Tag Archives: Wyoming

A looong travel day and a free boondocking spot (Cavalryman Restaurant Parking Lot, Laramie WY)

We left the Wyoming Gardens RV Park in Thermopolis by 11:30 (Tuesday) and headed south on WY789/US20 towards Shoshoni.  Our initial goal for the day was the town of Riverton.  We knew that the local Elks Lodge there had RV parking, but once we were in town, it was still pretty early in the day so we decided to keep going.

We followed our GPS directions for the best route back to Colorado Springs.  We need to get our grandson back in time for the start of the school year.  The Rand McNally RVND 7720 led us through Sweetwater Station, Jeffrey City, Muddy Gap, and then Rawlins.  When we didn’t find any decent campgrounds or boondocking spots, we continued east on I-80 after Rawlins.  We consulted the Escapees Day’s End Directory which turned us on to the Cavalryman Restaurant in Laramie, where we are now.  Over 275 miles driven today… whew!

The drive through Wind River Canyon between Thermopolis and Shoshoni was beautiful and when we passed Boysen State Park and the Boysen Reservoir, we made a note to come back and check this place out when we have more time in the future.

We stopped briefly at the top of one of the steep grades to take in the wide open view.



After 275+ miles for the day, we rolled into the parking lot of the Cavalryman Restaurant around  5 PM.  The Days End Directory said this is a free overnight stop as long as you talk to the management.  And of course, since we’re here, we might as well eat, right?



The Cavalryman Steakhouse is located on the parade grounds of historic Fort Sanders, established in July of 1866. Originally named Fort Buford, for Major General John Buford, the post was designated Fort Sanders on September 5, 1866, in honor of Brigadier General William P. Sanders.  The building was built in 1925 to serve as the clubhouse for the local country club. Just to the east, remnants of the nine-hole golf course can still be found. (ref. this website)


We parked along the edge of the big parking lot and went inside the restaurant to make sure we were OK to park here overnight.  The hostess introduced us to someone who we think was the manager, although he never introduced himself as such.  He looked out the window to see where we were parked, and said, “sure, no problem”.  We thanked him, gave him one of our cards, and promised to come back in for dinner.IMG_1561

We hit the automatic leveling system to drop the jacks and put out the slides.  After running up the satellite dish and taking little “Coach” for a walk, we went on into the restaurant for a pretty nice dinner, albeit a somewhat expensive one… but that’s alright since we don’t have to pay for an overnight stay 🙂


Here’s a couple pics I snapped while we waited for our meal… it started filling up with more customers as we ate our fine meal.



We’re still not sure if we’ll drive straight-on through to Colorado Springs.  The earliest we really need to be back is the 10th of August.  That gives our grandson a little time before school starts around the 13th, and I made a commitment to help out for the Pikes Peak Marathon on the 15th.  I’ve volunteered in years’ past to drive one of the vans to bring the runners back down after their ascent and have been getting multiple requests to help out once again.  I’m supposed to attend a drivers meeting (and a free meal) on the 11th.  So, check back to see what we decide and where we end up…

In other news: Little dog “Coach” had another small ‘episode’ today.  He was acting antsy and kept pacing back and forth at the doorstep while we were driving.  So we pulled over to let him out at a pullout.  He threw up a little (more spittle and foam than anything else) and then he flopped over on his side with his little legs flapping in the air… we think he has trouble getting air when he throws up.  He’s always had a weird cough, kind of like a cat spitting up a hairball.  He recovered quickly and seems alright again, but we’re going to have to take him to the vet pretty soon.

Wyoming Dinousaur Museum & Hot Springs State Park (Wyoming Gardens RV Park, Thermopolis WY)

On Monday we left little “Coach” in the Coach and went to the other side of town to visit The Wyoming Dinosaur Center.




We paid the museum entrance fee and signed up for the Dig-Site Tour.  Cost was $42 for the two of us and our 9yr-old grandson after a veterans discount.

We arrived just in time to go on the next Dig-Site Tour.  The wait time was only 10 minutes before we had to get on the little bus.  So we spent the 10 minutes browsing the museum…




This is “Jimbo” the Supersaurus.




We cut our museum tour short when they announced that the bus was boarding for the Dig-Site Tour.  We would finish checking out the museum once we got back.


Our bus driver/tour guide took us on a 2 mile bumpy and dusty ride to the dig site.


Then he have us a detailed briefing of the site in front of this placard under a small wooden shade structure with a picnic table.


Then he escorted us into the Special Interest (SI) site located under this protective enclosure.


He showed us the footprints and fossils that are at this site.  This is supposed to be one of the only places where footprints and bones are found together in one place.



The red painted spots on the ground are dinosaur tracks.


