Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

Monday, August 31, 2020

Salt Lake City

 At Mountain Home RV Resort, Mountain Home, Idaho...

It looks like I'm almost caught up now, even though we've moved on from Salt Lake City, but I need to tell you about our short time there. Since we had visited several times before, Larry and Carolyn, our wonderful traveling partners, wanted to go there, but they tried to talk us into skipping it because of our several previous visits. Since we were going to part ways there, we couldn't miss it, of course, because we always have a lot of fun together, and we wanted to take advantage of their company as long as possible. Besides, we know the city pretty well, and we felt we could take them to some interesting places.

Our first day was a down day to just rest up and catch up on laundry. Larry and Carolyn did go out on their own downtown to catch some of the sights. Unfortunately, the Mormon Temple is undergoing a massive renovation, so they didn't get to see much of the grounds that surround it or the tabernacle. Furthermore, because of the virus, they weren't able to attend a rehearsal of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, so we were sorry they didn't get to see everything we did on previous trips.

This is what they missed:

Photo from a previous trip

We were able, however, to accompany them to the visitor center at the Great Salt Lake--a must see, since it was their first time. Even though Sandy and Carolyn were both suffering from mobility problems, I was able to coax them to go down to the water's edge with Larry and me and take a sniff. (If you've been there, you know what I mean.)  

I think they enjoyed learning about the Great Salt Lake and its unique history. They didn't choose to go swimming, however, even though the lake is so salty, it's buoyancy makes it almost impossible for a swimmer even to submerge. After gathering a few souvenirs for our grandkids, we went downtown to a restaurant to celebrate Sandy's birthday.

The next day, we took them on a long ride past the north end of the lake to Promontory Point, the place at which the transcontinental railroad joined for the first time in 1869.  Fortunately, the replicas of the old locomotives had been brought out to their respective positions on that occasion, and we took some photos that we didn't get to include in our previous post, which I urge you to read if you wish to know more about this historical event. It happens to be one of my favorite posts, by the way.

Here are the locomotives, positioned approximately as they were in 1869:

Below is a closer view:

And here we are, standing on the last tie laid (the varnished one) in the photo below. There's more about this in the post whose link I've placed above, which we hope you'll check out. In that post, I discuss the incalculable importance to the country of this moment in history. Not many people know that at the same time the tracks met, the first transcontinental telegraph line was also connected. It was nothing less than, at last, the uniting of the country in these two incredible and simultaneous events. There was great celebration across the country at the time. Yet, as important as it is, this park is one of the least visited in the U. S. It almost saddens me that so few seem to recognize the magnitude of the history that was made here.

We couldn't leave Salt Lake City without checking out the old Union Pacific train station which, as you know, I find fascinating:

The city had done a good job of preserving the old station, and the inside--now a great gathering hall with all the benches removed, was splendid, indeed. I love the mural painted on the far wall. Notice the ticket booths on the left side of the photo:

And so we say goodbye to Larry and Carolyn and the million laughs we've had since we met up in Colorado Springs. They are the perfect traveling pals, and we hope to see them again soon.

From here in Salt Lake--well, you sort of know where we're headed, because we're already there, and that's from where I'm writing this blog post--Mountain Home, Idaho. Mountain Home is sort of a two-bit town, but it's not far from Boise, which is a city much more to glampers' liking: good shopping and good restaurants. We've already been up there once, and we'll be going again before we leave for...(drum roll, please)...Pasco, Washington. That's just another interim stop, however; we can't yet reveal where we're ultimately heading, lest you stop reading! Pasco is where we're settling in for the Labor Day holiday; we were lucky to get a spot there at the KOA during that busy time. We'll be leaving this beautiful park here in Mountain Home in a few days, so stay tuned as we head out again soon!

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; 
please forgive me if I fail to appreciate it each day as I should.

