Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Crazy Sky, Estes Park, Colorado

We arrived today into the tourist haven of Estes Park. It is the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. Every other retail shop is a T-shirt shop. We do have a very nice campground to set down in for our week here. Tonight, our first night, the setting sun sky treated us to a unique sight graced by smoke from distant fires drifting into our area. It makes for a good photo.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Red Lodge, Montana

We took a “vacation” yesterday and drove from Cody up over Dead Indian Pass on the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway. We then connected to the Beartooth Scenic Highway which dropped us into Red Lodge, Montana. Both roads were spectacular with dizzying views and switchbacks, upgrades and downgrades. The Beartooth boasts one of the world’s longest stretches of alpine pavement running above the tree line. Simply stunning and photos will follow. Our vacation was leaving Vilia at our camp in Cody and spending a hotel overnight in Red Lodge. Named after a Crow Indian tepee that had been stained red with local red earth, Red Lodge started as a mail stop in 1884. Shortly after, coal was discovered then the railroad came and a building boom happened. Word came to Europe that mining jobs were plentiful and the influx arrived, bringing individuals who were gifted brick layers and masons. The coal lasted about three decades and the town started to decline. Local merchants lobbied DC to make their appeal that a highway be constructed up and over the Beartooth Mountains creating a scenic tourist attraction and providing access from town to Yellowstone, to the west. Herbert Hoover gave approval. Like so many of our roads, the highway follows what was an ancient game migration route which became a seasonal hunting and gathering route for early man. The highway worked as an attraction and Red Lodge once again began to thrive. Part of the result is the preservation of many of these wonderful old exhibits of architecture and masonry. We found the town impressive also for its apparent civic pride. Driving around the neighborhoods we noted that the vast majority of homes, simple or grand, were well cared for and landscaped. Today, Red Lodge offers winter skiing and the summertime is awash with motorcycles and rallies. The Beartooth Highway is a very favorite ride for those with big bikes.

Here are some pics of the buildings that line the main street.

This one has the added touch of red hued mortar between the stones.

The historic marker of this old 1895 bank building noted that it was the object of a failed bank robbery attempt by The Sundance Kid. The Kid was arrested and jailed, but managed to escape.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


We have arrived in Cody, Wyoming, about 90 miles east of Yellowstone. Buffalo Bill's town. Yellowstone was great. The only drawbacks were internet access, (pathetic), and weather. It was in the thirties each morning for 16 of our 20 mornings there. Here in Cody it is 93. Summer! Feels good.
So, while in Yellowstone, we learned that the bison males are great and unique macho beasts. The rut is coming. Mating time. It begins in about three weeks. Leading up to it, the males are lone wolves, away from any of the herds. They have this routine of rubbing their heads into shrubs and grasses to "adorn" themselves, getting leaves and stems stuck in their head fur. After doing this, they walk with a kind of pride. Then, they drop themselves down into a dusty patch and roll in the dirt, getting their scent into it. They will do this within sight and smell of other males, all the while grunting a resonant, guttural sound. They weigh 1,000 pounds and the sight and sound is magnificent. And the hairdos. Each male has a unique coif, something of a fingerprint. Some have a version of the old 50's flat top, there are comb forwards, afros, puffed up masses and ragged mops. This plus goatees of all shapes and lengths and forelocks equally as unique. Tatonka indeed. So glad to have better internet so Cathy can post pictures. Oh, and does she have pictures. More to come.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Note To Weather Diary

Yes, it is mid July here and it is snowing this morning at Fishing Bridge RV Camp. Today's forecast calls for a high of 57 degrees. Our elevation is 7,700' so this can happen this time of year. Lucky us to be experiencing it. We are, however, much more in a summer time mood right now.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

July 7, 2016...Thirty Two Degrees.

