On our way out of town... Friday, 7/26/13

... we stopped at Buffalo Bill Dam a few miles west of Cody.  Constructed from 1905-1910, the arch-gravity dam holds a reservoir of 623,557 to 869,230 acre feet of Shoshone River water.  It was designed as the tallest dam in the world (at the time) and fulfilled the vision of developer - Buffalo Bill Cody!  Most of the reservoir water is used for irrigation, turning the arid high plains into one of Wyoming's most fertile farming regions.  I can tell you that looking down into the breath-taking rugged canyon from the open walkway across the dam just about gave me vertigo.  The old Shoshone powerplant hugs the canyon wall on the left in the photo below, just out of view.  Other powerplants are located further downstream, fed by conduits.

 Rugged is the word.

 Great Visitor Center, sandwiched between high cliffs.  Lots of exhibits, esp of Buffalo Bill's influence on the development of Cody and the dam.

 Situated 295 feet above the Shoshone River... whew - it's a loooong way down!

 Boating, water sports, and fishing are allowed on the reservoir, with camping nearby.  It's quite big, approx 5 x 7 miles.

Jimmy on the top of the dam.

This was a first.  Most of us have visited "pit toilets."  The dam Visitor Center has nice, modern bathrooms, with... composting toilets.  No odor, which means very efficient. 

 Look, Ma, no toilet handle, no flush!  Clean.  Neat.  (The sign on the wall sez, "Please Close the Lid.")  I did.

Next up:  Yellowstone National Park!


Day Two @ Cody - a walk along the Shoshone River - Thurs, 7/25/13

(Our 2nd post from Cody - see previous post, also)

But first... and this is a first for us... while camped at the very nice Ponderosa RV Park in Cody, we spotted the same RV set-up as ours:  a Vista with a Smart car tow vehicle!!  Their Vista is a year newer and their Smart car is red (sans flames, like ours).  People from Quebec!  In all our travels, we've never seen the combination before, so I took their picture.  Jimmy is at left in the photo below.

Pretty cool.

I hate to admit it, but we didn't even know the Shoshone River ran thru Cody.  This is another blue-ribbon trout river.  Lots of rafting, too.  We could hear the excited screams from the rafters when they hit white water!

Wyoming's natural beauty.  Thanx for the Shoshone Riverway scenic 1.3 mile nature trail which starts high on a bluff and winds down to the river's edge.

The river is swift!  Benches beg to be used.

 Some don't.

 You know there is a wealth of geological information in cliffs like these.  So interesting to look at.

 Shoshone River is in the canyon where the tall green trees are.  Three horseback riders are crossing the nature trail (enlarge picture).  This river originates in the Absaroka Range in Shoshone Nat'l Forest.  Some people pronounce Shoshone with no long e, some people say sho-sho-nee.

Far above the water, all I said was, "Here fishie-fishie-fishie."  Bingo!  Both fishermen had trout on their lines!  Must be magic words!  It worked for Jimmy, too!

Buffalo Bill CENTER of the West -- Wed/Thurs, 7/24-7/25

We're on our way home to Nevada City, CA, but we're taking a circuitous route, as usual.  From Billings, we traveled south to Cody, Wyoming -- mainly to visit this museum.  A few years ago we traveled thru Cody on our way to Livingston MT, but didn't stop, and we vowed to come back.  Here we are!

Buffalo Bill Center is actually five museums in one building, spaced like spokes on a wheel from the center hub.  My favorite was the Draper Natural History Museum, featuring humans and nature in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem.  I can still hear the howling of wolves that echoed throughout. Next up was the Buffalo Bill Museum:  the life and legend of Buffalo Bill Cody, and he was a real showman.  Plains Indian Museum with culture and art of yesterday and today, and the Whitney Western Art Museum were outstanding.  I didn't go in the Cody Firearms Museum (not interested), but Jimmy did.  I took quite a few pictures, but taking photos of art usually doesn't work too well.  At least not for me.  They're too big!!

 Nice sunny day to visit the Center of the West.  Here are Jimmy and Buffalo Bill.

 Kind of amusing juxtaposition.

Bronze statues - large and small - were a highlight, especially the Remington's.

Yikes! A grizzly fixin' to attack a wolverine who's killed a marmot (go ahead:  make my day!).  Lifelike and very well done.

 What a good sport.  Giddy-up!

 Always be careful where you stand.

 Bear Claw Necklace with otter fur, glass beads and ribbon:  This is a symbol of power to be worn by a respected leader.  The claws represent the bear's strength and courage, while the otter fur signifies power over land and water.  The bear claws are enormous.  Beautiful piece.

