I’m In Love with Buffalo Bill Cody

Cody, Wyoming was the first stop we made in Wyoming going from South Dakota to Yellowstone.  We (me, Leonard and my grand-wonder Aubrey) met our friend Tee-Gie Hamilton and her three precious grandchildren in Keystone, SD.  After three days of “playing” at Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Custer State Park and soooooooooooo much more, we headed out toward Yellowstone.  We got as far as Cody, WY – totally exhausted.  We drove over the pass allowing the grands to actually play in snow at the top of the pass.  This is a rare opportunity for children from south Louisiana…and quite a wonderful sight to see.

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We got to see very little of Cody on this first trip because our goal was to spend the day showing the grands as much of Yellowstone as is possible in a day and where we were to work.  The bridge between Grant Village (where we were to work) and Old Faithful (our main goal) was completely closed, so the grands didn’t get to see it, but did enjoy Yellowstone Falls, the Yellowstone Grand Canyon, falls and Mammoth Springs before driving up to our friend’s home in Livingston, MT for a few days of rest.  We put the grands on a flight home to New Orleans from Bozeman on June 2nd (sniff).

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Our first day trip on our first day off was to Cody.  We (Tee-Gie, me and Leonard) packed our lunch and headed to The Center of the West Museum.  This is a must see stop, I would give it a minimum of two days, we had one.  This is just a tiny sample of the incredible western art (eye candy) available at this wonderful museum.

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We made a brief stop at the Cody Reservoir Dam, created for irrigation on the Shoshone River.  We went to the Irma Hotel for supper before heading back to Yellowstone.

Yes, the water up here is emerald green...I am used to brown.

Yes, the water up here is emerald green…I am used to brown.

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The Hotel was built by Bill Cody for his daughter, Irma and is still quite the show piece.  The bar in the salon is made of Rose Wood given to Bill Cody as a gift by Queen Victoria.

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After Leonard and I left Yellowstone for the summer we headed back to Cody for another afternoon at the museum and dinner at the Irma Hotel after a Wild West show done by local volunteers to raise money for local children’s charity done in the street next to the Irma Hotel. These volunteers portrayed Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, Calamity Jane, Annie Oakley, Buffalo Bill Cody, and Wild Bill Hitchcock.

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After dinner we enjoyed a true Cowboy Music Show featuring Dan Miller, his youngest daughter Hannah, Wendy Corr and Ed Cook – well worth the time and money (which was reasonable).  http://cowboymusicrevue.com/about-the-band  Check out more information on the band on this link.  So very talented.

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Bear Tooth and Chief Joseph Highways

During our tenure at the Yellowstone General Store this summer, we are given two days off, in a row, each week.  We have taken day trips up to this point.  None of these trips will be posted in date order as each has its own unique subject.  This was our first overnight trip because it would be impossible to see this region without an overnight stay. Motels are almost always full in and around the National Park area during the summer months.  If one is fortunate enough to find a room, one must be prepared to pay a premium rate ($200. to $600. per night – no joke).  Fortunately, we know how to “Live In A Minivan”, so we secured a small lot at a KOA in Red Lodge.  It is a precious little town, by the way.

Red Lodge has a micro-brewery (Red Lodge Ales), which WE DO NOT RECOMMEND …save your money.  There are many other great choices in town for meals and cold beer. I have attached a crude map of our route out of Yellowstone from our temporary home at Grant Village.

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Travel is slow through the park with bear, buffalo or elk jams to contend with, which is never a bother to us.  We were told, when coming to Yellowstone, one needs to pack a lot of patience.  I will pass along this very necessary advice.

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Osprey

Osprey

Moose

Moose

Grizzly

Grizzly

Black Bear next to our dorm

Black Bear next to our dorm

Elk

Elk

We left through the NE entrance to Cookeville, MT where we picked up the Bear Tooth Highway.  This route also took us through Lamar Valley.  This is an exceedingly large, open expanse, surrounded by mountains and striped with meandering creeks where wild life thrive in 360 degrees of calm, green beauty.  This is usually where one see wildlife; we did not.  I enjoyed it more than Sweet Husband, as he was the driver.

BEAR TOOTH is a winding, two lane highway climbing to an elevation of over 11,000 feet with many cut backs and 7% grades.  If you have any issues with altitude sickness or fear of heights, I would not recommend this trek.  However, it is one of the most beautiful drives in North America.

