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Published: September 1st 2006
Day 23 - August 27, 2006
Today Krysten woke up with red, swollen eyes. We didn't have any place to take her. She took out her contacts, and used her glasses instead.
We went for an early lunch at Beartooth Barbecue. It was really good. Then back into Yellowstone. We headed south, then east towards the East Exit. (We had stayed at the West Entrance to the park.) We entered the park before noon, and didn't exit until 7:45 p.m. (We stopped a couple of times along the way.)
We ate our lunch in the park, watching the elks with their young. We talked with a couple from Arizona who visit Yellowstone almost every year. They have NEVER seen a bear. Scott and Austin caught a glimpse of one yesterday.
We stopped at the brand new Canyon Village Visitor Center (opened on Aug. 25). It is very nice and includes information on the caldera and supervolcano under Yellowstone. The continental divide also goes thru the park, adding to the volatility and instability of the region. (Arches NP also has a new visitor center was well.)
Yellowstone National Park still has a lot of trees, in spite of
A Relaxing Lunch
We stopped for lunch by the river and were treated to numerous wildlife sights and sounds
the large fire in 1988. Lodgepole pines make up the majority of the forest trees. Their seeds are only released when the temperature reaches between 113 and 140 degrees. (This melts the resin that seals the seeds onto the cone surface.) Twenty-five percent of Yellowstone was affected by what is known as a crown file (fire that is driven by the wind, and rushes thru the canopy (top) of the trees). It was very windy at that time, up to 70 mph. Sixteen percent of Yellowstone had an intense ground fire that cleared all the undergrowth and sometimes killed the trees at their base. Four percent of Yellowstone was grasslands and meadows that were burned. Surprisingly, the animals did not panic. There are many pictures of them grazing serenely while smoke is all around them. As soon as the fire finished with an area, the animals moved right back in. Plants sprouted within days after the fire. Aspen trees are another matter. They don’t sprout from seeds. Their roots grow laterally. After a tree dies, the lateral roots will sprout a tree sapling. The pines have come back nicely, the other trees will take awhile.
While at Lake Village
Visitor Center, a herd of elk came thru the grounds. There were at least 30 of them, big and little. We came out to the RV, and saw an elk within two feet of Robert in the RV. Robert had his head down on his gameboy. He was totally clueless. After most of the elk had passed and we were ready to leave, we heard this weird sound like a spoiled, 5-yr-old child squealing. Then HE came. This big bull elk entered the parking lot, calling his herd, and herding them. They moved upon command.
We drove on thru Hayden Valley around 4 pm. Most of Yellowstone’s bison population must have been there. They were everywhere, especially the road. (I have to tell you that buffalo fields are just about as aromatic as the geyers’ sulfur fumes.) We saw two buffalo right next to the RV (on my side). They both started grunting at me and rolling their heads. Naturally, I messed up the shot. They were intimidating.
Leaving the park was more hazardous to our health than my buffalo encounter. It started raining, and as we went up in elevation, it turned to sleet. There was construction
as well, so here we were in a 31-ft, high-profile monster, weaving and slipping our way down (and up) a mountain pass. It was quite exciting. However, not having any valium or wine on hand, I tired of it quickly. It took us about 45 minutes to go about 16 miles.
We drove to Cody, WY thru Shoshone National Forest. It was a spectacular drive. I would have liked to spend some time there hiking and whitewater rafting. We reached Cody around 9 pm.
We ate at Buffalo Bill’s Bar & Saloon. The unbelievably ornate bar was given to Buffalo Bill by Queen Victoria in 1908, or so the story goes. The tin roof ceiling is in beautiful shape. The restaurant is tastefully decorated with bison and moose heads (the only moose we’ve seen on this trip). I enjoyed my chicken-fried steak, while Scott didn’t much enjoy his chicken-fried chicken. He ate it anyway, (what a guy!) We enjoyed chocolate cream and coconut cream pies for dessert. Joanie, our waitress, was delightful.
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