Typical protective cast used before transporting a fossil to the lab.


The tour guide interacted with the kids in the group.  He gave dinosaur toys (temporarily) to Kaan and another little girl, to demonstrate the type of tracks found here at the site.




Here he uses a cow bone to demonstrate how bones look before fossilization.


View of other dig-sites in the area.


It was an interesting and informative tour.  I recommend it if you’re in the area.

We all got back on the bus for the drive back to the museum.


The nice tour guide gave Kaan his pick of some dinosaur bone fragments from a box as a souvenir.


When we returned to the museum, we finished touring the displays:












After our informative tour of the dinosaur museum, we headed over to the nearby Hot Springs State Park.


We drove around a few of the loops in the park on the east side of town.


We even saw a herd of buffalo, although, no pics this time.


We stopped to examine a few holes in the ground.





And we stopped at an old, dried-up mineral springs.





One of the geysers.


A chainsaw artist demonstrated his work in the Hot Springs Park area parking lot near the mineral bath house.


We stopped at this Bath House for a free soak in the outside pool.  They have you sign in and limit your stay to 20 minutes.  It was pretty cool but a little smelly.  The best part is – that it was free.


There are two other mineral springs next to the free Wyoming State Bath House; the Star Plunge and the TeePee Pools & Spa.  Click on the links to learn more and see prices.



We walked around the park.




This is the back-side view of the Bath House that we were in earlier.



Then we walked along the long boardwalk to view the mineral springs and pools around the park:








The Swinging Bridge.  And it really did swing.






Here you can see many years of mineral springs flow into the river below.


We walked back to the Silverado through the nice grassy park area…


and stopped at the playground, of course…


On our drive through the old part of town we noticed the “Needful Things” shop of Stephen King fame.


And the town statue of a typical Wyoming cowboy.


And that’s all for now folks… we’ll head on south towards Colorado Springs in order to get our grandson Kaan back to his mom and school which starts in another week or two.

Stay tuned…







Travel Day & Buffalo Bill Dam (Wyoming Gardens RV Park, Thermopolis WY)

We said goodbye to the Shoshone National Forest- Rex Hale Campground around noon and headed back towards Cody.


We stopped at the Buffalo Bill Dam located 6 miles west of Cody.  The Dam has ample parking for big rigs alongside the highway.  Volunteers were standing by to shuttle visitors to the Dam Visitor Center in golf carts.  The tour is free but the golf cart drivers appreciate tips.




According to wikipedia™: The 325 feet (99 m) high structure was built between 1905 and 1910.  At the time of its completion it was the tallest dam in the world.  It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 and named a National Civil Engineering Landmark in 1973.  Known at the time of its construction as Shoshone Dam, it was renamed in 1946 to honor William “Buffalo Bill” Cody.





I read that these log jams are cleaned out on an annual basis.


View from the top of the dam looking down on the old power plant.  A new power plant was built a little further downstream.


Looking back towards the visitor center from the other side of the dam.




Inside the visitors center, an informational video played every 15 minutes inside this mini-theater.




After our tour of the Buffalo Bill Dam, we headed on into Cody through the Shoshone Canyon Tunnels.  Known as the longest tunnel in Wyoming.


We then dumped our tanks at the Cody Municipal Public RV Dump Station we passed just before heading south on WY-120.  We traveled through the little town of Meeteetse and then into Thermopolis, the “Gateway to Yellowstone Country” and home of the world’s largest mineral springs.  A 130 mile travel day.

We checked our iPhone apps and other resources to locate a campground and the Rand McNally RVND 7720 turned us on to the Eagle RV Park that offered discounts for Good Sam (10%), Escapees (15%) & Military (15%) but when we pulled in, they didn’t have a site large enough for the Urban Escape Vehicle.

Our next choice was Wyoming Gardens RV Park which we passed on the way through town.  The sites didn’t look large enough initially but we pulled in and found a site we could fit into.  We paid $58.86 for two nights after a 10% veterans discount.  Only 30 Amp power but we’re right in the middle of town and our satellite dish cleared the trees.




We put a couple steaks on the grill for dinner and I worked on the blog to get caught up after being off the grid for the last several days.  The campground wifi is excellent here.

Check back tomorrow for a recap of our Monday tour of the Wyoming Dinosaur Museum and our visit to the Hot Springs State Park here in Thermopolis.

Touring is hard work… time to take a day off! [1 Aug] (Shoshone National Forest, Rex Hale Campground)

Since we’ve been on the road touring Yellowstone for the last three days, we decided to pay for another day here at Rex Hale Campground, and just relax for the day and maybe plan our next move.


So we got up late and just hung out in the campground.  I used some of the time to wash a few sections of the Coach and then the Harley.

