Remembering the Road, Day 9

Sorry for the delay in posts… even if these are old. Anyway, back to the past:

Day 9

The weather in Yellowstone is amazing. One moment it’s cold, foggy, and rainy. Then it’s hot, sunny, and dry. Five minutes later, it’s cold and windy. Plus, because the park is so big and the elevation changes are so dramatic, the weather differs greatly from spot to spot. It makes packing for a day’s outing that much tougher.

We found that out firsthand today as we set out for a hike near the east entrance of the park, on the way back to Cody, Wyoming, where we would finally use our rodeo tickets. As we wound our way through the mountains, I spotted a giant bird with a white tail fly overhead. It was a bald eagle and we tracked it as it perched itself high on a pine tree overlooking a lake. We pulled over and tried to get some photos of it, but even with a powerful zoom lens, it was tough to see more than a white top, black middle and white bottom.

Luckily, an engaged couple driving from San Francisco to their wedding in Halifax, Nova Scotia, had a more powerful lens fitting our camera body, so we used that and got slightly better shots. Their binoculars provided us with even better views.

We were thrilled to see the eagle, especially after failing to spot one in the nest the night before. But, we had a hike to do, so we pushed on. Naturally, there are no trails near the east entrance, something we didn’t realize until we exited the park without spying a trailhead. However, Yellowstone is virtually surrounded by national forest and there are trails there.

By that time, though, we were hungry, so it was on to Wapiti for lunch at the Wapiti Lodge, a Roadfood establishment. Like virtually every other restaurant in this part of the world, we dined under the gaze of several furry heads… two elk, two pronghorn, and a deer, and it was good eatin’.

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Lunch was actually a family affair. Mom was our server, dad was the cook, their 11-year-old (or so) son washed dishes, their 5-year-old (or so) provided entertainment, mostly in the form of calling out for mom. I think there was another son there too, but I’m not sure.

Cynthia was pleased to see Rocky Mountain Oysters on the menu, and was even more pleased when I told her they were sheep testicles. She had the chicken salad, one of only two non-beef items on the menu.

After wrapping up lunch, we double-backed into the national forest and found a trail that promised an invigorating hike. Then rain fell. Then hail fell. Then it started to lightning and thunder. Ok, forget the hike. Time to go to Cody.

We drove down the road yet again en route to Cody where we planned to visit the five museums of the Buffalo Bill Cody cultural center. We made a few calls to check on our animals when we realized that I had left my backpack filled with cameras and Cyn’s purse at the restaurant. So we turned around again and drove back to Wapiti. By this time it was sunny again, but getting late. The bag (and contents) were still there, so we picked it all up, turned around AGAIN and drove back to Cody. I was ready to set myself on fire.

We got to Cody and popped into Wal-Mart to pick up a few essentials, like drinks, chips, and other travelfood. This being one of the few restrooms in Wyoming Cynthia hadn’t visited, we made sure to cross that off her list too.

Then it was to the five museums of the Buffalo Bill Cody cultural center. At this point in the trip, we are beginning to realize how much this whole thing is costing us, so when we found out that the museum would cost us $30, we decided to browse the gift shop instead, just to see what it had to offer.

Oh, and did it have a lot! There was a bowie knife for $2,250! What a bargain! You could also find plenty of bronze statues of cowboys, indians, cowboys killing indians, wild animals, cowboys and indians killing wild animals, and country music CDs. There was other stuff too, but who cares when the museum sells weapons?

As for the galleries, from what I could see without paying, it looked like a few had some nice stuff, including a gun collection.

Speaking of guns, once we left the five museums of the Buffalo Bill Cody cultural center, we walked across the street to the Cody high school where there was a Winchester Gun Show! Haven’t these people heard of Columbine?

Of course, we tried to get in (only $5 a head, according to the gatekeeper I didn’t ask what he meant by that), but it had ended for the day. So instead we played minigolf for $6 total. I won by three strokes thanks to an early disaster hole by Cyn.

After that, we checked out a few tourist trap stores (all of which sold antique and novelty guns… I love this place!… and cowboy hats) and had a quick meal before going to the rodeo. Now, I had never been to a rodeo before, never thought about going to a rodeo, and never cared about rodeos. Nobody who lives in Cody goes to the rodeo (according to locals), and I loved it. The rodeo consisted of cowboys riding bucking broncos bareback, lassoing calves, riding steers, and “humorous” interludes via the rodeo clown. One of those interludes consisted of the clown headbutting a horned billygoat… the clown was wearing a helmet, though, making it slightly less impressive.

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We left a little early in order to get back to our cabin, basically a two-hour drive away. By the time we reached the mountains, it was raining again, dark, cold, and foggy. These mountain roads are narrow and one edge is about a foot from a cliff that drops hundreds of feet. Now that’s adventure!

Along the way back to the cabin, Cynthia spotted another coyote, and so I could get a look, I started backing up. In retrospect, that probably wasn’t a good idea even though I didn’t run over the coyote.

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