Wednesday, September 30, 2015



Our trip to Cody, WY started on September 6th and included a two night stop in Miles City, MT to break up the trip. It was mid afternoon when we arrived in Miles City. Once set up we headed into town to explore a little. In our travels we found a local pizza place called Seabeck's. While waiting on our take out pizza, which was quite tasty, we drove up to the top of a ridge where we were treated to a very nice view of the Yellowstone River. Two deer ran out in front of us and one posed for a picture, as did a large wire buffalo statue.

A day off to rest and recuperate at the Big Sky Campground was very much needed. The owners were super friendly and the sites good sized. There was not a full hook up site open, but for two nights it worked out fine. Nancy and Mielikki enjoyed their morning walks exploring the surrounding fields and butte. 

The trip into Cody, WY on September 8th was a little longer than normal. The drive was broken up with a stop at Pompey's Pillar, just east of Billings, at exit 23 on I-94. William Clark carved his name in a large sandstone pillar on July 25, 1806. 
There were dress up clothes to try on and a mirror to
admire yourself in. 
He named the pillar Pompey after Jean Baptiste, the son of Charbonneau and Sacagawea, who was born 17 months earlier. Clark called him "pomp", which means little chief in Shoshoni. There is a beautiful visitor's center with great displays. You have to climb 200 stairs to see the actual signature so we opted for the replica as it was very hot and we couldn't take the dog. Okay, we probably wouldn't have climbed 200 stairs, but it sounds good to blame it on the dog. 
The towers at each end spin so you have to match them up
of course Nancy had to play with them. 
Absaroka Bay Campgrounds, is at the south end of Cody and is nestled between two roads, but it is actually fairly quiet. Sites are about average size with a small patch of grass, they are not very long so it was difficult to park your car on your site. WiFi was good, and the bathrooms were old but very clean as was the laundry room.

Yellowstone National Park is what brought us to this area and it took us 3 1/2 days to explore the park. We used the east entrance to go into the park each day so that road became very familiar to us, with so much to see we noticed different things each time.

The Buffalo Bill Dam and Reservoir was one stop, you reach it right after going through a tunnel.

The scenery made the multiple trips easy to handle.

First day out we saw a few Roadside Oddities. A lonely Big Boy statue in the middle of a field and a large pile of antlers in front of a place called Mystic Woman.

The east entrance takes you to the Fishing Bridge Museum and Visitor Center. We didn't do the museum, but we hit the visitor center each time, it is a large building with an extensive gift shop as well as a restaurant and soda fountain. There is a gas station and auto/rv repair shop on site as well. The gas was $.50 more than outside the park, so be sure to gas up before you go.

Our first two stops, before getting to Fishing Bridge, was the Lake Butte Overlook and Steamboat Point.
There had been a fire at the overlook. It was so interesting that some of the pine trees were completely burned yet still had all of their branches and needles intact. Mixed in with the burned trees were ones that the fire never touched. The views of the lake were stunning.
Steamboat Point had a number of steam holes, very interesting but very smelly. We also got up close and personal with some giant birds and a buffalo.

Heading north to Canyon Village we stopped at the LeHardys Rapids. 

The Mud Volcano which also includes the Dragon's Mouth was one of our favorite stops of the day. They were both pretty amusing to watch. There was a sulfur smell but not as strong as at Steamboat Point.

Upper Falls
The road followed the Yellowstone River to the Upper and Lower Falls, which are in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. We thought the Upper Falls were beautiful, but they don't even begin to compare to the Lower Falls and the canyon. Absolutely breath taking.
Lower Falls 

The canyon had so much to look at.

Rocks in every color, shape and size, and trees growing in places that just doesn't seem possible.

Tower Falls

Tower Falls was the next stop. There is a nice visitor center at this overlook.

The road to the northeast entrance

We took the northeast entrance out of the park on our way to Red Lodge to get a picture of the Peter Toth Indian. The differences in landscape in just a few miles on the same road was mind boggling .

The road from the park to Red Lodge, Hwy 212, was so twisty and curvy that it took twice as long as we thought. So it was dark when we hit Red Lodge. We thought for sure we were going to run out of gas on Beartooth Mountain, we just made it to the gas station. This is not a road you want to get stranded on. There were great views, a beautiful sunset and even some snow on the peaks.
Can you see the shape of an animal head in the trees? 

Second day in the park took us to Old Faithful with a number of stops along the way.
Our timing was perfect at Old Faithful, we arrived just 5 minutes before it irrupted. The next irruption wouldn't happen for another 90 minutes, we were glad we didn't have to wait for that one. It was pretty impressive to watch. If you are heading there, check the website for times, it might save you from having to wait around.

There are so many geysers to stop at.
Midway Geyser Basin
The Midway Geyser Basin was the first waterfall geyser we had seen.
Upper Geyser Basin

The Upper Geyser Basin irrupted every few minutes.

