Author Topic: a photo-journey of Wyoming from twenty-three trips [mostly photographs]  (Read 994 times)

Offline Daniel Kalal

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Wyoming
 
I think when people think of Wyoming, they think of the old west, of open  ranges, of cowboys and perhaps of outlaws.  But, virtually the only part of  Wyoming that is visited is the northwest corner of the state: the Grand Tetons  and Yellowstone, which have little in common with those things.
 
This is a broad photo-journey of the state using the photographs from  twenty-three trips.
 
When touring Wyoming, you'll need to keep in mind four mountain ranges:  Absaroka Range, Wind River Range, Big Horn Mountains and the Laramie  Mountains.  That's because there are nearly no roads that cross those  mountains (and there are none over the Wind River Range), so getting around means  accepting some long detours.
 
I've arranged this by highway number.  More than most states, Wyoming  roads have multiple highway routes that occupy the same bit of pavement.   It's not unusual to see a stack of numbered signs at intersections.   So, to organize this, I just picked whichever numbered highway made the most sense for a given  spot.
 

 
This is the only north-south freeway in Wyoming.  It's the connector  between the two east-west freeways: I-90 and I-80.
 
Buffalo, Wyoming.
 

 
Kaycee, Wyoming.
 

 
Three times on the same trip...  all just warnings.  I think I've been  stopped more often for no apparent reason in Wyoming than every other state and  country combined.
 

 
The National Trails Museum, Casper.  This is quite a good museum.   The Oregon Trail is the best known, but there were also others that came  through this area.  The museum is worth an hour's stop.
 

 
At Douglas I stopped for perhaps two more hours watching a drag race event.
 

 
This was only a local affair but it was a lot of fun to  watch. They certainly had looser spectator safety requirements than most  such races that I've been to.
 
 
 
Chugwater, Wyoming.  Many of these slowly vanishing towns are   here only because of the steam locomotives, and those have been gone since the  late fifties.  It evidently takes a long time for a town to die.
 

 

 
Downtown Evanston. I had dinner at a small Chinese restaurant near that old hotel on the right. It was unexpectedly excellent.
 

 
Green River.  No matter where you stay, you'll be hearing trains all  night.
 

 
Rawlins, Wyoming.  The prison museum is worth stopping for.
 

 
The Ames Monument. I was actually trying to find a marker for one of the  founders of the Lincoln Highway. Instead, I came across this, a nearly forgotten  monument to Oakes Ames, a railroad promoter (but more notoriously, a  corrupt individual who saw that there was a lot of money to be made  during the building of the transcontinental railroad and did his best to get as  much as he could).
 

 
This is the monument I was looking for.  Henry Joy had as much to do with the creation of the Lincoln highway as any other man (next to Carl Fisher), so it is appropriate that there  is a memorial to him on the original route.  This monument has been moved  to a rest stop on I-80.  The original was so obscure (once the freeway  replaced the old Lincoln Highway) that it was impossible to see, and just as hard to get  to.
 

 
Cheyenne, Wyoming.
 

 
Cheyenne is all about the Union Pacific, and the museum in the old depot  is a good one.  The Union Pacific stream shops are also here, but there  are no scheduled tours offered.
 

 
   

 
Ranchester, Wyoming.  From Buffalo to Ranchester, I'd been riding in  some very heavy rain.  It's time to stop, since I'm not going to cross  the Big Horn Mountains in this weather.
 

 

 
Greybull, Wyoming.
 

 
Climbing into the Big Horn Mountains.  There are three routes across  these mountains: 14, 14A and 16.  There is no best; all three are  good.
 

 
Shell Creek is scenic enough, that it might just tilt the three-way balance to  favor this  route.
 

 

 
Burgess Junction.  I think I've never been through Burgess Junction  without stopping for food.
 

 
This morning it would be corned beef hash with eggs and brown toast.   It was raining pretty steadily, so I waiting an hour, or so, for things to  settle down before continuing.
 
 
 
That's a lake, and yes, it's frozen as are my hands.
 

