Friday, August 31, 2012

Day 1: Martin's Cove, Wyoming, and Getting Lost

First off - let me start by saying that on our road trip we wanted to see all 50 states license plates. We didn't see them all (almost though), but 25 of the states, including Alaska and Hawaii were seen while traveling the roads of Wyoming. With that being said... 

We didn't plan anything in Wyoming during our trip. We figured that we didn't really need to see anything there. My dad lived in Rock Springs, Wyoming and he had nothing good to say about the state, so we decided to just pass through it. BUT then we saw a sign that said "Martin's Cove next left" and we decided to check it out. Martin's Cove is a historical sight on the Mormon and Oregon Trails. The Martin Handcart Company was stuck in this particular area during a severe winter storm. Around 145 people died during their journey to Salt Lake City, Utah. 

This was such an amazing place to see. We loved learning the history of the pioneers and we loved being able to learn of the conditions that led to them being stranded out in the freezing cold. It is amazing how when you visit the sight of an incident like this you feel a sense of awe and reverence. I felt the same type of feeling while visiting the Pearl Harbor Memorial in Honolulu and the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC. There is a certain spirit that permeates places dedicated to the tragic death of so many.

But even with the seriousness of the event that occurred in 1856, we were still able to have fun while we learned about the pioneers. We even pulled a handcart for a little ways.

We loved the beauty of the sight. There were antelope and deer everywhere. The guides told us that they will get just a few feet away from you. They aren't really afraid of humans. 

There were stairs leading to the actual cove, but all the rest of the trails are dirt. They have you walk from the visitors center to the cove so you can see just how far they had to go once they made it to the trading post in order to find shelter from the wind. We were spoiled and were driven in an ATV to about a mile away since we weren't planning on spending a lot of time, but we are grateful we were able to walk the last mile and ponder on the sacrifices of those who have gone before us.

The actual sight of Martin's Cove.

There is a cool story involved in saving those who were stranded that includes at least 4 young men who carried frozen pioneers across the river to get them to safety. Those young men are memorialized in statues near the river and the tour guide gave us great descriptions of the stories. You can read a little about the stories here. 
Although we weren't planning on stopping at Martin's Cove, we are really grateful we did. It set us about 4.5 hours back on our trip (we stayed for a while) and when we finally got to North Dakota it was dark, nearly 10:00 and there is no 3G out in the middle of the sticks, so we drove around in the middle of nowhere for a while until we were able to find our campsite. Our GPS led us to literally a dirt road that was the "center" of the town where we were staying. I don't know if our GPS was trying to lead us into the woods to get killed or what, but we were quite upset with her inability to guide us in the right direction. Luckily we had pretty good intuition about where to go and we made it safely to our destination. 

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