Wyoming--Yellowstone-- Bison, Geysers, and Snow
Trip Start Apr 16, 2009
32Trip End Jul 12, 2009
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DAY 58, Friday, June 12- Yellowstone is huge with about seven areas and four visitors' centers. Today was pick-up day for Sarah at the Cody, Wyoming airport, 78 miles east, 26 in Yellowstone, just to get to the exit. Cody, named after Buffalo Bill, is a town of about 8,800, and the economy is solidly based upon the Old West and Yellowstone. The road from Fishing Bridge in Yellowstone, where we are staying, to Cody, still looked like winter with snow on the ridges and ice in the lake, as the altitude increased in the eastern part of Yellowstone. Heavy fog seemed eerily oppressive on the lake and causeway. After leaving the Park, the road passes Shoshone National Forest and Buffalo Bill State Park, site of jagged angular mountains, a dam, and many recreational facilities
We were glad to see Sarah after two months. We had lunch at the restaurant at historic Irma Hotel, built in 1902, and on the National Register of Historic Places. The long saloon-style bar in the restaurant was a $100,000 gift to Buffalo Bill Cody from Queen Victoria, who was so impressed with his Wild West Show. The hotel and restaurant had big game trophy stuffed heads throughout. Food was good, but service was poor. They even charged our credit card twice. After getting Sarah was settled at the RV, we rode up to the Canyonlands area of Yellowstone to see the Yellowstone River, LeHardy Falls (where cutthroat trout swim upstream to spawn), Artist's Point, and Upper and Lower Falls (308' high and nearly twice as high as Niagara). This area of Yellowstone is cool and fresh with tall pines, rushing water, and colorful canyon walls, mostly yellow, giving Yellowstone its name. Dinner was at the Canyon Lodge, one of the four lodges in the park. During the drive, the bison and elk near the road thrilled Sarah; she got great up-close photos. One bison was walking down the road within 5' of the car. Bison frequently block traffic in what is known as a "bison jam"
DAYS 59 and 60, Saturday and Sunday, June 13-14--We spent two full days touring the Grand Loop of Yellowstone, 142 miles of varying scenery from the geysers in the Old Faithful area to the alpine forests, where the snow in some places is remaining in drifts taller than we are. Old Faithful was a top requirement for Sarah, so we headed there first thing Saturday morning. Sarah really liked the geyser, but Mike and Linda thought it was somewhat a letdown. Later we found another geyser called Beehive much more thrilling with its much more powerful eruption and roaring voice. We walked the Geyser Hill Loop, about a 3+-mile walk through many geysers. Riding the South Loop, there were other geysers and hot pools, even one called "Artist's Paint Pots". Sunday we took the North Loop to the Tower Falls and Mammoth Springs areas. Both days rain tried to dampen our enthusiasm sporadically, but we managed to take in all the "must dos".
The wildlife here is exciting. We have seen bison, elk, coyotes, uinta squirrel, red squirrel, mule deer, cottontail rabbit, mountain goat, black bear, big horn sheep, chipmunks, as well as about 20 bird species, including a beautiful yellow, orange, and black western tanager.
DAY 61, Monday, June 15--We dropped Sarah back off at the Cody's Yellowstone Airport after visiting the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. We had no idea of the extent that Buffalo Bill was considered a western icon of his day. The museum had wall-size lithograph advertising posters for his Wild West Show and innumerable personal effects of BB. Additionally, the museum contained a huge exhibit on the wildlife and natural environments of Yellowstone. After the airport, we had to take carry of the usual grocery and laundry business in Cody before heading back to the RV in Yellowstone. Near the road, we saw a coyote sniffing a meadow and what we think was a grizzly bear rooting for food. What a great experience.
Birds seen so far in Yellowstone:
Mallard, Canada Goose, Robin, Bufflehead, Sandhill Crane, Tree Swallows, Western Bluebird, Western Tanager, Crow, Raven, American White Pelican, Common Merganzer, Pine Siskin, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Osprey, Black Scooter, Barrow's Goldeneye, Lesser Scaup, Green-winged teal