It takes me four hours, seven bathroom trips, and one wrong turn--but on the first day of my vacation, I find myself pulling into Thermopolis--county seat of aptly named Hot Springs County, population 3,000, and home to Hot Springs State Park. [noticing a trend, here?] 

I'm meeting my family for an epic[ish] seven day road trip through the state that starts here, in a small town accessed through a canyon, a small town with craggy, red rock dirt landscapes, a small town with a row of shops and a handful of local stores. 

Thermopolis is much cooler than I had initially anticipated, in a very 'quaint but slightly tired' sort of feeling. From the small, family owned supermarket to the ice cream + fast food stand connected to a mini golf course, to the 'washeteria' with brown wood paneling and yellow machines, there is a whiff of days gone by wafting through the town. 

Hot Springs State Park is no exception to this, either. Many of the hotels are located in the park proper and have their own hot springs hot tubs, including our hotel--and we spend a lot of time there, soaking in the sulfur water--but there are also bathhouses built on the springs, some complete with pools and water slides. 

It's a sunny afternoon when I arrived, and my father and I wander around the park, peeking into and around the back of these old bathhouses. While there are some clouds in the sky, the sun is still high overhead, giving everything that washed out, harsh colors sort of look that makes everything look like a fifties photograph. We walk across a boardwalk that floats over the hot springs, learning about the process, and standon a suspension bridge, jumping so that the bridge will sway. The river is high, a muddy tan that has flooded parking spaces and taken parts of a walking path underwater--typical June, in Wyoming. 

The next day, we drive up to the top of the park, where buffalo roam on the side of the road. From there, we can see the entire town, spread below us, and the hills around it--the deep gouges in the earth that looked like veins, cut into the hills. And so, we sit, still, watching the golden light slowly reach the furthest corners of the landscape. 

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