I also downloaded all the Road Mate DVR clips onto the laptop.  I’ve been using it in the Silverado on our trips through Yellowstone but I don’t think the 2-minute video clips are conducive to using on the blog since most of the files are between 200 and 300 MB in size.  I wrote about purchasing this while we were at the FCRV Campvention Rally in Gillette.  As I mentioned in that post: “These devices normally mount on your dashboard or windshield to record your trip. The advertisement claims that they are designed for your security, protection, and save the best memories of your trip.”  This is all good, but I don’t think I can use any of it in the blog unless I can get the sizing down.  More on this in the future maybe…

We also took a long walk and checked out the North Fork Shoshone river that runs next to the campground…






Our grandson Kaan played a lot of MineCraft on his X-Box during the day.

Here he took a break from his video games and played with little Coach…

Little Coach has Kaan down for the count.

And later we burned, I mean toasted, a few marshmallows to make some S’mores.

Kaan toasting some marshmallows (again).

Life is good…


This is how little Coach enjoys a campfire.




And that was our day.  Hope yours was good too 🙂

Authors Note:  Almost caught up now… check back for an update on our moving day (2 Aug) to Thermopolis, WY where we are now…

Yellowstone National Park [31 July] (Shoshone National Forest, Rex Hale Campground)

On Friday the 31st of July, we got another early start so we could tour the northern loop of Yellowstone NP.


We drove into the park one final time, through the east entrance and over Sylvan Pass.

And then we turned right at Fishing Bridge to do a counter-clockwise loop around the northern or ‘ Upper Grand Loop‘ of the park.

But first, we stopped at the Fishing Bridge General Store to get a fishing license.  Kaan wanted to try his luck, and well – so did I 🙂  The license was $18 and is valid for 3 days.  Kaan didn’t need a license as long as he’s with me, however, the nice clerk gave him a souvenir license anyway.


We stopped at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River once again because we missed the Inspiration Point drive when we were here before.  Now, I think we’ve seen it all.







After turning north at Canyon Village, we passed by some more falls;  Tower Falls.  It required a little hike, but it was worth it.




And after a very scenic drive in a counter-clockwise direction along the northern grand loop, we made it to Mammoth Hot Springs.


Of course, we stopped at the visitors center and toured the wildlife displays but a large section was closed due to an unexpected power outage.  Oh well, off to the Upper Terrace Drive we went…







We took some of the boardwalks to see the magnificent area.



This little geyser popped up through the asphalt in one of the parking areas.  They blocked it off with the concrete barriers.  The scenery here is always changing due to the geo-thermal conditions.



View of the Mammoth Hot Springs Historic District and Fort Yellowstone in the distance from the Upper Terraces area.  Interesting history here from my friend wikipedia™.



A small deer was hanging out near the hot springs.









Kaan just had to touch the water to see how hot it was…  don’t worry, no damage was done to either himself or the environment.



After spending time at Mammoth Hot Springs, we continued on our counter-clockwise loop until we found a picnic area.  Stilla packed us some lunch as she had each day prior, but this time we needed a picnic table to make our sandwiches and cut up our vegetables.  Sheepeater Cliff was a really unique and picturesque area and we had it all to ourselves for quite a while.








We continued on past Norris and then back to Canyon Village where we had started our northern loop.  We did it!  We finished the whole park… it took us 4 trips, but it was worth it 🙂

By now, Kaan was getting pretty antsy about putting a pole in the water since we got our license earlier at the Fishing Bridge General Store.  So we stopped along the Yellowstone River between Canyon Village and Fishing Bridge.


We followed the rule book that we got along with the license and pinched down the barb on our artificial fly.  Kaan had fun but quickly got bored when we didn’t catch anything.  We had to use a clear bobber so the line had some weight in order to throw it out in the current from the shoreline.  Probably not the best method of fly-fishing but Kaan had fun.





Coyote across the river.  Little “Coach” didn’t like him and barked out the window.  But, he does that for the buffalo too.  As a matter-of-fact, he does that for all wildlife 🙂


We made it back to our campground (almost 200 miles driven today) and had another enjoyable quiet evening without internet or cell phones.  Although, Kaan always has the X-Box hooked up the back TV so he can entertain himself for hours with MineCraft.


Authors Note: We’re currently in Thermopolis, WY and I’m trying to get the blog up to date… check back soon for an update on our day of rest at the campground (1 Aug) and our drive here to Thermopolis (2 Aug).  Today (3 Aug) we plan on visiting the hot springs here and maybe the dinosaur museum.


Yellowstone National Park [30 July] (Shoshone National Forest, Rex Hale Campground)

On Thursday the 30th we got an earlier start to the day and decided we were finally going to finish the lower loop by turning left at Fishing Bridge and go past Old Faithful, which we saw on our first day.


