Monthly Archives: June 2015

Grizzlies Everywhere!

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Thursday, June 11 – Onward to Cody

After 5 nights of boondocking, we say goodbye to our campsite in the Bighorn National Forest. We’re towing the Airstream 140 miles west to Cody Wyoming on Highway 16, aka the Cloud Peak Skyway. We see numerous pronghorn does and fawns along the way. The fawns look just like their mamas and can outrun any predator at 2 weeks of age.

Views along Highway 16 through the Bighorn National Forest.

Views along Highway 16 through the Bighorn National Forest.

Saturday, June 13 – Buffalo Bill Center of the West

It’s Cindy’s birthday this week so we’re treating ourselves to full hookups at the Absaroka Bay RV Park in Cody. Cody is home to the Buffalo Bill Center of the West and houses five internationally acclaimed museums: The Buffalo Bill Museum, Whitney Western Art Museum, Cody Firearms Museum, Draper Natural History Museum, and the Plains Indian Museum.  Adult admission is $19 for a 2 day pass which we’re taking full advantage of.

The Buffalo Bill Center of the West offers trail rides.

The Buffalo Bill Center of the West offers trail rides.

It’s hard to say which museum is our favorite.

Prop guns used in many well known Westerns are on display in the firearm museum. This gun was used by Hoss Cartwright from TV’s Bonanza.

Prop guns used in many well known Westerns are on display in the firearm museum. This gun was used by Hoss Cartwright from TV’s Bonanza.

Marshall Matt Dillon’s Colt Revolver from Gunsmoke.

Marshall Matt Dillon’s Colt Revolver from Gunsmoke.

We step outside the museum building to visit Bill Cody’s childhood home which was moved here from LeClaire, Iowa. On the way, we see baby cottontails. A six year old boy advises us to approach slowly so we don’t scare them. His parents tell us the rabbits are his favorite part of the museum.

One of the numerous rabbits that roam the museum grounds.

One of the numerous rabbits that roam the museum grounds.

If you ever find yourself in Cody, WY, you must see the Buffalo Bill museum.

Sunday, June 14 – Breakfast Buffet at the Historic Irma Hotel

Cindy and I are returning for our second day at the Buffalo Bill museum but first we’re treating ourselves to the breakfast buffet at the Irma Hotel. Named after his daughter, the Irma Hotel was built by Bill Cody in 1902 as a gateway destination for travelers headed to Yellowstone National Park.

Little has changed over the years in the dining room at Bill Cody’s Irma Hotel.

Little has changed over the years in the dining room at Bill Cody’s Irma Hotel.

Bill Cody was the most famous American known internationally during the days of the Buffalo Bill’s Wild West.

The cherry wood bar at the Irma Hotel was a gift from Queen Victoria.

The cherry wood bar at the Irma Hotel was a gift from Queen Victoria.

Tuesday, June 16 – Off to Yellowstone

After 5 nights of easy living, convenient grocery stores, laundry and free wifi, it’s time for us to move on. Our next destination is Yellowstone National Park, about 50 miles to the west of Cody. School’s out and I suspect Yellowstone is jam packed with tourists. We’re told by the Park Rangers that people line up at 5:30 AM for a first-come, first-serve campsite within the Park. To avoid the crowds, we plan to camp at Eagle Creek campground in the Shoshone National Forest at the eastern edge of Yellowstone.

Because of the grizzly bears that frequent the area around Eagle Creek Campground, only hard-sided campers are permitted.

Because of the grizzly bears that frequent the area around Eagle Creek Campground, only hard-sided campers are permitted.

Newton Creek Campground, a few miles to our east, remains closed due to excessive grizzly activity.

Newton Creek Campground, a few miles to our east, remains closed due to excessive grizzly activity.

With so many grizzlies about, it’s a good thing we came prepared. The camp host and Park Rangers carry bear-spray at all times.

With so many grizzlies about, it’s a good thing we came prepared. The camp host and Park Rangers carry bear-spray at all times.

We’re less than 5 miles from Yellowstone and it amazes me how few campers are here when we arrive mid-afternoon. To top it off, we snag a beautiful site right on the Shoshone River with full sun to power our solar panels. The sites are spread out and most can accommodate big rigs. You won’t find this in the Yellowstone campgrounds.

