Friday, April 11, 2008

Best in the West

Traveling in Wyoming is such a treat for me, largely because I have been in the Cowboy State for less than a year. I'm now working with Wyoming Public Television on a documentary about the artists of Yellowstone and thus am wandering around looking for interviews and gorgeous scenery, both of which are very much in evidence.

I was heading for Jackson but decided to make a stop in Thermopolis to visit the Wyoming Dinosaur Center, the home not only of fantastic fossils, but also North America's only Supersaurus. Obviously this is a great place for kid of all ages, not just to view the reconstructed dinosaurs--including the ever popular T Rex--but to participate in actual archaeological digs as well. A good time was had by all, especially in the gift shop, where I nearly spent all of the money I had set aside for gas which, at today's prices, was quite a tidy bundle.

Night time brought us to the local Best Western motel, which has a forbidding brick exterior that resembles nothing so much as a reform school. However, once inside, we found that the new owner Andy had redone all the rooms in deliciously rustic pine furniture. We had a large room with terrific light, a firm but comfy king-sized bed, good pillows and a modern bathroom with built in hairdryer, coffeemaker and the usual amenities. Best of all, there is a spring fed mineral hot pool right in the center courtyard and the office furnishes fluffy towels. No need to even leave the premises to "take the waters."

Wireless internet was a little sketchy, but the desk clerk was more than willing to lend her computer, and then I discovered we could sit in the lobby and use wireless to our heart's content. Any inconvenience was easily made up for the by the bountiful (and free) breakfast spread. Fortified with a bagel and omelette morning meal and a steaming cup of Earl Grey to go, it was back on the road to Jackson.

It's a pretty long drive, made longer by the need to get out and shoot video every half hour or so, but we finally made it over the hill and I got my first glimpse of the towering Teton Mountains. Snow covered peaks reaching up into the clouds, these babies must have really impressed the first explorers wending their way toward Yellowstone, and their journey was much more perilous than mine, since they didn't have plowed highways. Basically, all I had to worry about was if I had enough trailmix and if I could reach the ice chest in the back seat to get another Diet Coke.

Ah, Jackson. As a California girl, I couldn't help but notice the resemblance to Knott's Berry Farm. And even though we couldn't really see the movie stars, since it was definitely the off season, but the smell of money in the air was palpable. I haven't seen so many colored contact lenses and designer bags since the last time I fled Hollywood. But all that aside, the lovely little Antler Inn was a breath of fresh air, especially as it had all the amenities of a big hotel but in little log cabin rooms and priced at well less than a hundred bucks. Plus, the wireless service rocked! There was no free breakfast, but there were pots of coffee, hot chocolate and three different kind of cookies in jars at the front desk. It certainly wasn't the first time I've made a meal out of Oreos and shortbread cookies.

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