Friday, July 25, 2008

Cody to Livingston - The Yellowstone Experience - Day 2

We got up from our comfortable stay at the Holiday Inn in Cody Wyoming early Monday. There had been brief discussion the night before about staying in Cody two nights, but after looking at our plans again there was just too much to see in a short period of time. So we geeked a bit, then set out to see Cody, home of Buffalo Bill Cody, a true American Showman.

Sheridan Avenue is dotted with bears. Blue ones, yellow ones, red ones...bears in all poses, carved out of wood and colorfully painted, then strategically placed along the sidewalks for visitors to enjoy. It was much like the horses of Amarillo, or the bulls of Chicago, and it added that extra touch to an already fun town. Kathy and I took the time to soak up the business district, winding up at the Irma Hotel. Built by Buffalo Bill in 1902, the Hotel is still active, and served up one hell of a breakfast buffet. Very beautifully kept, the hotel gives you a great feel for the old west. It's also said to be haunted. Kathy took great photos, and the one posted here of the bar is one of several. Only thing unique about this one is the fact there isn't an Orb in the picture before or after...just this one ;).

After breakfast it was on to the Buffalo Bill Historic Center, what I consider the crown jewel of Cody. This complex of museums was incredible. A full history of the legendary buffalo hunter, how he became such an internationally known showman, and how his famous show finally ended in the early 1900's. There's also the Whitney Art Museum, Plains Indian Museum, Cody Firearms Museum, and the Draper Museum of Natural History, which goes over Human interaction with Yellowstone National Park. If you're planning a visit to Cody, plan on at least two or three hours at the Historic Center. Lot's to see and this complex gets five stars in my book.

From the Historic center, we headed out Yellowstone Avenue, taking our next stop at the Museum of the Old West at Old Trail Town. This was an 'alright' stop, with several old west buildings lining a walking tour street. It's a good place to pause before heading up the road to our ultimate destination of the day, Yellowstone National Park.

Along the highway leading in there are signs warning you of Grizzly country ahead. If you plan on spending a lot of time in Yellowstone, or the area around it, you really should read up on what to do if you encounter one of these incredible creatures. Especially if you plan on camping out or hiking in the backwoods. Kathy and I were hoping to get a glimpse of one, but being late July, we think they had already migrated to higher elevations. In fact, we just happened to see a documentary on Yellowstone the night before at the hotel in Cody. It indicated that the bears moved above the tree lines in the highest elevations to feed off moths by late July, and that the best time to see them in the more accessible areas of the park were Spring and early Summer.

Wildlife still on our minds though, and we had camera's ready just in case. Poor Kathy, all we wound up with was the ass of a buffalo, a deer (we think), and some muskrats. Of course, we had an agenda to get to a hotel in Livingston Montana by that night, so we couldn't spend the quality time needed in Yellowstone to really experience the animals there. But we did experience the beauty, including of course Old Faithful. You really can't put the incredible awe of Yellowstone in words of a blog, so instead I'll just let you see for yourself with these pics.

Kathy and I don't do well with large crowds, so when we pulled into the parking lot of Old Faithful we had to prepare ourselves a bit. Definitely a main attraction, with at least a thousand people all heading toward the famous geyser. Since it goes off every 90 minutes, the crowds come in waves. We just happened to get there about 40 minutes from the next blow. I had our new video camera in hand and was ready at the switch. After making our way through the crowd we found a spot front and center, sitting on the edge of a platform in front of the seating with a clear view of the main attraction. I learned pretty quick that Old Faithful isn't always on time, and there were several false starts, which had me starting and stopping the damn camera at least 15 times. Of course, that meant when the real show started, I missed at least 7 seconds of the beginning thinking it was just another false start. Should've just put the camera on a tri-pod and let er roll.

After Old Faithfuls show of force, we migrated with the crowd to the historic Old Faithful Inn. From what I could see, this was an incredible hotel with gorgeous architecture, but it wasn't really enjoyable with the hundreds of others fighting their way through the lobby. Is there an off season for this place?

It was clouding up by the time we left Old Faithful, and sure enough it poured on us as we made our way out the North entrance to the park. We finally got ahead of the storm by the time we landed in Livingston at the Best Western there. Wind howling at what seemed like 50 to 60 mph, we bedded down for the night, fighting sporadic internet and wishing we had more time to play in Yellowstone. No time for regrets's back to ghost towns and onward toward Butte. Tuesday would be our longest and most adventurous day yet. I'll post that story soon.

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