The drive through Idaho Falls and then Blackfoot was both disorienting and shocking.
As we drove through the busy small city of Idaho Falls we looked to both our left and right as we crossed over the bridge that spanned the falls and the greenway.
We had loved that place - walking alongside the Snake River and enjoying this beautiful green space.
A space filled with unique benches, gorgeous flower gardens, statues and topiaries, and ducks and geese and views of the falls.
The most beautiful part of Idaho Falls without a doubt.
And as we continued through IF and then picked up a secondary highway that would take us into Blackfoot, LC and I looked at each other in eyes-wide-open surprise.
The noise. The traffic. The billboards. The graffiti. The endless stores and restaurants and people...........
We weren't used to any of it anymore.
None of it.
And when we got to Blackfoot we did the same thing.
There are 52,000 people in IF but only 10,000 in BF, but the businesses and disorganization and people were all overwhelming.
We silently looked around us.
We silently looked over at each other.
We silently both thought the same thing - endlessly pleased that we were now in Cody.
And a year after we left this place and arrived in Cody we owned a business and had bought a house.
Not only were we in Cody, we were now all in.
And it felt good.
The motel we stayed in the last time we were in Blackfoot now charged $30 more a night (plus another $10 penalty-fee for paying with cash instead of a credit card).
It was a fitful overnight stay for both of us - too stuffy, the pillows were too flat, and we both just wanted to get on with it.
Get our camper, get out of Dodge, and go home.
Early the next morning we ate a good sit-down breakfast and then eagerly headed over to the garage where we had left our camper six months earlier.
It now had all brand new tires and the wheel bearings had been worked on, and both LC and I hoped that it both rolled easier than it had before and that the pulling would be easier on gas than it had been before.
90 minutes after we had checked out of the motel we were back on the highway - headed up towards Island Park, West Yellowstone, Yellowstone National Park, North Fork and then on to Cody.
It had been a nice and uneventful trip through the park the day before, and we hoped for a nice and uneventful trip home.
Even though we had driven our truck quite a bit in the few weeks leading up to the trip, both LC and I crossed fingers and hoped that all went well.
The truck needed some work.
We knew that.
None of it had been a deal breaker in terms of taking it to Idaho but it was still a mostly untested truck, there was a LOT of uphill between Idaho and Wyoming to pull a camper up and over, and........and.........we'd see..................
By the time we were well into the long and seemingly endless climb from Idaho Falls up to West Yellowstone MT our truck had picked up a really horrible whining noise.
We looked at each other a few times with increasing trepidation.
"That sounds bad".
By the time we reached Island Park we were looking for a garage.
At the third gas station we finally found one.
They had just gone for lunch. Be back in an hour.
An hour later we learned that one tire had picked up a nail, so it needed patching.
In addition, some work on the rear end that had been done in Cody had not been done correctly, and needed to be redone before we could continue.................
While LC dealt with mechanics who seemed to care nothing about customer service - or even common politeness - I wandered with Kory.
Behind the garage was a fence that prevented me and my dog from traveling further, but through the fence I could see a small lake.
For a few moments I forgot to worry about the truck and forgot to be annoyed at rude and uncaring mechanics.
For a few moments I stood and looked through the fence and was reminded of how much I had always liked Island Park...................
Circling back to the garage I saw that LC was still knee deep in morons.
Moving on, Kory and I headed down a side road adjacent to the garage.
We wandered for a long time on this dirt road and I snapped occasional pictures while at the same time enjoying the sudden and unexpected silence me and my dog had found..................
Three hours after limping into Island Park, LC called me to let me know they were done.
We were way behind schedule by this time and all plans that we had for taking our time through the park went out the window.
We had to tackle Sylvan Pass just before reaching the East Gate of Yellowstone National Park, and we had no desire to tackle that huge pass (with its huge drop-offs into nothingness) after dark.
There had been off and on snow in the park for at least the past month, roads consistently iced over during the night and thawed again during the day, and we did NOT want to pull a camper up (and control a camper down) Sylvan Pass after dark.
And so the pressure was now on to make time...............
We stopped briefly for gas at West Yellowstone and quickly hit the road again.
We did not stop again until we crossed over the Fishing Bridge inside the park.
With beach and the huge Yellowstone Lake before us, we all three eagerly climbed out of the truck and stretched our legs.
Taking turns heading for rest rooms, I and then LC wandered with Kory on the beach and let her do some enjoyable dog things - sniffing and investigating and drinking the lake water, and then tentatively stepping up to her belly in the water before turning back.
We had needed the break but it was time to move on.
We wanted to get out of the park before dark..................
Traffic lined the side of the road for 1/2 a mile and we both wondered what they had found.
A grizzly bear.
Wandering alone in a field behind some trees.
Reluctantly we elected to keep moving.
We made it off Sylvan Pass in one piece, our truck did fine, and once we were out of the park we simply relaxed and cruised our way home.
We had left Cody mid-morning on the Sunday.
We were back by early evening on the Monday.
An out and back trip to Idaho, two beautiful drives through the park, a truck we increasingly trust now that it was been tested, a camper finally back with us where it belongs, and a couple of days of reminders about why we love Cody WY so much.................
Home isn't where you're from, it's where you find light when all grows dark.............