Grasshopper Valley

Grasshopper Valley

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This is "The Bear Tooth Mountain" from which the name of the highway comes

This is “The Bear Tooth Mountain” from which the name of the highway comes

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Glacier lake - naturally, frozen over in the winter

Glacier lake – naturally, frozen over in the winter

Ice caps (glaciers) still in July

Ice caps (glaciers) still in July

Ski Lift at the crest of Grasshopper Valley

Ski Lift at the crest of Grasshopper Valley

Glacier Lake

Glacier Lake

Grasshopper Valley

Grasshopper Valley

Grasshopper Valley

Grasshopper Valley

There is one location on this highway where skiers take snowmobiles to an area called Grasshopper Valley (see pictures above).  It has a near vertical slope to a valley of frozen glacier lakes.  They then can ride the ski lift back up to the road and repeat.  I wouldn’t do it in three lifetimes, but some people love these near death experiences.

MOTORCYCLE RALLY:  I promise, I’m not exaggerating, there was at least 3 motor cycles for every car (maybe more).  Red Lodge is at one end of the Bear Tooth Hwy and Cody, WY is on the other.  Red Lodge is where motorcycles converged going to two different cycle rallies:  The BMW Rally n Billings , MT and the 75th anniversary of the Harley Davidson Rally in Sturgis, SD.

I only saw two brave people driving an RV on that highway; I would NEVER, EVER do that.

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Bikers are quilters - like who knew? Sign in Red Lodge at quilt shop.

Bikers are quilters – like who knew? Sign in Red Lodge at quilt shop.

We arrived in Red Lodge with time to drive past on to Billings.  We were told about an area near Billings where William Clark (of Lewis & Clark fame) and his company stopped at a site he named, “Pompeys Pillar (Tower)”.  The pillar itself stands 150 feet above the Yellowstone River and consists of sandstone from the late Cretaceous Hell Creek Formation, 75 – 66 million years ago. The base of the pillar is approximately one acre.  It is simply a giant rock in the middle of a vast valley, on the edge of the river.  If you are driving along highway 312 near Billings, you cannot miss it.  BTW:  It appears much grain, etc. is grown in this rich valley for Coors.  William Clark would probably approve.

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William Clark's signature in the rock

William Clark’s signature in the rock

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The pillar features an abundance of Native American petroglyphs, as well as the signature of William Clark, co-leader of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Clark’s inscription is the only remaining physical evidence found along the route that was followed by the expedition.

The inscription consists of his signature and the date, July 25, 1806. Clark wrote that he climbed the sandstone pillar and “had a most extensive view in every direction on the Northerly Side of the river”. He named the outcropping after Jean Baptiste Charbonneau—the son of expedition member Sacagawea—whom he nicknamed “Pompy”, as he had become quite attached to the 18 month old member of the company. His original name for it was “Pompys Tower”; it was changed to the current title in 1814.

DAY TWO:  Started with waking from an 11 hour night of much needed rest…we must have been extremely tired.  Red Lodge has a wonderful, locally owned bakery (City Bakery).  After a stop for breakfast pastries we headed south out of town to Chief Joseph Highway. This highway was named in honor of Chief Joseph, the Nez Perch Chief who resisted resettlement by the United States and fought in this region, but eventually lost.  His surrender speech is below.  This is one of the most beautiful and peaceful places Sweet Husband and I have traveled. Surrender Speech by Chief Joseph, born Hinmatóowyalahtq̓it, which means Thunder Rolling Down The Hills, (1840-1904) Chief of the Nez Perce Tribe:

Chief Joseph

Chief Joseph

“I am tired of fighting.  Our chiefs are killed.  Looking Glass is dead.  Toohulhulsote is dead.  The old men are all dead.  It is the young men who say yes or no. He who led the young men is dead. It is cold and we have no blankets.  The little children are freezing to death.  My people, some of them, have run away to the hills and have no blankets, no food.  No one knows where they are–perhaps freezing to death.  I want to have time to look for my children and see how many I can find.  Maybe I shall find them among the dead. Hear me, my chiefs.  I am tired.  My heart is sick and sad.  From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.”

We were the conquerors and they the conquered.  That is the way of life in all wars.  Much has been lost and much gained.  The land is preserved, but war cannot and will not change – until the day we beat our swords into plows.  Yes, that day will come.

Jurassic World in Montana July 2015

We drove out through to North Entrance of the park leaving Mammoth and entering Gardiner, MT, another precious little town.  There are currently no plans to expand the lodging or camping within Yellowstone Park.  Therefore, if lodging (or affordable lodging) cannot be located in the park, visitors must stay in one of the little towns on the outskirts of the park.

North YNP Entrance

North YNP Entrance

Mammoth Hot Springs

Mammoth Hot Springs

Gardiner, MT

Gardiner, MT

For future reference, they are:  North entrance–Gardiner, MT, Northeast entrance–Cooke City, East entrance–Cody, WY, South entrance–Flag Ranch, Lake Jackson Lodge or Jackson Hole, WY and West entrance–West Yellowstone, MT.

