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Day 20, Thursday June 8, 2017:
Rawlins, Wyoming -> Casper, Wyoming

Today's destination was to be Casper, a relatively short drive. Before we could leave town, Lorna had to stop at the Laundromat and I made the rounds for ice, gasoline, cash and cleaning the windshield. The were some neat places on Business 80 so I cruised the stretch with the Gopro snapping a picture every 2 seconds.

There was a lot of open road on US 287 and WY 220 driving to Casper and much of the time nothing was happening on the land. As we got near Casper it became irrigated hay country with the big bales with trailer trucks being loaded with them.

On the way into town we spotted an A&W Root beer stand that had the full life size A&W family on the roof. I had forgotten that they existed, never mind seeing one still in service. I wanted pictures but in the traffic, it wasn't meant to be. We looked around and settled on Johnny J's Diner for lunch. It was just right a comfortable place where the locals ate. I was even able to get a Buffalo Chicken salad. Buffalo chicken had been nearly nonexistent for much of the trip. Casper is nicknamed "The Oil City" and has a long history of oil boomtown and cowboy culture, dating back to the development of the nearby Salt Creek Oil Field.

The big stop for the afternoon was The National Historic Trails Interpretive Center. I figured they had to put it someplace. Through the visit a bigger story unfolded. Through various photographs, displays and video the story was told of pioneers making their way west. There was lots of pain, hardship and death but nothing I didn't expect. What I learned was that the Mormon, California, Oregon and Pony-Express Trails all passed tough the valley town of Casper Wyoming. It was the place where settlers could get past the mountains. It wasn't until I got out of the center and stood overlooking the valley that I realized all that passed between the hill I stood on and the one across town. I was looking at someplace very significant with a high concentration of our history.

One thing we noticed was the left yellow arrow in the traffic lights, that was new to me. If it looks OK you can go ahead with a left turn without waiting for the green light. At least that is how I interpreted it!

After that it was off to the hotel to settle in. That didn't take long and it was off for the evening fun. I found that Casper had a neighborhood that was under renewal and this was the night of the weekly farmer's market and block party. This sounded like a great way to visit the community. We headed down to the Yellowstonestone neighborhood, home of the Yellowstone Garage, a converted old school Chevrolet dealership turned versatile function space. We wandered the farmers market, listened to some live music. The food trucks didn't have much that spoke dinner so we walked a few blocks to Racca's Pizzeria Napoletana where we split a small pizza. It was good stuff made with tomatoes from Italy and other genuine ingredients, the waiter had a fancy term for this that didn't stick. After that we went back to have a farmer's market lemon cupcake for desert, hear some music and people watch. The street was shut down and kids were playing with a giant Jenga game as well as jumbo street checkers. The traffic of people streaming in with strollers was stunning, it really was a nice coming together for the town, and they do this once a week all summer. . In 2010, Casper was named the highest-ranked family-friendly small city in the West, and ranked eighth overall in the nation in Forbes magazine's list of "the best small cities to raise a family". I don't find this hard to believe after our day here. The opening act wrapped up and the main act didn't do much for us so we called it a night.

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Created May 14, 2017