We don't stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing. 
 ---George Bernard Shaw

"I get up every morning, and I just don't let the old man in." ---Clint Eastwood


Thursday, August 27, 2020

The Grand Tetons

 At Mountain Home RV Resort, Mountain Home, Idaho...

As you can see, we are no longer in Salt Lake City, or even in Utah, or even in Wyoming. We're in Idaho! And yet, this post is about the Tetons! That's why it's been so hard to get caught up! We need to slow down and take a break, and that's kinda what we're doing.

But where are you headed, you ask? Well, let's let that be a surprise. (We may even be surprised ourselves! All we know is that it's still too hot in Texas, and the virus is still a problem there.) 

Right now, we're in a very nice RV park here in Mountain Home--so nice, in fact, that it is found in the "Best of the Best" RV Park Listings. The link is on the right side over there. 

Now, this will be a relatively short post...okay, please, your applause is a little annoying! 

The reason for this bit of abbreviation is that the Tetons are a relatively short mountain range, running from Yellowstone National Park to Jackson, Wyoming. However, it is one of the most stunning because of its sharp rise from the Jackson Hole valley with no foothills preceding the sudden uplift of the mountains, as is the case almost everywhere else. 

According to geologists, this is due to a fault 40 miles long north of Jackson, under which the Jackson Hole Valley is slowly moving downward, lifting the Tetons higher and higher. It is one of the youngest mountain ranges, said to be less than 10 million years old. That's why the peaks are so jagged; there has been insufficient time for erosion to have had a smoothing effect on the peaks. Because the uplifting activity is still going on, the Tetons are still growing in height, albeit slowly, of course:

As you near the south exit from Yellowstone, the photo below is the first view of the Tetons you'll see:

Unfortunately, smoke from forest fires that seem inevitable every August had drifted into Wyoming and Utah, so this photo isn't as impressive as it would be on a clear day. Next is a photo I really like, taken from a bit farther down the road and showing the shoreline of Lake Jackson:

However, I think the photo below is my favorite of the Teton lake views.  Remember you can click on the photos to enlarge them.

The photo above was taken from the Jackson, Wyoming end of the range, looking in the opposite direction from the first one in this group.

The photo above shows the unusual near-absence of foothills before the mountains spring up, but the next photo is the one I really wanted. It is probably the most photographed barn in the world, situated in a little Mormon community near the mountain range. We weren't able to find it until this trip, and I'm very happy to have it in this blog. 

To me, it's interesting not only for the contrast of the slowly dilapidating barn with the Tetons as its backdrop, but the contrast of those things made by human hands that inevitably deteriorate and eventually disappear, juxtaposed against those things formed by Divine hand that last for uncountable millenia. You have probably seen this photo in countless publications, but here is my very own version:

Oddly, we've never seen the Tetons from the western side, so that will have to go on our list of things we must investigate. It seems the list never ends!

We had to do our sightseeing of the Tetons from about 50 miles south of Jackson at Star Valley Ranch--a large RV and modular home park (900 spaces) with several very small towns around. One of the towns was Alpine, Wyoming, where we found a delightful restaurant--open only 90 days a year--where we could dine outdoors and enjoy the perfect temperature in the 70s. Yes, as my friend Ed always says, "Life is Good."

We've gotten some feedback asking how it is we are blatantly continuing our travels, seemingly without concern about the pandemic that has gripped so many parts of the nation? It seems there are still quite a number of folks who remain terribly fearful and sequestered in one spot, rarely going out except for groceries or other necessities. I will admit that, during the first couple of months of the virus, when we knew little about it, we did the same thing until we learned how to take proper precautions and we saw the reports of parts of the country where the incidence of the virus is quite rare. It must be evident that we have confined our travels to parts of the county where virus patient counts are low--some of them so low that the locals really don't seem to pay much attention to it.

