an [almost] summer saturday in saratoga

We drive through the Snowies on a winding road that goes up and down mountains, with Hemingway the dog barking every time Claire puts on her blinkers. Saratoga is only two towns west of us, but in Wyoming, that means 90 minutes of driving.

An hour in, the landscape changes, oh so slightly--greener, rockier, different trees and bushes, a winding river, more ranches. We pull into town, and there's 10 minutes of panic, because no one has good service and google maps can't seem to find the campground--hence a wild drive through town, ending up at a dead end by the cemetery. It's up on a hill, past a wild network of dirt roads with tin-style buildings in faded yellows and reds.

Back East, camping is a pre-meditated thing. Sites have to be reserved a month or two in advance, and it's 20 dollars, 40 dollars, etc. But in Wyoming? We roll up to the site without a reservation, pay nothing, just set up our tents and go. Back down the dirt roads, we stop because there's a herd of deer chilling in the road, on the side--Hemingway likes it.

We're headed to the Yard, where there's live music playing. It's a big venue, with a deck that juts out onto the Platte. At this time of the year, the water is high and rushes fast. It's perfect weather--not too hot, not too cold, and the music drifts over from the live stage.

I meet a guy who--get this--has a handlebar mustache and eighties dad glasses, and identifies as an anarchist, and who corrects me on my Massachusetts geography [#mansplaining]. Claire and I have deep discussions over local IPAs, about travel and life and Africa. And towards the end of the night, I decide that it's time to dance, wildly and without care of what anyone else thinks.

The show is over by 10 p.m., and the hot springs are still open, so we head there next, changing into bathing suits in a bathhouse with no bathroom stall doors, stainless steel grey and deep blues with a concrete floor. It smells like sulfur, and it's hot--I watch the steam rising above the deep blue water, sinking into the warmth. Even though it's late, the place is still busy, with plenty of families and kids milling about. There's a sense of community, in the idle chatter and laughter, that's heartwarming. I close my eyes, and daydream about this summer's future adventures.

We go to bed early, rise early, and head back to Laramie. Claire and I spend a lazy Sunday lounging on the couch, napping and reveling in that feeling of being freshly showered after a night of camping--all warm and sleepy. Contentment.

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