The Fountain Geyser was very interesting to watch, because the water is so clear you could see the bubbles forming under the surface before they popped up.

Great Fountain Geyser

We crossed the Continental divide twice on this trip and stopped at a number of waterfalls.

Firehole Falls
The Kepler Cascades, was right on the road side.

Firehole falls was a short walk.

Gibbons Falls
Gibbon falls was the last one for the day.

We did get to see some wildlife. Buffalo created a traffic jam on one road which was a hoot to
watch. A female elk stopped on the side of the road for us.

Plus, some mountain goats were playing on a hillside.

There were large plumes of smoke at different turns in the road. Later we discovered that there were three fires in park. They were started by lightening and we learned that if the fire is started by a natural source they let it burn, if it is a man-made fire they put it out.
Top left was the first spotting - top right later in the day
bottom left was the sun setting as we left the park - bottom right smoke close to Cody

Third day in the park we headed to Mammoth Hot Springs which are at the north end of the park. We got stopped in construction traffic for 30 minutes, something you don't think about when in a National Park, but they do have to fix the roads. The road into Mammoth was pretty interesting, lots of curves and large boulders on the edge of the road.
Lower Terrace
The Upper Terrace Springs is a drive through area,  and the Lower Terrace Springs has a boardwalk through it. They were not very active while we were there but interesting non the less. They looked like they are covered in snow and ice.

Upper Terrace

The Albright Visitor Center is right next to the springs, it has a hotel, a restaurant, and a general store as well as the visitors center that has lots of information on the area. A large herd of elk was wandering all over, a number of females and one very large buck.

We drove to the the north entrance and on our way back to Mammoth we saw another herd of elk in a field. There was a young male and a calf right next to the pull off where we stopped for pictures.
It was good day for animals, as we also saw a ram and prawn horn antelope. Now if we could just see a moose!

Once again we left the park out of the northeast entrance. This time we took a different road, Hwy 296, but found it was as bad as Hwy 212. Lots and lots of twists and turns. 

Our last day in the park we split our time between Yellowstone and the north end of the Grand Tetons. The pictures from the Grand Tetons will show up in Idaho's blog as we will be doing the south end from there.
There was rain off and on all morning so the day was a little foggy and hazy. We stopped for pictures today at the Fishing Bridge, the water is so cyrstal clear. There was one more waterfall to see before we left the park.
The water is so crystal clear

Lewis Falls is right on the road side and is just before you leave the park at the south entrance.
On our way back home through Yellowstone we saw an elk at the side of the road and a grizzly off in the distance. We loved every minute of Yellowstone and discovered that you could spend a couple of weeks and not see everything.

We did make it back to Red Lodge in the daylight and got pictures of the Peter Toth Indian. This one was built in 1979 and is the 32nd in the series. Stands 25 feet tall and is made out of ponderrosa pine. It is located on the property of the old train depot.

The depot has been turned into a beautiful art gallery for art guild members, with a garden full of fun metal sculptures.
Red Lodge is a really nice little town with interesting shops, not the usual tourist stuff. It surprised us to also find a number of holistic places. There are quite a few restaurants, we ate at Foster and Logan's Pub. The food was wonderful, one of the best burgers Nancy has had in a long time. The Pig's Ass Porter was pretty tasty too. Yep, that is the name.
A highlight of touring the town is that we met the author of the "Who Pooped in the ____?" books. Fill in the blank with park, woods, forest and a number of national parks. Gary D. Robson owns the Red Lodge Book and Tea shop. We spent a good hour talking with him, he had lots of great info on animal sightings. 

Somehow we had few hours to spare. So we explored Cody a bit. It is a good sized town so there is a lot to choose from for shopping, drinking, eating and historical info. They have cement buffalo all over town. Some of them were a little scary looking.
The cheeseburger pizza we had for dinner at the Millworks Brewery and Pizza was very delectable. The service was great and the beer wasn't bad either. Nancy was able to finally get her howler (half size growler) filled that Katrina and Steve got her for her birthday. She was pretty excited about that.
There is a staged gunfight every night in town, so we figured we would check it out. We hate to say it but it was awful, it was like watching a really bad B movie or maybe worse. We stuck it out till the end, but it was painful. But, we can at least say we saw it. 

Next stop is Montana and Glacier National Park.

Till we meet again....

Happy Trails to You!

Tips and things we have learned along the way. 
~ Gas Up!! When traveling any distance and especially going into Parks and across mountains make sure you have a full tank of gas. More than once we have found ourselves very low on gas and no gas stations for many miles. We are so used to there being a gas station on just about every corner or at least in every town that we hadn't given it much thought, but many of these small towns do not have gas stations. The ones in the National Parks and remote places are usually .50 or more higher per gallon.

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