Tuesday, October 20, 2015

P3 Ventures West to Yellowstone

Before I shipped out to Vegas for six weeks, I was writing about my trip out west to end summer.  You may recall, the vacation began in Denver with the Mets - Rockies series (hey, how 'bout dem Mets!), and continued north east to Black Hills National Forrest and then on to Badlands.  That's where we left off . . .

It was mid afternoon by the time we left Badlands.  Needing to gas up, and being only human, of course, it was time to visit Wall Drug Store.  Wall Drug is advertised by billboard for literally hundreds of miles.  It's the biggest, best thing the area has to offer (if, of course, nature and, like, the Badlands are not your thing).  And, Wall Drug did NOT disappoint.  Largely because I had zero expectations.  Basically, it's a giant souvenir store.  100% tourist trap.  This, of course, did not stop me from taking some pictures:

From Wall, we made the four-plus hour to trip to Sheridan, Wyoming where we had a room booked another shitty hotel for the night.  Sheridan turned out to be somewhat more cosmopolitan than expected.  But, having come from Interior, South Dakota, this was not a high bar to leap.  We actually found a decent restaurant, and ate a civilized meal.  It would be our last for several days . . .

We awoke early morning, and set off for our final destination -- Yellowstone National Park.  The five hour drive would entail crossing the Bighorn National Forrest, driving through Cody, Wyoming, and on to the Park.  The trip got off to a rough start . . .

Just several miles before the climb up into Bighorn, we passed through a school zone in our rented Tahoe.  Apparently, we passed a bit too fast.  And got pulled over.  Meh.  But not the worst part.  After the sheriff (yes, I believe it was a sheriff) took the rental information, he came back and informed that the plates on the Tahoe were expired.  Um.  OK.  But, it got better.  In fact, the expired tags were from ANOTHER CAR.  After a solid 20 minutes, the poor sheriff finally came back, looking flustered, and told us: "I can't legally let you drive away in this car."  Um, what?  He continued, "so, here's what I'm gonna do.  I'm going to drive away.  If you want, once I do, perhaps you should drive away as well . . ."  Western justice!

After our brief encounter with the law, we were back on our way.  The drive through Bighorn was a delightful.  I believe it was the highest elevations of our trip.  Of course, photos could not do it justice . . .  A theme that would be repeated the remainder of the trip:

We arrived at Yellowstone mid-day:

We wasted no time finding our first hike of the trip.  A nice 2 mile, level hike to the shores of Lake Yellowstone

We encountered our first bear warning.  At the time, I took a picture and laughed it off.  However, several days later, I'd be hiking Lamar Valley with a can of spray all holstered up.

First hike, first carcass of the trip.  Nature is the real deal!  Some serious shit:

After another relatively non-desript hike by the Lake, we headed off to check in to the Canyon Lodge where we'd be staying for the next three days.  And saw our first bison of the park:

After checking in, it was off to explore the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone . . . a story for another time.