Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Westward Ho, Day 5: Yellowstone

Today started off at the crack of dawn in Miles City, MT with the goal of reaching Yellowstone. We knew it was supposed to snow in the mountains, but hoped that we could get through the park on the main roads. We made the 250 miles to Cody WY by late morning, only to find out that the east entrance to Yellowstone was closed due to the morning snowfall. So we backtracked 80 miles to a scenic route through the Crandall Ranch and over the Beartooth Highway to the Northeast entrance. While the fog obscured most of the view, we could tell that this drive would have spectacular vistas. I'd like to ride it on a motorcycle sometime.

We spent the rest of the afternoon traversing the nearly 100 miles across the northern part of the park. We saw multitudes of buffalo, many elk, and even had a pair of wolves cross the road in front of us. At most times, it seemed like we had the whole park to ourselves, as we only occasionally ran into other people. One of those enounters was very odd however.

On Monday morning, two days ago, as we were getting ready to leave our hotel in Ladoka SD, we ran into a couple from Lancaster OH who was also traveling west on a sightseeing vacation. Lancaster is a town about an hour southeast of Columbus, so they were practically next door neighbors. We bid each other safe journeys and went on our way.

Today, as we were just about leave Yellowstone, we decided at the spur of the moment to follow a sign directing us a quarter mile off the road to a geyser field. As we circled the parking lot, I saw a red pickup with Ohio plates -- it was the same couple we had talked to in Ladoka!! I'm sure we both made dozens of little choices along the way, including the fact that they entered Yellowstone from the west portal and we entered from the northeast. How we ended up in exactly the same obscure location in a park covering 3,500 square miles, at the same instant after two days of travel is one of the great mysteries of the universe...

Total distance covered today was 459 miles in 9 hours of seat time. Total miles now are 2,386.

We had dinner tonight in a place in West Yellowstone MT called Bullwinkles. It's probably been here for decades. I had an elk burger and a local beer called Moose Drool. Terry tried a beer called Trout Slayer. We've crashed for the night at the Yellowstone Lodge Motel, and plan to head into Yellowstone in the morning to see Old Faithful. From there, we'll head into Idaho and see how far we get...

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