Wildlife Encounters

Animals we saw on our trip.

Special to: Travel as I Have Envisioned It Could Be

One of the things I was looking forward to on our trip was seeing, and hopefully photographing wild creatures. There were limited spotting opportunities traveling along Interstates and major highways, so, we did not see, nor did I expect to see many animals until we got out to Utah and later when we would be camping and spending serious time in parks.

Still to provide a complete list, I’ll begin with the geese we encountered at the Lions park in Atwood, Kansas.  I suspect these are resident geese, as opposed to migrating birds, especially since they had several goslings in the group. They also seemed quite acclimated to people, although they did not like that I approached them. When I did, they quickly rounded up the young ones and marched away, loudly.

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Geese in Atwood Park, Kansas

Of course, traveling through the west or Midwest, cattle and horses are common, but I am not including them.

We stopped at a wayside park in Kansas. I captured a sparrow-sized bird in a tree and got some good, close photos. I have been unable to identify it precisely. It could be the female of several species from grosbeaks to larger sparrows. Or it could have been a juvenile of other species. It was very patient while I snapped several photos.

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Sparrow-like Bird in a Roadside Park in Kansas

 

Our first sighting of true western animals was a heard of buffalo (bison) seen from US 36 as we cruised by on the highway. While I cannot be sure, I suspect this was a commercial herd of bison in fenced pasture land. Someone must be raising them for meat to supply all of those bison burgers and bison meatloaf on the menus (and that I ordered).

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Herd of Bison in Fenced Pasture in Eastern Colorado

The first truly “wild” creatures I saw were mule deer. I saw them walking down a campground road—tents and campers on either side—as I walked to the bathhouse (hence no camera/photos). So, while I am sure they were wild, they were certainly acclimated to people.

My first wild “capture” was a pronghorn antelope grazing along a park road in Bryce Canyon. I slowed as I grabbed the camera on the seat beside me, and pointed without looking through the viewfinder, and clicked off several shots, getting at least one printable copy.

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Pronghorn Antelope in Bryce Canyon National Park

The first day in Yellowstone, driving along a thickly wooded area, we spotted an elk—nearly stepping out in front of us. Not time for a photo, and really not a good view. We did see one other elk, grazing at some distance from a busy stretch of road, with nowhere to stop safely.

I spent some time watching two ravens gliding on updrafts along the high rim of Bryce Canyon. The entire time, I never saw them flap their wings—they were simply “surfing” the air currents above the canyon walls.

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Ravens sail on rising wind currents forced upward by the canyon walls

The first genuinely wild bison were seen in Yellowstone National Park. Grazing about 50 yards from a park road. Later that day, we saw two more crossing a road—and holding up traffic—elsewhere in the park.  We had a third sighting the day we were leaving the Yellowstone area, grazing along the shores of Lake Yellowstone.

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A lone Bison grazing along the river.

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We saw bison throughout the park. A good telephoto lens lets me get close without getting too close.

Of course, the persistent hope was to see and be able to photograph a bear. On our first day in Yellowstone, we came upon a group of cars pulled off to the side of the road—not in a parking area. That was a sign of something. Someone said something about a bear and pointed toward the trees, maybe 100 yards distant. Perhaps I saw something, and perhaps it was a bear, but as for a photo…well I have attended too many travel slide shows where someone says, “It is hard to see, but there is a bear there in those trees”—and the trees are so far away that they are not clear. No, I needed a definitive bear photo.

That photo opportunity occurred on the day we were leaving the Yellowstone area. Again, we saw a dozen or so cars stopped along a park road. We went around them to a legitimate pull-off and I planned walk back for possible photos. The bears were between the gaggle of people and the shore of a lake. As it was, there were two bears, a big sow and a half-grown cub, and they were taking their time coming in my direction.

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The Mama Bear

I waited until they got about 50 yards away and started taking photos about the same time a park ranger cautioned me to move back. I moved back at about the same pace as the bears were advancing, setting the tripod down every few steps to aim and shoot more photos. They may not be “National Geographic” quality photos, but there is no doubt that we saw bears!

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The Cub

During one stop in Yellowstone, I talked with a ranger, and asked him about moose in the park. He said he had seen everything but moose. They were not common in the park, so I mentally crossed “moose” of the bucket list for this trip. However, once we left the park on the way to Cody, Wyoming, we saw both a bull moose, and some miles later, a female (cow?) moose. Both provided photo opportunities—not ideal, but good enough.

