We were up in good time this morning because we had a lot of motoring to do. It had been another cold night but as we were plugged in to the campground mains electricity supply our heating system was able to cope admirably.
I have decided to sacrifice the planned trip to the Little Big Horn Battlefield as, due to the weather, it was likely to be very tricky to get there and I had to balance the grief of the journey against the pleasure to be gained from looking at a field with a plaque or monument in it. So today’s route was a hastily concocted 'Plan B'.
We hit the road at about 09:30, heading eastwards on US14. As it was Sunday we expected to hit (not literally) a lot of day-visitor traffic before clearing Yellowstone Park. A few miles down the road we stopped at Yellowstone Lake which was still partly frozen, and took a few pictures of the lake and geysers on its edge before noticing that behind us was a grazing Bison (its strange how you can miss the largest of objects). I managed to get fairly close to him before taking pictures and video shots.
The trip out of the Park via the eastern gate was a bit hairy, lots of twists, turns and climbs with snow on either side of us. The strange thing was that as soon as we were clear of the Park the snow disappeared and it was all very pleasant, we also saw some more wildlife, including long horn sheep, and for free this time.
The road to Cody was very pretty indeed. It was lush, green farming land with lots of stables. On the way we passed through Buffalo Bill State Park which was very picturesque with a reservoir and a snow covered mountain range as a backdrop. We could also see really nice public rest and picnic areas close to the reservoir.
We stopped at Cody to take a look at ‘Trail Town’ (GPS: N44.515425 W109.103212), a collection of wooden buildings recovered from around the area and relocated to the very spot where William ‘Buffalo Bill’ Cody established the original town of Cody. There were also a few graves of relocated western folklore heroes including Jeremiah ‘Liver Eating’ Johnson, who was played by Robert Redford in a movie of the character. It was a very interesting experience. Afterwards we stopped by the local Wal-Mart store for some bits and pieces. This store only sold ‘cotton wool’ bread and so we popped down to 'Albertsons' where The Chef managed to buy a loaf that was fairly crusty. I’m now beginning to understand why you don’t see many Americans with curly hair.
After leaving Cody our destination was Sheridan to the west off I90. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to drive all that way given that I was feeling a bit tired. I think if I had the time to spare, I’d be ill with a cold or something after all the damp, cold weather we’ve been having recently. But it’s onward, ever onward.
We decided that if I couldn’t reach Sheridan we would pull in to one of two Rest Area’s enroute for the night, the first at Greybull and the other at Shell Canyon. The one at Greybull was next to The Museum of Flight and Aerial Firefighting; I know that now because as we passed it, I was so interested in the aircraft they had on display there, that I missed the sign telling me it was also the entrance to the Rest Area (GPS: N44.509718 W108.085001). Never mind, I had a bit more left in me to travel further. There was still Shell Canyon. Many miles later we realised we had already passed through Shell Canyon, so like it or not it was to be Sheridan for the night.
The route across the mountains was hard work. I’d already had to cope with climbing out of the Yellowstone Park crater, twisting, turning and climbing, and here we were doing it all over again. The route went on for mile after mile; the summit near Hunt Mountain, when we reached it, was something like 10,000ft high. There were compensations however. During this high altitude period driving along the plateau, we saw a large grey wolf or coyote scamper across the road only feet in front of us before disappearing into the field opposite.
Further down the road we saw a large adult moose in a field to our right, and so I turned my headlights off (it wasn’t yet dark, just bleak and grey) so as not to spook it, then drove very slowly along the road towards it. The Chef wound her window down and took the photographs as well as some video shots. I did joke afterwards that we’d seen more wildlife today for free than we’d seen during the past couple of days having paid a $25 entrance fee at Yellowstone Park.
We decended in to Sheridan and rolled in to the Wal-Mart car park at about 19:00 where we are parked for the night. It has been a very long day having endured two long mountain climbs spread over something like 250 miles. The difference in the weather is quite marked. For the past few days we’ve had cold weather and freezing nights.This evening we’ve been sat in the RV with the door open enjoying a warm, if cloudy, evening. I don’t anticipate any power problems tonight as we shouldn’t need the heating on, but just in case we do I’ve already test fired the generator.
Tomorrow I think we will head for Devils Tower as featured in ‘Close Encounters Of The Third Kind’ and see if they can take us a couple of days earlier than our booking. If so we’ll also try and rebook our reservation at Custer, South Dakota. This will give us the option of heading south a few days earlier and hopefully towards the sunshine again.
LOCATION TONIGHT: Wal-Mart car park, Sheridan, Wyoming (GPS: N44.780989 W106.940361).