Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Yellowstone is yonder...

After seeing the national monuments, I went back to my mountain lodge in the sky and relaxed watching some television and went to bed early. 4 a.m. ain’t regular for me either boys. (FYI, I was tame in my depiction of my night out with the guys because they’re reading this so I’ll tell y’all what really happened when I get back home – he he). Leaving Deadwood, I took a different loop around to head toward Sundance, Wyoming. Didn’t quite get to see Robert Redford and wasn’t at all cognizant from the freeway that there was even a town that celebs would trek to each winter for the film festival but Sundance seemed to be a big city so I stayed away. I ended up staying in Buffalo at this roadside motel with shoddy WiFi after having amazing flautas at Sol de Vallarta, a great Mexican restaurant in town. Bummer because I could hardly upload photos. Now, I’m in Cody, Wyoming at the library taking a break from driving since I’m almost at Yellowstone. Back in Deadwood, the guys said that the population of South Dakota practically doubles when the Sturgis Rally comes to town. I think that out here, that must be the case too because it doesn’t look like many folks live in the towns I’ve been passing through.

Got gas in Ten Sleep, WY and learned that it’s called that because the Sioux used the name towns based on how many nights of sleep it took them to get there from their home base. So neat! At that gas station, I ran into a few Golden Guys (cattle farmers) that were having their lunch together talking about selling property and having to subdivide if they went past selling 2 parcels of land. No idea what that’s about but it involved the government regulations and they weren’t too keen on the Feds interfering in their land dealings. It’s funny because back in Custer when I met Penny thru Milty, an elderly woman was getting coffee next to me and said she had just watched the entire Ted Kennedy service and Penny asked her, “You really liked him even though he was a Democrat?” She said, “of course, I grew up with them and now the legacy is finished.” I wondered whether she would just out and out not like me if she knew I was a Democrat. She already said that she never wanted to visit NYC because there were too many people. So we already didn’t have too much in common. But her hope for a next vacation was to go to Zion National Park and that sounded good to me. I know Cara would love for me to hate Republicans but I imagine I am meeting a bunch of them on this trip and they are good people, just have some different views and I’m starting to realize why.

There will always be differences when you live in a totally different environment. Like this morning… I woke up to check out at 10 a.m. and there were a bunch of young guys outside my room drinking beers and chatting. Now I would think it’s a bit early for that but who am I to judge. And for nature-surrounded folks, you’d think they’d use less Styrofoam but it’s everywhere. When you ask for food to go, it’s in a big Styrofoam tray and when you get coffee at a truck stop, Styrofoam cups. I have a thermos so I just fill that up each time. And there are runaway truck ramps here so if a truck loses its breaks on a steep incline, it can go up this gravel path and slow down to a stop hopefully. I also took notice of the lady who ran the motel I was at. Do these folks just watch TV all day long since they have to be around and near the counter all day, every day? That seems like the dullest existence personally but it may just be her cup of tea.

When I got off the road in Sundance to get a map from the Visitor Center, these two men in a van saw my plates and asked what park of New York I was from because they were from upstate. First New Yorkers I’ve met so far. From Elmira and were going hunting in Cody and beyond. Matter of fact, the passenger was drinking a beer in the van too. Whatevs. They suggested a few things for me and were very nice to invite me to their campsite for a beer later (as if I would know where that was). So wait a minute. They were going hunting and on the radio, I heard a public service announcement educating hunters visiting Cody on what a black bear versus a grizzly looks like. Now if these guys’ target is a bear, what the hell do they do with an 800-pound grizzly or black bear when it’s dead on the ground? They didn’t have a forklift on their 70s disco van. Do tell if you know. I hope they don’t just leave it there to be feasted on by Bambi and vultures. Ewww…

The countryside is so incredibly gorgeous out here that I keep stopping the car to take photos but I have to quit that or else I’ll never get anywhere. And then you take the photo and it just doesn’t express how amazing it is to see these sights and to be driving on lengths of road that are surrounded by unreal mountains and forests. Of course I’m listening to the radio the whole way and another thing I noticed about ads on the radio here is that the owners of the companies advertising often do the talking themselves rather than hiring some snazzy voiceover person. Maybe folks around here prefer hearing the guarantees from the guy himself but I keep laughing because they often have no personality on the air. They sound like a monotone Hank Hill reading everything without any enthusiasm whatsoever. Another thing I’ve heard on the radio is that the winter is going to be awful from the Rockies to the Appalachian Mountains according to the Farmer’s Almanac. I’ve seen a few of these pamphlets at antique stores and I don’t understand. Are farmers also meteorologists? Anyway, they say we’ll have to button up big time this coming winter. They even plugged Snuggies saying you should probably go out and get one. Those are the full body blanket things that everyone makes fun of, right? Oh, and I think I saw a real live vulture on the road before eating some carcass. Ewww… And, I think I want a big round red pickup truck some day. They are just neat. It has to be old though. Surprise, surprise, right?

Stopped for a corn dog and root beer at the A&W American Food drive-in and because I’m an idiot, I pulled into the wrong slot so I couldn’t press the button for a carhop. I learned that term because my lovely next door neighbor in Queens, Jennifer, used to be a carhop at an A&W back in Fairborn, Ohio. Wait til you see in my Flickr photos, the bathroom there. So odd.

Radio highlights: “Life in the Fast Lane,” “Sweet Home Alabama,” Barry Manilow, “All out of Love,” Fleetwood Mac, “Love is a Battlefield,” “Addicted to Love.”

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