I lived in Wyoming for a total of about ten years. Twice in Gillette, which is in the northeast and is high prarie. And for not quite two years in Cody, on the west side of the Big Horn basin. Cody is also roughly an hours drive from the east gate of Yellowstone.
Fred, my hairy ol’ chow and I spent most summer weekends exploring Yellowstone. This was something that always excited him because of the buffalo. He would stay awake watching for them the whole trip instead of crashing in the back seat.
The bison in Yellowstone are not tame. I guess there was a time when tourists were encouraged to interact with them more but by the time I moved there, the wildlife in the park were truly wild again. That didn’t stop some idiots from trying to get up close and personal with these gigantic animals and a couple get gored most summers. Tourists do a lot of stupid things like walk out into clearly marked geothermal areas and step through the crust into boiling water.
The first time we went was the first weekend the park was open in May. The snow was twice the height of my car. Fred had a wonderful time charging up and down the snowdrifts whenever we could find a pull off that was cleared. The snow, melting more as we got into the main part of the park, showed the steam coming up through some of these clearly marked geothermal areas which in summer looked like a little patch of pasture.
At the end of our first day, Fred and I were both tired and we stopped at a park store near the lake. Fred needed to pee and I needed a snack. I stood there, feeling half asleep while Fred did his business and when I turned my head a bit, I noticed the bison standing no more than a car’s length from me. The image that immediately flashed in my head was Fred looking up and taking off after that buffalo.
Instead, he looked up, looked at the buffalo, looked at me, and dashed back to the car. Smart dog. I always said he was a smart dog.
He loved to bark at the buffalo but he knew to only do it from the car. I had no camera back then but I would love to have pictures of him and the buffalo. I recall one day when a bison was roaming and stopping back and forth right in front of our car. Everyone always stops to look at any wildlife that comes out on or near the road. But that day, what I would have snapped pictures of were the other people in their cars, pointing and laughing at Fred.
After Fred died and my friend Beth and I had both moved away from Wyoming, we came back for a trip to Yellowstone. I scattered Fred’s ashes near a small herd of bison. He would have loved that, running free with the buffalo.
Here are some more pictures of the park. Beth and I took the lake tour on that visit which I had never done before. This is the Lake Queen II. It was especially interesting as I was still wheelchair bound at the time. On the plus side, we got the best seat at the front of the boat.
The “Sleeping Giant” – do you see the sleeping giant? Neither do I.
Lake Yellowstone. A really big lake covering the main caldera in Yellowstone.
Here are some elk in the Firehole River.
And of course, Old Faithful.
We stayed in one of the cabins at the Old Faithful lodge which meant we were close to really nice food and the big show. You know, of all the visits I made to Yellowstone this was the only time I went to see Old Faithful. A shame, really, because it turned out to be quite a spectacular show.
Plus, the cabin was truly handicap accessible. You have no idea the number of hotels that claim to have accessible rooms with things like steps to get into the room and bathrooms with no way to get a wheelchair in. I learned a lot that trip.
There are an endless number of pictures I could show you and many that I never took snapshots of – Yellowstone is huge and even in just the visitor areas now has tons of walkways so you can see a lot of the park. When Fred and I visited you could take your dog on the walkways and that’s not allowed anymore. Perhaps because if you step off you can boil yourself or your dog to death. Ah, but a pretty place to visit.