Tuesday, August 14, 2012

For A While There I Thought Buffalo Were Just A Rumor

Today we finally drove through the Northeast Gate of Yellowstone National Park.  It is so beautiful I can't begin to tell you, but I do have to admit that I expected the meadows, fields, and mountain sides to be paved with buffalo, pronghorn, elk, and bears.  They're not.  I guess I'm like those non-diving people who think that the ocean is paved with sharks.  I'm smarter now.  There's a light haze of smoke from 3 lightning-struck fires in the park but it doesn't smell too smoky.  We stopped at all sorts of gorgeous streams and canyons taking pictures and just drinking in the beauty.  (Did you know that it smells piney there?  Not like your grandma's bathroom air freshener pine either, real sweet, tangy, barely discernible pine.)  Finally I spotted one lone buffalo limping across a field toward a river.  I watched him until he was closer to the road, then Durwood pulled forward, and he posed for me.  Wasn't that nice?  Then we started seeing small herds of buffalo on the other side of a river, and in one place I spotted a lone pronghorn.  I only managed a photo of its heinie.  Ah well.  We lunched on our homegrown tomatoes, pretzel twists, almonds, and some slices of co-jack.  Cheese.  Yeah, let's talk about the cheese.  When we got to Silver Gate, MT to check into our room (it's also a convenience store and gift shop) there was a nice young woman there.  This morning I went in to get a little milk for our cereal and asked where Doug was because I had his cheese.  She said, "he told you to bring him cheese?????"  When I nodded she rolled her eyes and said, "I'm sorry.  If you decide not to give it to him I won't say a word."  We kept the cheese; we'll give the cheddar to my cousin Mike tonight and we'll eat the co-jack for lunches along with the tomatoes I picked before we left.  Can't let a cheese extortionist pull one over on us.  Yesterday's drive over the Beartooth Parkway was a nerve-stretching ride up the knife-edge of roads carved out of mountains.  The switchbacks kept our speed at just under 20 mph and the Wyoming part of the road was the scariest since we were on the outside of the turns most of the time.  You know the kind where you can look downdowndown into the dark shadowy valley way below.  I'm not ashamed to say that at one point I shielded my peripheral vision with my hand so I didn't whimper like a baby (anymore than I already was).  Thank god we made it through while it was still light and driving or riding through mountains is OFF my bucket list.  Off.  Our trip to the Little Bighorn took us farther off track than I imagined it would, we got there later than I thought, and we stayed longer because Durwood was completely fascinated with the land where the massacre happened.  In fact he loved it so much that we're thinking we might stop on our way out of Yellowstone on Saturday so he can take more pictures and make a better video.  It was nearly 100 degrees yesterday at the battlefield so it was hard to enjoy it, and today it's pretty hot and sunny here in Yellowstone.  I'm hoping for a bit cooler weather.  Tonight we're meeing my cousin Mike (he's a Landscape Architect in Yellowstone, has been for years, isn't that a cool job?) for supper at Roosevelt Lodge in the park.  I haven't seen him since I can't remember when.  I'm really looking forward to it.

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