A sea of ivory and white cowboy hats bobbed over burgers at Penny’s Diner in Green River, Wyoming.
One youngster, a boy, about 12, wearing an ivory-colored cowboy hat, demonstrated his prowess with a lariat, stepping in and out of the bright yellow rope awing the all-woman staff.
The National High School Rodeo Finals were in town, visitors from Montana, Iowa, Nevada and Canada, and some contestants were enjoying a lunch break.
Our view of America has changed since Bellina came into our life. The VESPA is taking us down to street level for a new view of North America.
We’ve pulled countless loads through Wyoming, past Green River in the last four years in all weather, except a blizzard, peeking over the highway into the little town which developed around the Green River since the mid1800s, but this was our first visit.
The weather was mixed, cold and rainy at the Little America hotel and truckstop, 18 miles west, but in Green River, the clouds parted, the sun shone, the river beckoned. We were a week early for the big summer event, Flaming Gorge Days with music, sports, horseshoes, a Harley bike run and a golf tournament.
We searched online for a recommended restaurant and found the Krazy Moose, home cooking with great service, but it closed a half hour before we arrived last Sunday, so we headed to Penny’s for a burger and to get the scoop on weekend event, the rodeo.
Green River is nestled among brilliant red rock formations in the High Desert Country of Wyoming, along a spectacular, winding section of I-80 from Little America through to Rock Springs. The city, incorporated in 1868, began with 2,000 residents, most of its population growth has been since the 70s with the railroad and natural resources and now has a population of 12,215.
It has been an attraction in America’s wild West since the early 1800s when explorers used the river as a short cut to the Pacific Ocean. It winds its way through Wyoming, Utah, Arizona and connects to the Colorado River.
The heart of city and the river is Expedition Island, the starting point for daring voyages of yesteryear and today. The park on the island is ringed with plaques telling the story of the most famous expeditions. My favorite, Genevieve De Colmont, a French bride who, with her groom Bernard and their best friend, Antoine DeSeyne arrived in 1938 with the plan to traverse the Green River. She is credited as the first woman to kayak the rapids of the Green and Colorado Rivers. The plaque said she was the best boatsman of the three, she was slower than the men, but neither damaged nor flipped her boat.
In the north river channel, the City created a 1,200 foot long lazy river tubing channel featuring a series of four, half foot drops and three large pools. The four foot deep pools provide gentle currents suitable for swimming and wading while the drops provide excitement for tubers and beginning level canoers and kayakers. The write up from the Chamber of Commerce says “it is not uncommon to see over 30 patrons in the North Channel and along the terraced beach area on a given summer day.” And we did.
Sitting on a swinging park bench made for two, we watched families picnic in the park, splash in the river and float lazily down the channel.
“Where do you think we will be next week,” MacGyver asked. “I think Dallas.”
Seven days later we are in New York City.