Once outside of the ‘Old Faithful’ traffic, we continued to head East through the park. The winding road began to steadily climb as we drove. The Sun was brighter and hotter than either of us had seen in a while (Seattle is not known for its ‘sunny’ days). River was more then a little hot! Even though she had shed her very thick winter coat from Alaska, Seattle did not have enough warm days to get her down to a Tennessee hair level and her ‘summer’ Seattle coat was still quite thick.
Nearing the top of the mountain ridge line.
At the Great Continental Divide there is a Lake that straddles it ~ Isa Lake. Some facts from Wikipedia: Isa Lake is believed to be the only natural lake in the world which drains to two different oceans backwards.
Isa Lake has huge water lilies (which threw me at first because I am used to that being a jungle/swamp plant more than a mountain plant). Now if only a Moose had strolled through the lily pads! Closeup of the intriguing lily pads. I couldn’t help but think that one pad would be a whole meal with some vinegar and oil. Though usually just the roots are eaten by people.
The whole area around the Continental Divide is divine. ‘Yellowstone Lake’ itself is very impressive. It sits at 7,732 ft above sea level which makes it the largest fresh water lake above 7,000 feet.
Reuben looking out over Yellowstone Lake.
Picture taken by Reuben: I’m looking nice and pale here.. which is why even though its nice and warm out I have pants, long sleeves and a hat (sunglasses were off for picture). Yellowstone Lake is is my backdrop.
Elk spotted down below grazing along the lake.
We zipped along the lake shore basking in Natures beauty, had my iPod playing an eccentric sound track of Journey, Tiésto and Within Temptation to complete the experience.
Below: Yellowstone Lake
Yellowstone Lake Continued (it is a damn big lake). Every couple of miles revealed another spectacular view as more of the land’s secrets were visible.
Cool rock formations along the narrow winding road. I took the photo through the windshield (hence the reflection) as Reuben drove.
Impressive Thunderheads on the horizon.
Ghost Forest from the Wildfires in Yellowstone. Miles and miles of grey trees from a fast moving blaze a few years ago (judging from the under growth).
A rather large herd was grazing long the road. Sadly many many other people had claimed the shoulders of the road, so with nowhere to pull off we cruised slowly by while I hung out the window snapping pictures (trying to only have Buffalo – not the other cars – in the photos!).
Below: A little Calf hides behind Mother.
Majestic creatures. River was just curiously sniffing out the window, not sure what these ‘things’ were. The Buffalo would walk along the road causing cars to stop, all the while flicking their little tails as if to say f**k off!
On the road headed out of Yellowstone, the Black Dragon (Subaru) was flying as the grade was pretty steep and not much traffic on the roads (and no rangers). Upon looking at the Map some of these peaks were 12,000 ft and most sitting at 10,000.
I could have stared out the window all day at the land largely untouched by humanity.
Snow still holding on in August.
Clouds casting dramatic shadows, crisp clear mountain air and ridge lines made me want to never leave.
The terrain was changing, less green and more dry.
A couple of thousands feet lower than the beginning of the decline we entered high desert. officially out of Yellowstone via the East Entrance, cattle guard ranch roads began to appear and a smattering of humanity dwellings in the distance.
Rocky outcrops, very different on this side of the mountains.
Very western looking rock formations.
The desert reds and pastels created a two faced look.
Suddenly a large body of water appeared in the desert. We were getting close to the little town of Cody Wyoming and the Lake was the Buffalo Bill Reservoir.
Like something out of a movie, the desert meeting the blue water with no plant life. I found it captivating.
The rain clouds caught up to us and scattered showers slicked the highway. The teal line is the sun breaking though the rain.
Sunlight painting the water.
Sunbeam creating a show. *not touched up at all*
Closeup of the light show.
Across the water.
Last view of the Reservoir before going over the dam.
We stopped in Cody WY for lunch and gas. There is surprisingly tasty Chinese food in the middle of Wyoming. The Black Dragon chugged along Hwy 20 and we left signs of humanity behind for a few hours. Along the way the rain clouds broke and gave us this sight.
Simply breath taking.
A quiet little town called Thermopolis took only a few minutes to drive through. Up ahead the road suddenly took on a steep downward grade and a rather large canyon suddenly appeared. Wind River Canyon. Below: A rather sad picture out the windshield but you can still see the drop.
Deeper into the Canyon. The Wind River snaking along the highway and the various layers of rock that date back up to 2.9 billion years. The whole area is riddle with fascinating natural sites, petroglyphs, petrified forest, geology and such. With a day or three one could have some serious fun.
Looking up from the Canyon floor, the moon was bright, the clouds watercolors and nothing but sounds of the river could be heard. Was paradise.
Outside of the Canyon just in time for the Sunset. Boysen State Park had another man made reservoir fed from the Wind River.
Alien planet landscape (at least that was my first thought)
The Wind River Indian Reservation started at the south end of the Park and there were some pullout areas along the lake. We stopped for a snack and stretch, let River out to explore. Below is her Furriness scaring the shit out of me – the tip of the bluff was fence off due to erosion and you could see the concrete rubble below (a good 20 ft or so) from it collapsing. Where was standing looking over the edge, there was a big crack in the dry soil and it was just hanging on. I felt that River was pretty safe seeing as she is only 8lbs but when she stuck her nose over the edge that was it! Reuben was taking pictures as I wrangled my dog back…
Reuben a little more pink than usual from the sun. As you can see, it didn’t bother him at all and he was thoroughly enjoying himself.
The drop off – the little bluff had more of a cliff feel to it with the erosion.
An excellent picture taken by Reuben (here is your credit dear..). I managed to not get burnt that day and other than my freckles standing out more I guess I’m still pale here.
Driving along with me hanging out the window (again) taking pictures with the last of out light!
The break in the clouds allowed for a intense sunset.
Glorious Sunset to end an amazing day.
The rest of the Wyoming sites were obscured by darkness. We drove through the night, stopping in Nebraska for a few hours to nap and then on the road again. As Reuben slept I would play some Bob Seger’s hits, including Turn the Page or known as On the Road Again Link: http://youtu.be/afvFgV3_kuw Seemed fitting. I grew up on Dan Seals, Bob Seger, AC/DC and the like. Listened to a lot Kansas on that trip too! As we drove I would often scan the Oldie and Rock stations for some tunes. Then shake my head at Reuben when he didn’t know the song or ever heard it before.
I’m afraid that the Midwest looks pretty similar and nothing inspired me to take pictures – not that we stopped longer than needed for refuel and River breaks. The heat was steadily climbing and making it very difficult to sleep in the car. So we just kept driving.
That’s it for the first leg of the journey. Next up is Tracker and the Farm in Tennessee.