Fast and Furious! Getting a whole lot done in a short time.
I lurked around Yellowstone for a few days after we were dismissed. It got frosty in the mornings, but when I drove to Cody the temperature was much warmer by about 10′. I met my friend, Debra from Arizona in Yellowstone and we spent most of the day there. In the morning, there was a bison jam in Hayden Valley and they were amazing! It was very cold and foggy as I drove and the bison were gathered in and along the road. There was frost on them and it was just beautiful to see them frosted in the fog. We were so mesmerized by the scene that neither of us bothered to take pictures. We just watched the bison in awe.
I took Deb to Canyon first and we drove around both rims and took lots of snaps. It wasn’t too crowded and was easy to take in all of the viewpoints. We stopped in Canyon Village for lunch and I finally had a hot dog. MMM, very tasty! I think my culinary taste has gone right down the drain.
We drove along the loop on the west side of the park and stopped along to look at the thermal features. We visited the Fountain paint pots to see the mud boil and look for colors (not much), and someone pointed out that a geyser was going off. There were three geysers going off and it was fun to watch my friend’s reaction. Deb was so excited because she had never been to Yellowstone or seen a geyser. We went to Grand Prismatic and then to Old Faithful. Earlier this summer, I asked the ranger about the water levels, and she mentioned that they were really low this year. We walked to Old Faithful and waited for it to go off. Strangely, the geyser was spouting more like a fizzle than a blast. I was very disappointed and I think everyone else was, too. We then headed out of the park and back to Cody.
The next day, we went to the Buffalo Bill Center of the West and spent most of the morning there. It is a great museum with 5 different sections. My favorite was the animal museum. It was so well done, and easy to navigate. The firearms section displays over 4000 weapons at a time and have 7500 total. That’s quite a collection! There was a saddle store at the museum and we chatted with the maker for a while. He told us a great story about the economics of saddle making and how it’s a fading art. Kind of like sewing… We had lunch at the Wyoming Roadhouse, and I had my usual burger with sweet potato fries. Yummy!
After that, we parted and went our separate ways. Hopefully, we will see each other again next summer out east.
From Cody, I drove back to the park to retrieve a package that arrived and then drove to Billings, MT for the night. I stayed at the Pilot Flying J and reserved a parking space with the big rigs. I could have stayed for free in the back of the lot, but the clerk offered and I agreed. With my Rewards card, it was $12.78. I slept well to the lull of the running engines…
From Billings, I headed straight to Rapid City, SD and made a reservation for one night at a campground I stayed at with Caroline a few years ago. Spokane Creek Campground near Keystone was just as pretty as I remembered, except that the creek was on the dry side. This was one of the driest summers in the Rockies and Plains. There’s a store and café with fresh cinnamon rolls that you order ahead. I had bought some supplies for food and was excited at the prospect of making my own food again. I’ve been eating mostly snacks, like cheese and crackers, but I did treat myself to a home made cinnamon roll at the campground café. It was a nice treat! I also bought a shirt displaying the Iron Mountain Road and it’s path. What a crazy road that was and a lot of fun to drive on.
When I was at the truck stop, I noticed that the back door have fallen off of the kitchen cabinet and was obstructing the side door opening. I had to take the door off completely, and later removed some nails and bent the others. I’ll repair this later. I had a feeling that I was carrying too much water for this cabinet, as it was not built to withstand the bumps and weight of the road. I went to Menards and picked up some 4×4 scraps to stabilize the cabinet floor. It had broken in a spot and was about a half inch lower on one side.
The Badlands National Park is my nemesis. The weather is plain old nasty! Yesterday, it was in the 90’s and a pain in the neck. Fortunately, I was just hanging out at my campsite outside and was in the shade where it was pretty comfortable. I made dinner and decided to bring everything back in to the van because there was a wind advisory in effect. Good thing I did, because around 7:30pm the wind storm came and lasted until close to midnight. My van was rocking and rolling the whole time and I got pretty nervous. It was weird though, because I couldn’t even tell that it was moving on the outside. Just inside while I was sitting in the drivers seat waiting it out. It also rained pretty hard off an on and a lot of campers packed up and left. It brought back the nightmare of camping in a borrowed tent with a bad zipper a few years ago. Anyway, I managed to fall asleep and then the wind died down. It rained a little in the morning and cooled off a lot, around 60’s most of the day. Ah, that felt so good! After taking a bunch of snaps, I drove to Wall Drug and browsed around for a while, and bought a sticker for my water bottle. Tonight was windy and rainy, too, but not as bad as yesterday. I mostly stayed in the van when I got back and made dinner inside.
Can you tell that I like food? Through this journey, meals have been the biggest challenge. My kitchen area is sufficient, but hard to clean dishes in. I decided to keep my meals as simple as possible. I bought precooked chicken and food from the deli. I also bought powdered scramble eggs that I wanted to try. I made chicken fried rice with eggs and it was not bad, and left overs for tomorrow. I also bought salad stuff and have enough peanut butter from Yellowstone EDR to last me into the next year. I’ll write about meals on another post because I think I have things organized. Maybe…
There is so much to do in South Dakota. Stay tuned for the next post and thanks for reading!