Across Central Wyoming

American history. Exposed geology. Ontyre inspiration.

A simple drive can provide so much, if a couple of hundred miles can be considered simple.

Recently I made a drive I’ve made many times before, but this time I had a decent camera to help record the experience.

Independence Rock

Independence Rock, 2013-07-23
Christina Anne Hawthorne


History comes alive at Independence Rock. Though the name is associated with American Independence Day, many have the reason wrong. The huge rock that stands alone upon the prairie was one of many important landmarks for settlers traveling west to California over 150 years ago. Contrary to popular belief, the name had little to do with patriotism. Instead, the name was tied to the date, for those traveling west needed to reach the landmark by July 4th or risk not traversing the Sierra Nevada mountains before the snows arrived. The Donner Party’s late arrival in the mountains became a tragic lesson in 1846 when they were trapped in the snow all winter, many of the survivors resorting to cannibalism.

2013-07-23, Uplift Christina Anne Hawthorne

2013-07-23, Uplift
Christina Anne Hawthorne

Geology comes alive in Wyoming, a land rich with oil, natural gas, uranium, trona, coal, and other minerals (and these days solar and wind power). Though even the flatlands are at a great elevation, millions of years ago it was the bottom of an island sea. Too, those seabed layers are exposed in many places and, quite often, have been lifted by geologic processes.

Great Divide Basin, 2013-07-23 Christina Anne Hawthorne

Great Divide Basin, 2013-07-23
Christina Anne Hawthorne

Driving along with the music playing and the wind blowing through the car I was often reminded of locations in Ontyre, the world I created for my fantasy series. Near the Green Mountains (that are mostly rock) and later the Great Divide Basin my imagination was stirred. The basin sits at nearly 7000 feet (2133 meters), the little water that falls there draining neither to the east nor west because it sits where the Continental Divide splits.

Those locations are for me similar to a journey across the Baris Plains, a journey that Ergain makes often in her travels and makes early in Where Light Devours:

Another dry morning on the Baris Plains in Summer Moon Season.

Doppla halted upon a modest rise and shook her head to elude a fly. In the saddle, Ergain stretched to relieve her tension.

The road west to Coving flattened ahead. To the north the forested hills were faint beneath swelled rain clouds. Above, the sun was unrelenting.

The currier pivoted and looked down the long, desolate road to Baris. “It’s odd indeed, Doppla, for I cannot shake the feeling we’re being followed.”

She shivered when fear touched her spine. Silence offered no aid. Doppla’s fly refused to leave.

“It’d be unlike the unseen to have allowed us to travel this far, yet…”

The road east dipped and rose, its path twisting around the occasional boulder and sickly tree, but to Ergain it still amounted to sufficient aid for anyone seeking obscurity. Removing her goggles didn’t help to expose any threats. She wiped her brow with a cloth.

“They say the Baris Plains’ dust leaves your skin youthful. What do you believe, Doppla?” The horse snorted and Ergain chuckled. She patted the animal’s shoulder and stroked her neck. “That’s what I think. Who cares about their skin when they’re choking on dirt.”

The air remained still, but she knew that with its warming would come the wind. Other then scattered stones, thin grass cover, and the occasional brush there was little to keep the soil in place. Most wildlife burrowed in the ground or patrolled the skies. The few exceptions were dangerous indeed and brought shivers.

Green Mountains, 2013-07-23 Christina Anne Hawthorne

Green Mountains, 2013-07-23
Christina Anne Hawthorne


Many locations over the course of my life have inspired me and added to the world Ontyre has become. This was but one small piece. I’d love to hear about any locations that have inspired you or hold special meaning.

11 Replies to “Across Central Wyoming”

  1. Fantastic photos of a fantastic landscape. It reminds me strongly of the McKenzie Country in the South Island, New Zealand – a place used in part for Peter Jackson’s The Lord Of The Rings movies. For myself – well, there is a plateau in central New Zealand, windswept and rugged with tussocky grass, that I am using slightly wholesale in the novel I’ve been tinkering with for a while, around my serious NF contracts. Wholesale with a twist, I might add.

    • Wholesale with a twist! Yes, that so well describes it. Because of Peter Jackson I’ve become well acquainted with the New Zealand landscape and it’s beautiful. I’d imagine he’s held in high regard for what he’s done for tourism.

      • Yes, absolutely. And for his contribution to the movie industry here – which, effectively, consists of “Jackson”, and, in much smaller proportion, ‘everybody else’. He’s something of a national icon – one of those Kiwis who manages to do so spectacularly well that they transcend the usual tall poppy knocking shop that greets anybody that pokes their head up.

  2. Christina what a beautiful drive, photo’s are gorgeous and I love how the landscape inspires your own worlds and writing. When I take long drives many ideas come to me. When I sit on this certain beach my dragon visits me there. My son sits on her and pretends she is real, she is formed in the rock face and one day she will awaken.

    • It’s interesting country and if someone were from the eastern US, as I was long ago, it would seem stark. Yet, the region possesses its own beauty and along that drive I especially like the rocky Green Mountains. I always think of the rock as reaching down to the Earth’s core, to its heart. Independence Rock is one of the best examples I’ve ever seen.

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