Monday, April 25, 2011

The Trip Continues: Yellowstone National Park

     I can remember getting up early having a hearty breakfast and then heading a short distance to Yellowstone National Park.  The plan was to spend all day at the park and then go a short distance to the nearest hotel or motel in Cody, Wyoming home of a famous rodeo. As we entered the park there was a huge sign that detailed the fact that there was road construction and that the "Eastern Entrance" was closed to park visitors at 10 p.m.  The fact that the park was on "PST"(Pacific Standard Time) incredibly allowed us as the visitors to be in light until 9:30 in the evening.  It was this factor that kept us at the park and "we" my brother and I figured since the "Eastern Entrance" was closed we didn't have a concern in that we weren't coming in we were leaving.  Little did we know, yes two educators that it meant the eastern entrance also meant exit.  As we drove along the final miles of the park to leave a man was standing in front of a gated area about 10-15 miles from the "Eastern Entrance".  We found out at that moment that the "Eastern Entrance" also meant "Eastern Exit".  We couldn't leave the park in the direction we were going. We then figured to get back to the western side of the park go north and then east it would be over 250 miles we estimated.  Our choice was to find a hotel room in the park.  Little did we realize that the hotels were filled and that there was only one place available and the cost was $250.00.  My brother and I opted for camping out in the car.
     We spoke with local park authorities and they suggested that we camp out in one of the countless parking lots.  Fortunately we befriended a family that was staying overnight also in an "RV".  They gave us extra blankets for us to use in the car.  To make room for sleeping we removed a huge cooler from the back seat and decided to place it outside. I'm not sure where the park ranger came from but he said to us after knocking on our window of the car "please put the cooler back in the car, the park animals will wreak havoc with it if there has been any food inside of it".  Needless to say we followed his advice.  Being late June normally there would be no concern for cold weather.  However being in Yellowstone Park there was a concern.  The temperature was in the low 50's when we began the night and when we awoke in the morning it was nearly freezing at 34 degrees.  Having the comfort of borrowed blankets we were not in danger of hypothermia.  From memory we awoke a couple of times and put the heat on in the car to warm in and then fell back to sleep.  What was really cool when we awoke in the morning was the fact that there was a large bison about 30 yards from the car grazing on some grass.  My brother and I laughed as we looked out and said "we made it through the night unscathed".  In retrospect it's an experience I wouldn't mind doing again.  We knew that the "gate" would open at 9 a.m. in the morning so we decided to check out some of the park scenery prior to heading east. All in all the splendor of the park the day and night spent in Yellowstone is certainly a fond memory.
     You might ask what does this have to do with the title of this blog. As I reflect I believe that with the help of total strangers from an "RV" we were comfortable and safe.  It's certainly human nature to help one another when in true need.  It is why I believe deep down inside everyone has the potential to be the best they can be for humanity.
    As we ventured out of Yellowstone and traveled east our next stop was Cody, Wyoming.  What I failed to mention earlier was that the park was closed due to a freak blizzard in late May.  There were still areas that had visible snow and this was late June.  The wildlife especially the bison were venturing out for the first time since the storm.  There were hundreds of them grazing in the fields as we left the park. What a fantastic sight to see.
     The next stop for breakfast was Cody, Wyoming. Cody is known for it's famous rodeo. Every 4th of July since 1919 the rodeo has taken place. In 1994 I can vividly remember the 75th anniversary sign for that particular year's rodeo extravaganza.  This year marks the 74th anniversary of the nightly rodeo events.  Unfortunately we never viewed the rodeo but I'm sure that it's a fantastic event to see.
     Our next destination were three tourist stops in South Dakota.  The first was Wall, South Dakota hoe of "Wall Drug" amongst other "Wall" named stores and hotels.  Secondly, Badlands National Park and lastly, Mt. Rushmore.

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