Our site at Eagle Creek Campground in the Shoshone National Forest.

Our site at Eagle Creek Campground in the Shoshone National Forest.

The view from the door of our Airstream of the Shoshone River. The campground host tells us a grizzly and her cubs passed through the meadow across the river just last week.

The view from the door of our Airstream of the Shoshone River. The campground host tells us a grizzly and her cubs passed through the meadow across the river just last week.

Water is the only amenity at Eagle Creek. We plan to dump tanks at Fishing Bridge in Yellowstone on our way to the Grand Tetons when we leave here in 5 days.

I doubt we’ll need more water during our stay at Eagle Creek but just in case, we can pump our own.

I doubt we’ll need more water during our stay at Eagle Creek but just in case, we can pump our own.

It’s still early so after settling in, we load Trixie and Eddie in the truck and head to Yellowstone for a look-see. There’s no cell signal until we get close to Fishing Bridge, about 25 miles from the eastern entrance. After checking emails and getting our daily Internet fix, we head back to camp. As we exit the park and get close to our campground, we see a line of cars pulled over to the side of the road. This can mean only one thing: critter sighting! As I pull over, Cindy asks one of the bystanders, “What are you seeing?”.

He replies, “A moose by the river and a grizzly with cubs up on the hillside.”

The warning signs around our campsite are not kidding.

Mama grizzly not far from our campsite at Eagle Creek Campground.

Mama grizzly not far from our campsite at Eagle Creek Campground.

The cubs run and play as Mama searches for something to eat. I’ll need to remember to take bear-spray on our late night walk with T&E.

The cubs run and play as Mama searches for something to eat. I’ll need to remember to take bear-spray on our late night walk with T&E.

Thursday, June 18 – Long car ride

We need to head back to Cody today to pick up a prescription at Walmart. To make the drive more interesting, we’ll leave Cody on Highway 120 and head northeast to Cooke City, MT via the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway. This will take us to the northeast entrance of Yellowstone and from there we’ll traverse both the Lamar and Hayden Valleys, home to numerous wolf packs and herds of bison and elk. I estimate the entire loop to be around 200 miles.

Route 120 out of Cody quickly turns into ranch land as far as the eye can see. About 15 miles up the road, we turn left onto Route 296, otherwise known as the Chief Joseph highway. We’ve driven almost 30,000 miles since we’ve gone full-time and this has to be the most scenic of any of the miles we’ve ever driven.

It’s hard to describe the beauty along the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway.

It’s hard to describe the beauty along the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway.

It’s about 5 PM as we arrive at Yellowstone National Park. While the drive has been well worth it, I’m tired and Cindy takes over so I can keep an eye out for critters. We see lots of bison and pronghorn throughout Lamar Valley in the northeast corner of Yellowstone. We stop in Roosevelt Lodge. It’s always been closed for the season on our previous trips to Yellowstone so we’re anxious to see it. The dining lodge is rustic and looks like it’d be a nice place to eat but the crowds turn us off. We get back in the truck and head south towards home.

As we pass through Hayden Valley, we come upon a traffic jam the likes we’ve never seen before. Turns out, there’s a grizzly a few hundred yards from the roadside. The Ranger directing traffic seems perturbed by the crowds as he tells us to keep moving. Having visited Yellowstone in the off season, I can understand how he must feel about the crowds but then I think about how he’s got one of the most desired jobs with the most plumb assignment in the entire United States. You’d think he could express a better attitude for having the fortunate opportunity of getting paid for being in such a wonderful place.

A nearby bison keeps a close eye on the grizzly’s antics.

A nearby bison keeps a close eye on the grizzly’s antics.

I’m no expert, but this grizzly appears to be rather young. While sitting on his haunches, he playfully rolls backward with his feet pointing skyward.

I’m no expert, but this grizzly appears to be rather young. While sitting on his haunches, he playfully rolls backward with his feet pointing skyward.

After rolling over, the grizzly heads off into the woods and out of sight.

After rolling over, the grizzly heads off into the woods and out of sight.

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