Many people at work or church asked me "Why are you going to the middle-of-nowhere-Wyoming?!" And my answer, while not always this brief, was often one or two words: Thermopolis ... or ... Hot Springs.
If you don't know, then you don't KNOW.
So let me inform you ...
Thermopolis, WY is home to the world's largest mineral hot springs. I believe they lay claim to this because the flow of water out of the hot spring(s) is the largest (by volume) of any in the world. It is an impressive 3.6 million gallons of water a day! That means the water used to fill (and refill) the various swimming pools in the area regenerates virtually every hour. So the pool stays very warm and the HOT tubs stay VERY HOT !!!
Karen's family (The Lockard Clan) used to travel to Thermopolis often when she was a child. They would visit Yellowstone, which is just a few short hours away, and then spend 1-2 days at the Star Plunge Pool. When we got married, this was one of the family traditions that just sorta stuck with us. Even some members of my family of origin (my mom and dad and maybe a few others) have gone with us over the years. I don't know exactly how many times we've gone, but it has got to be closing in on 10 times by now.
Our visits usually follow a similar pattern ... Day One - drive to Thermopolis (7-8 hours depending on traffic and weather) ... Days Two and Three - Swimming @ the pool ... Day Four - Drive home.
The "swimming at the pool" usually works like this:
- swim in the morning (until 11am or Noon)
- take a siesta (1-3 hour break) for lunch
- swim a few hours in the afternoon (usually 2pm - 5pm)
and then we do one of these two options:
- swim even longer and eat a late dinner (7-8pm)
... OR ...
- eat an early dinner (@ 5pm) and head back for swimming (7-9pm)
We've ALWAYS gone to the Star Plunge pool, even though there is another newer pool in town. The Star Plunge pool has LOTS of activities for the kids to enjoy including:
- a large slide that wraps around the whole tower/building
- a smaller outdoor slide which is great for even the littlest kids (Myra LOVED it and she's only 16 months old)
- a diving board (but no "diving" is allowed so you have to do cannonballs, etc.)
- and a basketball hoop in the outdoor pool.
It also has LOTS of places for adults too, including:
- a "Lobster Pot" (indoor super hot tub)
- the "Vapor Room" (steam/sauna for 21 and older)
- and an outdoor hot tub that is often hotter than the lobster pot!
As far as food goes ... There's a McDonald's in town, so that's usually our lunch or dinner on one day. There used to be a Subway, which was ALWAYS lunch for one of the swimming days ... but it's now a Blimpie or something like that, which was a sad situation considering it's $5 ANY-tober @ Subway this month! There is also an A&W Restaurant that is attached to a bowling alley (weird combination but it works) and we ALWAYS eat dinner there one of the nights we're in town. The rootbeer is so delicious and the food is pretty good too!
The town also has several other activities besides the Hot Springs (like a Dinosaur museum, Bison Pasture, Swinging Bridge, and lots of wildlife to watch), but you'll have to read my next blog post for a little more on each of those.