So, we are concerned about it, and we remain cautious. But there are other reasons we have elected not to hide away. For one thing,  the virus cannot survive in fresh air and sunshine, and when we are not outside enjoying the wonderful climate and scenery, we're inside Phannie, with our own "stuff" that hasn't been touched by anyone else, and that can't be bad. By the way, it seems that a lot of other people have the same idea, as RV parks are nearly full everywhere we go. Yes, we're at that vulnerable age, but we take proper precautions, and we don't wish to spend our remaining years cooped up. 

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; 
please forgive me if I fail to appreciate it each day as I should.

We don't stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing. 
 ---George Bernard Shaw

"I get up every morning, and I just don't let the old man in." ---Clint Eastwood

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Some of the Beartooth Highway and Chief Joseph Byway. Caution: Read carefully; this could be confusing.

At the Salt Lake City KOA, Salt Lake City, Utah...

Before we begin, let me tell you that I have added some photos to the previous post, "Yellowstone!" Because I have taken so many photographs on this trip, I sometimes overlook some that would add some interest to a post, so I occasionally have to go back and add them to a post that I've already published. I think it turned out better, and I hope you think so, too.

As you can see from the location header above (which I wish every blogger would put in their posts), we are suddenly in Salt Lake City, and I'm not even finished posting about Wyoming! Well, the problem is that I haven't caught the blog up with the trip, and I'm trying feverishly to get that done. I can just hear you now--"Okay, Mike, but what does this have to do with Salt Lake City? I thought you were spending the summer in the Rockies!" 

Well, just so you'll know, we are, technically, still in the Rockies; the Wasatch Mountains just east of Salt Lake City form the Wasatch Range that is part of a whole panoply of ranges that form the Rocky Mountains from New Mexico into Canada. It just doesn't seem that Salt Lake City itself is mountainous, because it's not...but it almost is, especially if you look to the east toward the beautiful Wasatch range. The problem is that the city itself is situated at the bottom of the mountains and on the edge of a large salt flat that contains the Great Salt Lake. Its lower elevation means that it gets hot here in the summer, so it doesn't feel to us like we're in the Rockies, either. Confused? Well, if you were here, you would understand. 

But hang on--there's a little more to this side story that I need to include. We're really here because we are bidding goodbye to Larry and Carolyn, our caravan partners, as they leave us here in Salt Lake City and make their way back to Arkansas to take care of things back home. They expressed a desire to see some sights here on their way home so, having visited here several times over the years, we insisted on accompanying them for a last hurrah and perhaps some guidance to places we think they might like to go. 

To make this explanation even more confusing, we got a call while en route down here from Wyoming, and we learned that we will be joined here in Salt Lake by Doug and Michelle, whom you met in our Quartzsite post from a few months ago. They are arriving on the same day that Larry and Carolyn are leaving so, unfortunately, they will miss each other by a few hours. They are all great people, and it is a shame the whole bunch won't get to meet. Sometimes, I wish we could have a gathering of all the friends we know in the RV world, so they could get to know each other and enjoy their company as much as we do. 

Now, in the paragraph below, we are going to return magically to Wyoming, at least in print. However, since we are here in Salt Lake, having leaped ahead of the normal blog-posting sequence, never fear: You will be reading in a later post about what we're doing in Salt Lake City right now. However, in the next post, you'll read about the Tetons, as I catch up to keep things in some kind of chronological order with our trip. I just hope I can remember it all. It wouldn't surprise me if you're scratching your head, but this is my best hack at explaining why you're reading a post about Wyoming when we're in Utah. I think I should also get some kind of award for the longest digression ever from the title of a post.

Now, let's back up to Wyoming and the real subject of this post. (I'll bet you thought I forgot, didn't you?) Well, I almost forgot to include this post about the Beartooth Highway and the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway, but thanks to a suggestion by dear friend and avid reader Janice, I remembered that I hadn't mentioned it, and, of all things, it certainly couldn't be left out. 

