National Parks Tour: Sheridan to Yellowstone National Park

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Breakfast started at 6:30 for us. I say for us because there was another tour group at the same hotel and they were to start at 6:00. Of course, they weren’t quite finished when we got there. And, the kitchen couldn’t keep up with the demand so there were empty pans when we lined up. I gave up and got some coffee and fruit and found us a table. That example is why I keep trail mix bars in the backpack.

Chuck was not to be deterred and was able to get some hot items. He brought me some bacon and a pancake. The bacon was good. The pancake was tough. How do you make a tough pancake? Could have used it as a dog chew toy.

When we got back to the room to finish getting ready and grab our backpacks, I heard a room key being inserted. I thought it was housekeeping so I opened the door. I don’t know who was more startled – me or the couple who thought our room was their room. They jumped back so fast I am glad that they didn’t fall over the railing. Once they realized what had happened, we all had a good laugh.

We left at 7:45. Al is still doing the temperature check and we are all wearing our masks. So far, so good. Nobody has gotten ill.

We traveled through the Big Horn Mountains. Lots of cattle grazing on the mountain sides. Al told us that the ranchers will be moving the cows down the mountains to corral and sell pretty soon.

At 11:30, we stopped in Cody, Wyoming for lunch. Cody was the home of Wild Bill Hickock. Al told us about several restaurants that he recommended. Chuck and I saw a Chinese restaurant that we decided to try when Al let us “scatter.” We were tired of sandwiches.

Even though this restaurant was not on Al’s list, it was an excellent buffet. Nobody else from our group was there but it was packed with local people. While we were getting our food, Wade came in. He was surprised to see us. He said it was his favorite place and he came every time his routes had him stopping in Cody. We told him Al should put it on his list of recommended restaurants. Wade said he wanted to keep it for himself.

Little more walking and some retail therapy and it was time to get back on the bus.

Continuing toward Yellowstone Park, we stopped for photos at Sunset Basin and a rest stop at Cooke City, Montana. Al said since we got to walk around and look at the Visitor Center, we can officially say that Montana is a state we have visited if we are keeping count. Driving through or flying over doesn’t count.

We followed the Gardner River to the north entrance of the park. As we came into the park, we were greeted with hundreds of bison grazing in the valley surrounded by the mountains. Welcome to Yellowstone!

Unfortunately, we passed an accident. A car had flipped over. The park ranger and ambulance were there. Al guessed that they may have hit an animal or swerved sharply to miss one. He said that an animal encounter was the cause of many accidents on these roads. That, and drivers who get distracted by the scenery. Another reason for taking this guided trip – my only job is to look out the window.

At 5:00, we arrived at Mammoth Hot Springs Village to visit the Travertine Terraces. Al told us that terraces are formed from limestone. Thermal water rises through the limestone, carrying high amounts of the dissolved limestone (calcium carbonate). At the surface, carbon dioxide is released and calcium carbonate is deposited, forming travertine, a chalky white mineral forming the rock of travertine terraces. Colorful stripes are formed by thermophiles, or heat-loving organisms.

When we walked the boardwalk from the parking lot to the Terraces, my first thought was that it looked like a frozen cascading waterfall. You could see the steam seeping through in the various areas.

As we got closer to the Terraces, I was wondering why nobody was at the very end of the boardwalk. They seemed to be clustered at the middle. Getting closer, I found out why.

A park ranger was holding everyone back from going any farther up the boardwalk. Why? Because a big bull elk had decided he need a soak in one of the thermal pools at the base of the Terraces. The ranger said the elk is known for his bad temper and would charge people or cars at any random time. Well, I didn’t blame him, nobody wants to be disturbed when soaking in a hot tub after a long day of foraging.

Heading back toward the Visitor Center, we encountered another Park Ranger running around telling people to get back. Seems another large Elk had wandered in from the valley and had decided that the plants and grass at the Visitor Center was just what he needed for an early dinner. He was massive. Why anyone has to be told to “get back” is beyond me. I finally got some decent elk pictures from a safe distance.

