Another sketch from our cross country car trip. Tree in the Rock is nestled in granite rock in between the east and westbound lanes on I-80 about twenty-one miles and thirty miles from Laramie and Cheyenne respectively. We very briefly stopped, via a very thoughtful left-lane exit, to enjoy this point of interest. The State of Wyoming has it’s act together when it comes to accommodating visitors interested in the unique, nichey sites found along the highways and byways. For those inclined to make this tree a stop, it was an easy in-and-out diversion. There are no restrooms. Those are located westward at the Lincoln head (see previous post), in Cheyenne, or along the road shoulder in a pinch. Wyoming is a fantastic place.
Along Interstate 80 in Eastern Wyoming, between Laramie and Cheyenne, a bronze sculpted head of the sixteenth president of the United States is perched on a granite pedestal facing southward. Eccentric and weird, it’s the kind of diversion travelers ought to enjoy on any good road trip. My wife, our six children, and I were headed back to Northeastern Nevada from Michigan (a story for another time), and we made the statue of Honest Abe one of our obligatory bathroom/antsy-pants stops. It’s a great rest area. After the mass exodus from our eight passenger car into the clean facility, we did the whole photo-op thing at the base of the granite pedestal. Afterwards, my wife and I passed salami and cheese sandwiches out and we ate lunch before heading back on the interstate. Goofy, crazy memories that only cost our time.
SWEETWATER CO., WY—This is a page out of my Moleskine notebook. The rock formations along I-80 can reasonably be ranked up there in the quintessential aspects of the West. Not quite sure what the name of this butte is, but it’s just east of Tollgate Rock, south of the interstate. I used a topo map app but this particular peak was unnamed.
Quick History: Oregon and California Trails; Transcontinental Railroad; Lincoln Highway
Sigma Micron .02 ink pen on small Moleskine Cahir Journal
In case you can’t read my awesome handwriting, here’s the transcript (or whatever the cool kids and hipsters call it nowadays):
I lost my new Case pocket knife Angela gave me for Christmas, prompting me to turn the house upside down in [an] attempt to find it. I commissioned the children to help me search for it after supper.
Tipping the sofa over, I found, a wooden spoon, my guitar tuner, a saltine cracker, and a Duplo block. No knife. I was losing my mind. I resigned myself to the fact that perhaps the wayward knife was lost—maybe when we went sledding on the weekend. But, then, I tripped on my dirty Carhart pants. There in the left front pocket was my beloved Case pocket knife! All was right again.
I revisited my fond feelings towards the Navajo Nation and all the beauty found there. I didn’t sketch this while I was there last August, but I referenced a photo I took on my way back from Kayenta and the Black Mesa (south of the ever-popular Monument Valley). I threw off the shackles of the blank page and sat on my couch and went at it for a few minutes earlier this week. I waged a good battle trying to figure out how to get our scanner to work the rest of this week. Many thanks to my wife for helping me to prevail against the Hewlett-Packard beast!
Missing in this sketch, the Navajo craft vendors with their lovely wares. When I stopped to admire these sandstone formations beside the highway, a few Native women were setting up their folding tables, laying out table cloth and setting up their chairs under awnings which were also methodically assembled. There is so much to see and discover there in Navajo country. It’s little curiosities, like the subject of this sketch, which so often catch my attention.
Perhaps I may take my family back next time, making Monument Valley a priority on the trip. Of course, I’d have to take them to see the Elephant Feet at some juncture; a sign pointing travelers towards real fossilized dinosaur tracks near Tuba City also grabbed my fancy. Now, if only my job allowed the highway wanderer in me to run rampant.
RIVER CITY GRILL, MISSOULA| Drove from Elko, Nevada up to Twin Falls then east to Pocatello. North, from there, to Butte then west through Deer Lodge and along the Clark Fork river, settling at a Pilot truck stop for the night.
Trying to be true to the budget, I still wanted to try something from the red brick diner. Boasting homemade pies and other fancies, I settled with an apple pie (a good standby). Trying out different takes on universally loved foods is something which speaks to my own sensibilities. It’s always interesting.
Despite the fact that my job gets me out on the road often, rarely are there opportunities to try a food that isn’t a mass produced commodity. I sat down at the bar and the waitress handed me a glass of ice water and the menu. I passed on ordering a meal and ordered a piece of pie instead. After taking my menu, she opened the glass case behind the counter and cut a piece and put it on a plate to warm up in the back. Minutes later, I sunk into the dessert, enjoying the crumbling conglomeration of crust, sugar and cinnamon layered over thinly sliced apples within. Not even close to the quality of my wife’s pie, but a pleasant change from a preservative-laden pastry in a plastic wrapper. Actually, it wasn’t half-bad.