02 August 2014

Western Wyoming sights, and my favorite travel links

Water rushing into the sink at Sinks Canyon State Park. 

Last weekend I spent three blissful days travelling around near-Western Wyoming. What I learned:

Casper has a new(ish) Vietnamese place called Pho Saigon, and it is delicious.  It's in a grubby little strip mall area in the middle of town and has that characteristic Asian immigrant restaurant look to it (so, not pretty inside), but the food is great, the portions are huge, and you will definitely not need another meal for at least 12 hours.  I got Bun Cha Gio (egg roll, vermicelli, vegetables, lime, chili, and fish sauce).  I thought I would explode.

Wonder Bar (also in Casper) is home of Wyoming State Brewery and has a great statewide tap takeover going on right now.  $5 gets you three 6 oz. samples of any Wyoming brew you want to try, which is a mad deal.  I loved Black Tooth Saddle Bronc Brown the most, but everything was worth drinking. (The current taps are to the left, and this menu was printed on the back of some recycled financial document.)

The only place to get shakes in Shoshoni now is at Fat Boy's.  You can't miss it, because I think it's the only restaurant open. I got a small chocolate marshmallow with extra malt and I still can't stop thinking about it.

Hot Springs State Park in Thermopolis can be completely free.  There is no entrance fee and the public pool, kept at a cozy 104 degrees, is free and unbelievably clean.  There are long hikes, short hikes, a bison viewing area, and a walk along the river.  I can't believe you could live in Thermopolis and this would be your city park. Here's a little photo I took of the trailhead of my morning hike on the outskirts of the park:
Jason has finally found his true home in Thermopolis.

Sinks Canyon State Park in Lander is also free and offers two long (4- and 6-mile) hikes along with a lot of gawking near water.  It is also a geologist's dream, so if you like rocks and stuff, you should go.

The Sink of Sinks Canyon State Park

NOLS is in Lander, too, and they'll rent you a room for $15/day if classes are not in session.  Last weekend classes were in session, and it was a no-go.  We didn't call ahead, but you could.  It was OK, though, because Lander Brewing Company was within walking distance to console us. Adjacent Gannett Grill has great burgers for lunch.

I found a couple of apps particularly useful on the road:

Gas Buddy locates all nearby gas stations with current prices so you can be as cheap as you want to be.

Hotels.com has an app that connects to your account to credit you nights toward a free stay when you spot a place and want to book it without missing out on the deal. And their prices are often lower.

And for your longer-term planning:

Smart Travel has great guides and tips, and I find this poster of classic American road trips so inspiring.  I want to do one every summer!