This was a long and amazing day. We did swim in the hot springs the night before and they were incredible. We considered taking a dip in the hot springs in the morning, but decided against it and got back on the road again.
We got back on I-90 and headed east toward Laurel, Montana. We had read about Lisa’s in Greybull, Wyoming so were detouring that way. (We had intended for Greybull to be on the way in our original route, till we found some of the roads we wanted to take were closed for the winter.)
As we passed into Wyoming we realized we had plenty of time so we kept our eyes out for some diversion. Just through Lovell we saw signs for the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area. We stopped at the visitor center and got directions to the nearest hike. The woman we talked to said we might see bighorn sheep, wild mustangs, red-tail hawks, and other such animals. Well, we didn’t see any of those, but we did see the Bighorn Canyon which was breathtaking and incredible. I didn’t realize we were going to get to see it, so it was a complete surprise to me. The weather was fun too: it was mostly blue sky, with the sun shining bright, and snow falling from time to time. In the sunlight it seemed like silver confetti floating through the air.
We headed on to Greybull then and found Lisa’s. It seemed like your standard small town, but somewhat upscale, restaurant. But the food was so good I almost cried! Jeremy ordered a shot of whiskey, intending to drink a half or less. They delivered at least a triple shot! I’ve never seen so much whiskey in my life! (No worries, Jeremy didn’t drink half of his triple shot.)
Jeremy wanted to try one of their shredded-pork tamales as an appetizer. It was much bigger than we thought and very tasty. It included homemade salsa, sour cream, and homemade tortilla chips. Then they brought out a small loaf of their fresh-baked, hot bread with cold butter, a lovely salad with a peppercorn-parmesan dressing, and then the meal itself: the Peppered Eye, a charbroiled rib eye steak seared in peppercorns and covered in a pepper-brandy cream sauce with garlic crusted mashed potatoes on the side. It was astoundingly tasty.
We left quite full and satisfied with a 1 ½ hour drive to Sheridan, Wyoming where we would be staying at the Mill Inn. We had to pass through the Bighorn National Wilderness Area first. 80 miles of it.
The sun was sinking low but there was still plenty of light. We drove along through the most incredible scenery – plateaus and hills and valleys covered in scrubby trees and a dusting of snow. Every now and then there were signs pointing out granite or other kinds of rock formations and how many millions or billions of years old they were. Eventually the sun did go down and it got pretty dark. Jeremy drove along at a modest 20-30 miles an hour as we kept an eye out for deer and for stars appearing in the perfectly clear sky. The road was almost completely abandoned. Part-way through I started hoping we’d find a restroom soon and we also started wondering about the gas and how much longer it would hold out. We came around a corner and out of nowhere there was a huge lodge with gas pumps, a restaurant, bar, bathrooms, and maybe even lodging. It was just like an oasis in the desert.
We pulled into the snowy drive and tried to get in front of a half dozen snowmobiles parked at the pumps. Just as we came up beside them the car started having problems with the deep snow and slick pavement. We spun in place for a bit, just as the owners of the snowmobiles came out of the lodge headed our way. They stood around for a bit looking at us as our wheels spun away, then they finally offered to help push us up to the pump. We gratefully accepted. Jeremy pumped the gas and I went to use the restroom. The snowmobilers had been about to leave, but then they told us they’d wait till we were ready to go in case we needed help getting back to the road – which we did. After a good push we got back onto the road safe and sound. Thanks to those helpful (Minnesotan!) snowmobilers and for the presence of that beautiful lodge!
We finally got to Sheridan around 8:30 – more than 3 hours of driving what should have been 1 ½ hours. But it was a beautiful and fun trip. We stayed the night at the Mill Inn, a historic flour mill in town and quite a nice hotel.