Snow in June? You betcha!

Trip Start May 09, 2009
Trip End May 27, 2010

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Flag of United States  , Wyoming
Wednesday, June 3, 2009

From the Black Hills, we made our way into Wyoming, where we would be for about three weeks. We drove through Spearfish Canyon on our way to Devil’s Tower (of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” fame). We had planned to hike up a trail to get closer to Devil’s Tower, but once again, the weather gods had decided that it would rain (this will be a recurring theme). But we saw enough to discern the “bear tracks” of legend on the side of the mountain. No UFOs were seen (!).

We stayed at Middle Fork NFS campground between Buffalo and Ten Sleep and then travelled on to Boysen State Park in Shoshone WY to a campground in Wind River Canyon, on the banks of the river. Lo and behold, when we got there, the sun was shining!! So, for the first time, we put up our awning, set up the outdoor patio rug, portable table and camp chairs and prepared to have a nice sit-down with some bottles of beer. As soon as we got everything set up, a strong wind came through the canyon, across the river and smack dab into our campsite. We both had to hold on tightly to the awning to keep it from blowing backward and the wind was so strong we weren’t sure we could hold on. But we did and as soon as we could, we took down everything we just set up and went inside to sit the wind out (which lasted the rest of the evening – so strongly that I asked Jim if we were safe in our small trailer!). By the next morning, everything was fine, but that evening the wind came roaring through again. Luckily, we had figured out that Wind River came by its name honestly and we hadn’t set up anything outside again. We are educable!

While we were at Wind River Canyon, we drove to Thermopolis, home of the largest natural hot spring. This was the first of what we hope will be many visits to natural “hot tubs” where we can soothe our bodies after long days of travel. After all the cold and rainy days we had the healing waters of Thermopolis were just what we needed.

Next on the itinerary was a visit to Cody, WY - it's main claim to fame being that it was the home to Buffalo Bill Cody. Cody still has vestiges of its old west history, blended with modern tourist conveniences. It is a stop on many bus tours, so it can be crowded but we were early enough in the tourist season to be able to enjoy it without fighting crowds. We visited the Buffalo Bill Historical Center which is a complex of five museums celebrating the culture of the west. Unfortunately, the Whitney Gallery (well known for its western art) was closed for renovations, but we were able to visit the natural history museum, a Native American museum and a couple of special art exhibitions. We really enjoyed an exhibit of paintings by Charles Fritz on the Lewis and Clark expedition. Using Lewis & Clark’s journals, the artist traveled the entire length of the Lewis and Clark Trail. Painting en plein-air, he visited the sites at the same time of year as the expedition to accurately capture the colors, light, weather, etc. that the group encountered in 1804-06. Quite a feat!

Our next stop was the Rex Hale NFS campground about 18 miles outside the eastern entrance to Yellowstone. We were going to spend a couple of nights there, with the intent to spend some of the time exploring the Sylvan Pass and the road into the east entrance before going into Yellowstone. However, after our first night there, we woke up to several inches of snow! Exploring the Sylvan Pass in that type of weather is definitely not a good idea. That afternoon we went back into Cody to find a place we could use our laptop (I was still trying to get the Italy blog entries done at that time), get groceries, etc.

The next day saw no snow (but frigid temps), so we were able to start our entry into the fantastic landscape of Yellowstone.
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Where I stayed
Middle Fork, Wind River Canyon and Rex Hale - NFS Campgrounds
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