Friday, August 31, 2012

'12/#37 Blogging Is Hard

I'm glad there are those of you out there enjoying the blog & I'm sorry I don't blog more often. I have a profound respect for those bloggers & other writers who publish with more regularity than I do. Coming up with ideas & material to write about on a regular basis is hard. I love the writing part of it because that comes easy to me but fresh ideas don't just grow on trees. I found that out when writing my column for the union newspaper when I still worked for the Post Office & that was only once a month! So I hope you will bear with me as I try to keep this blog going & hope you all stay with us on our travels. With that said......

Work(if you can call it that) has been BORING!!! The summer tourist season is over & the fall tourist season has not yet started. Cabins are not renting & the gift shop is a ghost town. It's a good thing the shop is haunted or there would be nothing going on. Yes it is supposedly haunted. Apparently there was a "ladies business" being run upstairs around the turn of the 20th century. It's very possible because there were a number of these "ladies businesses" being run in Cody at the time. It was still the wild west then & the cowboys needed to be entertained(wink,wink). We also have some furniture from a local mortuary in the shop that has been repurposed as display cases. With lights turning off & on by themselves in the display cases we figure some of the deceased's spirits may have tagged along. Then we have the bumping, banging, & footsteps from upstairs behind padlocked doors from the working girls(???). Add the merchandise that is moved during the night while the store is locked & the easy explanation is ghosts!!! It also make for some good stories & fun when there is little to do.

This past week we decided to add a little excitement for ourselves & headed up to Billings. Remember that Cody is a beautiful place but with limited things to do. So we went to the big city for a little R&R. Also it just happened to coincide with Red Lobster's "all you can eat shrimp" promo. With no real seafood available in Cody, & Mary's & my ability to eat shrimp by the ton ..... Let's just say we got our money's worth out of this trip. We also did a little shopping at stores that are not available in Cody & roamed around the mall a bit. "Mall" is 4 letter word in Cody. One, two, three,.... Oh, I guess mall is a 4 letter word everywhere. Well you know what I mean.

It was back to Cody & the Buffalo Bill Village routine. Then we wait for the next wave of tourists to come. The "blue hairs" are expected now that the kids are back in school & family vacations are over. I don't know if this is good or bad but at least we will have guests on property & hopefully something to do. It is time for us to get ready for work so I will sign off for now from our home here in Cody Wyoming because.....

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Monday, August 20, 2012

'12/#36 Going Back To Work For Some Rest!

I said in the last blog that things were not going to be boring for long & I was right. This past week we had some visitors. Monday evening there was a knock on the door & there was Daisy, Suzie, & Jen. The fun was about to begin. These 3 mature ladies should give lessons on how to enjoy life. There are no rocking chairs for these women. Add my wonderful bride to the mix & you have a whole bunch of crazy that will surely be loads of fun if I survive the next few days. This will be a long blog.

Day 1 started with breakfast & the laughing commenced with the 4 of them going from mature ladies to little girls in the time it takes to get Mary laughing & give Frank a milk shower. Thanks honey! I should have sat at my own table. The rest of the day we spent checking out the local sights in & around Cody. We started with Buffalo Bill Dam & worked our through Cody. Then we went to Powell for lunch. After a power nap we went to a workcamper pot luck & introduced our crazy family to the people we work with. We didn't linger after dinner because we had tickets to the Cody Night Rodeo. Mary & I had planed this ever since we knew they were coming to Cody. Pre rodeo you can go to the gift shop, meet the rodeo clowns, & get you picture taken on a bull. Yes, a live 2000lb rodeo bull named Hollywood! There was no doubt in my mind that the girls would do this. My only concern was for the bull. Everyone came out of it unharmed, including  Hollywood, with pictures suitable for posting on line! The rest of the night was a blast but we had to head home & get to bed because 5am comes awful early. Day 2 we head in to Yellowstone.

Wednesday morning we are up but the sun is not. It is tourist season in Yellowstone so we want an early start. 1 & 1/2 hours later we find the first place open for breakfast well into the park. Our next stop was West Thumb Geyser Basin. Nothing spouting but some beautiful geothermal features. The girls loved it. Next stop at Yellowstone's most famous feature, Old Faithful. We were able to get up in front of the crowd so we could see the eruption up close. Old Faithful did not disappoint. We checked out the Old Faithful Inn & I took pictures of the naughty girls on the Knotty Pine Porch. Get it? Naughty/Knotty? (groan) We headed north still looking for wildlife. So far only 1 buffalo laying on his side twitching his tail. The only sign that he was alive! Stopped & checked out Gibbon Falls. We looped back past the Grand Canyon area saving that for tomorrow. Entering Hayden Valley we finally found what we were looking for....brake lights! That means animals. Sure enough there were 2 small herds of buffalo. There was also a ranger there giving a buffalo sex education talk. Maybe more than I wanted to know. I'm glad I'm not a buffalo! Next stop home & in bed by 10pm.

