Days 8, 9 ad 10  WLBT  June 22, 2018

West Yellowstone, MT and Jackson, WY

by David Runkel

What do you do after being on the road for a week – laundry, first thing after an oatmeal breakfast at the three-room B&B where we are staying. Our breakfast companions were a Dutch couple on their 10th trip to the US.  Their son is an Alzheimer researcher, now at Penn, but moving to USC.

After lunch we went back to the park, stopping at 140-foot waterfalls in the Canyon section.  Quite beautiful with a rainbow dancing off the cascading Yellowstone River.  We looked at the falls from the top, and then from a long view. 

On the way to the mud volcano we encountered a dozen or so adult bison and a half dozen newborns, one with umbilical cord hanging, who are red in color, not black.  They’re known as “red dogs” for their first year. 

The stinky sulphur mud baths and volcano are sort of creepy.   Boiling hot gray mud pools emerge from the ground perpetually. There’s a spot called “dragon’s tongue” because water belches from a rock mouth every 60 seconds accompanied by strange noises.

A break at the huge yellow Park Service Inn with white Doric pillars along Yellowstone Lake followed, as a thunderstorm swept in. The tour headed back, with dinner at a charming little bistro, snuggled in among the western restaurants, casinos, trinket, gem, fishing, western wear and other stores.  The town of West Yellowstone lacks only a boardwalk and the ocean to be Ocean City, MD.

Saturday after breakfast with the Dutch couple and a couple from England, we spent some time further planning our coming weeks, deciding to stay in the Rockies even though the altitude is cramping Deedie’s ability to climb much. Mammoth hot springs was our park destination in the afternoon.  What a sight.  Acres of hot springs flowing out of the hillside, spreading travertine in many shapes.  Pools are “Tiffany” blue, but the travertine is white and yellow and brown. 

Leaving Yellowstone, we were struck anew at the enormous geological tapestry it lays before us, mile after mile. Nowhere in the world is underground activity so present, giving one a constant sense of the earth we walk on and take for granted.

Missing our roles as audience members, we looked at our choices: Little Mermaid at the local theatre of the nightly rodeo. Marketing for the Rodeo happens every afternoon when an ancient truck fitted with a massive speaker rolls through town offering incentives to join the fun.   While not being expert rodeo critics, the tour put this event in the Class D category.  Most of the riders of the bucking horses and bulls were on the ground in seconds, the calf roping riders had bad luck as the announcer repeatedly commented and two of the five riders in the barrel event knocked over the barrels and ended up big penalties. Nonetheless, it was hilarious fun. Deedie made friends with Jay, who on his mount Giddyup proved to be the most skilled cowboy of all. His specialty was the head and foot lasso.

Our favorite highlights were kids in two age groups chasing after a calf to capture the ribbon tied to its tail.  The under-8 winner was a wee girl from Mississippi with big red glasses and new cowgirl boots.  The 8 to 12 winner was a speed racer boy from Georgia.

Best joke from the clown, part of the spectacle occurred withan explosive device in the center of the ring.  The plunger goes down, the “dynamite” goes off, the clown goes down.  He tells the announcer he hurt his knee.  “The left one?” asks the announcer.  “No,” says the clown.  “Right knee?” the announcer asks.  “No,” says the clown.  “But you only have two knees,” the announcer exclaims.  The clown bends over, slightly drops his pants and says, “It’s my heinie.” Everyone groans.  

Day Nine of the Scone by Scone Book Tour

The rodeo is a patriotic event, opening with a rider on horseback carrying an American flag and circling the arena at an ever faster pace while a taped version of the Anthem is sung.  There’s also a salute to veterans, ending with America the Beautiful. To Deedie’s dismay, there was no singing along.

We needed our expert rodeo friend Claire to provide color commentary.  Maybe a trip to Pendleton for the Big League rodeo is in our future.

Sunday morning we left West Yellowstone, which turns out to be the best entrance to the park, and drove to Jackson, WY.  It is a beautiful drive through southern Montana mountains and eastern Idaho potato fields and then over the snow-capped Tetons into Wyoming.   Nothing noteworthy happened except for an extended delay due to a crash that left one or two vehicles being totally consumed by fire.

We were greeted by longtime friend Ann Frame and her new husband Ed Bessow in their grand new home.  A delightful, delicious dinner with the owners of the bakery where Deedie will be reading tomorrow afternoon brought the day to an end.