Our 48-hour getaway to Wyoming was a blast!
We’re glad we did it. The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally kicked off on Friday and, despite COVID, about 250,000 bikers arrived en masse to western South Dakota. Our road trip was timed to get away from the craziness for a couple of days. We both worked a half day on Friday and then hit the road for Sheridan, Wyoming.
We’d never been to Sheridan before, and it was exactly what you’d expect from a town of 16,000 in northern Wyoming. Very Old West-themed, with a classic downtown Main Street featuring bars, restaurants, saddlery shops, and lots of artwork: bronze statues, murals, and more. I liked the vibe.
Our first stop Friday evening was the Mint Bar, which dates back to Prohibition. Picture lots of taxidermy, walls lined with cattle brands, and colorful locals who randomly burst into song and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what it was like. At one point everybody started singing along to “Lovin’ You” by Minnie Riperton (though nobody braved the high-pitched shriek that follows the “La la la la la la” refrain).
That place started filling up, so we decided to find a less-crowded/more socially-distanced hangout instead. Chanced upon Just LeDoux It Saloon & Steak Out, a brand new spot that had just opened a few days earlier. Chris LeDoux was a country singer and rodeo champion born and raised in Wyoming, so this place was an homage to his legacy. And this drink was amazing.
Yes, $14 is pricey, but damn. It was worth the splurge.
Afterward, we wandered Main Street for a little bit, checking out all the neon. I’m a sucker for that stuff.
Saturday was devoted to exploring the Bighorn Mountains. We spent a solid nine hours up there and weren’t disappointed. I think what surprised me most was the diversity of the landscape. Also the cool temperatures; it was 94º in town but in the low 60s in the mountains—thanks to an elevation close to 10,000′.
The highlight had to be Bighorn Medicine Wheel, a circular stone monument consisting of an 80-foot rim with 28 “spokes” and seven additional stone circles inside. There are approximately 150 of these medicine wheels in the Northern Plains and Canada, but this is one of the largest and best-preserved. It’s considered sacred to Native Americans and, while nobody is exactly sure of its purpose, some of the stones align with star positions and the summer solstice, so it may have served as a type of astronomical calendar for the Crow or Shoshone Indians. It’s at least 250 years old, and possibly much older. The hike from the parking lot was three miles round-trip, and worth every step.
After that long day out and about, we found a little hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant in somebody’s house/backyard that, no shit, had way better Mexican food than any place in Rapid City. We tried convincing them to move out here and open a restaurant, but they weren’t having that. Tara also told them they should bottle their green chili sauce and sell that; I wholeheartedly agree—that stuff was amazeballs. It was the perfect way to end a pretty great Saturday.
Sunday morning, we grabbed coffee and breakfast to go and ate it on a bench overlooking a stream in a nice little wooded park Tara had found. Afterward, we began the 3.5-hour trek home. Coincidentally, that’s about the same distance as the drive from Vancouver, WA to Seattle—a trip we made countless times over the years to visit Tara’s mom and nephew. The scenery is a lot different out here, though. So is the speed limit (80-mph for most of the drive).
We were back home by 1:30, which left plenty of time to…
…cut the grass. Because hey, no rest for the weary! All in all though, we had a great time and definitely need to do it again. We barely scratched the surface of the Bighorns; next time we want to explore the southern portion and/or do a loop. Maybe even camp; we scoped out some of the campgrounds and they’re all pretty nice. Though actually, I wouldn’t mind staying in Sheridan again. Just gotta practice hitting those Minnie Riperton high notes and I’ll be able to blend right in with the locals!