29 September - 6 October 2015 - Wyoming - Cody

Tuesday 29th September

Up at 5.30 am to get into the park before light. We made our way towards Norris, driving through a ghostly landscape of steam and mist.

On the Central Plateau we saw Buffalo with frost sticking to their thick woolly coats.

Past Canyon Village we followed the Yellowstone River through the Hayden Valley. The mist was quite thick here and covered the road reducing the visibility. We stopped when we saw a few people with scopes who were probably looking for wolves. The mist was clearing and the terrain here was quite bare and moor-like. Saw a herd of buffalo up on a hill. Got out of the RV and could hear wolves in the distance but our binoculars did not pick them out. The road continued to follow the river until we came to Yellowstone Lake. The lake is 20 miles long by 14 miles wide and is North America’s largest high altitude lake. We stopped at Sedge Bay, a pebble and driftwood beach alongside the lake for a bacon sandwich breakfast. Sat outside in the warm sunshine, it was still relatively early and we had the beach to ourselves with a lovely view over the lake.

Continued on over the 8,530 feet Sylvan Pass in the Absaroka Range - eroded volcanic mountains named for the Crow tribe. We passed out through the east gate of the park into the Shoshone National Forest.

This magnificent valley followed the north fork of the Shoshone River with tall dramatic cliffs on either side of the valley and unusual volcanic rock formations. Some looked like ancient forts carved into the sandstone.

The valley widened out as we came into the Wapiti Valley and the Buffalo Bill Reservoir and dam.

We went through a narrow canyon past the dam and came into the semiarid area that surrounds Cody.

Booked in at the Ponderosa RV Park which is within walking distance of the town centre. Cody is named after William Frederick Cody, known as Buffalo Bill, and one of the founders of the original town. The town has a population of over 9,000 and was founded in 1896.

This afternoon we attended a talk given by Ken Martin a local and owner of Red Canyon Wild Mustang Tours. He talked about historical figures from the area, including American Indians, mountain men, trappers, outlaws - such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Custer and the Battle of the Little Bighorn. It was fascinating and gave us a good background to the area. He also brought along some of the rifles used by the US Cavalry and American Indians in the 19th century. They are heavy, how they used them and stayed on a horse I don’t know. Lastly, he talked about the wild mustang horses in the area. These are free roaming unbranded, unclaimed horses or burros found on public land. They are descendants of animals that were released by or escaped from Spanish explorers, ranchers, miners, the US Cavalry and American Indians.

Wednesday 30th September

Met Don and Joyce this morning and their four dogs. Don is an engineer and Joyce a retired teacher. They are from Arizona and we sat outside in the sunshine and chatted for quite a while about our travels. Decided to move on from the Ponderosa as the wifi was not good. We went over to the back of town on the south side to the Absaroka Bay RV Park. This is a nice open site on the edge of town but still within reasonable walking distance and the wifi is much better. Just across the highway is Beck Lake Park that has a good dog park for Sandy.

Following on from Ken’s talk yesterday we went to Old Trail Town this afternoon to see and hear a bit more about the old west and its characters. Here they have assembled a collection of historic buildings and artifacts of the old west from all over Wyoming and Montana.

Included in the collection is the 1892, fully equipped store

from the town Shell, Wyoming and the 1885 Hole in Wall Gang cabin, a two room cabin built on Buffalo Creek was a rendezvous for Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid and other out-laws.

There are also six grave sites at the end of the town which include the remains of Jeremiah Johnson who during his life had been a trapper, hunter, army scout, marshal and Civil War veteran. The 1972 film Jeramiah Johnson was based on his life and starred Robert Redford.

The1888, Rivers Saloon, built at the mouth of Wood River and comes complete with bullet holes in the door. This was a favourite spot for Butch Cassidy, where the gang plotted two different bank robberies.

On the way back through town we called in at the Pat O’Hara Brewing Company for a little light refreshment on such a hot day. Fiona served us, she is from Hong Kong and is here studying. There was a good selection of in-house brewed and bought in beers. I had a nice wheat beer which was really refreshing and tasted of apricot.

Then back to camp for a steak dinner.

Thurs/Fri 1-2 October.

Stayed around camp, caught up on the chores, blog, shopping etc.

Saturday 3rd October

Weather has taken a turn for the worse raining all night and most of the day. Visited the Buffalo Bill Centre of the West which has five museums and a research library.

Buffalo Bill, the life and times of William Cody, the famous Wild West show he ran and the town he founded.

Natural History, looks at and develops an understanding of the humans, wildlife and ecology in the Yellowstone area, including the sights and sounds of the park.