There's a twist, though. We seem to be jinxed in seeing the Beartooth Highway, one of the most scenic in the country, according to the late Charles Kuralt, an anchor of CBS TV's Sunday Morning for 15 years. A few years ago, we had tried to drive the road, which stretches from Red Lodge, Montana to a point near the north entrance of Yellowstone National Park. However, the western states' forest fires were so bad that year that the views were almost totally obscured by smoke. After driving a short distance, we realized this would be a wasted effort, so we turned around and went back to Billings. We then decided to head for the Pacific Northwest, but we couldn't find any reservations on such short notice, so we just abandoned the effort and slowly made our way back to Texas.

This time, there was no smoke to obscure the scenery, so we set out from west to east, exiting through the north entrance to Yellowstone. We hadn't traveled very far until we noticed one of those dreaded construction signs flashing the message that the Beartooth Highway was closed ahead for construction and that we should exit at the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway, which would take us back to Cody. Well, that was a fine kettle of fish! We've now driven trips of several thousand miles to drive this highway, and we still won't be able to see it all even this time!

As it turned out, however, the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway was gorgeous, and it was something we wouldn't have wanted to miss anyway. So one day, we'll hope to make good on that final leg of the Beartooth.

Let's get to some photos, shall we? This first one is perhaps the piece de resistance. It was our first look at the Beartooth Mountain Range, which we would not be able to traverse fully, including the 10,000+ ft. high Beartooth Pass, because of the detour. Since we had to turn off on the Chief Joseph, we were only able to see 17 miles of the Beartooth Highway, leaving the most scenic part unobserved. It was a nice preview, however, of what we will hopefully see all the way down highway 212 one of these days. So close, but so far. (Sigh.)

Meanwhile, during our 17 miles, we did observe some wonderful clear streams with mountains in the background, as well as several female elks and their calves foraging near the highway:

That's about all the photos we got from this part of the Beartooth Highway, but the ones from the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway made up for it. I'll bet you're wondering why it's named after Chief Joseph. Well, he was chief of a part of the Nez Perce Indian tribe, being chased at the time (1877) by the U. S. Cavalry during the Indian Wars. Chief Joseph chose this route in an attempt to evade the soldiers and flee to Canada. The problem was that the army was having no difficulty tracking the Indians, so Joseph devised a plan for his tribesmen to ride their horses in a large circular series of turns, leaving their hoofprints in a nondescript pattern in soft ground. Then the Indians rode off on harder ground in a direction different from that anticipated by the soldiers, and the plan worked. The Nez Perce got away, but they were eventually captured near the Canadian border. From there, they were relocated eventually to Idaho. Chief Joseph died of natural causes in 1904, said by his followers of a broken heart.

Okay, that's your history lesson. Let's get to the photos and give respect to the resourcefulness of the chief and the U. S. government for naming this beautiful highway for him:

A dying thunderstorm beyond the mountains at sunset. Double majesty.

Do views like this ever get old?

Strangely striated sandstone seemed incongruous with the grayish granite mountains surrounding it.

Mountains and trees as far as the eyes can see.

Evening shadows accentuate these craggy mountains.

This may be my favorite for contrast;
a look eastward from the mountains to the plains of Wyoming at sunset.

More thunderstorms beyond the mountains;
they won't bother us, but they are well illuminated by the setting sun. Their noisy violence will go unheard because of their vast distance from us. The important thing is how far you can see. Those storms are probably a hundred miles away.

What beautiful scene awaits us just beyond this craggy pass? One can hardly wait to see.

As it turned out, we were nearing Cody at this point and, because we were able to drive the Chief Joseph Byway, we weren't at all disappointed in the day. We're still determined to see the rest of the Beartooth, though.

My goodness! Will I ever get caught up? Remember, the next post will be about the Grand Tetons, and then we'll have a post from Salt Lake City, as I indicated while I was digressing earlier in this post. We've got to get caught up before we figure out where we're going next!  So stick around; you can be surprised along with us!

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; 
please forgive me if I fail to appreciate it each day as I should.

