A Wyoming visit to us meant seeing friends, so off we went to the towns of Sheridan, Gillette and Sundance. These towns are all three unique places to visit in Wyoming, so we hope you’ll enjoy our short tours. Noelle here, by the way.
Sheridan, Wyoming is off Hwy 90 close to the middle of the state, but way up North. It’s about midway between Yellowstone National Park and Mount Rushmore. The Bighorn Mountain is right in your face, and two National Historic Sites grace the area. Medicine Wheel and the Sheridan Inn are both great stops. I really wanted to go to Medicine Wheel, but everything I read said it was likely already too hard to get to because of the weather.
Related: Check out our trip to Yellowstone National Park.
The week before our Wyoming visit, the area got a big snow dumb. Some areas had up to a foot of snow. But by the time we arrived in mid-October, the snow had melted and the weather was sunny again. So I’m hoping that next time we visit our friends, David and Sharlyn, we’ll make it to the Medicine Wheel. It’s about 1,500 years old and is a stone formation with 28 spokes leading to seven main points. The 28 spokes allude to the 28 day lunar cycle. And the 7 main stone formations are the seven sacred directions: East, South, West, North, Mother Earth, Father Sky and the Sacred Center. See why I want to go there? It’s a sacred ceremonial ground, which just seems too awesome. Next time…
Anyway…another place that looks pretty cool in Sheridan is The Mint. It’s a bar. Yep, that’s how I roll. However, this is a really old bar, by Old West standards anyway, opening in 1907. During Prohibition, The Mint was a cigar company and soda shop. But it also had a speakeasy a the back of the shop. So folks having been meeting here for a drink for a veeerrry long time.
Visiting Friends in Sheridan
Steve and I got to meet back up with Red Teacup, who we met on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2019. David is a high school history teacher, who also just happens to be a chainsaw wood carver! Pretty dang cool. We also got to meet his beautiful wife, Sharlyn, who so graciously opened her home to us and cooked us amazing meals. Our time with the two of them felt very special and we sure hope to come back in warmer weather for a little hiking. Maybe even backpacking!
They took us around town to show us some of David’s wood carvings. What a special treat. We went to the Kendrick Mansion to see David’s clockwork carving and then into the Park to see a few more. I felt like an honored guest as we wandered about looking at carvings. Couldn’t have asked for a better day! Thanks for your hospitality, David and Sharlyn!
Our Wyoming visit included a stop to the town of Gillette, where we stopped in to see our friends Justin and Liz. We originally met them in Tulsa, Oklahoma but they’ve since relocated back to Liz’s hometown. She grew up here in Gillette and she gave us a driving tour of the city. Her parents owned a drive in theater and also a regular theater in town, when she was a child. They were very involved in town-life and her mom even served on a committee to get the city’s huge entertainment complex built. Cam-Plex Park encompasses over 1,000 acres of land and features a fine arts theater, a convention/exhibit hall, two multi-purpose pavilions, a race track, rodeo grounds, five campgrounds and a 21 acre park and picnic area. It’s very impressive!
Steve and I got to share a wonderful dinner with Justin and Liz. Then we sampled different flavors of mead from Justin’s workplace, Big Lost Meadery and Brewery. As we were all prepping for dinner, I overheard Justin telling Steve about a cocktail competition, which featured mead. Well, I heard “meat” and couldn’t understand why anyone would want a cocktail with meat in it. Wasn’t till later, when we were sampling that I understood…
After they went to work the next morning, Steve and I returned to the Cam-Plex to check out the coal mining display. Gillette and surrounding areas were part of the coal strip mining boom which started in the 1970s. Currently the industry is suffering, leaving people unemployed and leaving behind a mess nature-wise. Here’s a pretty good story I found about the industry and how it’s currently affecting the “local” economy.
But for Steve and I, we enjoyed learning about the equipment used in coal mining. And even Cupcake got into the groove, trying to pull a huge coal shovel. The sheer enormity of the equipment was pretty surprising to us.
Sundance, as part of our Wyoming Visit
Our Wyoming visit took us from Cheyenne, north to Sheridan, southeast to Gillette and then further east to Devils Tower and Sundance, before we crossed over into Spearfish, South Dakota. Oh yeah, we also stayed a night in Douglas, which is between Cheyenne and Sheridan. The town has a fantastic city park that allows RVs to stay two nights. There’s a bathhouse with free, warm showers, an RV dump station, fresh water for your tank, picnic tables and BBQ grills. All right on the North Platte River. It was a beautiful little park, which we are grateful for. It’s really a smart marketing strategy for small towns, as we then get groceries and gas as a thank you!
Related: Read about our visit to Devils Tower.
Anyway, back to Sundance. It’s a small town with a population just under 1,200. We spent an afternoon here and left as the snow came in, wanting to get to camp before it really started snowing. The town is about 40 minutes from Devils Tower and less than two hours to Mt Rushmore. We went to the Crook County Museum, which is inside the refurbished Old Stoney. The building started its life as a school, but now serves as a museum and art gallery/gift store. During the summer, the town offers “Sip N Walk”. You get a guided tour and a keepsake mug of beer, wine or lemonade. Sounds pretty heavenly. I’m not sure how we end up traveling on shoulder seasons so much. We miss a bunch of cool things.
There were a couple highlights to the museum for me. First was that I really enjoyed watching the video footage of George Hopkins parachuting onto Devils Tower. That was a great addition to our time at Bear Lodge. I also really liked the courthouse display from back in the days of Butch Cassidy and the Hole in the Wall Gang. Butch’s sidekick, The Kid, got his full name, The Sundance Kid, while doing jailtime there for horse theft. The Crook County Museum and Art Gallery is a great place to spend a couple hours. And it only costs $5 admission. You can’t beat it.
We hope you get a chance to visit Wyoming soon too! It’s huge and wide open and wild and pretty much everything you thing the West should be! We visited Yellowstone in October 2020, now these towns in October 2021. While we’ve had beautiful sunny weather, I’m anxious to come back in the summer when more attractions are open.
Oh, we have more to show around Sheridan!! Not just carvings. We loved having you here. Safe travels, stay warm and healthy!
Thanks Red! We’ll enjoy coming back again! We loved visiting with you both.
Those are not coal lumps, but “clinkers”. They come from burning coal. You get ash and some glass like solids when burning coal, clinkers are lumps of ash and the glassy leftovers.
I’m probably your only reader who has actually burned coal. We had a coal central heating system in one house, meaning the coal furnace, a stokermatic, was in the center of the house. Twice a day you had to fill the coal bin and remove the ash and clinkers.
Great chain saw art! Thanks for sharing it.
I had no idea! Clinkers. Well they were certainly ginormous clinkers! I can remember Steve’s Dad telling us about how they burned coal when he was a kid. It got dumped through a shute into their basement, then the kids had to go down there to scoop it into a pile. Seems like they were even in charge of keeping the furnace bin full (and emptying it too).
David’s chain saw art was super cool and we only saw a portion of it. Pretty neat that he has art pieces around town!