 
The view looking to the east across the start of the Great Plains.
 

 
The descent is rapid.  You'll not be riding in flat lands for a good  while, yet, but you're clear of the Rocky Mountains--the weather patterns  are entirely different.
 

 
East of Sheridan.  This part of US-14 gets very little traffic.
 

 
West of Ucross.  You'll not find any fuel; don't be fooled by the towns  on your map.
 

 

 
This is another route over the Big Horn Mountains.
 

 

 
The view to the west (towards Yellowstone).
 

 
The sign is for truckers to give them warning for where the steepest  grades will be found and suggestions for avoiding them.  These are all  mild roads for motorcycles, though.
 

 

 
Near the western boundary of Yellowstone.  There have been serious  fires in this area that will take decades to recovery.
 

 
West of Cody.
 

 
Cody, Wyoming.
 

 
There are three museums within this center; you should expect to spend at  least that many hours.
 

 
The third way through the Big Horn Mountains.
 

 
Powder River Pass.
 

 
West of Buffalo.
 

 
Near Clearmong after crossing the Big Horns.
 

 

 
Newcastle, Wyoming.
 

 

 
Thermopolis, Wyoming is home to one of the world's largest hot springs.   Places like this used to be much more popular (in Europe, too).
 

 
Thermopolis Hot Springs.
 

 

 
Wind River Canyon.  It's a lovely sweeping road that runs through  the canyon.
 

 
I'm looking for (and not finding) mountain sheep.  I've been on this road a  number of times, but haven't seen any animals up there (although they might  have seen me).
 

 
Manville, Wyoming.
 

 
Lusk, Wyoming.  In this town, there might be as many people going to   the Black Hills (or Sturgis) as there are going to Yellowstone, and I've often  found the hotels to be nearly full.
 

 

 
Coal trains.  In this case, were looking at the empty cars coming back  for more.
 

 

 

 

 
Van Tassell, Wyoming  is at the edge of the Nebraska line.   Before the road turns, you'll be in Nebraska.

Offline Daniel Kalal

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The Snake River.

 
Jackson, Wyoming.  While tourists visit the somewhat mythical place of  Jackson Hole, residents live in, and only talk of (just plain) Jackson.
 

 
I crossed over to the Tetons at Togwotee Pass (9,500 feet). This is a   very motorcycle road.
 

 
The distant view of the Grand Teton mountains from near the summit.

Riverton, Wyoming.
 

 
Horrible side winds took half the windshield off.  In all my years of  riding, this day remains in memory as the worst and most dangerous for side  winds.  I-80 across southern Wyoming has automatic signs that require  trucks to stop when the winds are beyond a certain level--it's common enough,  and seeing a semi on its side will convince you.
 

 
Shoshoni.  Where Main Street ends, the prairie begins.
 

 
Hell's Half Acre.
 
I camped at Hell's Half Acre, which is on the south fork of the Powder  River, about 50 miles west of Casper. It's quite an amazing place.
 

 
I did not camp close to these guys who were traveling on their Gold Wings.  This was their first big trip, and they were excited about all of it.   I couldn't figure out why they were all so concerned about covering their  motorcycles for the night. They were puzzled by my clipped windshield.
 


Guernsey, Wyoming.
 

 
You (usually) cannot go too wrong with a patty-melt.  This was a  good one.
 
 
 

 

 
Not too many miles across the state line into Wyoming is Fort Laramie National  Historic Site. This bridge over the Platte River (built in 1880) is no longer  used by anything except foot traffic.
 

 
Fort Laramie, Wyoming.  It's worth stopping for.
 

 
 
 
Torrington, Wyoming.
 

 

 
Near Kemmerer.  Sheesh; it never seems to end in this state!   Never a ticket, however.  Just a nice chat with a friendly officer (I'm  not being ironic, they've all been quite good) and  I'm on my way.
 

 
Near Granger, Wyoming.
 

 

 
Hanna, Wyoming.  It's much too cold this morning, so I'll duck into  Hanna to find some shelter and to warm my hands on the cylinder heads.
 

