Tuesday July 9th
I realized today I should have date stamped these entries to make it easier to follow and to help our memories as we look back on our trip, better late than never.
We slept well last night, boys with us, so one less child, made going to bed easier for sure, we didn't have to make up any beds (Ben sleeps above the driver, so it always remains a bed, and it is huge so Austin slept with him). The nights are quite cool here so it is great sleeping conditions. We are nice and put the heat on in the morning, usually Arnie turns it on when he goes for his morning run with Henry, this warms it up for all of us making getting out of bed a bit easier.
We have about half a day left in Yellowstone before we head to Cody, Wyoming this evening...more to come on that. Our plan was to take a 10:30 ranger led tour of the West Thumb geysers, but that didn't quite work out. Kelley read about a short 1 mile hike to a natural bridge down by the lake, so we detoured to do that. It was well worth it, but definitely longer than one mile. In the ranger station it said 2.5 miles, and we don't know if that was one way or round trip. The hike takes you to the view from below the natural bridge, then a steep switch back takes you to the top. The group let Sarah and I hike up and report back to them before they all headed up.
So we got some snacks in the store by the marina, and found a cool shirt (that each family bought one of) and then headed South to the West Thumb area. But of course, animal sighting...we saw more Elk, and these guys were great...so it was worthwhile to stop and see them. There were 3 total, one was laying amidst dead trees which was a cool shot. You might say to yourself - "haven't they already seen elk" and the answer is yes, but these things aer so majestic and huge, you just want to stare at them all day long. I can't begin to describe how HUGE their racks are. I can only imagine what the moose look like (I have seen a moose in the wild once, in Main back in 1994, and I was scared to death).
We finally made it to West Thumb at 11:30, only an hour late. We did our own tour around the boardwalk that surrounds the geysers. What is unique about these geysers are - 1) they are clear, you can see through them; 2) they are really deep and visible to the eye; 3) some of them are in the lake!!! It was a great little stroll and so beautiful as it was on the lake. I was jealous of the kayakers you see in one photo, I wish we had done this but with the five of us we can't, Ben isn't quite old enough to go on his own, and three person kayaks don't exist. Soon we will be able to do a family vacation with kayaking.
After a picnic lunch in West Thumb we headed back to Fishing Bridge to pick up our RV and take Henry for a walk before heading out the East entrance of the park to Cody, Wyoming. When we planned this trip, everyone said "you have to go to a rodeo in Cody." It was by far the most frequent thing we heard. Wyoming is the Rodeo capital of the world, and in Cody there is a rodeo every night of the week all summer long. We bough the Cody Trifecta ticket which got us a Western dinner, Western music show and the rodeo. We arrived in Cody around 4pm and walked around town a bit before heading to dinner at 6pm. The show was done by a family, plus one other gentleman. They also bussed the tables, brought drinks, showed you to your seats and more, hard working people. They spend their summers in Cody, but are from Spokane, Washington. The music was great, amazing fiddling and mandolin playing.
After way too much corn bread for me (a weakness for sure) we were off to the Rodeo. We were all VERY excited for this, all of our first time. Boy did we have a blast. The kids (my girls in particular) didn't like the calf roping, they felt it was very unfair to the calves. And when we explained what made the horses and bulls buck like the do, they also felt that was cruel. I thought the boys eyes would pop out of their head when we explained it to them, was priceless look on their faces for sure. They had all the events - calf roping, bull riding, bronco riding, pairs roping, barrel racing and the clowns of course. A highlight was a 12 years old girl who won the girls barrel racing event (12 and under) and then also won the women's event...she was so bloody fast. But the real excitement came three bulls into the event, they could NOT get the bull to go back into the corral after he bucked the guy off of him. And after about 10 minutes, he jumped the fence!!! Really did. The announcer told everyone to stay calm. He was in a staging area per se where the riders come out of when they do calf roping and barrel racing. But then he jumped that fence and went into the parking lot. You could tell the announcer was getting a bit anxious now. They sent every cowboy from the roping events out there and it took about 10-12 of them to rope him every way but possible and "tow" him into the corral they wanted him in. I don't have any pics of it because I was a nervous wreck. The funniest thing is when we checked into the RV park later that evening, they guy asked us how we liked the rodeo (he knew were were going because we told him we would be there when it ended) and Arnie told him about the bull. He is a season ticket holder and went that night, but had to leave early because his brother had a commitment, he was so jealous, he said that NEVER happens and he was bummed he missed it.
After a great night we said goodbye to the Coldiron's. They would drive back the 2 hours back to Yellowstone and we stayed in Cody for the night. The RV park had by far the biggest and nicest RV's of our entire trip, it was unreal. They also had tons of washers & dryers so we decided to do 4 loads of laundry, our last for the trip here...32 in total for the 6 weeks, not so bad, and the best part is we got to do half of them at friends houses :)
Tomorrow we have a long drive through Wyoming over to the Black Hills, next stop Mt. Rushmore.