Tommy made us a special treat for our send off breakfast. He broke out his hundred year old culture of sourdough and put together some sour jack pancakes with real Canadian maple syrup. He served it up with scrambled eggs and we gathered at the dining room table for a last meal together. It has been an awesome weekend spending the time with our cousins getting to know Tom and Debbie better. Also having an insiders view into life in the wilds of Wyoming. Tommy is an avid outdoorsman and knows the local mountains like the back of his hand. Thanks again for a great visit and the warm hospitality. Look forward to meeting up again in the future.
We drove back up through Greybull and down the road towards Cody. Rolling hills of mostly open range with some agricultural land thrown into the mix. We came across a herd of pronghorns and pulled over to watch then interact. We had spooked a pair earlier and they ran to the fence and just like Tommy told us yesterday they dove underneath the wire rather than jumping over like deer do even though they have amazing leaping capability. See, we did learn a few things on our travels.
In Cody, we stopped in at the big museum named for Buffalo Bill. It is an amazing facility, much larger than I had anticipated. As soon as we entered, a group of volunteers brought out some raptors and gave the assembled crowd some history on the birds and showed us their distinct characteristics. They had a kestrel, a great horned owl and a red tailed hawk.
When they finished their spiel, we headed off to the natural history section where it had exhibits of Wyoming wildlife past and present, from dinosaurs to the animals that roam the mountains and prairies today. There were sections on Native Americans, cowboys and how the state came to be. One whole wing was dedicated to firearms from their early production up to modern day weaponry. While I was looking at guns, PJ was perusing the extensive collection of art that covers nearly half of the upper floor. We needed more time to really take in the vast amount of material they have, but the road was beckoning so we headed back out on the road to Yellowstone.
PJ racing me for the entrance she was so excited
As we started to rise in altitude, the scenery began to switch from yellow prairie to large stands of pine forest. Rivers intersected the road and rocky crags with crazy spires appeared. The Cody dam formed the large reservoir and we passed through some tunnels blasted through the mountains to reach the western side of the peaks.
We reached the Yellowstone gates where they have toll booth like entries almost like crossing a border. The stern unsmiling ranger at the kiosk added to the border crossing feel. I proudly whipped out my America the Beautiful senior pass that I bought back in the Everglades and got in without having to pay.
We kept climbing in altitude and the snow grew deeper along the road side. There were icy patches and I found that I needed to be more alert to the conditions. We reached the pass and we maxed out at 8500 feet. As we were descending to Yellowstone Lake, we had to brake for a couple of bull buffalo that were claiming the right of way for the road.
The lake was wind blown and white caps frothed on the crests of the small waves that were being stirred up. We reached the junction at Lake Village then followed along the Yellowstone River until we reached another turning point at Canyon Village. Along the river, we reached the first major thermal activity at the Mud Volcano in Hayden Valley.
After breathing in our fair share of sulfurous gases, we stopped to walk Cali along the snowy banks of the river. The views of the snow covered peaks was breathtaking looking back at the Absaroka Range we had just traversed. Up the road a piece, we came upon a group of elk being photographed by a bunch of tourists parked up along the side of the road. We joined them to become tourists number 17 and 18 with our little Canon instamatic.
The sun was setting and we still had many miles to go. I was getting worried about arriving after dark and getting a decent spot. I was determined to keep on no matter what we came across along the way but when we reached a bear jam about 15 miles out from our destination, we just had to stop. A huge grizzly was crossing the road. When got across he started foraging in the low brush on the other side. About twelve cars were haphazardly parked all over the road. I was standing outside with several other visitors when a giant bus full of Chinese tourists stopped in the middle of the road blocking the view of everyone lining the pull out across the street from the bear. The RV was pinned in. Luckily PJ was behind me and we managed to back far enough down the road to move forward around the cars only to be stuck again behind vehicles that had just stopped mid road. Eventually we squeezed by and hurried in the dying light to Madison Campground where we found ourselves in a big line of people checking in. I can’t believe the campground is full when the high is 44 and tonight’s low is predicted to be 28 F. We finally parked up the camper and were able to relax and eat some dinner. Wow, a long day with lots of stimulation. Time to get some rest.