Maybe The Sun Was In Our Eyes?
The East Entrance to Yellowstone is even more awesome than Yellowstone National Park itself. Below towering mountains the Shoshone River has created a stunning valley floor. We hiked some of the overlooks in the valley. One of the stops was not labeled, but there was a parking lot, and the hiking path was paved with cement? (It really was!) It lead to a place where there were benches facing a cliff that looked as if there were statues carved into it. We wondered if we had stumbled onto a Shoshone sacred gathering place?
Snow in August
We are Not Alone!
You don’t often see people as giddy as the international tourists at Yellowstone. (I think about 95% of the travelers were from another country the day we visited Yellowstone.) It had snowed the night before and the steam coming from the ground was even more intense. People were jumping out of their cars and playing in the snow while photographing the steam. One Indian woman dressed in a sari was shouting and dancing when she saw and felt the hot earth!
A Nice Place for Dessert!
We only spent one day at Yellowstone because they were working on the roads. It took us four hours to go fifty miles and we did not want to do it again. We were so exhausted by the time we finally entered the park that we went straight to the historic 115 year old Lake Yellowstone Hotel for lunch. They sat us by a window overlooking Yellowstone Lake. What a treat! (I did not book a campground inside Yellowstone because I was afraid to leave our beloved pets alone in the RV. Everything I read said that Grizzly bears frequented the campgrounds.)
Our server told us that most of the tourists who stay at the hotel are Chinese. One website quoted the cost of a single room at $900 a night. On the day we dined at the hotel, their quote was around $500 a night. Tom and I wouldn’t pay that much for a hotel room anywhere. We would probably sleep in the car if that was our only choice.
On our way out of Yellowstone we ran into a herd of Buffalo that stopped traffic… cold.
Wapiti was Different
And while we know that the land inside and outside of the park is part of the United States, there were moments when we felt as if we were in another country. We camped at a motel/campground in the beautiful little town of Wapiti. An older Chinese man greeted us and then pointed us toward a fellow who would check us into our RV site.
The young man at the front desk said he was from Romania? Both of these men knew only a few words of English. The young man said that the Chinese man owned the place. We told him that we had just visited Romania but it did not phase him. He did not or could not talk about Romania. I think he was not from Romania. This has happened to us in the past when people try to hide their country of origin for some reason. It was indeed a very odd place to camp!
High above our campsite was an unfinished empty wooden multi-storied mansion. Ironically, the local news announced that it was going up for sale the very day we camped below it. A man had spent his whole life building it. His life ended when he fell from one of it floors. So weird! None of the floors were finished!
Hot Springs State Park in Thermopolis, Wyoming
Thermopolis’ residents number only about 3,000. It is a small and declining town. The state park was located inside the city and had curbs. You could choose to bathe in the hot spring waters from among three different pools. (We didn’t.) The park felt like a huge “spa.” One of the pools was free because of a treaty made with a Shoshone tribe who gave the hot springs to the town! An interesting sight was the Teepee fountain that was no longer a Teepee.
Golfing? in Thermopolis
Shooting a few golf balls at the Thermopolis Golf Course was a unique experience. Before we set foot on the course we were told to avoid a rattlesnake family on hole #3. Okay! Did we really need to know this?
The moment we hit our first ball the wind kicked up to about forty miles per hour. Was it going to rain? No, the wind was going to blow us from hole to hole.
As we pulled our carts up the hill, all different types of “poop” surrounded us. What? poop on a golf course? And the poop continued at every hole. When we arrived at hole #7 we ran into about twenty Pronghorn deer feasting on the grass. They ignored us while we played through.
To my right I saw what appeared to be an animal lying in a ditch. I walked over thinking that I might be able to help it. To my surprise a deer had been shot and beheaded right there on the course. And all of this had happened not long ago!!! I was happy to finish the round and leave!
Dinosaurs on the Left and on the Right and at the Gas Station
It never dawned on me that the creature featured at Sinclair gas stations was a Dinosaur. In fact Sinclair has funded archaeological (paleontology) digs that have unearthed all sorts of Dinosaur fossils.
Sinclair has two huge refineries in Wyoming, both created in the early 20th century. In Casper, a town we visited, Sinclair has a refinery that produces 25,000 barrels of crude oil a day!
Tom and I visited two first rate Dinosaur museums that housed fossils we had never seen. Believe me they were stunning! The Tate Geological Museum at Casper College and the private Wyoming Dinosaur Center in Thermopolis house huge fossils of many different types of animals, birds, fish (and so much more) that have been discovered locally. I kept thinking that some of the fossils looked like giraffes? or elephants? or Rhinos?, or ….
Below is a nest of baby Dinosaurs.
Petroglyphs, again (Native American writing on rocks?)
We have seen plenty of petroglyphs on rocks. Archaeologists try to interpret the hen-scratching but no one has cracked the code. At a cute female-owned rock shop, a local encouraged us to visit a Petroglyph site just outside Thermopolis. We told him that we were unimpressed but he persuaded us to visit anyways. And he was correct. They were the best images that we have ever seen. We don’t know what they mean? One person commented that probably the Native Americans got high and just scratched around. Who knows? My favorite is one that I call “Square Pants.”
As always, this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge. We are near Glacier National Park right now! They have opened the West Entrance for buses only because of the fire. The next blog will highlight the fabulous cities we have visited in Montana!