Day 5 of my ‘Great American Road Trip.’ From my journal, May 3rd 2010.
“We were quite late leaving Billings, as I didn’t get to bed until after midnight, and don’t wake up until 8am. After a quick breakfast, we set off on the 3 hour drive to the NW gate of the park. We stop for yet more petrol, then get onto the Interstate 90 and are once more on our merry way. We pass builder’s and lumber yards, farm machinery suppliers, many trailer parks, and small housing estates. The scenery is a curious mixture of industrial parks and scrap yards, with the odd farm dotted in between. The railway runs alongside the highway and cows graze right next to it. This is definitely not a scenic route so far, as even the farms looked more like scrap yards. We pass a sign to “Montana Factory Outlets,” and I read it out loud, but Hubby’s ears are tightly closed. No time for retail therapy today, even though there’s no sales tax in Montana. We pass derelict houses and barns. It seems that when people abandon them, they do just that, and leave them to rot and eventually fall in on themselves. They build the new house, sometimes right next door to the old one. We saw a new church the other day with the old one falling down right next to it. Very weird.
As we come over a rise, Yellowstone suddenly appears on the horizon, all white and sparkling in the sun. We’re still in grey wet weather though, and the trees along the route are bare and untouched by Spring.
After about an hour, the rain has stopped, the sun shines through, and the scenery improves dramatically. There’s a Rest Area, so we stop for a wee break before entering the park. Faced with a choice between McDonald’s and Arby’s, I decide in this case “Better the devil you don’t know.” It isn’t too bad, and the apple turnover I have, is so flaky that it melts in the mouth and all over the table too. Then we were off on the way to Gardiner, fifty one miles to go. We pass “Slip ‘n Slide Ranch” and then stop to take a photo of “Devil’s Slide,” which, according to the brass plaque, is where the long-horned sheep have been coming down for centuries to drink at the river. I would love to see them come slipping and sliding down that rock face, but there aren’t any thirsty sheep today.
We arrive in Gardiner and go to the Visitors’ Centre to get a map and some advice, and then we are into the Park for a mere $25 per vehicle. In the information literature, is a leaflet that says, “WARNING. Many visitors have been gored by Buffalo. Buffalo can weigh 2000 pounds and sprint at 30 mph, 3 times faster than you can run, DO NOT APPROACH BUFFALO!” I promise I wouldn’t even dream of it. 😉
The Town Centre has its own Justice Centre, Post Office, Church, etc. and there are many buffalo and deer, grazing the grass on the lawn there.
As we’re driving further along, we see more Buffalo crossing the road and have to stop. We definitely do not approach them. They approach us! HELP!!!
Along the way, is a petrified tree, 50 million years old. The plaque says that it’s indistinguishable from the modern Redwood which grows in coastal sub tropical areas. This tells us that in the past, the climate in Yellowstone was very different from what it is today. I just can’t imagine this freezing place as ever being sub tropical.
Pronghorn deer peacefully graze at the side of the road.
The scenery all around us is magnificent and majestic, as the following pics show.
Tomorrow we will go to see more of the park and of course “Old Faithful” which I’m sure will be one of the highlights of our trip.”
Have a great weekend, everyone, whether you’re in winter or summer.