 
Medicine Bow (after getting still yet another warning ticket by a friendly Wyoming  trooper). This town was the setting of the novel The Virginian (there  are plenty of signs to remind you of this).
 
The Virginian's  pistol came out, and his hand lay on the table, holding it unaimed. And with  a voice as gentle as ever, the voice that sounded almost like a caress, but  drawling a very little more than usual, so that there was almost a space  between each word, he issued his orders to the man Trampas: When you  call me that, SMILE. And he looked at Trampas across the table.
- The Virginian [Owen Wister]
 

 
The old Lincoln Highway came through here.  The route of the freeway  that replaced it is many miles to the south.
 
 
 
 
 
Rock River, Wyoming.
 

 
Bosler, Wyoming probably was busy enough as a stopping point on the  Lincoln Highway.  But, it's been a long time since these cabins were used.   Time stopped when the new Interstate Highway took traffic many miles away  from here.
 

 
 
 

 

 
Fossil Butte National Monument is not really much of a tourist destination.  This photograph was shot from the visitor center (a trailer).
 

 
The actual fossil beds are about three miles up the trail. I didn't walk much further  than this, though. Places to go, miles to ride...
 

 

 
Weston County, Wyoming.
 

 

 
Mammoth Hot Springs.  There are lots of highway numbers that run through  Yellowstone.  I think I'll just group all the photos here.
 

 
Gibbon Falls, Yellowstone. Some of the burned  hills are visible in the picture. Overall I didn't think the burned areas  detracted from the scenery.
 

 
There are many meadows in the park that look just like these.
 
 
 
Yellowstone Falls (or rather, what's downstream from the falls).
 

 
Yellowstone Falls.  Other than possibly Old Faithful, this might be the  most photographed view in the entire park.
 

 
This trip gave me the opportunity of driving around the  east road. Most tourists stay on the west roads, so I had this half of the  park pretty much to myself. This was one of the prettiest areas.
 

 

 
Yellowstone's old faithful and the people watching.
 

 

 
It happens that the best time to repair the roads is also the best time to  visit the park.  That's the way it goes; expect it.
 

 

 
Grand Tetons.
 

 
Afton, Wyoming is the unlikely home to a small aviation industry.  Call  Aircraft (CallAir) built airplanes here as did Curtiss Pitts and others  (Christian Eagle, Aviat),  since.  The museum is a must-see.
 

 
I was able to tour the factory with the guidance of a young intern.  It  was like stepping back through fifty years of airplaine technology from what I'm used to.
 

 

 

 
This is a shot of the Grand Teton Mountains from within the park.
 

 
Jackson Lake, in Grand Teton Park:
 

 
Farson, Wyoming. The temperature by this time  was well into the nineties so I stopped here to cool off for a bit.
 

 
Flaming Gorge is just over the plateau in the photograph. It's an amazing  place, unlike anything else in the country.
 

 
Coal is not the only thing taken from the ground in Wyoming (phosphorus, for  instance).

 

 
The scenic shortcut that wasn't, exactly that.  Eventually, I had to  turn around; I'm on the wrong motorcycle if I want to do much of this.
 

 

 
Jeffrey City, Wyoming.  During the boom-times of Uranium mining (in the  fifties),  this place was very busy.  That's all done and will not likely return.
 

 

 

 
Staying on the route of the trail, this is the view  looking west from Devils Gate. The Oregon Trail follows the Sweetwater River  through the valley.
 

 
Devils Gate. The Oregon Trail passed right through it. The old highway did too, but the newer  one passes to the south of the narrow opening in the rocks.
 

 
Split Rock and the Oregon Trail.
 

 

 

 
Hulett, Wyoming.
 

 
Devil's Tower.
 

 
and, closer...
 

 
and, still closer.
 

 
There's a trail that will take you around the tower.
 

 

« Last Edit: May 11, 2020, 12:13:27 AM by Daniel Kalal »

Offline Daniel Kalal

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South Pass, Wyoming.  Aside from the name, this town had little to do with the  Oregon Trail, being an old gold rush era town. It is being restored by the state  of Wyoming.
 

