Friday, August 15, 2014

A Trip To Yellowstone - Part 1

A couple of months before I closed up my business in Cody in preparation for a move to Idaho, I met a woman who quickly and surprisingly turned into a fast and good friend.
She immediately reminded me of M&M in Tennessee (who six months ago accepted a position and moved to south western Arizona).
Smart and intelligent, empathic and friendly, she was just enough of a granola personality to cause me to engage in easy going eye rolling while at the same time she was impossible to dislike because her spirit is so bright and giving.
I like her.  And she is someone that I miss from Cody, just as I miss M&M from AZ and just as I miss MH from Tennessee.
Women I miss and who are now spread out all over the country.
One day over the winter I wrote to Barb and asked her if she was interested in doing some concentrated buying for me.  Purchasing things that I could use if-when-if I ever open for business again here in Idaho.  
Purchasing the quality things that were easier to find in Cody than they were here and that were certainly cheaper than they were here, and she said yes.
After months of buying and phone calls and emails, LC and Kory and I drove to Yellowstone National Park yesterday to meet with her.
It had been over a year since we had been to the park, and over a year since I had seen Barb, and I was greatly looking forward to doing both on a whirlwind out-and-back day long trip to Yellowstone...............

We left the house at 7:45 yesterday morning believing (incorrectly as it turned out) that we were giving ourselves enough time to get to the Fishing Bridge at the agreed upon time.
LC and I were already tired before even leaving the house.
Over the past couple of weeks - weeks that have been filled surprisingly with frequent rain and thunder and lightning storms - we have learned something new about our dog.
She is afraid of thunder.
More accurately, she is so terrified of thunder that she is almost completely inconsolable.
Going to bed at 1:30 in the morning LC and I were woken at 2am by our terrified pup and the sound of thunder.
For the next couple of hours we unsuccessfully tried to reassure a shaking Kory, while she alternated between trying to squeeze in between us on the bed, trying to squeeze under the bed, trying to squeeze between the bed and the night stand first on my side of the bed and then on LC's side of the bed.
Rinse and repeat.
There was nowhere to go and nowhere to hide that worked for my pup, until finally around 4am she fell asleep between us on the bed, with my legs wrapped protectively around her curled up and shivering body, her head laying on my hip, and my arm wrapped over her.
At 6:30 the alarm went off and I lay in bed for a few moments, sighing at the realization that I was tired and it was going to be a long day.
,For a few more moments I lay listening to some too-cute-by-half song on the radio that I instantly disliked, and then dragged my sorry self out of bed.
The thunder and rain were over and by the time I woke up Kory was gone.  
Sleeping soundly inside her large dog crate that we keep beside the bed.
Leaving man and beast to sleep a little while longer I headed for the kitchen to make coffee.
While the coffee was brewing I pulled back the curtains in both the kitchen and living room.  
Blue sky.
The start of a beautiful day.................

By mid morning LC pulled into a gas station close to very beautiful Island Park.
We were in search of gas, muffins and more coffee.
While my tired Mountain Boy filled up the tank I grabbed for Korys' leash, knowing that she would be ready to roam for a few minutes.
It really WAS a beautiful day.
The sun was shining.  The sky was ridiculously blue.  And it was warm, but not hot in that way it was supposed to be hot in the middle of August.
We were tired, but I was OK with that.  Island Park is a beautiful, primarily tourist and seasonal community on the way up the mountain to West Yellowstone, Montana and the west gate of Yellowstone National Park.
With only a couple of minutes to walk with Kory before continuing on with our trip, I quickly snapped these pictures...................
This building was located on the property next door to the gas station.
It was empty and run down and looked as though it might have been some kind of restaurant many years ago.
It was a run down structure and desperately needed love and attention, but it had good bones.  Interesting lines.  Plenty of character.
Judging from how long it appeared to have been empty, and judging from the number of other empty buildings that we saw in the same area, it will likely remain unloved and forgotten for a long time to come..........
The view across the road from the gas station.
This entire region is filled with endless mountains, lakes and rivers, and is home to the Targhee National Forest:
After driving from Atomic City to Idaho Falls and then picking up two lane highway all the way up to the tourist town of West Yellowstone in Montana, LC and I felt confident that we would still be able to meet with Barb at noon as we had agreed.
And then we got to the West Gate of the park.
Four toll booths were open heading into the park.
Once we had picked a lane and realized that there were four lanes of vehicles trying to get into the park (and we were 1/2 mile back) LC and I looked at each other doubtfully.
We had calculated traveling time based on distance, and had taken neither waiting-in-line time nor traffic-in-the-park time nor everybody-stopping-for-a-buffalo time into account.
By the time we got through the gate it was 11:20.  Barb called us at 11:30 excitedly informing us that she was at the Visitor Center of the Fishing Bridge.
Oh boy...........we were going to be late, and after apologizing for keeping her waiting I told my friend that we would be there as soon as could.
Unperturbed by our lateness Barb was just happy to be outside.  Happy to be at the park.  Happy to
As I listened to my Cody friend on the phone, I was reminded again just why I liked her so much. 
Every single one of these pictures were taken while on the move, and as we (sometimes quickly and most times slowly) made our way to the Fishing Bridge in YNP..............
I had forgotten.
How could I have forgotten?
How could I have forgotten what a beautiful and magical place Yellowstone National Park was?
As we drove by one wonderful sight after another, with barely an opportunity to absorb what we were seeing, I hoped that we would have more time on the way home.
Time to stop, to look, to really SEE what we could of this place during what would probably be our only trip to the park this year...................
And there they were.
The first time we had seen bison since we had left Cody.
God I missed them.
I missed seeing them at Yellowstone.
I missed seeing them in the North Fork section of the Shoshone National Forest during the beautiful one hour drive to the East Gate.
We had driven that section so many times.  So many times when the park was closed, when the tourists were gone, when the cold, winter weather had driven the big horn sheep and the bison out of the mountains and we could watch them up close as they quietly grazed beside the road.
On this trip, our first buffalo sighting was in a vast, grassy, wide open valley...................
I snapped this picture too fast and through a dirty windshield, but I posted it anyway because of all the trips that we had taken into the park over the years we had never seen one of these buses before.
We had seen some of them while on a trip to Cooke City where they have a small YNP bus museum, and these buses are no longer in service.
I had no idea whether this bus was actually being used for "official business" or if it was now privately owned, but I snapped this picture out of bemused surprise.............
It was a few minutes after we had been forced down to a snails pace before we finally saw them.
A huge bison appeared in the middle of the road, and LC and I watched her slowly lumber up onto the shoulder.
She slowly climbed the small rise and proceeded to graze.
At the same time we saw the female, we realized that a monster of a male was standing on the opposite side of the road calling to her.
As we slowly crawled along the two lane, paved road, more and more bison began to make their appearance.
Kory was enthralled.  A Florida dog that had never seen such prehistoric beasts before..............

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