We don't stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing. 
 ---George Bernard Shaw

"I get up every morning, and I just don't let the old man in." ---Clint Eastwood


Friday, August 21, 2020


At Star Valley Ranch RV Park, Thayne, Wyoming...

This will be mostly a reprise of our previous visits to Yellowstone. The reason for this is that our fellow travelers, Larry and Carolyn, had never before seen the nation's largest national park so, with the exception of a short introductory trip together, they did their tour by themselves. Below are a couple of shots from that introductory trip. The Abyss Pool is among the first geologic features you can see when you enter through the eastern gate of the park. Carolyn accompanied me down to see it. Then I took a closeup view shot, and you can see why it is called the Abyss. One can't help but wonder from what depth the steaming water comes:

The only part of the park Sandy and I hadn't seen before was Mammoth Hot Springs, near the north entrance, and that would be our focus this time. Larry and Carolyn seemed content to do their own thing, and that was fine with us.

Let me begin by encouraging anyone who has not visited Yellowstone to do so. This was our fourth visit, and it never ceases to amaze us as one of the strangest and most fascinating places on earth. There's nothing like it anywhere else, and it's right here in our own country!

Consider that you get to drive around in the caldera of a giant volcano that erupted more than 600,000 years ago and is actually due again for an eruption, according to the history of its activity cycle. The presence of the hot magma reservoir under your feet is evidenced in many places by the hissing of steam, geysers and pools of near-boiling water that is forced upward by the hellish molten lava so near the surface. 

Yet there is beauty all around, with Lake Yellowstone and the Yellowstone River being the most significant of the non-geyser features you can see. I will begin with a photo of Old Faithful that is not up to my normal standards, taken, unfortunately, as the geyser was winding down from its main thrust of spray activity. I do have a video of the entire eruption, but Sandy won't let me publish it, as she was narrating it for our very young grandsons at the time, and there are some parts that, well, didn't go perfectly (in fact, they were quite funny). Since she has final editorial control, I suppose it'll have to remain private.

There are numerous other areas around the park where you can see the unworldly sights we mentioned--even mud pots that bubble up many odd colors that are influenced by the minerals within. I think I'll just post these--most of which were found in the Norris geyser basin--for your viewing pleasure. I really can't comment about them because, at the time, I neglected to use the name of the feature in the photo title:

Aside from the another-world nature of the hissing geyser basins, a visit to the Yellowstone River is impressive. This is a photo of the massive power of the river just before it plunged over Yellowstone Falls, captured in the photo below this one. You can almost hear the roar as it plunges 308 feet into the riverbed at its base.  

Yellowstone Falls is one of the most photographed in the country, due to its beauty and the yellow color of the surrounding rocks--perhaps from which the park gets its name. I was pleased how my photo turned out, immortalized now forever for those times when we want to relive the memories. What appears to be water turning leftward from the falls is actually huge volumes of spray produced by the water impacting the bottom of the falls:

And, of course, you can't miss the beauty of massive Lake Yellowstone in the heart of the caldera. The lake will, of course, be vaporized by the next eruption, which will likely be huge and devastating to several surrounding states:

Of course, one rarely misses the many buffaloes, especially one like this huge bull, who strolls slowly by our car as if he owns the park. 

The next bull buffalo walked into the roadway and just stood there, regally, for about ten minutes, seemingly delighted to be backing up traffic both ways for nearly a mile. Shortly after I took this photo, he took a few steps forward to the middle of the road, so as to be sure no one would pass around him. What a snob!

As I stated earlier, our focus this trip was on Mammoth Hot Springs, the one geyser area we had missed on previous trips. We didn't realize until we had arrived that getting a really good view of the feature would require as much as two miles of walking, much of which would be climbing stairs. This wasn't possible for either of us due to our foot and knee problems. All we could get was a photo of the top of the spring--fed by the two blue pools of hot water, which then cascaded down the huge layered structure beyond that was formed from chemicals in the water.