 
The school was last used as recently as in the late sixties. South Pass; home of the first woman Justice of  the Peace in the world--or so the sign said.
 
 
 
I had several miles of dirt road to ride in getting from  South Pass back to the highway. When I stopped the bike, it was very, very  quiet. Not much traffic, I shouldn't think. In any case, I saw no  other vehicles.
 

 
This is the real South  Pass of the Oregon Trail: the low and easy pass over the Rocky Mountains that made  possible the trail. It's discovery made all the difference to the  country. I've always found it interesting that a mountain pass as  important as this once was remains much the way it has always been. For various reasons  (related to the needs of steam engines), the transcontinental railroad took a  different route, and the Interstate doesn't even come close.  There's a lot  of history at this spot and you can still see it.
 

 
One of several trail  markers.
 
 
 
The 'Parting of the Ways'. The trail straight ahead (you will note the different color of the  brush as a wide band just to the left of the dirt road--that's the original  trail) leads to California, and  the one to the right to Oregon. There were actually several places along  the trail where a person could make this choice, so it wasn't quite as defining  as the monument makes it out to be.
 

 
The town of Atlantic City is a near-deserted old gold town well off the main highway.
 

 
Looking north towards Lander.
 

 

 
This is your fastest route between Laramie and Wheatland, but evidently,  not many people actually care about getting from Laramie to Wheatland.
 

 

 

 

 
Coal.
 

 

 

 
Wright, Wyoming.  The Stelvio is just a bug to this thing.
 

 

 
When the Wyoming highway department repairs a road, they do it all at once,  both lanes.
 

 

 
Baggs, Wyoming.  I was looking forward to riding Wyoming-70 across the  continental divide.
 

 
Savery, Wyoming.
 

 

 

 
Meeteetse, Wyoming.  It's time for lunch.
 

 
 
 

 
Saratoga to the Medicine Bow Mountains.  It's always cold on this  pass.
 
 
 
The summit of the Medicine Bow Mountains.
 

 

 
This road is a shortcut south out of Riverton (also called Sand Draw  Road), but I think people mostly prefer to take a US highway instead of a  Wyoming highway, so you'll probably never see a car on this road.
 

 
The view of a wide and empty basin.
 

 

 

 
Those are pronghorn antelope. Have you ever smelled the prairie after a  thunderstorm?
 

 
Goshen County, Wyoming.
 

 

 

 

 
Linch, Wyoming.  When something needs mining, a town springs up.   When the mine is through, there's not much of the town that remains.   That's Wyoming.
 

 

 

 

 
Eventually, this beautiful highway turns to dirt (or mud on this day).
 

 

 
  Independence Rock, where I spent the night in a rest area (it said no camping  but I didn't think they really meant it).   The rock was well  covered with graffiti, both old and more recent. This was one of the most  famous landmarks on the Oregon trail and I sure hit it on the right date.  The next day was Independence day. Generally, it was a good rule  to be at this point by July 4 to avoid the snows in the Blue Mountains of Oregon.  This year (1989 when I took this first photo) was the 149th anniversary of the trail.
 

 

 

 

 
This monument marks the Platte River crossing of the  Overland Trail not far from Saratoga (not to be confused with the Oregon Trail;  the Overland was the stage route, not the route of the pioneers). In places the dirt road is on the trail and in others it's  still possible to see the old trail markings.
 

 

 
Dead Indian Pass; this is a common vantage point for a photograph, which  means there are hundreds of photographs that look just like this one.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Hartville, Wyoming is on a generally empty road between the busier US-26 and US-20 through some  beautiful Wyoming hills.
 

 

 
The photograph, below, is just downstream from Fontenelle Reservoir on the Green  River. This isn't too far from one of several Oregon Trail crossings of that  river.


 

 

 

 

 

 
Thunder Basin Coal.  There is an enormous amount of coal in  Wyoming.  It's on a scale that makes the coal mines of West Virginia  and Kentucky look insignificant.
 