We drove the 16 miles from our campground to the East Entrance again.


By the way – Here’s a sign listing all the campgrounds within the park.  Most are managed by a subcontractor called Xanterra Parks & Resorts Inc.  It would be nice to stay at one of the campgrounds within the park and cut down the travel time.  We have to travel about 27 miles from the East Entrance to Fishing Bridge over Sylvan Pass each day.  But that’s OK 🙂

Campground sign at the East Entrance to Yellowstone NP.

This time we took the 1 mile turnoff up Late Butte Overlook when we got close to Yellowstone Lake.  We’d passed this Overlook on our other trips into the park.


As I mentioned before, the east side still shows heavy fire damage from the 1988 ‘Summer of Fire‘.


Kaan, Stilla, and little Coach at Lake Butte Overlook, Yellowstone NP.
David, Stilla, and little Coach at Lake Butte Overlook, Yellowstone NP.
Odd looking burnt tree at Lake Butte Overlook, Yellowstone NP.

This time we also stopped at the Fishing Bridge Visitors Center.


The visitors center had a pretty cool raised-relief map laid out on a table.


And this visitors center’s theme was on the fires in Yellowstone.




Yellowstone Lake behind the Fishing Bridge Visitor Center.





Stilla & David at Yellowstone Lake.

After crossing Fishing Bridge, we turned west to do our clockwise lower loop tour.


By the way – I think they need to rename Fishing Bridge to “No-Fishing Bridge” since it is permanently closed to fishing.  That’s just false advertising, don’t you think?

We stopped along the lake a couple more times since the route skirts the northwest edge of the lake until you get to West Thumb.






Here’s another picture of one of the cool old buses that still take people on tours.  We saw these many times during our visit to the park.  A 1936 National Park Bus.


We passed by Old Faithful since we saw it on Monday and stopped at Black Sand Basin… one of the many geyser stops along the route.










And we stopped at more geysers…



And waterfalls…



And more geysers…



Here’s an Elk trying to hide during the day from the masses of people trying to take pictures (us included).


During one of our stops, Kaan was startled by this female Elk hanging out in a heavily wooded pull-off.




And here’s some more pictures of geysers and stuff we took during our tour of the lower loop around Yellowstone…  because you just can’t get enough, right?










We drove up a side road called the Firehole Canyon Drive near Madison and the West Entrance.


We wanted to stop and go swimming but didn’t have the foresight to bring any swim gear 🙁





And we made it!  We finally completed the entire lower loop.  I think we put about 150 miles on the truck today.  Tomorrow, our goal will be the upper loop.   We relaxed for the evening with a campfire back at Rex Hale National Forest Campgound.

Authors Note:  It is now Monday morning on the 3rd of August and we are in Thermopolis, WY.  I’ll try to catch you up with our Yellowstone trip as soon as possible… we didn’t have internet or cell phone coverage the entire time we were at our campground, and only very limited phone connectivity while touring the park.

Check back in for our 31 July northern loop tour which includes Mammoth Hot Springs.



Yellowstone National Park [29 July] (Shoshone National Forest, Rex Hale Campground)

It’s been quite awhile since my last post.  We’ve been off the grid without internet or cell phone service since Wednesday the 29th.  We left the Ponderosa RV Park in Cody on Wednesday to find one of the campgrounds we scoped out on our first trip into Yellowstone NP that I wrote about HERE.  We wanted to be closer to the park so we could take day trips in the Silverado without having to drive over 50 miles just to get to the East Entrance.  We did three more trips into Yellowstone on the 29th, 30th, and 31st of July.

But first, I’d like to say – Although this blog is read by family, friends, acquaintances, and even some folks I haven’t yet met; one of the main reasons I do this blog is to provide for a personal record of our adventures and to save these memories for future posterity.  In many ways, I think this blog is better than a photo album.  Therefore, I’d like to catch you up on our three days in Yellowstone and post some of the many pictures that we took, which constitute our most precious memories into separate posts…  one for each day we toured Yellowstone with our grandson.  Hopefully, we (and our grandson) can look back on these memories in the years to come in order to relive our travels and adventures.

With that said, let me begin on July 29th (Wednesday) by sharing the nice campground we found just 16 miles from the East Entrance.  The Rex Hale Campground is in the Shoshone National Forest.


We scored a 50 Amp site with water.  Yes, I said a 50 Amp site… something that’s almost unheard of in national forest campgrounds  We took site 11.


The nightly fee was only $10 since I have a disabled veterans golden access pass.



The camp hosts were the nicest couple.  Gene and Kay Onstine.  Gene told us they’ve been hosting here for years.  He took the time to point out some of the rock formations and the ‘faces’ you could see with a little imagination.