This country is amazing and wonderful. Here we are, at Yellowstone National Park. It is July. Where's the heat? It is 32 this morning. That's freezing. The morning news on our Dish satellite TV comes from Billings, Monana. What's on the news? It is the annual Barley Days festival. In yet another "who knew?", we find that Montana grows 22% of our nation's barley. All of it destined for beer production. Moravian barley of various strains, one named for Bill Coors.
After a five minute segment on barley, our news goes to sports coverage. Five more minutes on rodeo. That's it. No baseball or anything else. Just rodeo. Kind of fun, not that we'd want a steady diet of it. Just hope that the bucking broncos and the Moravian strains do not freeze this morning.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Wild Life

Our internet access here, in this outpost of Northwest Wyoming, is pretty bad. Our wifi is the Verizon Mifi, as they call it, that depends on cell coverage which is weak throughout Yellowstone. For the most part, we’ll have to wait until we get to a park hotel and pay for wifi access to put photos here. Can't wait, we've had a flurry of natural experience our first few days and the supporting pictures are fun.
Here’s what we’ve seen:
Trumpeter Swan. This graceful paddler also has power in that thick neck. It is the heaviest bird native to North America. The geese stay away. The Trumpeter can have a ten foot wingspan.
Grizzly. Surely one of the world’s great beasts. At six hundred pounds, it can run faster than any human. We purchased and carry bear spray for this visit. It is a long range spray of pepper concentrate. They avoid humans, but, if you are hiking into the wind and you come upon one because there was no scent, well, they do not like to be surprised. In the Hayden Valley area of the Park we watched one at a rivers edge, fishing. We were about 100 yards away and gasped as he swiped at the water bringing up a three foot long fish. Carrying it in mouth, he moved away from the water to a flatter spot and set about consuming the catch. He’d dig at it with chef’s claws, dislodge some meat, bend his neck to gulp it down then raise his head to look back and forth to make sure there was nothing approaching that may encroach upon his meal. It took about five minutes to devour the good parts, then our grizzly lumbered off, content with his tummy full of sushi. It took about half a second for the ravens to zoom in on the fish carcass. The cleanup crew.
Mama Black Bear and Cubs. Breathtaking and so endearing. Taking the lead of a couple of first spotters, we pulled into a turnoff in a hilly area of the Park, to see just across the two lane road this lovely black bear with her two, absolutely adorable, cubs. A ranger on the scene said they were about five months old. One scooted up a tree then scooted right down, head first. Oblivious to the gathering crowd of bear-crazed humans, mom came closer to us on her family outing in the woods. We watched as she taught them how to rip apart a downed, rotting tree to get a few licks of the insects inside.  One cub took her vacated place to give it a try. On its first try to rip at the wood it lost its balanced momentarily and almost fell off the log. Then it turned to see if mom was watching, it seemed, then went back to clawing at the wood. We had a good twenty minute viewing session before they disappeared into the thick growth.
Wolves. We had heard there was an observable den in this remote area of the Park’s northeast. We went early one morning to find a crowd already gathered. The den was a distance away but we were given views in spotting scopes that Yellowstone employees had set up. We did spot a grey and white “teenager” and two pups. Cathy and I have booked a wolf watching trip with a guide next week. Looking forward to that.  I love the wolf.

Sunday, July 3, 2016


Upon checking in at our Yellowstone campground, the attendant gave us a "Bear Tip Sheet". She said there has been a grizzly going through the campground each night for the last 5 nights...but he hasn't bothered anyone....Yet!  Nice way to start!
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Saturday, July 2, 2016


Amazing how fast a year has gone. Today we celebrate our departure from St Helena, July 2nd, 2015. That's when we drove away from our house with Vilia, the 5th wheel RV,  as our renters were moving their stuff in. It is when we began to be "homeless" full time RV folks. It is the first time Cathy and I have ever taken a one year vacation. It continues! The journey has been great. I look back over old blog entries in wonder at the sights seen and places lived over this first year. We are currently in Yellowstone and will wander to Denver when we leave here in a couple of weeks. From there to southeast Colorado and then, as summer starts to wane, we head east leaving the Great American West. The adventures will continue but be different. I expect Alabama will be unlike Wyoming, for thing seems sure, our second anniversary will feel to come as quick as this first.