 

 

 
near Buckhorn
 

« Last Edit: May 10, 2020, 11:48:34 PM by Daniel Kalal »

Online Gliderjohn

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Oh my, thank you Daniel. I just took a very nice trip this evening! Some very nice "period shots". What do you think the deal was with the LEOs pull overs? Were you pushing the speed limits? You never have appeared to me, especially always being solo as a "threatening" type. Maybe they were just bored?
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Offline Daniel Kalal

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You never have appeared to me, especially always being solo as a "threatening" type. Maybe they were just bored?

Sometimes it was the lack of a headlight (the Cal2 has a headlight on/off switch that newer motorcycles do not have).  Other times, I really thing they just wanted to have a closer look at the Guzzi.  Thing is, I'm never aggressively defensive when they stop me, so I make it as easy as possible for them to just wish me a good journey.  I've been stopped countless times, but have never received a ticket in Wyoming.

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 Yes , it is always cold on that pass .

 Beautiful photo essay Deke , you might be the only person besides myself that has been to Chugwater WY  :grin:

 Dusty
« Last Edit: May 11, 2020, 12:49:56 AM by oldbike54 »

Online PJPR01

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Yes , it is always cold on that pass .

 Beautiful photo essay Deke , you might be the only person besides myself that has been to Chugwater WY  :grin:

 Dusty

Camped there in 1978 in the Volvo station wagon with my parents on a cross country trip.  Will never forget Chugwater!  I was thrilled to see it made this photo essay!!

Wind River range...My favorite road in Wyoming on the way to Thermopolis...
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Online Guzzistajohn

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Just looked at this on the NOMADS! site!  :thumb: NICE guys over there!
« Last Edit: May 11, 2020, 05:49:36 AM by Guzzistajohn »
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Online twowheeladdict

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Some of you all are night owls.   

Thanks for the photos.  What years did those 23 trips span? 

Wyoming was the only state that my riding buddy got pulled over in.  A red Kawasaki ZZR600 definitely stood out among all the touring bikes out there. 
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Offline moto

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Great post! Growing up in Idaho and then living many years Back East, I've been to neatly all the spots in your essay on one trip through or another. It's hard to capture in photos the particularities that make most of those towns interesting once you finally roll into them. Frankly, it's hard to remember them now too. Thanks for the memories.

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Great pics again Daniel. Thanks for bringing back some memories especially the picture of the road construction. They do indeed dig up both lanes when redoing a highway. We were on our way to a BMW rally in Missoula on hwy 212 in Wyoming sometime in the mid '90s when we ran into this. The road was dug uo for about ten miles but there was sign indicating 1000 ft was soft dirt. That section was one way and they stopped traffic until the oncoming traffic came through. I was second in line behind a motorhome. The good news was he created packed down ruts as he went through the loam. The bad news he was only going 10-15 mph so it was difficult to stay balanced with my wife on the back of my airhead loaded with gear. I was able to make it through without crashing though.
Many other rally goers had come across the same way and one guy had fallen over. He was at the rally site with his bike totally disassembled and parts laying on multiple blankets on the ground. You really can take and airhead apart with the tools in the included tool kit.

Pete
« Last Edit: May 11, 2020, 07:29:12 AM by PeteS »

Online Charles in Lake Charles

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Thanks for the memories.
I grew up in Torrington, summers were great, winters not so great.
Mountains are beautiful and high plains also have an inherent beauty, especially in the spring.
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Thank you! What a collection
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Offline Daniel Kalal

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What years did those 23 trips span?

The first was in 1978.  I like to think I'm not done, yet.  Some of those early photos are pretty bad (color slides do not age well for scanning).  And shooting film, I didn't take nearly the number of shots I would, today.

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The first was in 1978.  I like to think I'm not done, yet.  Some of those early photos are pretty bad (color slides do not age well for scanning).  And shooting film, I didn't take nearly the number of shots I would, today.