Thursday morning came even earlier. This time we took the 2 hour drive on the Chief Joseph Hwy to the NE entrance to the park. Today we will see animals in Lamar Valley. Twists & turns through the forest then out into the open valley & what do we see but dozens, no hundreds of buffalo. The squealing from the back seat tells me that everyone can see them. Then the cameras start clicking. Farther on we see more & more herds. I can personally say the buffalo in Yellowstone are doing very well. Along the way we saw a couple of coyotes. Then suddenly a wolf runs right in front of the truck & up a hill. He stops, turns, & poses so we could get some great pics. A little ways down the road we spot some deer before getting to Roosevelt Lodge for a pit stop(wink,wink). Next stop, Canyon Visitor Center.

We check out the visitor center & head toward the canyon. The first stop is at the Brink of The lower Falls. Mary & Daisy opt for the 1/4 mile, 650' descent to the falls. That also means a 1/4 mile, 650' climb back. Suzie,Jen, & I settle for the overlook. Several days later the  adventurers return exhausted but excited about the falls(just kidding about the days but not the exhaustion). After a few more stops at various overlooks we headed to the south rim. On the way there are more brake lights. There are 2 bull elk grazing on the side of the road & so many people stopped that there is no place to park. Slam, slam, slam, & 4 giddy women with cameras leave me in the middle of the road with 3 options. #1 sit there & block traffic, #2 squeeze the truck into a spot the size of a Smart car, or #3 leave them behind. Fortunately someone left & I didn't have to go with my choice of #3. Lots of pics from a safe distance while idiots try to get too close. The ranger had his work cut out trying to keep them away. OH NO! It's the same ranger from yesterday, now giving a lecture on elk sex ed. TMI!!!!! The elk moved on & so did we.

 Lots more pictures & then we went looking for a place to eat lunch. We set up lunch at a picnic area & no sooner did we start eating another picnicker asks "do you see the buffalo?". We turn around & a buffalo walks right through the picnic area between our table and the next, maybe 25' away! Of course nobody has a camera. After lunch we make a short stop to see the upper falls & take more pictures. Then we head over to Artist Point for the best view of the lower falls & farther up the canyon. It has been another long day with lots of animal sightings so we head on home. Buffalo, deer, elk, coyote, & wolves make for a very successful trip to Yellowstone.

We leave the park & a mile down the road there are cars pulled over. We stop & we get to add moose to our list of sightings. It was the female & calf we have heard about recently. Mom is eating foliage from the Shoshone River while the calf stayed hidden in the bushes. We got lots of pics of the cow but none of junior. We move on.

We had a light dinner & called it a day. Friday morning we met for breakfast & said our goodbyes. I joke about being stuck in the truck with 4 crazy females but I wouldn't have it any other way. We all had a blast & I am sure they will visit us next year where ever we call home because......

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Friday, August 10, 2012

'12/#35 It's Slow Now But......

The past week has been a little slow on blogging news but that will change shortly. More on that later. We talked about our trip to civilization in Billings MT & all the stores we had available to us. There was also the mention of no sales tax. All that combined with our need for a new printer had us coming home with a truck full of things we could just not live without, including a printer. Well after 2 weeks with the printer in the box acting as an end table we decided to hook it up. This printer is completely wireless & required our full concentration. It couldn't be a simple "unplug the old & plug in the new" now could it? After an all day effort I got the printer working & communicating with both laptops. If any of you out there know me that is quite an accomplishment. My computer skills are just a little better than playing a mean game of solitaire. Mary is starting to call me her computer wizard. I'm not sure if she is being sarcastic or condescending but either way she was happy that she didn't have to do the job.