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A young bull moose.

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Our second Moose of the day

Just after entering Badlands National Park, we passed a group of ewes and juvenile bighorn sheep grazing along the road. Traffic was busy, but I managed to shoot photos from the moving truck.

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A small group of Bighorn ewes and juvenile sheep grazed peacefully as we drove by. There were no Rams in this group.

Leaving Devils Tower National Monument, we stopped at the gift shop. Along the parking lot and the exit road there was a huge prairie dog town. They were willing subjects for photos, anticipating a snack in return. They squeaked (barked?) and stood as tall as they could to get attention. There was a bus load of international tourists behind us, and I suspect the prairie dogs there had a good meal (despite the “Do Not Feed the Prairie Dog” signs every fifty feet.

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One eager prairie dog took up his position at the edge of the parking area.

Oh, not sure this counts but we saw a jackalope in Wall, South Dakota!

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A human-sized jackalope for photos. Wall Drug is a major tourist destination. (Skipped the animatronic Tyrannosaurus rex.)

Perhaps someday, I will get a chance to go back for more photos.

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Cee’s Photo Challenge – Yellow

Posted in response to Cee’s Photo Challenge – Yellow.

Photos were taken at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green Kentucky during the very first day of our 21-day trip to Utah and Wyoming and back. This was our very first stop.

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1955 Corvette at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky

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2012 Corvette at the National Corvette Museum, Bowling Green Kentucky

To see more about the Corvette Museum, go to Corvette Museum.

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Our Final Day of Pop-Up Adventures

Wall Drug, The Badlands National Park, and the Minuteman Missile Historic Site

Day 19Travel as I Have Envisioned It Could Be

Visiting the Badlands of South Dakota was never on our “radar.” Chatting with neighboring campers at the KOA in Custer, they mentioned going through the Badlands on their way to Custer. We asked about it, and they explained that it was right on our way, and only a little detour off our primary route.

Wall Drug

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Wall Drug was our first stop after leaving Custer

But first things first. Have you ever driven I-95 through the Carolinas and seen the progressive signs for “South of the Border”? Well Wall Drug signs aren’t quite as big, but just as regular on I-90 through South Dakota. I vaguely recalled a television travel program about Wall Drug and suggested we had to at least stop there.

There was no chance of missing it with their signage. Wall Drug has become a must-see stop on I-90.

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An animated T-rex entertained, and then frightened a group of younger children. Most enjoyed the experience.

Wall Drug became well known advertising free ice water to hot and weary travelers. They still provide free ice water and coffee is still a nickel a cup. It has grown into a major tourist stop with dozens of shops of all kinds, an excellent source of souvenirs, several eateries, and their very own Tyrannosaurus rex. If the streets weren’t paved, it would be like walking around an old west town. We shopped and had lunch there (and had both the water and the coffee). I had to visit the Tyrannosaurus compound!

The Badlands

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The entrance to the Badlands is just a few miles beyond Wall Drug.

Just east of Wall is an entrance to the Badlands National Park. The magic Senior Pass worked again. Almost as soon as we left the entrance gate, we were greeted by a small herd of Big Horn Sheep ewes and juveniles. It was also clear that we were entering a different world. Unlike most of the other major parks we visited, I had not researched the Badlands—actually, I had no idea where they were. Now we were in the midst of something akin to a moonscape.

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A small group of Bighorn sheep ewes and juvenile grazed peacefully as we drove by. There no Rams in this group.

The Badlands were described by conservation writer Freeman Tilden as “peaks and valleys of delicately banded colors—colors that shift in the sunshine.” I can imagine that to truly appreciate the colors, it is necessary to be there at sunrise and sunset. But it was still impressive a midday.

There are broad areas of ridges and gullies, surround by higher peaks—all areas with the sparsest—if any—vegetation. Then there a broad, flat valleys of prairie land, out of which grow additional badlands mountains.

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Any questions about the source of the name “Badlands”?

The national park is an area of varied habitats that support prairie dogs, bison, coyotes, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, black-tailed and mule deer. There is even a population of black-footed ferrets which were once thought to be extinct.

Driving through the area, the textures, colors and shape of the formations constantly change, but all have the common quality of being austere, foreboding places to exist. There are many turnouts and places to park and explore parts of the park. It was, indeed, a memorable experience.

The Visitor Center is near the Northeast entrance, or in our case, exit. One of the features in the center are videos of interviews with people who live and work in the Badlands. These accounts, by ranchers and Native Americans, are very engaging and shows that even the Badlands can be a home.