Here’s our site…  We left the slides in and the satellite dish down while we were away because the camp host warned us about hefty gusts of wind that come through the canyon without warning.


And our view…




Our closest neighbor was this deer in our ‘backyard’…



After we got set up in our site we decided to drive on into Yellowstone even though we knew it was a late start.  This time we took our little dog “Coach” along.

Today, we wanted to turn right at Fishing Bridge and see how much of the lower loop we could do in a counter-clockwise fashion.  You may recall that we tried the clockwise direction on our Monday trip, but we only made it as far as Old Faithful before the rain and lateness of the day forced us to turn back.   Well, today wasn’t much different (except the weather was nice) because we only made it as far as Canyon Village before it got too late to continue on.


But before we even got very far out of the campground… I ran out of gas in the Silverado!

Out of gas.

We were only a mile (or less) from the gas station at Pahaska Tepee which is only a couple miles from the East Entrance.


We forgot to fuel up before we hooked up the truck behind the Coach to tow it to the campground.  We thought about it when we unhooked the truck but figured we could make it to the nearest gas station.  Luckily, I had a gallon can (empty of course) and I was able to flag down the first car that came by.  The nice couple took my gas can, filled it up, and brought it back to us in a matter of 10 minutes.  I was tempted to download the Harley to go get gas, but didn’t have to, thanks to the nice couple in their Porsche Cayenne that stopped to help us.


Once again, I was able to use my disabled veterans golden access pass to get in the park for free.


We drove over Sylvan Pass which we’ve became quite familiar with over the course of our 4 trips into the park.




After Fishing Bridge, we turned right towards Canyon Village.


Our first stop was the Mud Volcano Area.









And then we toured around the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River area.  There were several different pullouts, loops, and scenic drives in and around this beautiful ‘grand’ area of Yellowstone Park.




















At the Canyon Village area, we toured the gift shop, general store, and visitors center.



We saw buffalo, antelope, elk, and even bears throughout the day.  The bears were too far off to get a good picture.



And here’s some more pictures back at our campground in the evening.





Another great evening with a full moon.


Author’s note:  It’s late Sunday night as I finish up this post and we are in Thermopolis, WY.  I’ll try to get caught up as soon as possible with Yellowstone posts about the 30th, 31st, and then our day of ‘just hanging around’ the campground on the 1st of August.  Then I have to catch you up on our trip here to Thermopolis on the 2nd.




Buffalo Bill Center of the West (Ponderosa RV Park, Cody WY)

We spent our Tuesday in the town of Cody checking out the sites.  It was windy again all day, so we left all the awnings in this time – even the pull-down’s over the rear windows.  The weather-guessers say it will be nice and sunny again Wednesday.  We’re looking forward to hot weather again.  We had to leave little “Coach” in the Coach again all day – at least it wasn’t for too long, like on Monday.

Here’s a summary of our visit to the Buffalo Bill Center of the West:


I queried my friend wikipedia® for the best description of this place;  “The Buffalo Bill Historical Center, is a complex of five museums and a research library featuring art and artifacts of the American West.  Founded in 1917 to preserve the legacy and vision of Col. William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West is the oldest and most comprehensive museum of the West.”  We spent most of the day here.



The Buffalo Bill section was really interesting and we were able to join a free guided-tour for some extra education.



Kaan standing on the huge tile-floor ‘map’ in the Buffalo Bill Museum, Cody WY.
View of the huge tile-floor ‘map’ on the floor of the Buffalo Bill Museum, Cody WY. (As viewed from the upper balcony)

They had really nice life-size dioramas throughout the museum.  Here’s some from the Plains Indian exhibit(s):




The Natural History portion of this place was really awesome.



Kaan really enjoyed the Natural History section of the museum because they even had some fossils and dinosaur exhibits mixed in with the full-size dioramas.


Here’s a few more pics of our grandson Kaan in front of some animal exhibits:  His mom really enjoys these pics – Kaan not so much 🙂




The Cody Firearms Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West houses the most comprehensive collection of American firearms in the world according to their literature and website.  And man, was it ever huge… our grandson Kaan got bored though, so we didn’t stay in that section as long as I would have liked.




This was a really nice museum, er, I mean center.  Or is it collection of museums?  It was worth the $47 entrance fee for 2 adults and 1 child after a small veteran discount ($2).  Another “must-see” to put on your list if you’re in the area.

