Friday, July 30, 2010

Buffalo Bill's once wild, now mild, mild west

Somewhere on this blog there was a bad picture of me with Buffalo Bill, not the "real" but a re-enactor. More about Buffalo Bill later. I had all these photos arranged perfectly and then Paul turned on the microwave to cook scrambled eggs which I've told him a thousand times before fouls up the wifi signal in the RV and scrambled all the pictures around. But it really doesn't matter because our blogs are so damn goofy anyway. Hey, if you get serious about any of this life on the road would become a drag.
HAVE FUN. LIFE IS SHORT! DON'T BE OLD BEFORE YOUR TIME. GET OUT OF THE DAMN HOUSE! Don't become agoraphobic. (From the Greek for "fear of the agora", the public marketplace.) 

The photos of Daisy were snapped along a scenic byway from Yellowstone to Cody, Wyoming on the Shoshone River. And if there's water, there's Daisy. This dog has taken to water like she's a damn duck ever since we adopted her at ten weeks of age.We don't know if she's a Jack Mackerel or a Jack Russell.So if she's in the water all the time, why is she always dirty? Well, because when she gets out, she rolls. In the first dirty spot she can find.Does look like road kill, doesn't she?Dried her off, cleaned her up and made it to the town of Cody, Wyoming. This is a chuckwagon outside the town's top attraction, the Buffalo Bill Historical Center.Don't ever hand Paul the camera. He tends to go where most men do.More with the chuckwagon demonstration. Does get a bit boring but the guy was cooking free food. The only thing to get Paul's minds off young ladies' behinds is free food. What's up with men, anyway? And have we already asked what's up with Mel Gibson?Like we didn't get enough of this sort of thing in all of our years of television traveling, we actually visited the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. It's a museum chock full of western art, Ein-jine artifacts and Buffalo Bill Cody memorabilia. And even has his boyhood home, disassembled in ????, brought here from the midwest to his namesake and reassembled.An Ein-jine.And this is that all-new for 2011 Lance travel trailer. The ultra-light pop-up model.And speaking of jumbled up pictures, here we are on the scenic byway coming out of Yellowstone headed for Cody. Is any of this making sense? All of this makes about as much sense as the Tea Party.We passed this Ein-jine encampment where the last of the hostiles are being held before they can be de-programmed and relocated to Florida.We had dinner here at Cody's historic Cassie's Supper Club. Huh? Had a great steak and met an English fellow outside who didn't want to eat there because he thought it was too hot inside and he believes that we Americans are trying to poison him in our restaurants. He was actually quite serious about this and we just slowly backed away from him.
This is downtown Cody and the historic old Irma Hotel/Restaurant, named for one of Buffalo Bill's 70-odd children. This is a business next door that sports the world's largest rifle on its roof. This is Old Cody founded around the turn of the twentieth century. It was $10 just to walk through it so we sneaked a shot and raced out just ahead of security.Back at the Buffalo Bill museum, thanks to the microwave, more western art. While we're waxing acerbic, let us say that this museum really is worth a visit. But when you get right down to it, it really is all there is to see in Cody. Except for the remains of all those people killed by bears in nearby Yellowstone. Maybe what's left of them will end up here as bear scat with eyeballs. These are raging Ein-jines polishing off George Armstrong Custer. Happened just down the road at the Little Big Horn. We had a lot more pictures including some naked nudist river runners but the microwave zapped all the rest off this page. Gotta go. Have to clear the campsite by 11. Next, over the Big Horn Mountains, and racing through Montana and North Dakota like poop through a goose.
We have been to Yellowstone a dozen or more times and each time we're struck by the beauty, the lushness of the trees, the sylvan setting. It's enough to turn the agnostic into a Mormon believer. These are what are called "skinny black pines", thanks to an event that roared through here in 1988. Remember, you can't fool with Mother Nature. But we keep trying.And if you've never seen a buffalo/bison, here's what they look like. At Yellowstone, not only will you see the rare, tall, skinny black burned pine but more buffalo than you can shake a stick at.In the summer, you'll also see turistas gigantus. School's out. The weather's nice. And you can't find a damn parking space and it seems all the tourists gather in one spot and that's usually where we are. So we seek out those that are closed to turistas aplentius. Paul once again risking life and limb, walking past the sign to get the view of the Yellowstone River from 2,000 feet up. In the 1970s an earthquake took out a large observation platform right here. Fortunately (or unfortunately) it happened at 3AM so no one was on it. That's what makes Yellowstone so interesting. It's one of the most geologically and geothermally active places on earth. If a buffalo, bear or elk don't get ya, an earthquake or boiling spring will. Or maybe a head-on collision while you're straining to see that thing moving in the field alongside the road. Yep, it happens every day. In fact, a man was killed by a bear (the second this year) right outside the park in the Gallatin National Forest a couple of days ago (I'm writing this on July 29). It's called "thinning the turistas too-muchas herd".