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The Minuteman Missile National Historic Site Visitor Center on I-90.

Minuteman Missile Historic Site

On the same road that exits the Badlands, where it crosses I-90, the Minuteman Missile Historic Site. During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union maintained a military posture of Mutually Assured Destruction (appropriately called MAD). This was based on a triad of nuclear missile platforms: nuclear armed aircraft and submarines, and missile silos spread across the country. Most of those silos have been deactivated and the missiles removed and disarmed as part of treaty agreements with Russia.

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One of many exhibits of Cold War displays in the Minute Man Missile visitor center.

Minuteman Missile National Historic Site protects two facilities that were once part of a Minuteman Missile field that covered the far western portion of South Dakota from 1963 through the early 1990s. There were 15 Launch Control Facilities that commanded and controlled 150 Launch Facilities (Missile Silos) holding Minuteman Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. The park preserves two of these facilities in their historic state—Launch Control Facility Delta-01 with its corresponding underground Launch Control Center and Launch Facility (Missile Silo) Delta-09. These two sites, along with the Minuteman Missile Visitor Center, comprise Minuteman Missile National Historic Site. Time and the fact that the two preserved sites were in the wrong direction allowed to visit only the visitor center.

Beeline for Home

07-Missouri River

Eastbound, now, we crossed the Missouri River near Chamberlain, South Dakota on our way to Plankinton.

From there, we headed east on I-90 to Plankinton, SD, where we had dinner and boondocked at another Coffee Cup Fuel Stop.

By this time, we had already added one day to the total trip and we felt it necessary to make best time to home, thus, the last two days of our trip were limited to travel. At the end of day 20, we spent most of the night at another truck stop, about 30 minutes west of St. Louis.

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Boondocking at the Coffee Cup Fuel Stop near Plankinton, South Dakota.

On day 21, we left the truck stop about 3:00 in the morning so that we could get through the city before morning traffic. Home was a relatively easy, and familiar, drive from St. Louis.We arrived home in the mid-afternoon.

This concludes the chronicles of our odyssey. I may add another post or two recapping certain aspects of this trip that span the timeline, or highlight special features and events.

Finally, I want to thank the folks at Riverside RV in Indiana for designing such “cool little camper” as the Whitewater Retro 177. It is easy to pull, easy to set up, and comfortable to live in for extended trips. It made this trip possible for us.

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Mount Rushmore National Monument

Day 18 – Travel as I Have Envisioned It Could Be

In addition to Devils Tower, I also insisted that we include Mount Rushmore in our return itinerary—another place I had never been.

Getting There

I had done some research, mostly on when and how it was created, and not on admissions and costs. So, armed with our Senior Pass, we headed toward the mountain. Mount Rushmore is located about 25 miles from Custer—an easy drive. We followed US 16 north out of Custer and followed signs. Soon we were in a short line for parking. Unlike the National Parks, there is no daily use admission fee, but rather a parking fee, and the Senior Pass is not good for parking. Parking costs $10.00; $5.00 for seniors. One benefit is that the parking permit is good for one year.

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The Entrance added in the 1990s

Parking was in a multi-level garage typical of city parking. There were plenty of parking spaces.  Elevators and stairs provide access to the park entrance. A long avenue connects the entrance to the Grand View Terrace. Along the avenue there is an Information Center, Gift Shop, Café, the Avenue of Flags, ending at the Grand View Terrace with the Visitor Center, a theater, and an amphitheater. The day that we were there, youth singing groups were performing at the amphitheater.

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The View from the Grand Viewing Terrace

Brief History

Mount Rushmore was named for a New York Attorney who had gone to the Black Hills to inspect mining claims, well before the sculpture was proposed. John Gutzon del la Mothe Borglum was born to Mormon Danish immigrant parents in 1867 in Idaho. He eventually studied art in Paris and New York and became an accomplished and well know portrait sculptor. He was working on the sculpture on Stone Mountain, Georgia, when he was recruited to work on yet undefined sculptures in the Black Hills.

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The View from the Grand Viewing Terrace (with Telephoto Lens)

Borglum selected the site for the carving based on of its orientation to morning and midday light, and for the quality of the granite that was ideal for sculpture. Borglum selected the presidents whose likenesses would be carved into the face of the mountain based on specific contributions each had made in the creation and growth of the United States.