After our tour of the museum we stopped back at the campground to check on little “Coach”.  We found a note on the door.  Remember the other Alpine that was in this park?  Well, the other Alpine driver (David) left a note on our door telling us they had stopped by while we were out.  So after walking the dog, we drove over to their Coach and talked for a couple minutes… they (David and Janet?) had already been to the downtown attractions we were going to next, so we told them we’d try to be back by 8 PM, maybe we could get together then.  Alas, we didn’t get to see them again, maybe next time.

We left the campground again and found a parking spot (5 minutes away) downtown and noticed we were near the local Elks Lodge.  We already knew that this lodge didn’t have RV parking because we had checked online several days ago.  We went inside to check it out and see if they had any menu items.  The bartender opened the door for us, checked my card, and asked me to sign the guest register.  There was a large crowd in one of the side rooms, I believe it was a party or service of some sort.  We hung out behind the crowded bar (none of the seats were open) and waited to order a couple drinks and ask about food.  There were lots of empty tables, but we figured like most lodges, that we had to order at the bar.  A couple people sitting at the bar at least talked to us, exchanged pleasantries, and asked where we were from, etc., but the bartender seemed to ignore us.  So we finally turned around and left after 10 minutes or so.  Not our finest experience at an Elks Lodge.  We would have thought the bartender could at least acknowledge our existence and say something to the effect that she’d be right with us, or we’re really busy – have a seat, or something at least…  Oh well, maybe it was just bad timing on our part.  Hmmm… so much for Lodge #1611.  I don’t think we’ll go back, even though it seemed like a pretty nice facility.


We walked on up the street to the Irma Hotel which was our next intended destination anyway.  Buffalo Bill’s Irma Hotel / Restaurant & Saloon was packed with tourists but we found a nice booth and had a good dinner, albeit an expensive one.


Buffalo Bill helped found Cody, Wyoming, in 1895. He also established his TE Ranch in the area. In 1902, he built an establishment which he called “just the sweetest hotel that ever was” and named it for his youngest daughter, Irma. It was built to appeal to visitors from around the world — as a staging point for sightseers headed for Yellowstone, big game hunters, summers tourists, and businessmen investigating the ranching, mining, and other business opportunities. Buffalo Bill maintained two suites and an office at the hotel for his personal use.  (ref. this website)


We even got to watch a gunfight show on the street outside after dinner.



After another quick stop at the local WalMart on the way back to the campground, we relaxed for the rest of the evening and watched some TV while Kaan played MineCraft on the X-Box, and I worked on this blog.

Since Tuesday was our last night at the Ponderosa Campground, we’ll move on over this morning (Wednesday) to one of the state parks that we checked-out on our Monday trip to Yellowstone.  Wish us luck…

If we can get settled at one of those state campgrounds, then we can go explore more of Yellowstone NP!



Visiting Yellowstone National Park – Day 1 (Ponderosa RV Park, Cody WY)

We tried to get an early start Monday for our drive into Yellowstone National Park.  But first we stopped by the Ponderosa RV Park office to pay ($46.44) for another night so we didn’t have to stress about finding another spot so soon.  So now we’re good here until Wednesday.  We’ll check on other spots between now and then that are more reasonably-priced (for us) and hopefully not too far away.  We anticipate doing at least a couple more trips into the park to see the sights.  I hope we can find something; while in the office, I overheard the clerk turn away at least three callers that were looking for an RV spot.

The forecast called for wind and possible showers today.  We left our little dog “Coach” in the Coach with both A/C’s set at 70°  We were told we’d have problems taking him on any of the trails or attractions in the park.  This bit of information turned out to be not-entirely true – we saw several people throughout the day carrying their dogs around at pull-offs, and even one inside the Old Faithful Inn … oh well, next time we’ll know.  At least we knew he was ok for the day.

We finally got on the road by 8:15 or so and headed for the east entrance about 50 miles away…


I was able to use my disabled veteran Golden Access Pass to avoid the $30 entrance fee.


Our plan for the day was to enter through the east gate and turn south at Fishing Bridge to drive around the lower “loop” in a clockwise fashion and then return back to Cody.  (See map below)  We only made it as far as Old Faithful when the rain forced us to turn around and backtrack.  But it was still a great day 🙂  (map)


Follow along now for a summary of our days activity:

(Remember that if you see “green highlighted” text anywhere in my posts; these are embedded links to click-on for more info if you’d like) 🙂

Sylvan Pass was very scenic and the grades were manageable.  We could easily take the Urban Escape Vehicle on this route if we need to – or if we so desire, in the future.

