On our way to South Dakota, we decided to pass through Wyoming and visit some places recommended by Chris’ dad.
Yellowstone National Park
We stayed in Yellowstone for two nights, and spent two days exploring around. It is truly other-worldy there – mud volcanoes, steam vents, geysers and all sorts of other gloopy colorful things venting stinky gases. All the pictures in the world can’t capture the full experience your five senses get to experience in this unique part of the world – smells, textures, sounds, sights and tastes (hot cocoa!).
The wildlife there is abundant – we saw herds of buffalo (side note, did you know that ‘Buffalo buffalo Buffalo’ is a complete sentence?), elk, birds and I even spotted a wolf. There’s massive formations made by seeping minerals, snowy mountains, amazing waterfalls (with closed bathrooms), and miles and miles of roads and hiking trails. There’s even villages located throughout the park with camping, hotels, restaurants, stores and my favorite – hot chocolate! I came in prepared to be all primitive like – fighting bears off with sticks, living off the grid and having no communications. Quite the surprise.
Definitely put Yellowstone on your to-see list.. and do yourself a favor. Give yourself more than 2 days to explore it. I’m definitely looking forward to coming back, and Chris and I are even tempted to explore doing seasonal work there sometime.
Bighorn Canyon National Recreational Area
We took the East exit towards Cody, Wyoming out of Yellowstone. Caught up on some work projects during the day in Cody, then headed north up to Bighorn Canyon National Recreational Area – as suggested by Chris’ dad. And wow, I need to buy the man a beer when we get to St. Louis.. it was absolutely beautiful! And free campground all to ourselves overlooking massive red cliffs and water to boot.
We spent the evening huddled in Tab as a massive thunderstorm blew through with strong cold winds that kept us swaying all night. In the morning, we crossed northwards into Montana one last time to see Devil’s Overlook – the massive canyons in the picture above.
‘Scenic’ Byways and Devil’s Tower
We did a long day of driving eastward through the very scenic Wyoming. We took 14A – a scenic backcountry byway – across most of the state. A very twisty, windy road that goes through a 10,000 ft mountain pass. I’m sure it was quite beautiful, but unfortunately we had very low hanging clouds causing foggy conditions. So much of our view of the drive was like this:
We did get to notice the really cool red roads.
And then it was onwards to northeastern Wyoming, where we passed our 10,000 mile mark for our journey. To commerate the milestone, I have started a journey route map that shows where we’ve been since leaving Florida together on May 10, 2007:
Our last evening in Wyoming was at the nation’s first national monument – Devil’s Tower.
Recognize the formation? Yup, that’s the mountain that was in 1977 movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Unfortuantely, we didn’t have that movie with us, so instead we watched Spies Like Us after we got into camp. Eeeks.. I can’t believe I ever thought that was a good movie.
We did a hike around Devil’s Tower in the morning before heading out.
After a yummy lunch (and more hot chocolate) at the Ponderosa Cafe and Bar in Hulett (highly recommended).. we crossed into Chris’ new ‘home’ state for the first time. It’s also the first state that we’ve been to where neither of us has been before. We’ve set up camp near Rapid City, and will likely stay here for a week or so. We’ve got some business to take care of, including getting Chris his driver’s license to complete his residency.
And it’s good to have the stabilizers down for a bit.