Wyoming surprised me. I liked it more than I thought I would. The Rocky Mountains are not a continuous mountain chain and to get from the Colorado Rockies to the Montana Rockies we needed to cross the Wyoming plain. This is a very empty place. The first day was pretty featureless but I allowed myself to be charmed by the space and emptiness. The mind becomes clear when there is nothing much to look at. It also helped that the weather was fairly cool. Unlike crossing the plain in Texas two weeks ago.
We passed a ghost town called Jeffrey City. Until the 1990s this was a boom town due to uranium mining. Within 3 years of the mine closing, 75% of the population just left. There are only 58 people there now. It still calls itself a city.
We stayed that night in Lander. This is one of many cool looking wild west towns we have passed. It is a popular stopover on the road to Yellowstone and has good amenities. We camped in the garden of this kitsch motel, called the Holiday Lodge,straight from the 50s.
When I got out of the tent in the morning there was a Mule deer just standing there looking at me about 15 metres away. It had huge ears and stood perfectly still for ages. No that’s Dave in the picture. His ears are smallish.
The second day on the plain was bit more interesting and the landscape varied more. There was a gorge and a lake. In places it was incredibly barren and rocky. It reminded me of the Valley of the Kings in Luxor.
We passed through an Indian reservation. It was a pretty depressing place of run down bungalows with boarded up windows and kids playing outside. Further on there was a huge casino, in the middle of nowhere.
We also passed through another tiny wild west town.
We had lunch at Cody, named after Buffalo Bill, who lived there and owned a hotel. They really play up the cowboy thing there. There is a big museum complex dedicated to all things wild west and shops full of stetsons and cowboy boots as well as stuffed Elk heads. A bit too much to the tacky side of acceptable for my taste.
We stayed at a really awesome lodge only 9 miles from the East gate of Yellowstone National Park.
It cost us quite a lot more than we normally pay, to stay in a cabin, as all camping was booked up in the area, but it was Saturday night and we did not have many options. It was well worth the money. The cabin was so cute and comfy with lamps made out of recycled cowboy boots and curtain poles crafted from horseshoes.
When we arrived the owner told us that for three of the last four mornings they have been visited by a grizzly bear. A huge silver back weighing about 400Ib! He was gorging on berries about 30 metres from our cabin. We still had a beer on the deck though.
We did not get to see the grizzly but we were visited by the tamest young fox who clearly thought he was a pet cat. It was quite extraordinary.
The next day we left for Yellowstone. We only got 2 miles up the road and two bison (buffalo) were strolling down the road. I then saw an osprey!
In Yellowstone itself, there is lots of evidence of Spruce Beetle damage but it was good to see forests repopulated further on in the park. The Spruce graveyard had its own haunting beauty.
We saw quite a lot more bison plus a whole raft of terrible drivers. It was Sunday so we had to expect a lot of traffic. We were surprised to find that Yellowstone has a petrol station and an auto repair shop. The two hour trip through the park was very satisfying. The landscape is quite varied although the scenery in this part of the park is not spectacular. It was cool to see herds of wild bison grazing.
We saw quite a flew geysers and some bubbling mud. It smells of sulphur everywhere. Half of the world’s geysers are in this park.
I actually found the 50 miles on the other side of the park more interesting. The scenery was greener and there was almost no traffic. You could just imagine grizzly bears and elk living among the trees. We also crossed into Montana but more about that next time. One last picture of the cute fox to finish.