(Note: In the late 1980s I produced a series of travel stories about Yellowstone and covered one about a Swiss hiker who was camping in the backcountry and was eaten by a grizzly. All that was found of her was a tuft of hair and a tiny swatch of her tent.)Daisy and her driver on the lookout for whatever.Right ahead of us, a ranger directs traffic past a black bear ...and here they are, a whole herd of them.We managed to subdue one of the smaller females and painted the crap out of her.We stayed in the town of West Yellowstone, Montana near the park's west entrance. You'll likely see more bears in town than you will in the park. This place is like a big, free, fast food joint--bears regularly break into dumpsters, campers, hotel rooms and souvenir shops looking for chow. On a morning walk I saw a Dairy Queen dumpster ripped apart by marauding bears. They managed to get into it despite the "bear proofing". Them bears.Here's one now.This is the Three Bears Lodge where my sister, brother-in-law y mi lap-dancing madre stayed. They were sucked in by this appealing picture similar to one they found on the internet. But when they arrived, the vacancy sign gave away the reality of it all. Nice.Of course, we stayed at a slimy campground nearby next to a tea-baggin' life member of the NRA and ardent anti-Obama supporter. This mini-family reunion with my sister was a special occasion so we broke out a bottle of wine we'd been saving for years. Given to us by our wine-collecting friends Brian and Denise, it was once valued in the hundreds of dollars. Since it's no longer at its peak, the value has dropped to about $100 but hell, that's still a fortune since we're back to the box. And where better to enjoy this than in a slimy RV park next to a tea-baggin' NRA-er.This is my brother-in-law Gary holding the bottle like it's a Molotov cocktail. Where's the opener?Gary opened the bottle and while we let it breathe, he was going to teach Daisy how to roll over. Daisy bit Gary on the ankle. Gary rolled over and we could tell this whole low-life camping thing wasn't for him. Then, we pour the vino.I've tasted better boxed wine but it didn't cost us a thing. And there is something to be said for sitting around outside the all-new for 2010 (of course, now the 2011s are out) 2285 Lance travel trailer with side slide----where the hell was I? Oh yeah, sitting around sipping on a $400 bottle of 1997 Far Niente cabernet, estate-bottled of course, with family and friends and our tea-baggin' NRA neighbor constantly yelling at his kids and oiling his rifle....ah, wilderness. Makes you want to go to Yellowstone, doesn't it?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Up, Up, and Away!

While we stayed in our slimy RV park in a far too heavily touristed Jackson (Hole), sister, brother-in-law, and mother basked in the glow and glory of the "Love Ridge" resort. You can feel the love the short distance from our slimeball RV park to their $350 per night condo ( Love certainly has its price while our RV park was only a fraction of that). Paul felt so sorry for my sister popping for the Love shack that he took everyone out for snacks and drinks at this outdoor mountainside cafe (called "43 North", nice spot). A highlight of our Jackson Hole experience was the alpine slide ride barely seen here at lower right. During the summer, many ski areas like Jackson turn their downhill slopes into luge-like rides like this one. You take the ski-lift to the top, pick up a sled, hop onto the downhill track and zip down at about 30 miles per hour. But my sled had a rock stuck underneath it so I barely hit 3 miles an hour, cussing all the way. But the operators said "tough" and wouldn't give me another ride.Then came the real highlight. Mom agreeing to ride the ski lift to the top of the mountain up to well over 34,000 feet. That's where jets fly.She survived the trip none the worse for wear and suddenly she was like a kid you had to drag away from the carnival 'cause it was time to go. She was yelling and stomping her little feet and we had to slap her and throw her into the car, still kicking and screaming.Proof that she made it to the top.They took the lift. I walked to the top.