An Absaroke (Crow) Eagle Hat (Northern Plans 1870).  Made with an eagle head and feathers, buffalo hide and hair, brass bells and buttons.  Can you imagine wearing this?

 I loved this small statue:  Star Blanket.  Ute/Dineh (Southern Ute/Navajo), fashioned in alabaster in 1996 by Oreland C. Joe.

When the free Gunfight Melodrama by the Irma Hotel was over about 6:30ish, we eyed the sky, but continued walking along Sheridan Ave.  Didn't take too long before black skies brought lightning, thunder and a downpour.  Nice that stores have large awnings!

Jimmy and I enjoy going to museums and this is one of the finest we've been in.  I believe it has Smithsonian affiliations. And, a Greater Yellowstone Raptor Experience is held daily at 11:30.  Obviously we didn't want to miss that.  We got to meet Teasdale, the Great Horned Owl, Kateri the Golden Eagle, Isham, a Red-tailed hawk, Hayabusa, a Peregrine Falcon, and (last but not least) Suli the turkey vulture. 


Kateri, with her handler (and wearing a mask).  She's new and he had to ease on up to her.

Hayabusa was a crowd favorite, especially when she gobbled a chick, almost beating a kid eating an orange.  It was a contest and the kid won, but the falcon doesn't let many contestants win....

YUM!  Feet and all - hoy!

Folks in the Visitor Center recommend 4 hours minimum to spend at the museum.  Jimmy and I spent more than that over two days!  And we could go back again and enjoy it just as much.   RECOMMEND!


Playing! Fishing! Sunday/Monday - July 21st and 22nd

River otters are the cutest critters!  Splashing, playing, diving, they do it all, and they look like they're having a great time, too!  But... when the fishermen are present and their lines are in the water, the otters need to play elsewhere!  They scatter the fish.  We see these otters - Mom and three young - frequently at Rock Canyon RV Park.  This morning we watched them frolicking in the shallow waters on the opposite bank of the Yellowstone.  Play-time went on and on.  Then, they swam close - their den is to the right in the photo below. 

 Two of the three youngsters popped their heads up to look at me, as if to say, "What's up, dude?"  They're already good-sized.

 All three popped up just below Jimmy fishing.  He pitched a small light-weight stick at them.  They dove and disappeared into their den just to the right of the point.  A short time later, Mom appeared - with a fish in her mouth - and swam into the den.  I tippy-toed across the boulders above the den and could hear fish bones crunching as she and/or the kids consumed the fish!

 After all that commotion, Jimmy caught this nice brown trout.  One of several trout he caught this last day at Rock Canyon.


* * * * *

Monday morning we pulled out after one month (plus a few days) heading to Billings, which is approx 115 miles east.  We didn't get away early because friends kept coming over to bid us a fond farewell.  Made our hearts feel happy, but heavy at the same time having to leave our friends.  We enjoyed our stay at Rock Canyon very much this year.  Farewell, dear people, till we meet again!  Safe travels to all....

Beautiful full moon rising over Billings.


Just one more day? Saturday, 7/20/13

Another hot one today!  Donna and I decided to walk from our campsites to a point on the Yellowstone River neither of us had ever been able to access before.  Now that the river flow has changed, we can.  We both waded in water to our ankles in our sneakers and sox, which was no big deal, 'cause the water felt cool and we can rinse shoes and wash sox!  While we hiked over rocks, Jimmy, and Donna's husband, Danny, and his brother Fred were all parked on boulders beside the river behind the RV park... fishing!  Jimmy hauled in one trout after another!  O yay!

 When Donna and I got to the point, this was what we saw!  Boaters and mergansers - they get around!

 A never-before photo of the RV park (by me, anyway) from the opposite side of the river.  Tergel shows up really well (left center) perched on high ground above the boulders.  What a view we have daily of the Absaroka/Beartooth mountains to our south.  The guys (and gals) fish from these huge boulders (riprap).

How about this for a fine day's catch?  The biggest fish (brown trout) measured 18".  Nice eating.  They're all in the freezer.  Not much room for anything else in that freezer, either (but we don't care)!

 Saturday evening, Donna, Danny, and Fred hosted a fish dinner at Donna's RV.  Those fellas have been fishing fools - look at the trout!  Their freezers are full, too.  The guys provided the fish and the rest of us brought a dish to share.  Oh my goodness, we ate well.  And we had a wonderful time!

I didn't get everybody in the picture.  Standing extreme left is Tom, followed by Robbie, Bob, Fred and Jimmy.  Right, rear is Donna, with Susan in the foreground.  Danny must be at the grill.  And me, I'm taking the picture.  Wish we could've gotten a photo of everyone toasting another fun-filled month, another good year at Rock Canyon RV Park (but we were busy, eating!).


