30.05.2010 - 01.06.2010 64 °F
Room 218, Comfort Inn, Belfast, ME (Maine): 6.23, Thursday /6/10
On Sunday, our trip to Cody took us around Yellowstone Lake, past an area called St Mary's Bay known for grizzly activity. We had set out early so not many were around but a Ranger truck and two cars had pulled over. The lady ranger tried to wave us on but we stopped anyway. Down towards the beach on the lake we saw a smallish bear. Not sure if it was a Black bear or a Grizzly. The male ranger who was keeping an eye on it asked us to move on as the bear could be quite dangerous (hungry and grumpy at this time of year) and they were going to take measures to discourage it from going near roads (their policy. Not sure what these measures may be). Anyway we saw another bear. That makes 2 plus one cub. We go 29 years without seeing one and now we've seen 3 bear in two days!
The drive over Sylvan Pass (lots of snow) was superb. Out of Yellowstone and down through Buffalo Bill State Park to Cody, a town founded by William F. Cody, AKA Buffalo Bill. A town of wide streets (two waggons and teams wide), a museum complex, a Western Town, a main street with lots of shops and restaurants (thanks to the tourists), including the Victorian Irma hotel, a nightly rodeo (June-August, so we don't get to see it. This we knew when planning as there was no way we could fit this in) and a friendly population of locals.
We got there early, too early to check in at the Best Western so we looked for breakfast. We got a table at the Irma 11.10 but everyone had started eating lunch (!) and we were too late for breakfast. We got two coffees ($1 a cup, with as many refills as you could manage) and chatted to the waitress who, it emerged, came to town to work on the rodeo (she ropes steers) and stayed there.
She suggested Granny's up the street and there, despite most people eating their Sunday lunch, we got a breakfast. Bob: Corned Beef Hash with two eggs, over easy and white toast. John: two eggs over easy (in the South they say over light, remember that!), bacon and hashbrowns with rye toast.
We then took a drive out through ranching country to a couple of Mormon towns which, again, being a Sunday, were dead as dodos.
By then we could check into the Best Western where we were given a great room. We could park the car in the front of the room. And these traditional Best Westerns, you get a much bigger room.
We'd already decided to go back to the Irma for dinner and, on the way, checked out the location of Boot Barn, Cody branch, so we could have a last visit to a Western shop the following day.
Bob got his prime rib at the Irma and John had chicken steak with ribs. Very good. Very busy.
The next day we got to the "Buffalo Bill Historical Center" early (they open 7 days a week, 8-6) to beat any crowds on this Memorial Day holiday. What a fabulous place! We'd expected some tacky B. Bill exploitative show but this is some serious museum. We visited the Buffalo Bill Museum, whcih gave a great insight no only into the life and times of the famous man, but also into the "West" in general. We spent a lot of time in the Whitney Gallery of Western Art.
Arthur also dragged us into the Cody Firearms Museum which was full of, well, guns! It was interesting to note that most American firearms seems to be made in Connecticut.
I am going to do a separate page of pictures from the Whitney museum as we are sure Matt in particular will be interested. Suffice to say it was wonderful!
As the entry fee (AAA discount for our RACE membership again) was good for two days, we decided we would appreciate the place more if we went back the next day rather than trying to do too much in one day.
So we then did a drive (Chief Joseph Scenic Way) which follows the route taken by Chief Joseph as he led the Nez Perce Indians out of Yellowstone National Park and into Montana in 1877 during their attempt to flee the U.S. Cavalry and escape into Canada. The 47 mile (75.6 km) scenic highway extends Northwest from Cody, Wyoming to the Beartooth Highway, and winds through Shoshone National Forest. We stopped in Cook City where they were still clearing paths from a recent snow fall. The guy who runs the cafe told us we must go back over Beartooth pass (we had done this the other way in 1990) as the snow was still "over the roof" and people were still skiing there. Then a couple from Powell, near Cody came in and told us that the pass was closed again. So that was not an option. So we simply reversed the drive back to Cody. It looked wonderful going the other way too!
Dinner in the "Rib n' Chop House" was good, as ever: Bob: T-Bone Pork Chop, John: Beef Pot Roast with carrots, mashed potatoes and BBQ beans. Dessert (yes, we must break this habit, but, for a change, the waitress DID ask!). Bob: Pecan Meltaway and John, "Ice cream sandwich" the "bread" being chocolate brownies. Too much!!
Today (Tuesday) we went back to the museum. It is unbelievable how a small town can support such an institution. There is oil here in Wyoming, so that may explain the wealth hereabouts! The Plains Indian Museum and the Draper Museum of Natural History were just marvellous and the Indian museum was quite moving.
Then it was time to set off for Jackson, back the way we'd come, via Lake Yellowstone and down past the Tetons and into Jackson Hole. Bob did a big chunk of the driving through showers and sunshine.
Unbelievably, on the way down from Sylvan Pass, a few cars had gathered in a turnout and the telephoto lenses were in evidence. Yes, another bear! This one was just getting ready to take a nap in the woods. A female was explaining that this bear was known as a "road" bear, despite their efforts to discourage it. Some seem to like the attention. She rolled over in the leaves for we intruders.
A few minutes later, we saw some bison (buffalo) over on the right and again there were a couple of people with telephoto lenses and, yes, there was a grizzly with her cub.
So that makes 4 bear spotted plus two cubs. A few minutes later John spotted a big white bird. When we stopped for a comfort stop a chart of birds identified it as an Osprey!
Made it back to Jackson by about 3pm for a lazy evening and a early night. See you in New England!
At Cody Walmart: Four heavy bronzed-metallic solar lights for FIVE DOLLARS! Wish we had a steamer trunk for more shopping
PS Our foggy breakfast-time at Cape Ann, Massachusetts turned to hot sun, then, as we drove across the New Hampshire coast (about 30 miles long) and into Maine, to torrentail thunderstorms, then overcast skies and foggy capes. Not the best weather for viewing this coast. But forecast is better tomorrow. Overlooking Belfast Bay from our great room, with balcony, at the Comfort Inn, out of Belfast itself on Highway 1, which leads into Canada.
More on that soon. Night night. Oh, the next page is here: Whitney Gallery of Western Art in Cody