July 12, 2017 (by Angela)
How did we spend Independence Day this year? It was a spectacular 4th of July celebrated in a variety of ways, in several locations, and pretty much for FREE. Actually, everything we did was free except for the food and drink we purchased. (Don’t forget to click on, or hover your cursor over, photos to see captions.)
Jim had done a little research and learned that a town not too far from our campground would be having a 4th of July parade at 10:30 a.m. It just so happened that two of the sites we wanted to visit were outside of Guernsey. He and I arrived in the town about 9 a.m. Folks were beginning to line up for the parade, but he and I felt there’d be plenty. First, we went to the Oregon Ruts State Historic Site. Because of the topography of the land at this point, almost all wagons were forced to cross at the ridge further away from the river. The heavy traffic over two decades wore deep ruts that remain today. It was amazing to know we were standing where so many traveled and history was made.
Nearby is another place that literally is marked by history: Register Cliff. Register Cliff, as Independence Wall located farther west down the trail, had the names of the trail travelers engraved on it like one would write his or her name on any register to record attendance. We had a hard time locating the older inscriptions while at Register Cliff; however, at the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center, we were able to see a re-creation of some of the names found on the cliff. Though not a very good photo, below is one page from the information provided to us.
Jim and I got back to downtown Guernsey with enough time to get parked and settled to enjoy the parade, which was very patriotic. It lasted about 45 minutes. It seems that almost the entire town was shut down, so folks could take part in and enjoy watching the parade. Groups from nearby communities also participated.
We headed toward Fort Laramie next while watching for a place to grab a bite to eat. We decided to give a local Mom and Pop spot a try. The food was good, and the restaurant certainly added to the day’s patriotic theme as it was owned and operated by a veteran. Even the initials of the name of the restaurant was patriotic: Fort Laramie American Grill, or F.L.A.G.
Tummies full, he and I drove on down to the site of Fort Laramie. The history of this place is complicated. It actually began as a trading post; and it would take a full post to outline the twists and turns in the timeline of the fort, so I point you to the web site HERE to read about it. Better yet, plan a trip and visit the historical site yourself. For the holiday, a great number of activities and special events were going on. There was something happening for all ages. Folks were dressed in period costumes: men, women, children, military, native people, etc. Horses were ridden all over the place, and their riders encouraged children and adults to come close and pet them. After watching the video about the fort and its history in the visitor’s center, Jim and I walked around and observed some of what was going on. Jim got a kick out of the egg toss contest, but I truly enjoyed the equestrian performance in the afternoon by the Trotters, who had also been in the morning’s parade. As we decided to call it an afternoon, we walked past a man in Scottish dress playing a bagpipe, so we enjoyed the tune and then chatted a bit with him before walking to the car.
After a nap and supper, Jim and I walked the few blocks from the campground to the fairgrounds in Lusk. There we enjoyed an impressive 30 or so minute fireworks display provided for free to the community by the city of Lusk, Wyoming (sorry, no pictures). As I reflect upon the day, I have to say that it is one of the best 4th of July days that I can remember. We felt the patriotism of the Heartland and learned more of the history of our country. I don’t think you can beat that combination on Independence Day.