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Day 19, Wednesday June 7, 2017:
Vernal, Utah -> Jensen -> Craig CO -> Rawlins, Wyoming

Before leaving Vernal we had some unfinished business. Like finding the giant pink dinosaur with moving eyeballs and we did. After all, it is the regional hub of all things dinosaur.

It was a short drive to Dinosaur National Monument in Jensen. From the visitor center a bus took us up to the dig site. Once again the dig is enclosed in a building. This site is a hillside and the building fronts it with a ground floor and a mezzanine letting you scan the wall of fossils still partially imbedded in the soil. There were also trails, camping sites and other diversions but this was just meant to be a stop in the day's travels. Driving back to the highway I got some good pictures of those cord sized hay bales.

We drove into the northwest corner of Colorado and through the town of Dinosaur, "The Gateway to Dinosaur National monument" (if you are westbound) and saw a sign on US 40 warning that there was no food or fuel for 57 miles. Lunch took on a new urgency. We doubled back to the "town" consisting of 2 convenience stores including a "Loaf 'N Jug" and the Bedrock Depot featuring deli sandwiches, ice cream, shakes and gifts (214 Brontosaurus Boulevard). Between the 3 establishments we found lunch, ice and gasoline. I wasn't in a hurry to challenge the gas gauge again. Dinosaur Depot was interesting, they had a counter with build your own sandwich slips. You picked bread, meat, vegies, condiments and so forth and brought the slip to the counter and placed your order. It was a decent lunch. We cruised the back streets and found the usual modest municipal buildings and a basic dinosaur themed playground.

Dinosaur became a memory as we hurtled east on US 40. We stopped at a Bureau of Land Management Turnout and scenic viewpoint. We climbed up to the gazebo, got some pictures, read some interesting explanations of the hill formations and gazed. Driving along there were some puffy white clouds. In front of those were some small, uncommonly blue clouds that were just unique enough to stop and get some stills of. I think this was within Dinosaur National forest, there were signs but I can't find it on the maps.

On US 13 in Craig we stopped to see the remains of the homestead of Governor Edwin Johnson. It appears to be a small brick surface structure that leads to an underground bunker. There were some other local lore interpretive signs as well.

We crossed into Wyoming on US 789, welcome to oil country! Oil wells began to appear in the fields on each side of the road. Painted beige they blend in to an extent. Each has a small tank farm but I never observed any trucking activity and the access roads seem modest. I suspect there is underground piping to take oil to central locations. Bugs are getting thicker, a morning cleaning of the windshield is not enough to keep the GoPro images tidy anymore.

The clouds were a little threatening, maybe that had the cattle moving, about 20 marching single file along the fence by the road, a cow parade. Cattle is still sparse with clusters of a dozen or so head sharing a large space. I don't know if it's a mountain effect or what but I keep seeing clouds that streak downward, like someone took a few brush strokes on wet cloud paint.

We also spotted a very neat ridge. It looked like the fields had been pushed together creating a symmetrical rise in the land. On the top of the ridge it was rocky, making it look like a spike backed dinosaur. Overall the land was flattening after our brush with Colorado hills.

The final leg to Rawlins was on I-80 where construction and a bad accident slowed us down for a bit. The westbound truck traffic was very heavy with many signs of oil and gas extraction equipment feeding the boom. In Creston I noticed we had 3G cellular service, I didn't know that existed anymore. By late afternoon we had arrived in Rawlins, our stop for the night. Rawlins and a big "R" could be spotted on the hillside in white stone. A lot of towns do this if they have such a hillside. We checked into the hotel and they suggested their restaurant, Turnbuckle. Speaking of food, I am noticing that places out here are generous with salad dressing, often coming in well filled custard bowls! We looked at Yelp and didn't really see anything else compelling so we stayed onsite to eat. It was very decent and popular or busy depending how you look at it. We beat the crowd, it was really filling up when we were wrapping up.

After dinner, we took some time to cruise the town. We found the former State Penitentiary that was mentioned at a future stop and got pictures of its water tower. Like many interstate town the main drag is now Business 80 and shows signs of driver going faster, farther and stopping less. Overall the town did seem to have an ongoing purpose. No signs of nightlife were spotted so we chilled for a peaceful evening.

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Created May 14, 2017