What a long day. We have achieved the apex, the high water mark, the furthest point of our trek today. We saw some amazing scenery which I will get to, but to descend into the gutter I must to start off this day. We awoke, ate, buttoned up the RV and then went to the entry/exit station and emptied the shitter. There is no delicate way, no white gloved manner, to empty the RV shitter. Thank goodness I flush the shower and sink water after it to clean out the ribbed hose and there is a fresh water hose to rinse everything off. Then we pull up 100 feet and top off our fresh water tank and hit the open road.
We pull onto the two lane hiway north and nearly hit a huge buffalo! Here and there a buffalo will graze thru a field and people will pull over and take photos. We drive past a car there by the buffalo when the beast decides to charge up to the hiway! I hit the brakes and contents go everywhere but the buffalo hits his brakes too and we have a brief stare down before I drive on. Good morning Wyoming, empty the shitter and don't run into that giant buffalo!
We drive north for less than an hour, the ice capped Tetons to our left, and enter the Teton and Yellowstone parks at the pay gate. For $25 you can drive an RV full of people and stuff thru both enormous parks for seven days. The park ranger woman said people actually complain about the price! Later I look at our ticket and she signed it R. Barr. When we entered the Yellowstone gate I asked the park ranger lady if R. Barr was actually Nevada Barr the novelist who worked for the National Park Service and came up with story ideas. Nevada was a park ranger on the Natchez Trace and once wrote a ticket to Bethany Culley for speeding. Big Bethany kept the ticket as an autograph. R. Barr was not Nevada.
So our plan was to drive around the southern loop of the park and exit east to Cody, Wyoming. Our first stop was Old Faithful. There were thousands of people at the complex: parking lots, lodges, cabins, gift shop and eatery and maintanance buildings, but over thru the trees, down a wide path between evergreens whistling with wind (the wind has been in excess of 20 mph all day) was the raised, sulfur stained rock and hole, Old Faithful. She only blows for a few minutes every hour and a half but we luckily walked up with 20 minutes to blast off. We find a good spot to stand for the large semi circle of benches in rows of two are filled. Old Faith is steaming. The wind whips it away from us. Down the valley a quarter mile there are two other geysers blowing hot water into the air with steam dissipating into the trees. Finally Old Faith blows and the crowd goes ooh and ahh and cameras click and videos roll and two minutes later its over. Me and the fam hustle to a lodge before everyone else, get double scoops of ice cream and hit the road. You'd think that was the highlight of the day, and it was cool, though not as big as I'd imagined. The first blast is the highest and then it gets shorter and shorter til flup.
We still have most of the loop to drive so off we go. Here's what people may not know about Yellowstone. In 1988 there was a tremendous wildfire that burnt much of the park. I'd say on our interior loop drive, 90 % of the trees were 15 feet tall and young, like grown from seed in 1988. There are still standing dead trees but there are uncountable fallen trunks lying like armless skeletons everywhere. And the guide book mentioned we may see upwards of 70 animals ranging from buffalo to elk, moose or bear, mule deer to a variety of great birds. We saw one mule deer, three raven/crows, five buffalo and alot of canada geese. Of all the animals I wanted to see an elk. I didn't expect to see a bear and a moose was a longshot but one elk... nope. Still a beautiful park and lots of hot holes blowing steam into the wind... the wind. The wind only got stronger as the day went on. It laid the grasses flat. I figured if whitetail deer don't move in high wind in Mississippi, why would it be any different here. The elk were laid up in the thickest of thicks, so were the moose, so were the bear. What I didn't expect was the size of Lake Yellowstone on the east side of the park and the fantastic vistas as we drove east with a heavy tailwind. The entire lake was whitecapping. All the trees along the northern bank were dead though many were still standing. The entire devastated forest floor was lush with green grasses. It was surreal like going thru a wasteland that had been recarpeted. Every once in a while the smell of sulfur wafted thru the RV as we drove thru and exited Yellowstone, or as the kids (mainly E) kept calling it, Jellystone.
We reached Cody, Wyoming and ate at an old steakhouse and had a big time and I even spun Summer around the dance floor after dinner to the country/western music of a one man band that let Summer sing with him while we waited for a table before supper.