The Grand View Terrace, at the end of the Avenue of State Flags, is the main viewing area for the sculpture, and the first stop for most visitors. Everything from the parking garages to the amphitheater were completed in 1998. Prior to that, the main viewing area was the Borglum View Terrace, accessible by a trail and stairway from the Grand View Terrace.

Visiting

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Borglum’s 1/12th Scale Model in the Sculptor’s Studio. Note Washington’s coat, Lincoln’s and Jefferson’s hands that were never finished.

First, allow at least four hours to take in all the site has to offer. When visiting the site, take advantage of the museum and theater in the Visitor Center. The story of the workmen at the site is quite interesting. Most of the carving work was done by workers slung over the mountain face in bosun chairs, either setting dynamite charges or using jackhammers to complete the details of each sculpture. Despite the apparent hazards, no one died during the work that began in 1929, and there were very few injuries. There is a movie that includes interviews with the men who worked on the sculpture.

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Detail of Washington

I also suggest you take the trail to the Borglum view terrace—the original terrace used before the new Visitor Center complex was completed. The sculpture is nicely framed by trees and is the view that was most commonly seen on pre-1990 postcards, etc.

Perhaps, one of the most interesting aspects of the site is the Sculptor’s studio where Borglum had created a 1/12th scale model of the complete sculpture. Using a very simple pointing system, the scale measurements could be transferred to the full-size sculpture on the mountain with amazing accuracy, allowing the work crews to replicate the details of the scale model. Park rangers also present programs on various topics during the day.

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Detail of Jefferson and Roosevelt

The sculpture of Roosevelt’s head, the last to be completed, was dedicated on July 2, 1939, and the memorial was officially transferred to the National Park Service. Borglum had planned to have more detail of Washington’s uniform in the sculpture, and work continued until October 1941. Further work ceased at the outbreak of World War II.

The same trail continues on a circular route up to the base of the mountain below the sculptures and back to the Grand View Terrace. This is a moderately strenuous hike, including some 422 steps to the rocky slope below the sculpture.

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Detail of Lincoln

The facilities have several well stocked shops, with an excellent selection of books on the history of the site and other relevant topics. The gift shop has almost every conceivable item imaginable. Prices are comparable to other National Park gift shops. The café serves full meals and also has an ice cream counter.

On the access road, there is a turnout with parking at a point where Washington’s profile is clearly visible. We had missed this on the way in.

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To Devils Tower National Monument, and Beyond

“Beyond” is Custer, South Dakota

Day 17Travel as I Have Envisioned It Could Be

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One of our first views of Devils Tower

Ever since I first saw Close Encounters of the Third Kind, I have wanted to visit Devils Tower in Wyoming. So, when we were planning the trip to Bryce Canyon, I included Devils Tower on the return trip.

After boondocking (see previous post) at the Coffee Cup Fuel Stop in Moorcroft, Wyoming, we set on the hour’s drive to Devils Tower National Monument. (Note: Following a geographic naming standard, the possessive apostrophe is not used.)

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Devils Tower: Just one part of our adventure.

After Bryce Canyon and everything else we saw in Utah, Devils Tower may have seemed like just another “big rock,” but the anticipation was still high for me.

Finally, the distinctive shape appeared on the horizon. Even at a distance, it is impressive—especially because it is the only “thing” on the horizon; a huge stone monolith, all alone, in this broad stretch of prairie.   We (I) stopped every several miles to take photos we got closer.

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Up close, the columnar structure of the tower is clearly visible.

The name, Devils Tower, was the result of a mistranslation by an interpreter who thought the local Native Americans were calling it “Bad God Tower” in their language. Many Native American tribes associated the word “Bear” with the tower, e.g., Bear’s Lodge, Bear’s Lair, or Bear’s Tipi (Teepee).

In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt designated Devils Tower as the first United States National Monument. There were attempts to change the name to more traditional American Indian names for the tower, such as “Bear’s House” or “Bear’s Lodge.” The name Devils Tower was retained because it was expected to have better marketing potential.

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More Information Open the image to read the text.

The tower is composed of igneous rock (igneous rock is formed through the cooling and solidification of magma or lava.) Approximately 40.5 million years ago, under great heat and pressure, the tower was formed as super-heated igneous rock was intruded (forced up into) an overlying layer of softer, less dense rock. Over the millions of years that passed, this softer surrounding rock eroded away, leaving the now familiar monolith standing high above the surrounding area. The precise geologic details of the formation of the tower are still debated today.

