Sweetwater Downs, Rock Springs, Wyoming, Sept 4, 2011 (Track # 153)

After the demise of Wyoming Downs, Wyoming had gone without live racing for several years, until somehow (simulcasts? historic racing?) Mr. Eugene Joyce revived it in the (to me) unlikely town of Rock Springs, Wyoming, one of those smallish towns in southern Wyoming along I-80 I had occasionally driven through on the way to/from Salt Lake City and somewhere else. Kinda sorta close to the Green River valley tourist/recreation area, but a long way from any major population area. What the heck is up with that? But the name intrigued me. Sweetwater Downs. Was it sweet like the sweet sweet ice cold Rocky Mountain creek water we used to drink back when we were kids, before clear cut logging messed up the watersheds? Nah, probably just the county name or something. But there had to be some special water there to get that name. Right?

So after the afternoon of racing at Yellowstone Downs I immediately got an early start to experience that sweet water for myself, departed Montana, and beat feet to Buffalo, Wyoming, a town well known regionally as the gateway to somewhere else, like the road leading west towards Yellowstone Park, or the Interstate crossroads where you have to make up your mind if you're going to Denver or the Black Hills. It's also known as a 1st rate overnight spot for a reasonably priced chain motel room out in the middle of nowhere on the way to that somewhere else, replete with all the most sought after luxury traveler amenities like Taco John's, and McDonald's, and gas stations and so on ... before going on about your business somewhere else the next day, having been inconvenienced by only the slightest detour off the interstate. So I did. Stopped, got gas, stayed overnight in a chain motel after a fine fast food dinner, then got up real early, grabbed a fast food breakfast, and left for somewhere else. For I had a date with destiny and that  sweet water in Rock Springs, like 3/4 of the way across Wyoming, diagonally, and I had to scoot. But thanks Buffalo, you did not disappoint!

It wasn't a totally heinous drive, because there were some pretty little valleys with the trees turning Fall colors, once I got off the N-S I-25 interstate to Denver just a little south of Casper, took the 220 to Alcova and Muddy Gap, then the 287 south to Rawlins, and kind of cut across country diagonally headed southwest to hit the E-W I-80 interstate to Salt Lake, thereby possibly shaving a few minutes off the time I would have spent staying on the 487 to Medicine Bow. Or not. But once on the I-80 and then the closer I got to the general southwest Wyoming area that was home to Rock Springs I started wondering, "What's so sweet about this?"

Because, you see, there are two distinct regions of Wyoming. Region #1 is the pretty mountainous places like the Bighorn Mountains where tourists like to visit, and the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone where tourists like to visit, and Jackson Hole where rich politicians like Dick Cheney live, and the Wind River area, and like that. Region #2 is the vast bulk of the state, i.e.,"all the rest", generally kind of dry and featureless except for antelope, and maybe not-so-pretty, which Wyomingites seem to consider as land put on God's Earth simply for whatever mineral exploitation might be feasible in that particular vicinity. Even the word Wyomingite sounds like a mineral to be exploited. And exploit they do, with a vengeance, from coal strip mines in the eastern part of the state to miles and miles of pumpjacks pumping oil along I-80, and as much other diggin' and drillin' and minin' and and excess methane burnin' and whatever other extractive activities mankind can imagine everyhere else there's something to extract. The closer I got to Rock Springs, the more the landscape transformed into #2, with all the attendant infrastructure and award winning building architecture of extractive industry. 

But eventually in I pulled, to this dry and dusty little fair grounds north of the freeway in Rock Springs, in what looked like a neighborhood zoned for heavy industry, with a view to dry desert-ish wasteland looking hills to the northwest. And there on that very spot a shiny giant clamshell-shaped alien spacecraft had landed, masquerading as an aluminum grandstand but really a spacecraft constructed of alien metal. They weren't fooling anyone. I proceeded to walk in anyway just like there was nothing odd. But there was.

The second I walked in I says, I says to myself, "This place don't smell right." There was a vague broken sewer smell wafting in and out of the periphery of smell-conciousness. But then it went away. Okay ... it happens. Especially with aliens.

But it kept happening. All day. You'd be sitting there, up in the stands, maybe before the race, or maybe after, trying to handicap, or maybe eating your fine concessions item, and here would come a wave of sewer stink. P.U. What the hell?

I even went exploring. Any problem in the bathrooms? Not so's you'd notice. Any problem out back where one might expect the utlities to exit the complex? Nope. WTF?

I finally just gave up. Okay, so it was going to occasionally mysteriously stink. Enjoy the live racing as best you can, chump. It IS live racing after all. And you drove a fur piece to get here. And from that standpoint it was not a bad day.

Towards the end of the card I decided I would watch the race down next to the rail, kinda right-front of the stands. As I stood there before the race, the water truck came by watering down the track. It approached me and passed, spraying its "water" of dubious origin on the outer edge of the track (and splashing my shoes). The most horrible sewer-smelling stink of the whole day suddenly assaulted my senses.

Oh ... yuck, chump. So THAT must be the "sweet" water. And now it's on my shoes. My drivin' in my car shoes.

 

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