Red Fox

Red Fox near Dunraven Pass

After five nights of tent camping, I needed a motel. Tonight, we are sleeping in a Holiday Inn Express, sleep faster dammit. We’re staying is Butte, MT, which is a famous mining town, now down on its luck. The streets are named for every metal that can be extracted from the earth, from gold to aluminum, but these streets are lined with empty storefronts. We dined in the Metals Bank Building, whose ground floor has been repurposed as a sports bar. We had lunched in Livingston, MT, which seemed to be doing much better. Tomorrow it is on to Glacier, for another five nights and another likely loss of cell service.

Surviving Yellowstone

Yellow-bellied Marmot

We arrived in Yellowstone last Saturday, after spending Friday night in the Big Horn National Forest, which is halfway between Custer State Park and Yellowstone. I misunderstood how scheduled post work on the iPhone and overestimated AT&T cellar coverage in the park, so we ended up dropping off the edge of the virtual world, without notice. I apologize if this sudden disappearance caused any worry. We haven’t been eaten by bears and instead have enjoyed five wonderful days in our first national park. We’ve seen lots of sights and critters too. It’s been cool, with some snow, but the weather has been mostly good. We’re on the road to Glacier now, so expect another five day blackout.

Yellowstone

Tonto’s Dream, David Bradley, 2013

We left the Big Horn Mountains and headed to Cody, WY, as in Wild Bill Cody. There is a fantastic museum there dedicated to western themes. The western art there rivals that of the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, in my humble opinion. I especially loved the modern Native American art, as typified by “Tonto’s Dream”, with its obvious node to Rousseau. I hope that you can read some of the details in the photo. We spent several lovely hours there, but then it was on to Yellowstone. The mountains here are all still snow covered and there is still dirty snow roadside near the campground. We hit a bear-jam into the park and Anne saw the grizzly, but I was hell bent for leather to get to our campsite that I did not stop. I am just that way. We scored a pretty cool one. It features a view of Lake Yellowstone and right next door herds elk and bison.

A River Runs Through It

A River Runs Through It

We broke camp early this morning and beat the crowd to Devils Tower. We were halfway around the Tower before the gathering throngs passed us by. We were grateful for having the stillness of the monument to ourselves for as long as we did. Apparently, only one minute of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” was filmed on site. A further 18 minutes for the decontamination scene were filmed where the KOA that we stayed at last night is now. Most of the final sequence was filmed in an old blimp hanger in Alabama. Today’s was an easy drive. We’ve been listening to “A River Runs Through It” and other stories by Norman Maclean as we drive west. The title story is all about fly fishing and our campsite tonight reminds me so much of his stories. Tonight we are camping in the Big Horn Mountains, at 7780 feet. The mountain peaks are still covered in snow. We’re staying at the National Forest Service South Fork Campground, along the “Sweet 16” and right along the South Clear Creek. I mean, I’ll be taking a bath if I fall the wrong way getting out of the tent. We will take Wyoming state highway 16 to Yellowstone tomorrow. It is supposed to be one of the most scenic drives in the state. This is far and away our best campsite of the trip so far and we’ve had some pretty good ones too. I’m praying that our Yellowstone site is at least half as good and not like our last camping trip to Shawnee, where the crazy women leading the partying party across the road from us, kept yelling, “Ed if you’re not back in 15 minutes then there will be no dinner for you. Ed do you hear me? Ed!” Oh by the way, Crazy Women seems to be a thing out here. Not sure why. I’ll have to ask. We’re in bear country now.