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The “back side” of the tower visible on the exit road

An interesting feature of the tower is that the rock was formed by mostly six-sided columns, clearly visible from the ground. The tower stands 867 from base to summit, and the summit is more than 5000 feet above sea level.

The rock tower has become a popular challenge for climbers and as many as 4,000 people climb the tower annually. The tower is also considered sacred to many Native American tribes, including the Lakota, Cheyenne and Kiowa, who considered the climbing as a desecration.

As a compromise, the National Parks Service and the tribes designated June as the month to observe their sacred monument, and discourage climbing. This has been accepted by most climbers.

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One eager prairie dog has his position at the edge of the parking area.

The monument is open all year, and includes a Visitor Center, picnic and camping areas, and a prairie dog town. Visitors are cautioned to not feed the prairie dogs, but the little creatures put on such a show, many people find it hard to resist sharing food with them.

Incidentally, as impressive as the massive tower is, somehow I doubt that there is enough area on top of the monument to serve an Extra Terrestrial’s spaceport.

From Devils Tower we drove into Sundance, Wyoming. This is not the Sundance of film festival fame, but it is the town that gave the Sundance Kid his name. We ate at the recently opened Joni J’s restaurant, where our server was Joshua.  The hamburgers were excellent, even though it took longer than usual to be served. Our order somehow got lost in the kitchens digitally order management system. That just gave us time to meet and chat with manager Bob Latham, Joni J’s husband.

After lunch, drove to Custer, South Dakota, and stopped at Jewel Cave National Monument. Jewel Cave penetrates far and deep into the Black Hills of South Dakota as one of the longest cave systems in the world. The cave gets its name from jewel-like calcite crystals found in the caverns.

From there it was a short drive to the town of Custer where we had reservations at the Custer KOA on the edge of town. From here we would visit Mount Rushmore (next post) and then make the trip home.

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Cody to Moorcroft, Wyoming – A Travel Day with Discoveries

Day 16Travel as I Have Envisioned It Could Be

Throughout our trip, we planned our daily distance goal to allow for contingencies—weather, traffic, or distractions (really attractions!). Moorcroft was selected as today’s destination for two reason: (1) it would position us for an easy drive to Devils Tower National Monument, and (2) we were told by other campers that the Coffee Cup truck stop in Moorcroft was camper friendly and would let us stay there overnight.

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An aircraft “boneyard” on the far side of the airport.

We had no pre-planned stops along the route, but that does not stop us from finding points of interest.

Let me digress for a minute. In our (my) original planning, I was going to go to Davis Monthan Airbase in Tuscon, Arizona to see the military aircraft boneyard there and PIMA Air Museum. Upon close inspection, I realized that would be a three-day trip from Bryce Canyon—more time than I had anticipated, so my trip was “shelved.”

Now, back to our story.

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The Emblem of the Aerial Firefighters Museum

About an hour out of Cody, traveling along US 20, I spotted an airport off to the left. Then I realized I was looking at a surplus aircraft storage site (boneyard). Soon after that we saw signs for “The Museum of Flight and Aerial Firefighting.” We turned into the museum’s parking lot, where I could see the boneyard with many aircraft that included both civil airliners and military aircraft. The stored aircraft were located on the far side of the local airport.

We were welcomed to the museum by the attendants who gave us a quick rundown on the museum and also mentioned that the boneyard was not open to visitors.

The museum building, a full-sized single-wide mobile home structure, is packed with photos, documents, and aircraft parts and other artifacts. A door at the far end opened onto the flight line where they have several aircraft. All of the aircraft were WWII era planes that had been converted to firefighting duties. Several of the airplanes were open to tour.

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A mountain stream in the Bighorn National Forest

After we left the airport, we drove through Bighorn National Forest where we found a turnout to park and explore a bridge across a fast-moving stream. It was a pleasant rest stop with photographic opportunities.

It was near hear that I realized that the park service had posted signs describing the rock formations seen along the route, including their approximate ages.

We had one more mountain to cross, topping out at more than 9,000 feet. We encountered steep climbs and descents, hairpin turns, and a variety of marvelous vistas.

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A young bull moose.

It was on the descending side of the mountain that we spotted our first moose of the trip. A bull moose was grazing not far from the road. I keep the camera handy for just such opportunities. As we continued we saw mule deer and another moose—this time a female. The challenge with photographing grazing animals is that most of the time, their heads are down in the grass.

