Route 80’s Little America Travel Center: Little America, Wyoming

I have always really loved the Little America Travel Center just off of Intestate 80 west of Green River, Wy; and I have stopped here many times over the years. When I first discovered it, it had been recently renovated and stood as an oasis of green in the desert of western Wyoming, serving up decent food at very reasonable prices. It USED to be impressively shiny (ultra clean bathrooms, everything worked, etc) … it isn’t anymore — but the food is still cheap, if you can get any

IMG_4489.jpg
The original building
IMG_2556.JPG
The “newish” building… I didn’t take pictures of the bathrooms because mom’s were changing babies in there, but their roomy and have powder rooms

That said something has happened to it. The bathrooms aren’t AS well maintained as they used to be, and this part of the travel center was understaffed — or at least that staff that was there was less “motivated” to do anything other than their assigned tasks, so that point of sale counter for stuff from the store had TWO people working the cash registers (but standing there doing nothing)….

 

fullsizeoutput_44f4.jpeg

…while the cash register/kitchen for the food area, with its $0.75 ice cream cones ($1.55 if you get the bigger waffle cone), $2.95 grilled cheese sandwiches and it’s $5.75 1/3 lb cheese burgers… i.e., where all of the customers were going… had only one open register and an understaffed kitchen…  so that those lines were impossibly long… etc etc.

IMG_4506
During the time period I was there, the line extended out the door

I talked to the two staff members working the essentially unused counter, saying I had intended to get my lunch there, but not with such a long line… and they suggested that I cross the parking lot over to the side of the travel center that handles the truckers — in this case a completely separate building from the one that services automobile traffic (check out the length of the line below, it averaged zero to three people)

IMG_2557

So I did ….only to discover a smaller building — less tourist junk, and more stuff truckers might want to buy — like a rotisserie chicken …  with a grill line that averaged three people in line maximum instead of 20-30 — with only slightly different food options (the auto side was had fancier options, and stuff for kids, like chicken strips and potato wedges…  but what was offered was at the same prices

fullsizeoutput_44f6.jpeg

When I tried to pay for my grilled sandwich the tap mechanism did not work, and the girl who was working there made a snide comment about how “it was old is just like everything else around here.”

IMG_4503

That said, the serving size for the waffle cone ice-cream on the trucker side seemed to be twice as big as what they were giving out the customer side

Giant Abraham Lincoln (head) Memorial Monument: Laramie, WY

This rest stop (called Wyoming’s Summit Visitor Center) is located off of the Lincoln Highway aka route-30, aka Interstate-80,

IMG_4251.JPG

and has a very large big bust of President Lincoln’s head, IMG_2270and a small museum devoted to the local attractions, historical and naturalIMG_2269

IMG_2266

IMG_2267
I couldn’t decide whose hair was worse that day, mine or the bears. Note the expression of slight amusement on the bear as he looks at my hair.

And then there’s the information desk where the staff member will help you plan your stay, or provide you with maps and/or pamphlets

IMG_2268

and is definitely worth stopping at when driving cross-country.

IMG_4281

The Lincoln Highway (which begins in New York City’s Times Square, and ends at San Francisco’s Hyde Street Pier) was the first transcontinental (although some of it was laid brick rather than paved concrete) roadway built for automobile use in America. This was back when our highways were given names instead of numbers, and tended to be a series of interlinking two lane roads that sometimes looped (see map) rather than the four lane unimpeded expressways (cross roads either go over or under) built during the Eisenhower Administration as part of our defence system (intended for quick evacuations of cities and troop movements in case of nuclear war).

IMG_4282

Since then the Lincoln was superseded by first Route-30 (two lane roads with intersections), and then Interstate-80. In this part of the country, all three are ONE road.

lincoln highway

IMG_4263

But the main attraction is the Lincoln monument

IMG_2265

IMG_4288

 

Anong’s Thai Cuisine: Rawlins, WY

Reputed to be the best restaurant in town according to yelp (and apparently part of a chain with branches in Laramie and Cheyenne)… I was hoping to find buffalo somewhere in town, but no such luck… As soon as you sit you get a small cup of Thai chicken soup with rice, with tones of lemon grass and cilantro …very tasty

IMG_4302

My Tum Yum came, it was big enough for a meal, and it had the sort of heat where on the first spoonful you don’t notice it, then on the 2nd its just very mild, and then that gets more intense with each spoonful— just like what I had in Thailand.

fullsizeoutput_440f

In fact its one of the BEST Tum Yum soups I’ve had since Thailand. Then I had the chicken Lard Nah… this was the weakest dish of the meal. It was swimming in a soup rather than in thicker gravy… not sure what was up with that… and just not all that tasty. Also the noodles weren’t anything I was used to.

IMG_4305

For dessert I had the sticky rice with mango.

IMG_4306

This was a large chunk of sticky rice with a warm coconut cream gravy, one of the smallest 1/2’s of a mango I’ve ever seen and a dollop of whipped cream (??) … good but not great.

All in all a very respectable Thai place that would succeed even in Chicago with all the competition it’d face there… in Rawlins, I don’t doubt that it’s the best food in town.

Tree in a Rock: Buford, Wyoming

If you’re driving along Interstate 80, and are near the town of Buford, Wyoming (population of ONE), you’ll see signs saying “point of interest on left” (and which direction your driving won’t matter because it’s BETWEEN the lanes),

IMG_4248
I am in the west bound lane of I-80, the cars on the other side of the divide are east bound

these are leading you to this phenomena of nature, a tree growing out of a rock. I’ve not much to say, but will let the signs speak for themselves.

IMG_4229

IMG_4230

IMG_4236

embedded in the rock below the tree is this sign:

IMG_4235

IMG_2240

 

The following signs are about the geology of the area (the rocks)

IMG_4226

IMG_4231

IMG_2239

That said, the location is set up like a round about, so if you find you can drive AROUND the tree and take off back in the direction you came from, if you need to.

tee in rock

Buford Wyoming; Population 1

Not much to say about this, Buford Wyoming, established in 1866 is the smallest town in America (population of ONE), and if you’re traveling along Interstate 80 between New York and San Francisco, it’s also the town with the highest altitute (along that route).

IMG_4237

There’s supposed to be Deli there, but when I arrived it was all locked up…

IMG_4238

That said it’s a good excuse to stop and stretch your legs

Our Lady of Peace Shrine: Pine Bluffs, Wyoming

If you’re driving along route 80, near Pine Bluffs Wyoming off on the North side you might notice this HUGE, 30 foot tall (37 if you add the pedestal) white statue, which you may or may not identify as the Virgin Mary…  off to the side of the road. According to one of the signs near it weighs 180 tons and is one of the largest Marian statues in the United States.

IMG_4212

IMG_2227

IMG_4214

IMG_4216
I had to look it up:Beatitudes are the blessings listed by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:3–11)

IMG_4222

IMG_4225

And along side the stature (and closer to the highway) are these Stages of the cross [Note: a friend of mine who is a lapsed Catholic has corrected me, stations not stages… please excuse the error, I’m Jewish)

fullsizeoutput_440c.jpeg