Beating the Heat on a Hot Summer's Day - Friday, 7/19/13

Friday looked to be a hot one in Livingston, Montana.  Perfect day for kayaking down the Yellowstone, this time from Mallard's Rest to Carter's Bridge, a road distance of about eight miles.  River miles would be more, 'cause that ol' river doesn't follow a straight line!  Today - unlike the last time - was full of sun!  Jimmy and I took our tandem inflatable Sea Eagle kayak.  Tom and Susan rented one from Rubber Ducky.  

Wednesday afternoon and evening spawned some terrific thunderstorms with torrential downpours in south-western Montana, altho we at Rock Canyon RV Park caught only a tail-end of one storm.  South of here (and just north of Gardiner, which is the north entrance to Yellowstone Nat'l Park), a nasty landslide of mud and rock closed Hwy 89, the only road in/out of that north entrance.  Thursday we stood at the river's edge in the campground and watched - aghast - as that muddy water crept its way downstream, overtaking the aqua-blue water with something that looked like cafe au lait.  The historic ghost town of Bannack MT, founded in 1862, where we camped a month ago, was all but destroyed by a flash flood... from the same storm system. 

By Friday, however, the river had cleared up, for which we were grateful.  Who wants to float in a muddy river?  Here we are below, ready to launch at Mallard's Rest on the west side of the Yellowstone River.

 Jimmy near our kayak, Tom and Susan by their rented kayak.

 Fishing didn't go so well, as the water was up and exuberant!

 Off we go!

 Parts of the river are lined with rock cliffs, other areas are nearly flat, but chock full of rocks. Susan and Tom paddling toward us!

 Much of the water today looked like this, some even more so, prob because of Wed's rain.  We literally rocketed (and bumped) toward Carter's Bridge.

 Yay!  Successfully navigated another patch of white water!  We were all pretty wet by the end of the paddle, but enjoyed the whole thing immensely.

 Some cliff banks were pocked with swallow nests.  Near the center of this picture, you can see two little guys peeking out at us from their nest hole.  Swallows flit everywhere over the water.

We stopped briefly along the way to eat a bit of lunch, and then continued on our way.  This is Carter's Bridge in the distance, out take-out point on the east side, and along about here is when the headwind blasted us and we had to pull hard to get to the other side of the bridge.  None of us can pinpoint exactly how long we were on the water - several hours we all agree, of a thrilling river excursion!

Back at "home" in Rock Canyon, everybody showered and dinner eaten, we cooled off as we relaxed on the benches at river's edge.  We were tuckered out from our excellent adventure.  The temp was way down from a high of 93, thank goodness.  We watched the sun set on yonder cliff in glorious color.


That's a fishy story, uh-huh! Wednesday, 7/17/13

Our Montana day began as usual, with Momma Merganser and her kids swimming upstream in the Yellowstone River.  We see them almost every day, morning and evening.  As you see in the picture below, she has a passel of kids!  They look to be well-trained !

Jimmy and I decided to go further afield (or a-stream in this case) to catch some trout, and drove north on Hwy 89 out of Livingston.  We drowned a worm or two in the Shields River with no success.  Did spot this handsome Mule Deer lass on a hill overlooking Shields River.

 We turned off 89 onto a completely out-of-the-way gravel road called 16-mile (north of Wilsall).  One of the first things we saw are these stupid is-as-stupid-does cows staring at us.  They're on one side of a cattle guard and I'm on the other.  They can't cross it.  I can.  I took two steps closer and they all took off!  The rest of the herd were watching (out of the picture) and probably laughing! 

After a few miles we came to a brook leading into a reservoir.  Jimmy threw his line in and immediately caught a "brookie."   A few minutes later, I hauled in this excellent rainbow trout!  I FINALLY caught a fish!  A nice, big rainbow trout.  Both the brookie and the rainbow put up a fight!   

 Biting bugs were plaguing me, so I took a path to get to Smartie (white dot in the distance), while Jimmy walked around the reservoir to the willows in the distance.

 Jimmy (red arrow) continues to fish for a while, but no luck.  We took home those two fine fish.  We were alone here and it was very peaceful, very pretty.

We saw this abandoned homestead on Hwy 89, and it just looks so ... lonesome?  Doncha just wonder, sometimes, the whys of and what happened?

And, wrapping up this day, my beloved fisherman drops a line in the Yellowstone (smooth as glass), thinking maybe one more bite, one more fish.  The evening was a beauty, as you can see, and it was a pleasure just being outside to enjoy it.