We arrived at the Coffee Cup truck stop in Moorcroft, Wyoming late in the afternoon, topped of the fuel and had dinner at their restaurant. We checked at the fuel counter about parking overnight.  They assured us it would be okay and to find a spot where we would be comfortable.

This was our first boondocking experience, and it worked out nicely. Boondocking is not the same as checking into a camp ground. You are expected to stay with your camper. In addition to some truck stops, other businesses allow overnight parking including some Walmart stores and others like Bass Pro Shops. Always check with the business before just parking for the night.

Oh, and I still have to plan that trip to PIMA Air Museum and the military aircraft boneyard.

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Yellowstone NP to Cody, Wyoming – Bears, Bison, and Buffalo Bill Cody

Day 15Travel as I Have Envisioned It Could Be

DSC_0481 (900x583)Today’s trip officially starts us on the long return leg home. But there are still many sights and adventures ahead. It was a beautiful morning, and we finally had a spectacular view of the Grand Tetons from the campground.

We left Fireside Campground, and again entered the main gate to the Grand Tetons, turning north toward Yellowstone. The most direct route to Cody is to take US 191 to US 20 at West Thumb in Yellowstone. US 20 joins US 14 at Fishing Bridge, and heads east through Sylvan Pass out of the park.

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Stop-and-Go Traffic Entering Yellowstone

Shortly after turning north toward the park, we were caught up in slow, stop-and-go traffic entering Yellowstone. However, we had allowed enough time to not be hurried. Once through the entrance, traffic began to move at a normal pace.

Driving around West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake we could see more fumaroles along the shore. Further along, the road turns back southward, providing us with one last look of the Grand Tetons.

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Mama Bear–totally unconcerned about the 50-plus people on the road watching her walk by.

It was also along this north shore of Yellowstone Lake that we finally saw bears. What we learned is that if you want to see animals of any kind, look for people.  If you see several cars (or more) pulled off to the side of the road, they are stopped for a reason and some kind of wildlife is probably involved. As we came down a steady grade, just before the road turns away from the lake, we saw a dozen or more cars parked along the shoulder of the road. I could see one bear out near the edge of the lake, taking his time looking for things to eat.

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Bear!

Further down the road there was a turnout and there were no cars there. We pulled in and I pulled out my tripod and 300mm zoom lens. I was several hundred yards from what turned out to be two bears, a mama grizzly bear and her half-grown cub. I worked my way back toward the bears, stopping to get shots. I was about 50 yards from the bears when a park ranger alerted me not to go any closer.

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A lone Bison grazing along the river.

From there, I retreated at about the same pace as the bears advanced. This was my first time ever to see a bear in the wild, and I took many photos. As we were leaving, the ranger waved at me and then a thumbs-up. I returned the thumbs up, grinning.

A little farther up the road we saw a bison grazing along a river that flowed into the lake. After a few more photos, we continued across Sylvan Pass and then a long descent down the eastern slope of the Absaroka Range into the Shoshone National Forest.

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The Pahaska Teepee Lodge was originally established by Buffalo Bill Cody

About two miles outside of the park we came upon Pahaska Tepee. Pahaska Tepee is William “Buffalo Bill” Cody’s old hunting lodge and hotel. We stopped and had lunch in the lodge and shopped the gift shop. Cody, our planned stopping place for the night was only 50 miles further down the road, so we could take our time. We stopped in the Shoshone National Forest office and had our passports stamped.

US 20 winds through a scenic valley that runs along a river. Soon the river ran into a lake—Buffalo Bill Reservoir with Buffalo Bill State park on its shores. Oddly enough, that lake is created by the Buffalo Bill Dam on

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There is a theme here. Free Admission–can’t beat that.

the…Shoshone River. The dam is a Federal project and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

We stopped to take a look, and a kind gentleman rolled up to our truck in a golf cart, and offered us ride to the dam and visitor center. Yes, you can get your passport stamped at the visitor center located on the top of the dam.

Looking down the valley where the water flows from the dam, you can see a narrow, paved road carved into the side of the valley wall. It appears to be barely wider than a vehicle. This was the original road to Yellowstone from the east. That must have been an eye-opening journey.

After an hour of touring the dam, watching videos of its construction, taking photos from the top of the dam, and shopping, we were again on our way to Cody, which was only a few miles farther.

We spent the night in the Ponderosa Campground. It is a nice in-town campground with many trees. Spaces are tightly packed, typical for an in-town facility. We treated ourselves to a nice dinner in town and planned the next day’s route.

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