Dubois in the Dark
Despite extensive research, nothing could have prepared me for the beauty of Dubois, Wyoming. My boyfriend and I made the 78-mile trek from Riverton at night, which was only a fraction of our overall journey from Nevada. As we drove, I peered into the inky blackness of the Wind River Reservation, wondering if those looming shapes I could barely make out were close-up hills or far-off mountains. I hoped for the best and tried to keep my expectations under control.
We stopped on the side of the two-lane highway near Crowheart, braving the icy wind outside our toasty vehicle, eager to take in the stars. I had only seen the Milky Way that clearly once or twice in my city-lit existence. We gloried in the spectacle, then huddled back into the car, rolling the windows down slightly for a warmer vantage point. I saw two shooting stars, silently making a wish that Dubois would have legitimate mountains; not just a single rocky butte off in the distance.
When we arrived in town a short time later, we were greeted by Christmas lights, despite it already being January. Our picture-perfect "hotel" was the Twin Pines Lodge, bursting at the seams with an enormous Christmas tree, ornaments hanging from moose antlers, and even a little train around the base of the tree. The first sign of trust in a small town? Our room key had been left in an envelope for us, because the owners had already hit the hay. Our cabin-like room was just as rustic as the common area, and I happily soaked in all the holiday spirit. Santa had flipped the tables on us and left cookies and a Christmas card! Again I peeked out into the night, hoping in vain for some hint of the scenery, before tucking into the cozy bed and falling into a deep sleep, no doubt thanks to the utter darkness in the simple room.
Dubois in the Daylight
We stepped out into the crisp morning air and were immediately greeted by mountains. Mountains with trees. Mountains with SNOW. We couldn't have been more ecstatic. There were yellow hills, snowy slopes, and blankets of pine trees. My hopes were met.
The main street was Western-themed, as my online research had promised. Boardwalks, false front building facades, a rocky dug-out that looked like an old mine, and log cabin architecture everywhere. Large and diverse horse herds grazed on either side of the highway, near town. As someone who grew up watching dozens of John Wayne movies thanks to my grandma, I was in hog heaven!
Next, we met the locals... Friendly service at the lodge, incredibly accommodating landlords and tenants willing to give house tours, business owners and staff who took the time to share their story and offer help and recommendations, and then there were the lovely people from one of the many local churches, who invited us in to their potluck without even asking us about our beliefs, first. They made us feel like friends and family, with a caring mix of native Dubois tips, good-natured questions, well wishes for my boyfriend's upcoming interview, and hugs when we finally went on our way. It was a wonderful introduction to the people who live here, and it left us feeling assured that we could engage in the community of this town.
We headed to our next picturesque destination armed with tall tales of witnessing the most scenic landfill in America. That's right, the town dump. Heading up toward the badlands, the views were spectacular...so much so that I barely remembered to snap a few pictures. It was 360-degree beauty, with an entirely different type of terrain each way you turned. We were told this was on the continental divide, with glacier-cut mountains on one side and volcanic formations on the other. Whatever gave this region such contrast and appeal, we were in love with the area, its views, its welcoming spirit, its Western charm, and its peaceful atmosphere.