Because of our physical limitations, I had to do something I am loath to do: Use a stock photo that I didn't personally take to present the beauty of this feature:

This was a bit of a jarring revelation for us, as it was one of the very few times in our 16 years of RVing that we have not been able to see something we wanted to observe personally because of the physical limitations brought about by aging limbs. This reminded us of a previous prediction we made in this blog that our fulltiming days may be drawing to a close, in favor of perhaps part-timing. We know that surgery is in our near future; the convalescence will be lengthy, and the result unpredictable.

Our advice to readers would be to make the most of the years when you don't yet have such limitations. We have done that, and we have this blog to prove it and with which we will enjoy the countless memories we have made. Yet we know of many friends who waited too late and missed out on so much the country has to offer. Please don't let that happen to you.

Not wishing to end on a less-than-positive note, you can expect our next post to include some beautiful shots from the Beartooth Highway and the Chief Joseph Byway. The one after that will include scenes from Grand Teton National Park. Stick around with us as we enjoy some of the most beautiful places in the country.

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; 
please forgive me if I fail to appreciate it each day as I should.

We don't stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing. 
 ---George Bernard Shaw

"I get up every morning, and I just don't let the old man in." ---Clint Eastwood

Monday, August 17, 2020

Denver to Surprising Cody, Wyoming

 At Yellowstone Valley Inn, Cody, Wyoming...

I considered making this one long post, but thought better of it when I remembered some of the tiresome blogs I have read that are really nothing but photo scrapbooks that may mean something to the author but little to the readers. I have a lot of photos to show you, but I think you would like to read some narrative along with them that will tell some kind of story or at least offer my impressions of the photos. My wordy narrative takes up a good bit of extra space, so I'm going to have to break this, the northernmost part of our journey, into two or three posts.

While I'm thinking about it, please permit me a little more ranting about what, in my view, makes an interesting blog post. I am constantly on the lookout for RV blogs that meet the vitally important criterion of telling a story that holds my interest. Unfortunately, there aren't very many that pass that test and make it into my reading list. If the writer tells me what he or she is thinking and feeling about the place or person represented by a photo, I will be much more likely to be hooked than if it is just tossed in with a bunch of other unidentified photos. So, this is my advice to bloggers: Write your posts as though you are talking to a friend, telling your story and adding your opinions, thoughts and, especially, a bit of humor as you go along. Let your readers get to know you, and they will develop more interest in your experiences. A good example of a blogger whose posts are like short stories that are hard to put down is my cyber friend, Mary, of Reflections Around the Campfire. There are others, of course, but Mary and I have an ongoing shaming rivalry that kicks in if we discover mistakes in each other's posts. Yes, it's a bit nerdy, but being grammar- or punctuation-shamed is sheer misery for us word nerds. 

Okay, that's about enough lecturing about blog writing. Let's continue with our story of leaving Denver to meet up again with friends Larry and Carolyn in Cody, Wyoming. We stopped overnight in Casper, Wyoming at an unremarkable KOA that was, basically, just several acres of gravel, but the staff was friendly enough. This was a single overnight stop, so we tend to leave Phannie buttoned up to the greatest extent possible, so as to facilitate our departure the next morning. We don't put all the slides out or hook up to the sewer; we don't put the jacks down, either, unless necessary. We sometimes leave Mae hooked up, if we have something simple to eat for dinner that doesn't mess up the kitchen. On such occasions, we just eat in, watch a little TV and turn in for the night.

However, on this stopover, we had no such edibles within easy access, so we unhooked Mae and went out foraging for food--using Yelp, primarily, for its recommendations. We found a gem in the beautiful Fire Rock Steakhouse, which was sufficiently impressive to be honored on the blog's favorite restaurants page. We shared a steak dinner--something we most often do these days. We tend not to eat as much nowadays as we've gotten older. It's cheaper on the budget, and we almost always have more than enough to eat.