 :thumb:

I didn't get to start motorcycle touring until '07 due to finances, time, jobs, family etc.  But I definitely went balls to the walls for 10 years.  Now I have 50% work travel that gets in the way of the prime times to motorcycle tour, plus physical issues that keep me from doing long days riding back to back.  So glad I didn't keep saying someday, but someday may never come. 
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Online Mayor_of_BBQ

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"West of Ucross.  You'll not find any fuel; don't be fooled by the towns  on your map."


This one cracked me up because I remember driving cross country between NC and MT in my fully-loaded uhaul with all my worldly possessions (ive done this like 5 times due to general stupidity and woman woes)..  I'm trying to make good time, so I only want to stop when the truck needs fuel...  Crossing WY I need gas, but I'm really trying to wait until the truck is truly empty before I stop.. 

I rolled past a town with gas station, I am going to be out of fuel in aprox 30-40mi but I can see there is another town coming up in 25miles.. I'll have to stop there because there doesnt look to be another town for 50-60 more miles after that. Surely they will have a gas station, I mean this town is big enough to be on the map right?  I made it the 25miles, but when I pull off the exit I can immediately see that the first gas station is a burned-out husk..  Ok thats weird, but a town of this size has to have another station? I check the map and loop around the town.. end up downtown, still havent seen fuel anywhere...  Now the Uhaul is surging and dying at stop signs, I am moments away from running dry.  I saw a sign for town hall, so i stop and go in to ask....  There are almost 2000 people in this town, but NO GAS STATIONS. They told me that meth heads burnt down the station 6 YEARS AGO and they have just not had gas since. Everyone in the town is making like a 60 mile round trip to put gas in their vehicles.

It took forty-five minutes of phone calls, but the ladies there found a ranch hand who drives around with a gas tank on his truck who was willing to drive into town and sell me some gas at $10/gallon so I could get to the next stop.  This was the guy's little side business! He'd drive the trip to the next town and fill up his 75 gal tank and keep it in the truck to rescue city-slickers like me who got stranded there with empty tanks. I had to wait for him to finish up at work and drive in, I sat in the empty Uhaul at a stop sign in front of town hall with my hazards blinking for almost 5 hours! Me and two cats and all my earthly belongings. It was wild.

Totally bizarre situation. I can't imagine living there. (I also wasnt a fan of the constant 30mph wind that smells like horse shit that blows across wyoming 24/7)
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Offline Chuck in Indiana

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Quote
Three times on the same trip...  all just warnings.  I think I've been  stopped more often for no apparent reason in Wyoming than every other state and  country combined.
 

For whatever reason.. they gave me a ticket.  :grin: It was definitely a speed trap. 2 miles out of town and still 30. Got me for 45.. :rolleyes:
Dorcia said to be sure and tell you how much she enjoys your photo essays.. so I'm doing that. Thanks, Daniel.. :thumb:
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Thanks for these - pure poetry.  Been to many of these spots.  My wandering days came to an abrupt halt when I got married and became a dad; a different kind of joy, but these photos sure make me painfully wistful.

Thank You for taking the time to share your travels!
Yessiree, Bob.

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Thank you, Daniel!

A wonderful backdrop of photos and comments to Annie Proulx's stories......

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  • Potrebbe andare peggio, potrebbe piovere!
  • Location: Madison, WI
For whatever reason.. they gave me a ticket.  :grin: It was definitely a speed trap. 2 miles out of town and still 30. Got me for 45.. :rolleyes:
Dorcia said to be sure and tell you how much she enjoys your photo essays.. so I'm doing that. Thanks, Daniel.. :thumb:

Now that you mention this, I remember the last time I went through Wyoming I got one too. It was a speed trap I suppose, just on the way out of Cheyenne. That's the only speeding ticket I've had for years.

Moto
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credit for 2500+ postings lost in the database meltdown of Feb 9, 2020

Offline bobbyfromnc

  • Weekend Warrior
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  • Posts: 255
    • Bobby Writes
  • Location: Winston-Salem, North Carolina!
Thanks for sharing your adventures, BK

 


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