Each one, as a good manager of God's different gifts, must use for the good of others the special gift he has received from God. (1 Peter 4:10)

A word to the wise: Not all KOAs are created equal. Or at least some are less equal than others. Last night’s stay at the Cody, WY, KOA provided all of these things:

  • A great tent side with a nice graveled parking spot;
  • Toilets and shower rooms just a few steps away; HOWEVER,
  • No hot water in those shower rooms, so hike to the main building some distance off for a shower — three shower stalls on the women’s side for the whole place. Good thing I get up very early!
  • If they have a “Quiet Rule” after some specified time, it isn’t enforced. There were some PARTIERS, and I wasn’t invited! I heard people talking and laughing throughout the entire night.
  • Nice picnic table and firepit
  • Handy dumpsters for campsite trash
  • and last, but not least, a visit (fortunately not to our site!) by the local constabulary to break up an incipient brawl between campers at neighboring sites — this at 7:40 a.m.! Those hangovers must have been fierce!

But I digress. This was truly an awesome day. Our first stop was the Buffalo Bill Dam a few miles west of Cody. It’s a beautiful area with great mountain views overlooking a lovely reservoir. After exploring the dam, we headed for Yellowstone. Because of some construction and resulting traffic delays, we did not get into Yellowstone as early as we had hoped, but we still made some stops along the way to Old Faithful and the geothermal area. The first was at the Lake Butte Overlook, which was recommended to us by the by the young lady at the visitor center at the Buffalo Bill Dam. About a mile off the main road, the overlook sits high above Lake Yellowstone and provides an excellent view of the lake and surrounding areas as well as the Grand Teton Mountains in the distance.

Next, we headed for the convenience store/snack bar where we re-iced the cooler and got ourselves some ice cream to fortify us for the road. Yummy! We finally reached Old Faithful around noon and had a sort of terrible lunch in another snack bar. At least there was fresh fruit! And then we were ready for the hike around the area. Old Faithful was snoozing and not expected to erupt for another hour or so, so we went on around the longer boardwalk path and saw all of the lesser geysers and thermal pools. It was just as awesome as last year’s visit, except that unfortunately, Castle Geyser did not choose to favor us with an eruption this year. (Castle only erupts about once every 9 or 10 hours, but when it does, it is spectacular. Last year, my sister-in-law and I just happened upon it, and thinking it looked pretty active, we hung around for a few minutes. Sure enough, after we had been there a short time, we were rewarded with an amazing display.) After Matt and I passed Castle Geyser, we headed back toward the car, and just when we got within good range of Old Faithful, it erupted! It was beautiful to see.

The crowds were pretty heavy in the park, and it took some doing to get out of the place. Then, once again, traffic was quite slow going out.

I have this to say to those motorcyclists and drivers of automobiles who are convinced that they are more important than the rest of us and are too special to abide by speed limits even when everyone else on the road is doing so: When you pass on hills, curves, and double yellow lines, then duck back into traffic just in time to avoid the oncoming car, RV, or truck, you are endangering not only yourself, but all the rest of us who have to slam on our brakes to keep from hitting you. Several times today we really thought we were going to see a tragedy right in front of us. It’s truly senseless to drive like that. There. Stepping off my soap box.

Last year, I drove into Yellowstone from the East Entrance, and we saw the geothermal area, then drove back to Cody by the same route we used to get to the park. This year, when we left the geothermal area, we made a quick stop at the Kepler Cascades — truly a worthwhile sight! Then at West Thumb we turned south. This was my first trip down that road and out through the South Entrance, and what a glorious treat it was! The mountains are just spectacular. The scenery is so gorgeous that there just aren’t adequate words to describe it.

By shortly after 5, we decided we had been on the road long enough for today, especially considering the hike around the geyser area. We found a decent motel just on the north end of Jackson, and that’s where we are. We went into Jackson for supper at Liberty Burger, which was a darned good place to eat. The town itself is a tourist town with 4-lane traffic on 2-lane roads, and tons of people and a lot of noise. I would not do well there.

Our motel is right across the road from a beautiful view of foothills and the elk herd refuge. We are hoping the elk will be visible from our window as dusk approaches.

Tomorrow, we face a nearly 12-hour drive to our destination at Tuba City, Arizona. Our hotel there is just about an hour from the Grand Canyon North Rim, and we are already looking at which trails to explore Saturday. We will only be doing rim-trail hiking, as we don’t have the time or the equipment to hike down into the canyon and back out.

A couple of other worthwhile discoveries on this trip: We have been lucky, so far, to get into campgrounds as easily as we have. We were unable to get into a campsite at Yellowstone, or we would have stayed there last night…but to do so we would have had to reserve weeks if not months in advance. And likewise, to have camped in the North Rim Park at Grand Canyon would have required many weeks of advance planning; by the time we knew exactly when we would be getting there, we could not score a campsite in the national park or in any campground within a reasonable distance. Lesson learned. If I want to explore these places more thoroughly in the future, they will need to be primary destinations, and much more advance planning will be required.

That’s kind of a downer. A lot of the fun of a road trip is not doing too much advance planning — but you can also get caught without a place to stay and thus put in a much longer day on the road than you should. The good news is that America has an endless supply of absolutely beautiful places to see and visit — and apparently, the economy has improved to the point that pretty much everyone is out here seeing them!

So, onward tomorrow. Friday and Saturday nights will be spent in Tuba City, with the whole day Saturday devoted to the Grand Canyon. Sunday morning, Mass at St. Jude’s in Tuba City at 11 a.m., and then we’ll begin the trek eastward and northward to get us home next Wednesday. This trip, which was anticipated for so long and which has been everything we hoped and more, is now more than half over! Time to start planning the next one, I guess!

Oh, I should also mention that JD, the little brown spotted puppy dog, continues to enjoy his stay at Paws A Playin. He seems to be having a wonderful time…I hope he remembers me when I get home!!!

Cheers and God bless to everyone out there!

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