The next day's trip to Cody was uneventful, except we began to anticipate again the first sighting of the Rocky Mountains that we had left behind soon after passing from Colorado into Wyoming. The peaks of the Absaroka Range of the Rockies were barely visible at first and then loomed larger as we approached Cody. Our impression of Wyoming up until that time was rather, uh, unimpressive.

Never having visited before, we confess to knowing little about Cody, Wyoming nor the character "Buffalo Bill" Cody, who founded the town. It's actually a very pretty and clean place with very wide streets, beautiful parks and chock full of museums and reminders of its history. It was, indeed, emblematic of the wild, wild west, complete with the struggles between newcomers and Indians, the lawful and the lawless, and the debauchery of every kind that was intermingled in the melee. Wyoming's history and Cody's part in it sort of made my native Texas look tame by comparison. The town of 10,000 is nestled against Cedar Mountain, visible in the following photo. It has one main drag, Sheridan Avenue, fronted by scores of modernized old buildings and containing hordes of visitors--a half million a year, if you're wondering.

In a few days, Larry and Carolyn joined us, and we were to stay here for about two weeks, taking in Yellowstone and Cody to the east. Here are Larry and Carolyn in front of the Irma Hotel in downtown Cody (more about the hotel later):

Larry, ever the jokester, couldn't resist sitting on a bench outside the hotel with a likeness of Colonel Cody:

On our way to our RV park, we drove through three tunnels, including a very long one that was said to be constructed through some of the oldest rock in the world. The tunnel is at a rising grade, and that complication plus the hard granite excavation required four long years for its completion in 1960.

The tunnels were located near the dam of the Buffalo Bill Reservoir, built in 1910 to provide water and electricity for Cody and the surrounding area. Here is a view of the dam itself, built entirely of concrete with no steel reinforcement at all. In 1992, 25 feet of concrete was added to the top of the dam, increasing dramatically the reservoir and the power generating capacity:

 This is a view of the reservoir looking westward from the dam:

Our RV park was about 18 miles west of town on highway 20 that leads into Yellowstone National Park. The drive was breathtaking, with scenes like the ones that follow: 

The exposed red rock on the photo above was where a piece of the surface rock broke off and slid into the water.

It was difficult to take in all the surrounding beauty on this drive as we see above, and we hadn't even reached our park yet!

Finally we arrived and, although the park was somewhat nondescript, it was graveled and level, and it had the enormous benefit of being situated on the bank of the Shoshone River which, as discussed earlier, feeds Buffalo Bill Reservoir:

This was our view looking back to the east toward Cody:

The mountain in the middle above is the same one you saw previously that had the piece broken away. We were glad when Larry and Carolyn showed up; much like other good friends, they are great traveling partners; it is the practice of both of us couples to decide what we wish to do each day and, if it sounds mutually interesting, we go together; if not, we do our own thing. It's an easy-going way to travel together--maximum honesty and minimal pressure. We could say the same about other wonderful RVing friends, and we wished they were all with us!

*     *    *

Buffalo Bill Cody, obviously, is a big deal here in the town that bears his name. I must confess that I was about as ignorant of his incredible life story that anyone could be. This is partly because I have never been terribly interested in the "cowboy and Indian" aspect of our country's history. My focus has mainly been in the World War II era, perhaps because my father and most of my uncles served in that conflict. That may have been a little short-sighted, as I seem to have a regrettable knowledge deficit about this colorful and important part of our nation's history--the taming of the West and the associated fierce struggles involved. All you would want to experience of this time period is brought to light in this little western town of 10,000, rightly named the "rodeo capital of the world," due to its having a rodeo--believe it or not--every night of the year:

Although you can easily obtain his life story from the Internet, it is safe to say that Buffalo Bill Cody lived a varied and exciting existence, achieving recognition for his bravery and skill in hunting, scouting and fighting that led to his service to the U. S. Army as a scout and hunter of buffalo (some 4,300 killed, it is said) to help feed the troops during the Indian wars. He later became a wealthy showman, taking his large western show--featuring mock battles between cowboys and Indians--all over the U. S. and even to Europe, where he became friends with Queen Victoria. He built the grandest hotel in Cody--the Irma, named after one of his daughters. It is still standing today and is the site of a daily western show with a mock gunfight. There is a photo above of the front entrance of the hotel.

