were still conducted on horseback and tourism was just a quaint idea.
True, we had all stopped for ice-cream at Farson Mercantile rather than anything cowboy-like, but the whipcord-slim old-timer gave the impression that anything from out of state might just as well be in a different hemisphere.
This was the Wyoming we had hoped to discover, though, after scrapping plans to head further west. Our grand 12-month RV adventure had hit a roadblock, having come too far, too fast and put our Winnebago Sightseer under undue strain.
We’d had to decide between pushing on an additional 1,000 miles to Washington and Oregon in favour of more Montana and Wyoming, which we had only touched on during our hectic dashes to Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. Indeed, Wyoming had really piqued our curiosity with its small-city-big-country feel, and we wanted a deep-dive into a state still predicated on ranching, mining and railways.
The most populous city is state capital Cheyenne, but, with barely 64,000 people, that’s less than Torquay in Devon. Yet Wyoming is 4,000 square miles larger than the entire UK. To say it is an ocean of emptiness in a vast panorama of mountains, rivers and ranches is an understatement. Nature still rules the roost here, and that makes it perfect for exploring by RV.
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After the wonders of Glacier National Park, we had turned south-east through Montana and a welter of small towns, including the near ghost-town of Reed Point, agricultural Shelby and historic Great Falls, a pivotal location in the legendary Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1805.
Here, the Corps of Discovery spent more than a month hauling their boats up the Missouri River through five waterfalls, a compelling story excellently told at the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center and Giant Springs State Park, home of the shortest river in the world, the less-than-mighty…