Thursday, May 21, 2015

Day 4 - Cody to Yellowstone

Weather: 41F and overcast
Steps: Shaun - ?; Shannon - ? (Shannon forgot to wear her FitBit, oops)
Varmints: Bald eagle, dusky grouse, bison, trumpeter swans, lesser scaup (like a white and black duck), our first moose, and a bighorn sheep!

Today was another travel day, during which we pretty much just traveled back to Yellowstone form Cody the same way we came. And just like last time, we saw a bunch of awesome critters. But first, the beginning of our day:

We left Cody and headed up to the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center, which is on the site of the Heart Mountain Internment Camp. The Interpretive Center talks about the experiences of the Japnanese and Japanese-Americans who were imprisoned there during World War II, and talk about a desolate location. When we arrived, the wind was whipping, and there is nothing around but bare rock mountains and fields. Not even the fields were there when the detainees arrived, just dust and isolation.

The center's exhibits were really well done, if depressing as hell. For the second day in a row, we marveled at the strength of a people and wondered at the evils racism perpetuates. This is our last museum on this trip, and good thing because I don't think our hearts can take any more.

We left the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center and headed back to Yellowstone. Unfortunately, we didn't get to see the top of Heart Mountain because clouds were covering it. We'll have to make do with postcards of it. This time driving into the park, we were extra vigilant watching for animals. We had seen so many last time, and we didn't want to miss a thing. Boy were we rewarded for our efforts!

First, Shannon saw our first bald eagle and has decided that it is her spirit animal because she is the first one to spot them on every trip we take. Then, we came upon a moose eating at the side of the road. We think it was a female or a juvenile male because it was pretty small, and it could not care less that we were capturing it's every move on film. Therefore, we got some really great shots. Next, we almost ran down a bighorn sheep that was meandering down the side of the road. We followed it until it walked up a 60-degree mountain face like it was nothing. It posed beautifully for us, and we got to see it in all its shaggy glory. That was the highlight of the day.

Shaun had been told about a great spot overlooking Lake Yellowstone called Lake Butte Overlook, and we were so glad we went there. The views were spectacular (the panorama at the top of this post is from there), and we made friends with a very curious dusty grouse. It walked right up to Shannon and checked her out before going back to its business. The evidence of the 1988 fire is very clear up there, as is the remnants of winter. We were all bundled up and still Shaun was cold!

We saw a few more animals and birds, including bison, on the rest of the drive to Lake Yellowstone, but finally we made it to our destination. The cabin we're in is nothing special, but at least it has a private bathroom! We ate the Lake Yellowstone Hotel dining room and were suitably impressed with the beauty and history of the hotel. Tomorrow we venture up to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and Norris Geyser Basin.

A hint of the fun to come...

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