There are many statues of Cody, of course. Here are two of them:


I don't see any evidence of any of the Antifa or BLM scumbags coming around here with the idea of  tearing down these statues. I'm fairly sure the gun-toting locals would bring a harsh and quick end to any such effort. 

Cody's wild west show was an enormous hit in the late 1800s. When performing in England, as did his contemporary P. T. Barnum and his circus, Cody's show was four times larger, with similarly larger attendances of enthusiastic crowds; there was standing room only, and even the reclusive Queen Victoria attended. The show consisted mostly of mock Indian attacks on settlers, cabins and stagecoaches, with the soldiers coming to the rescue and, ultimately, attaining the victory, amid much gunfire, both sides being in full costume. The normally reserved Britons were wildly enthusiastic, never having seen an Indian or the kinds of conflicts carried out between them and the American settlers, about which they had heard so much. 

Eventually, Queen Victoria and Cody became close friends--some say, uh, very close. She was sufficiently friendly toward him that she gifted him with the gorgeous antique bar that is still in use today in the Irma hotel:

 Cody's show played many times in England and in other European countries, attended by the likes of future Kaiser Wilhelm and future King George V. Cody pocketed a cool million dollars from his European shows--worth about $30 million today. He had become a true celebrity and acquired significant wealth from his endeavors. Unfortunately, his large show train was involved in a terrible accident in North Carolina in 1901, wherein 110 of his horses were killed. Thankfully, none of his human performers were killed, but Annie Oakley, who was aboard, was injured badly, which is thought to have contributed to her eventual slow decline and death.  

Pictured below is the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in downtown Cody. It is a large complex of five museums that present an exhaustive look at all aspects of the history of the western part of the country including, of course, much information about Buffalo Bill and his family. The photo below doesn't begin to show the vastness of the building, but it is said to be the largest museum in the western United States. 

This would be an educational and fun place for kids. They have a replica of a tepee, and an experienced chuck wagon cook prepares food over a fire as in the old west, offering samples to visitors.

Inside the museum you can see things such as a real chuck wagon, like this one. Additionally, there's the story of Bill Cody's life, wildlife of the region, the geology of the area, antique firearms, Indian culture and a western art museum. It is a true treasure trove of Western artifacts and history. More than a day would be required to see it all:

Sandy zeroed in on an old can of Lipton tea on the wagon. Those of you who know her and her irrational affinity for iced tea will understand her fascination that tea was available to the travelers of the old west. If the tin of tea in the photo below is authentic, it dates from sometime between 1907 and 1915. Funny the things that catch her attention...


If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that I like to point out oddities along the roads we travel. There are two unusual things along the roadside on Highway 20 just a few miles from our RV park. The first one is a Shoney's Big Boy statue that stands in a field about a hundred yards from the highway. According to local lore, it just suddenly appeared there one day, and nobody knows where it came from or who placed it there. I'm guessing there's more to the story, but it is an odd thing to see in the middle of a farm field:

The other roadside oddity has an associated tragic story. This unusual house, which the owner was building alongside the highway, was supposed to consist of five floors. Unfortunately, while working on the house, he fell from the fifth floor to his death, and the house was never finished. It stands today as it did at the poor man's demise:

I hope you have enjoyed this part of our trip. There is much more to come; next on our list is Yellowstone National Park itself. 

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; 
please forgive me if I fail to appreciate it each day as I should.

We don't stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing. 
 ---George Bernard Shaw

"I get up every morning, and I just don't let the old man in." ---Clint Eastwood