BTW – I set up our Road Mate DVR on the dash of the Silverado to record our trip.   I wrote about purchasing this while we were in Gillette WY at the FCRV Campvention Rally.  I used it once before on our drive with my Dad & Stepmom in their Jeep when we drove through the Black Hills in South Dakota, but haven’t been able to download the video clips until recently.  I had to buy a card reader (at the BX in Ellsworth AFB) for the SD card because the device didn’t download thru its USB cable to my MacBook Pro Laptop.  Anyway – I hope to be able to share some of the 2-minute clips that it records sometime soon if my blog hosting service allows.  First, I have to edit the hundreds of files to see if there’s anything good to share.  So far, the video quality looks pretty good and we even got some amusing clips of us standing around in front of the truck when we got out at a couple scenic pull-offs to take pictures when I forgot to turn it off.  More on this RoadMate DVR and its video clips in a later post maybe.

We saw lots of evidence of fire damage along our route into the park from the eastern side.  Read more about the 1988 “Summer of Fire”  HERE.



We passed Sylvan Lake and then reached Yellowstone Lake, which were both beautiful.

We stopped at the Fishing Bridge RV Park to double-check availability. This is the first campground located inside the park from the east entrance. You may recall from my previous post that I called the reservations number and was told they didn’t have anything for a week. This was still the case – but the nice lady behind the desk was very helpful and shared a list of campgrounds outside the park. She recommended trying a couple of the small state parks that have hook-ups outside the east entrance. We promised ourselves that we’d check them out on the way back if it wasn’t too late, and that’s exactly what we did – we saw several open sites. Hopefully, we can score one of them on Wednesday.


We stopped at several pull-offs along our route for pictures and when we got to West Thumb, we parked, put on jackets and walked the boardwalk:














It was around 59° and getting windy by this time.  We could see clouds rolling in.


Our grandson Kaan posed with a ranger hat at the small ranger station/visitor center.


These really cool old buses are still running tourists around the park.  According to the National Park Service website; “A total of twenty-seven 1936 Model 706 buses were used in Yellowstone, and by 1939, a total of ninety-eight Model 706s of various years were in use (the largest number of National Park Buses operating anywhere).”


When we reached Old Faithful, a light rain had started.  We had driven about 115 miles to get here from our site in Cody.  We waited in the visitor center for the next eruption and caught a nice documentary in the theater.


‘Old Faithful’ in Yellowstone NP.

After about an hour wait, we got to see ‘Old Faithful’ erupt.  Stilla and Kaan watched from the visitor center while I braved the light rain and heavy crowd to walk a little closer for some pictures.





I took lots of pictures of the eruption and even some video, but if you want to see some really good pictures or video taken by professionals, just click HERE or HERE.

We were getting hungry by now and wanted to check out Old Faithful Inn.  We remembered it from our first trip here back in 1993.


According to this website; “Old Faithful Inn is the most requested lodging facility in the park. Built in 1903-1904 with local logs and stone, the Inn is considered the largest log structure in the world. The towering lobby features a massive stone fireplace and a hand-crafted clock made of copper, wood and wrought iron serving as focal points.”



We found some sandwiches at the Inn and I tried their Old Faithful Ale while we checked out the cool balconies at the Inn – hey, we’re only here once, right?



View from the upper (outside) balcony.



View from one of the inner balconies looking down on the lobby.



View of the inner balconies.


View of the dining room from balcony above.


By now, it was raining a little heavier and it was a bone-chilling 38° – believe it or not!

We took a few more pics on our way out of the massive ‘Old Faithful’ parking lot that was packed with visitors and started heading back to Cody.  It was now 3:30 PM and we had 115 miles to back-track.  It was too late in the day and too rainy now to stick with our original plan to do the whole loop.  It was shorter to just go back the way we came.



We stopped once more along Yellowstone Lake to check out the steam coming up from the geysers along the edge.

Kaan and Stilla alongside Yellowstone Lake. Geyser steam in background.


We’ll be back… we only scratched the surface of this beautiful national park today.

It got warmer as we got closer to Cody – around 50° if I remember right.  As I mentioned earlier, we stopped at a couple of the small state park campgrounds on the way back once we were outside the park, and the outlook for getting a spot looks good.  There were quite a few open sites and some even had full hook-ups.  We’ll try to score a new site on Wednesday at one of these campgrounds.

We also stopped at Pahaska Tepee on the way back to stretch our legs after the long drive.  This is supposed to be “Buffalo Bill” Cody’s old hunting lodge and hotel back in the day.



Kaan trying on another hat… we have a theme (for pictures) going on here I think.

When we got back to the Urban Escape Vehicle, we noticed it had rained and some really bad wind gusts must have come through… our larger pull-down window awning on the living room slide out was rolled up; the small american flag was ripped that we had hanging on one of our mirrors; and the chairs we left out were knocked over and wet.  But the important thing was that little “Coach” was OK, and boy! – was he ever happy to see us after being cooped up for almost 10 hours.

