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    • Coda
      Posting these cat-cartoons-without-the-cartoon was a long journey that I don’t know if I’ll repeat soon again. A daily blog is tough … even when you have your material handed to you! But, I couldn’t have done it without the artwork … Continue reading →
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      A happy young lady shares a table at a tony restaurant with her cat; they both wear festive, cone-shaped party hats. The woman gaily says to the tuxedoed server, “One martini and one glass of milk.” The cat does not … Continue reading →

Day 9 of 11: On the doorstep of Yellowstone

Posted by joeabbott on July 7, 2014

While Day 8 was full of park-park-park, we thought today would be just driving a couple hundred miles to get to a small town in mid-Wyoming called Dubois. The chief attraction to this stop was that it was far enough from Jackson Hole, the Grand Tetons, and Yellowstone to be affordable, but close enough that we wouldn’t have to put in serious miles to get there.

imageThe Plan

In my notes of things to do this day, I had written:

  • Going past Casper, WY
  • Boysen State Park
  • Explore Dubois

None of these felt like big destinations and merely fell out of the map I’d charted for our drive. I didn’t realize how modest this schedule was until Suzy said, “Explore Dubois? What’s in Dubois?”, and I realized that my planning for this day was probably a bit shy of my efforts on other days.

Still, I thought it would be nice to get in early, take a leisurely walk by the Wind River, and just have time to be doing something other than sitting in the car. I was starting to fatigue.

But that was the plan before we realized we wanted to add the Devils Tower to the itinerary and it was the plan before my GPS took over.

Adding the Devil’s Tower was easy … just look at that little spur off Hwy-14! As for my GPS … I didn’t plot my routes into it, so by the time we hooked up again with the I-90 freeway, it sent us through Buffalo. And that was a good thing.

Bear Lodge: Devils Tower National Monument

On the way to the park, we spotted the “Devil’s Tower” from afar and I had to stop and photograph it. You can barely see it in the picture, but zooming is in closer to what the eye registers. And as much as it looks like this picture might be doctored, it looks that way in person!


P1060935There’s not one name for the Devil’s Tower in the Native American dialect, because there were any number of tribes who had seen this feature and given it a name. One of the local tribes called it the Bear’s Lodge and told a story of the place being a refuge from a huge bear who had raked his claws along the sides while giving chase. I like that name, or any of the variants in the Native tongues as the natural monument, while looking strangely out of place, doesn’t remotely feel “evil” or “devilish” in any way.

It’s beautiful, majestic, and awe-inspiring. Enjoy some of the pictures we took while walking about this fabulous tower.


Below is one of my favorites: the blue sky, red rocks and green grass all look as good as they were!


On the way

The most shocking part of today’s story would be to relate we managed to only stay two-hours at the Devil’s Tower National Monument. So gorgeous was the weather and beautiful the Tower, it was hard to pull away, but a day of nearly 400 more miles tugged at us until we let go and drove on.


But, what’s a drive through the western US without pictures of prairie dogs. While they are a rodent and pest to farmers\ranchers, they have yet to do me harm and they’re enjoyable to see burrowing, running, and generally giving every impression of living a joyful life. If nothing else, they’re good role models.


On the road, we stopped at a pull-out to enjoy a high meadow of bear grass, lupines, and wonderful vistas. That’s Bighorn Peak in the pictures above.


At another pull-out, we managed a small hike to a rocky outcrop to stretch our legs and enjoy the views from outside the car. As is our habits, I took pictures of distant summits and Suzy took pictures of flowers and me (posing).


And then we came across this:

P1070046 Stitch

The spray painted sign on the mountain in the background proclaims, “World’s Largest Mineral Hot Spring” and there’s a distinctly sulfurous tang in the air. We stopped mid-travel (after verifying no one was behind us), turned around, and pulled over to look this strange sight over. Then we slowing drove through the town\resort that had been built up around the hot springs and took in the odd sights.


Longhorn Ranch

We don’t have many pictures of the Longhorn Ranch but we have this one of our view from the Longhorn Ranch

P1070062 Stitch

I think “enough said” will suffice as a summary.

In my words

Straight off we headed to the Devil’s Monument and enjoyed about 2 hours at that grand place.

We walked the 1.5 miles path around the monument, snapping pictures every time the trees around it allowed. The weather was beautiful and it didn’t start getting too crowded until we were nearly around.

We got a few token souvenirs, stopped on the way out to photograph the cute prairie dogs, and then left the park. As we drove out, we passed many cars and motorcycles waiting to get in. Our timing was fantastic.

After that, it was just a very long drive.

The distance was part of it, but the many mountain passes, twisting roads, and slow-down-towns made the journey seem the longer. But what beauty!

Natural splendors of all stripes – including striped landscapes! It was marvelous! Spires, gorges, distant snow-capped peaks, swift-running rivers, long trains heading through ridges pierced by tunnels.

At one point we crested a rise and came across a mineral spring village\town called Thermopolis. It was other-worldly and so unexpected as to stop us in our tracks. We’d swore “no more stopping” but still drove around this town for a half hour.

And so we came to our lodge late. We weren’t expecting much but both love the place: quiet, spacious, and down-to-earth. our only complaint is that we have but one day here.


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