Traffic was very slow in the park. We finally got to the Old Faithful Snow Lodge at 7:00. It is the Lodge that is within walking distance to Old Faithful so a very nice location. Al said it is the luck of the draw on which Lodge a group gets so we were a lucky group. He also reminded us that, due to Covid and staffing, Yellowstone had very limited in-door dining and that most venues were order and go. He gave us tickets for breakfast for 2 days and dinner for one night. We can get dinner at the Snow Lodge but will have to walk to a different location in the morning to get breakfast. He also told us that the temps in the morning will be in the 30’s or 40’s.

Like Custer State Park, these room are small. I was looking for the air conditioning thermostat as I thought the room was stuffy. After studying the gauge on the wall, I realized that the room had no air conditioning. It was confirmed when I opened one of the closets and found an oscillating desk fan. I opened the one window in the room. If the temps do drop tonight, the room will be okay. If not, I will be in for a restless night.

Al had also warned us that the Internet was spotty to non-existent but I haven’t had any issue with the Verizon network. I have not been able to connect to any WIFI.

The room also had one can for garbage but it was divided into 3 slots – recycle, compost, and garbage.  Hadn’t seen that kind before.

We got in line to order our dinner as it is now closing in on 7:30. The lunch at Cody long gone. We split a sandwich and an order of chicken wings. You could take it outside or take it to your room. We went to the room. Too many hungry crows outside – size of roosters.

We have a full day in Yellowstone tomorrow. We have to be on the bus at 8:45 which is later than normal but Al is trying to compensate for the fact we have to get over to the other venue for breakfast and then back to the Lodge.

As I forgot to include trivia yesterday, it is below:

Travel Trivia:

Deadwood, South Dakota

Deadwood was established in 1876 during the Black Hills gold rush. Most of the early population was in Deadwood to mine for gold, but the lawless region naturally attracted a crowd of rough and shady characters. A mostly male population patronized the many saloons, gambling establishments, dance halls, and brothels. These establishments were considered legitimate businesses and were well known throughout the area. Famous visitors to Deadwood during this time included Wild Bill Hickock and Calamity Jane.

The tradition of spreading sawdust on the floors of bars and saloons started in Deadwood due to the amount of gold dust that would fall on the floor at any given time. The sawdust was used to hide the fallen gold dust and was swept up at the end of the night to be sifted for the valuable dust.

Deadwood gradually evolved from a wild frontier town to a prosperous commercial center, due in part, to the construction of the railroad.

During the 1920s, gaming became illegal but continued to operate behind closed doors. With the repeal of the Prohibition Act in 1935, gambling once again flourished in Deadwood until 1947, when it was officially closed. Prostitution remained a business until the 1950s. Gaming once again became legal in Deadwood in 1989 and continues to bring in tourism to the area.

In 1961, the entire city of Deadwood was named a National Historic Landmark.

Sheridan, Wyoming

The city is named in honor of General Philip H. Sheridan, the Union cavalry leader who served during the American Civil War.

It is the 6th largest city in Wyoming

The arrival of the Burlington and Missouri Railroad in 1892 boosted Sheridan’s economic status, leading to the construction of the Sheridan Inn, where Buffalo Bill Cody was once a financial partner. The Sheridan Inn is now a National Historic Landmark.

By 1910, an electric streetcar line, one of the only in the state, connected the mining towns of Monarch, Dietz, and Acme to Sheridan. A top destination is the Sheridan Rodeo, which began in 1931. It is widely regarded as one of the top rodeos in the nation. It draws 25,000 guests to its annual, weeklong western celebration and performance each July at the Sheridan County Fairgrounds.

Author: mmmtravelmemories

A retired college administrator who loves to travel. I write to remember the experiences and, I hope, to inspire others to make their own travel memories.

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