The weather-guessers are calling for more wind but sunshine today (Tuesday) as I write this post.  We’ll stay here today and check out the attractions in Cody.  We’ve heard that the Buffalo Bill Center of the West museum is a “must-see”.

We Scored a Campground near Yellowstone NP in July! (Ponderosa RV Park, Cody WY)

We left the Shell Campground located in Shell, WY by 11 AM on Sunday and continued heading west on 14 towards Yellowstone NP.  As I mentioned in my last post – the campground had a very weak WiFi signal thru Verizon and absolutely no AT&T coverage for our iPhones.  I tried to do some research online to find possible RV spots in or near Yellowstone.  This is the height of the tourist season here and therefore very difficult to score sites that can accommodate a 38½ ft Coach without advance reservations.

I was able to get quite a few tips from folks on the RVillage.com® website for possible places to stay, in or near Cody, WY which is about 50 miles from the east entrance to the park.  And I was also able to get some phone numbers for campgrounds near the west entrance to Yellowstone from our good friends Orman & Suzie Claxton, who are currently in a park there.  (Thanks Orman!)  However, all these tips were no good to us without cell phone coverage.

We stopped at a rest area near Greybull, WY when we finally had an AT&T signal and made a bunch of phone calls… absolutely no sites were available inside the park according to the number I called from the park website.  Apparently most of the campgrounds within Yellowstone are operated by a single entity; Xanterra Parks & Resorts.  I then tried some of the numbers for RV Parks in Cody and also a few numbers for parks on the west side of Yellowstone… everyone said they were full.  A couple of the numbers I dialed just went to voicemail.  So, we decided to just drive on to Cody and try our luck in person.

About 70 miles later, we pulled into Cody, WY.  I passed up a couple of the parks that I had called earlier and drove almost to the west side of town when we saw the Ponderosa Campground.  We pulled in and stopped behind another rig in the registration lane.


Stilla and I went into the office and “Whad’Ya Know” – they had a spot!  We reserved two nights with an option to extend if we let them know as soon as possible and if they don’t get more reservations.  We were told to go park and come back to settle the bill, which was $92.88 for two nights – ouch 🙁

We apparently just beat the rush too – campers were blocking the street behind us in the registration lane…


But we had to wait for the rig in front of us to move before we could clear the lane and go to our new site…


Little “Coach” watched us through the Coach window as we checked into the park.

We finally pulled in near our site and disconnected the Silverado from the Coach.  I walked back to the office to pay the bill.  And guess what!?!  Another Alpine Coach pulled into the campground!  I spoke briefly to the driver and gave him our site number, so we could maybe get-together later.


And here’s our spot… who says you can’t find a campground near Yellowstone without a reservation? 🙂  As a matter-of-fact, later on as we drove around town, we noticed a bunch of rigs parked at the local Walmart.  Hmmm… maybe we’ll have to keep that in mind if we can’t get an extension here…

Our site at Ponderosa Campground, Cody WY.


We were originally assigned to the spot to the left of where we’re now parked, but as you can see, in the pic (below), the trees at the front of the site surrounded the satellite dish!  So getting a signal was impossible.  I went back to the office and asked to change to the next spot over at the end of the row.  They were very accommodating and simply switched the reservation with someone who was still due-in but hadn’t yet arrived.


After we got settled into our site, we walked through the park and stopped to talk to the Alpine driver I saw earlier.  They were already set up on the opposite side of the park and were inside their Coach.  I knocked on the door and we introduced ourselves.  His name is David (we didn’t meet his wife yet) and they are with the NoWACA group which stands for NorthWest Alpine Coach Association.  We talked for a short time and I left an open invitation for them to stop by our Coach later for refreshments and more conversation.

Then we drove around town to check out the area and find someplace to get dinner.  We ended up at La Comida.   They had some pretty good fish tacos.



We got back to the park pretty late.  A 5th Wheel Trailer backed into the spot next to us (our original site);  a couple from Utah with 5 kids.  I used the last remaining daylight to clean the bugs off the front of the Coach since it was finally cooling down from a high today of ~90°

We didn’t see the folks in the other Alpine again… hopefully, we’ll be able to get together sometime over the next couple/few days before we move on.

On Monday, we plan on getting an early start for visiting Yellowstone NP.  We’ll leave our little dog “Coach” in the Coach with the A/C on since we’ve got 50 Amp hook-ups.  We’ve been told dogs aren’t allowed in many places within the park and it would be cruel to leave him in the Silverado while we visit ‘Old Faithful’, etc.,

Check back in to see how our day turns out… I’m sure we’ll have some awesome pics of what is known as the world’s first national park per wikipedia®.  We (Stilla and I) last visited Yellowstone in the very early 1990’s and look forward to seeing it again and sharing the experience with our grandson.