It’s our last night in comfy beds and nearby clean showers today. And it’s Saturday the 18th of July for those following along. Big Sky Resort was a nice place to stay with comfy rooms right next to the ski area in winter. And they had a big bear in the lobby! You gotta love big bear statues.
On the way out of the resort we decided to pick up a hitchhiker. Now, before those of you scaredy cats out there jump on me for being so dangerous, Siggy, as he came to be know, was a clean looking kid with Big Sky Resort attire. And he only needed a ride to the bottom of the hill, about 10 minutes. An interesting chap from Poland, he had flown into Chicago with four friends to work in Yellowstone. Renting or stealing a car, I’m not sure which, they headed across the country, exclaiming that Mt. Rushmore was smaller and not worth the time. He’s also seen grizzly bears after walking out his front door (Siggy’s, not the bear’s). Siggy was a lot of fun for the 10 minutes we got to know him and he’s left an impression as we will continue to talk about him for the rest of the trip.
After leaving Big Sky we shimmied down to West Yellowstone for breakfast. I ordered two, again. It keeps happening…..when I travel, I like double the amount of food most of the time. This is a warning to Tiffany when I visit in a couple weeks. 🙂
Onward to Yellowstone and….whoa, there’s a line. Oh yeah, it’s a free weekend in the park. Which is really cool as we’re trying to be cheap on this trip. But that also means half of America decided to show up. Ok, it wasn’t THAT bad, but getting to the first turn off inside the park at 8MPH was a bit slow. Oh well, look out the window and be happy I’m in a National Park, I say.
Kelly had never been to the park before, where as Pam and I both had. It was hard to hold back all the, “The last time I was in Yellowstone” comments but Kelly’s sake, we did. Until Old Faithful. And then, much like the well timed explosions of boiling water ushering forth from the bowels of the earth, I couldn’t help myself. Only a few comments, and by then Kelly had seen Old Faithful so I wasn’t tainting her view of things. This was important as we interviewed her later to get her first impressions and it boiled down to “cool”. Maybe that’s over simple, but it cuts the root of it.
Zipping out of the park’s East exit, or entrance, brings us through steep sided canyons painted a dull beige and more wide open spaces. Recent rains had brought up sweet smells from the long grasses on the side of the road and we could spot many strata layers in the rocky hillsides. I really love this part of the drive, having never been this far East before.
The night ends in Cody, Wyoming. Ahhh Cody, such a nice little town situated in 90 degree heat. After coming down from the hills and passing through a few tunnels, Cody is a minor sprawl on the open plain. Coming into tow we pass the original site which may, or may not, be a recreation. But we were hunting for a campsite or the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, whichever came first. Buffalo Bill won out as it’s right next door to the Visitor’s Center we hoped to grab some information from. But Mr. Bill wanted $15 to enter and was only open for another hour. No thanks. Crossing the street we found the Visitor’s Center had just closed, but a helpful character on the porch directed us to the local campsites.
Our first impression of Ponderosa Campground was a bit dismal. It seemed big but they said they had teepees. The ones we saw were facing the main drag of town. Hmmmm…..After checking in and asking for the quite part of the campground we were treated to the best ‘in town’ campsites I can imagine. The back of the campground falls away 30′ to a creek in a small wash, with just enough room for three teepees and a dozen tents. Heaven! Down in that draw we couldn’t hear any cars, just the creek. We unpacked and geeked out, code for getting on the computers, downloading photos, writing posts, communicating.
Later on Kelly and I headed up to the bathhouse area where we could actually gain a wifi signal. We sat out for an hour or so until some Iowa boys saddled up right next to us. Chatting with them was a lot of fun and we asked what there was to do in Iowa since we were planning on driving through. “Farm and drink beer” was the response. No kidding. They brought up a lot of other things, but explained that unless you were from there, it wasn’t easy to find the fun stuff. Like parties. County fairs weren’t until August but they did suggest a place to trail ride. They were good old boys following a rodeo circuit this summer and I’m glad we got a chance to talk with them.
I slept with the rain fly off the tent this night and watched the stars sparkle like diamonds on a black swatch of felt. A shooting star pass overhead and I softly drifted to sleep with a babbling chatter of the creek beside me.
And don’t forget to check out the TBEX Road Trip blog for more great updates!