On our way our of the park, we discovered three new (to us) water falls on our way out of the park.

Undine Falls

Undine Falls

Wraith Falls

Wraith Falls

Wraith Falls

Wraith Falls

Tower Falls

Tower Falls

Again this was an overnight trip with a campsite in yet another great KOA.  We have decided to get a more expensive air mattress as we have found, regardless of the care given, the cheap ones from Walmart won’t hold air more than one or two good nights.  I ordered one from Amazon today, which promises years of good service.  I will give my review of this new purchase in a following post.

OUR QUEST:  (1)  THE MUSEUM OF THE ROCKIES in Bozeman, Montana. Originally affiliated with Montana State University, and now, also, the Smithsonian Institution.  The museum is known for its paleontological collections, although these are not its sole focus.

The Museum of the Rockies houses the largest collection of dinosaur remains in the United States, possessing the largest Tyrannosaurus skull ever discovered, as well as the thigh bone of a Tyrannosaurus rex that contains soft-tissue remains.  The museum is part of the Montana Dinosaur Trail and is Montana’s official repository for paleontological specimens. Montana has vast paleontological research occurring within or conducted by people from all over the U.S. I learned the fossil record in Montana stretches all the way back to the Precambrian.  Beginning in 1855 archeological digs all over the state have produced some of the most significant Jurassic life examples in North America.

The dark brown is real bone, the light is man made to complete the skeleton

The dark brown is real bone, the light is man made to complete the skeleton

Mammoth skull and tusks

Mammoth skull and tusks

Sweet Husband looking through dino skull

Sweet Husband looking through dino skull

A perfectly preserved nest of dinosaur eggs

A perfectly preserved nest of dinosaur eggs

Jurassic Crocodile

Jurassic Crocodile

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Sweet Husband with Big Mike

Sweet Husband with Big Mike

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Close up of T-Rex teeth

Close up of T-Rex teeth

Another focus of this museum were the Native Americans.  There was on poster focusing on their sacred stories.  I copied this from one of the displays:

The Indian Peoples, everywhere in the world had sacred origins. Since they did not have riting, their ideas about beginnings were contained in sacred stories and ceremonies that were remembered ad told from one generation to the next. Even today, sacred stories often told in winter still convey moral teachings and other important lessons.

For Example: THE CHEYENNE, “Maheo, the All Spirit, created a salty lake. From a ball of mud he made land which rested on the back of a turtle. And the Earth was known as Grandmother, Earth Woman. Later, by breathing on one of his own ribs, Maheo created first man and then first woman. Maheo is still with us, as all good and all life.” THE BLACKFEET, “Old Man, Mai, made the animals and then molded clay into human shape and said, ‘”You must be People’”.

Sound familiar?

(2)  JURASSIC WORLD the newest in the Spielberg series.  What better place or time to see the movie, in 3D, after a tour of the real thing.  Sweet Husband and I enjoyed it, total escapism and fun. At YNP we have no TV and really no time for TV, making this movie a genuine treat.  I saw reviews on FB and none of them were positive – we totally enjoyed it.

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(3)  AMERICAN COMPUTER AND ROBOTICS MUSEUM The name for this small museum speaks for itself.  It was extremely well done and interesting.  The focus is of the history of communication, personal computers, the internet, World Wide Web, robotics, artificial intelligence, personal computers, etc.

One of the displays featured the telegraph in association with the Pony Express.  At one time the telegraph only extended to St. Joseph, MO. where it then linked with the pony express, extending west.  One of the Pony Express ads on display showed a recruitment for Pony Express riders where the requirements were:  tough, wiry boys, under 18, orphans preferred, must be willing to risk death daily.  Pay listed at $25.00 per week.

The only short coming to the museum is they had no displays after 1995 (a 20 year gap?).

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We took the “short route” back to Yellowstone through West Yellowstone.  It is amazing to drive into the park late in the day and see more cars leaving than entering as there is literally no place left to stay in the park.  If you want to visit YNP make reservations a year in advance, but expect to pay a premium within the park.

A long two days, but worth it, we may never pass this way again…

Yellowstone Pause Button

We are currently working and living in Yellowstone. We have no wifi except our little Verizon hotspot. Last month I posted two blogs and sucked up all my data. I will continue writing, taking pictures and then at the end of the billing cycle, if I have enough data I will post…if not, we will be hitting the road again in a few weeks and then I will post all as I get real wifi.
I hope you are all having a wonderful summer.