The next day we wanted to do something but not anything that would require a lot of driving, or walking, or exercise of any kind. We really wanted to just relax without vegging out at home. We decided to check out Old Trail Town right outside of Cody. It is less than 3 miles from our front door yet we haven't managed to find the time to go to this local attraction. Go figure??? Old Trail Town is a collection of buildings from WY that were built around the turn of the 20th century. These are not reproductions but the actual buildings. They have not been restored but are being preserved. There are stores & cabins that belonged to some of the Old West's historical figures. There are wagons, household items, & personal belongings that also are being preserved. There is also a cemetery here with the remains of some famous & infamous characters that made the wild west "wild". Add all this to the fact that it is situated on the original site of the town of Cody & you can get a feel of what life was like for the people who settled the area.

There were homestead cabins that belonged to anonymous settlers as well as cabins that belong to more well known figures in history. George Custer's Indian guide's cabin is here as well as cabins that were used by Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid (aka Robert Leroy Parker & Harry Longabaugh). I think there are some some of the old Hole In The Wall Gang hanging around, what do you think? For our friends in the Post Office I thought I would include this picture that may have prognosticated the future of the US Post Office. Can you say down sized?? (Note lock on door)

The cemetery has some of the local characters that helped settle this part of the country. All of these remains have been exhumed & relocated to this site for historical preservation. The most famous of them is John Jeremiah "Liver Eatin'" Johnston who was made famous in the movie "Jeremiah Johnston" starring Robert Redford. There are photos showing the reburials including several with Redford as a pall bearer. Johnston spent some of his last years camping within sight of this location using the sulfur waters of the river to help his arthritis so the location seem appropriate. Bill Cody's grandson is also buried here & it is rumored that the picture on the headstone points to the location of Buffalo Bill's grave site, the location of that which has been in dispute since shortly after his death. More on that at another time.

I have more to tell you so I shall return soon.Now it is time to have some lunch before work so I will sign off until later from our home in Cody because .......

Home is where we park it,
Frank & Mary

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

'12/#34 Still Not Civilization

Like I always say, our plans are written in jello. Our trip to Red Lodge & the Beartooth Hwy was changed at the last minute. We did go but changed our mode of transportation. The night before our departure my brain kicked into gear & important questions came to mind. In the morning I checked my mapping software for info on the route we wanted to take. My motorcycle doesn't have the best range & there were no signs of gas stations along the way. Between that & the knowledge that cell phone coverage would be spotty or nonexistent I erred on the side of caution & took the truck instead.

The ride to Red Lodge was pleasant with more of the beautiful scenery that we have seen & shared with everyone. We passed through a few small towns that were no more than a couple of houses & maybe a shop or two. None had gas available. We stopped at a few scenic overlooks & historic markers along the way. We also shared the road with a group of bicyclists. They have more guts than I, because there is no way that I would be cycling out here in the middle of nowhere! Yes they were in a group & there probably was a safety chase vehicle, but still....65 miles of peddling with almost nothing along the way!! NO WAY!!!!

Anyway, we arrived in Red Lodge, MT & found a quaint little town. Downtown is about 8 blocks long & the residential area is maybe a few blocks on either side. Red Lodge makes it's tourist dollars based on it's proximity to the Beartooth Hwy & Yellowstone. There was the usual collection of gift shops, restaurants, the historical hotel, & generic motels to take in the tourist dollars that keep the town alive. After walking the downtown area & having some lunch we headed to the Beartooth.

The road started climbing towards Beartooth Pass as soon as we left Red Lodge. That meant an altitude change from just under 5800' to almost 11,000' on twisting & winding roads. I can see why motorcyclists love theis route. It is technical, challenging, & just what motorcyclists are looking for. In the truck it was a little different. With dual rear wheels it sometimes seemed that there wasn't enogh room for 2 vehicles to pass. As we climbed higher & higher we started to see more snow. Yes snow at the end of July! It also seemed like we were at the top of the world. Everywhere we looked it seemed as if we were looking down on the scenery.

Then the descent back into WY started. More mountains, valleys, & snow feed lakes filled the camera cards. Eventually we came to the Top of The World. Big name for a little place that amounted to a couple of cabins, a gift shop/general store, & a gas pump. Yes, one gas pump straight out of the '70s. You know the kind with the numbers on little wheels that spin as the gas is pumped. And with only one side working there is only one grade of gas to buy, & only one price to pay....HIGH!!! At least now I know there is gas available on this route.

We finished the Beartooth & turned on to the Chief Joseph Hwy headed back to Cody. We did the Chief Joseph westbound in the early morning once before but it is a completely different view eastbound in the late afternoon. Lots more pics before we made it back to Cody after a long tiring day of driving some challenging roads. Well I will end this now that we are back in our comfy home in Cody because.....

Home is where we park it,

Frank & Mary