Saturday, June 21, 2014

Tourism. Day Two. The Upside and the Downside, part 1

On our fourth morning of vacation, but our second day of playing the tourists, I rose ahead of my companions. Somehow, between my irksome female issues and the fact that this was my first time sleeping in a tent since I was in my teens, I was not so greatly inclined to sleep in. The bed wasn't entirely uncomfortable, but I needed to be up every two hours to answer a call of nature, so when the night began to fade into predawn light, there was not much hope I could lie back and fall asleep.

The positives: we were camping at a very nice state park, where the outhouses were clean and with limited arachnid occupation. The small pump nearby provided clear, fresh water. Our campsite was accessible for wheelchairs and people who had difficulty traveling any real distance afoot. It was not raining or freezing, and, yet, it was too cool for many insects to bother us.

The negatives: we were downwind of that outhouse. We didn't get the camp pitched until far past midnight, so I was going to be exhausted no matter what. The natural occurrence my mother's generation so quaintly referred to "my communist aunt" came to visit with a vengeance, and was disinclined to ease up during the night. I was going through my hygiene supplies at a faster pace than I'd expected. I was feeling not only my age, but the stress of travel.

But with my oh-five-thirty run to the head, I saw the beginning of the day as it built behind the hills. That made everything else seem less significant.

Click any picture to embiggen it
I sat and ate a protein bar by the side of the hill, and enjoyed the view for an hour or so. Maybe more.
Sun's come up, now. Time to hit the road.
The thing about the cool climate in the mountains is, while it keeps the bugs at bay, it's not exactly comfortable for those who have circulatory problems. I enjoy it, because I'm well-insulated by nature.

My friend woke feeling every bit of the chill. It was then that she announced she had packed no warm clothes, only shorts and other summer articles. We were going to have to backtrack a couple of miles, into Cody, to the Mart of Wals.  That suited me just fine, since I was seeing my own necessities dwindling at an alarming rate (what is it about stress which makes one's body betray one?), so when the boys finally dragged themselves out from their bedding, we packed up the truck again and headed into town.

It took a while to do our shopping. Aside from the essentials we both knew we needed, I picked up a collapsible cane to serve as a substitute for the old club I'd left behind, plus a pack of baby carrots to nibble on all day, and she picked up some charcoal briquettes, a couple bags of ice, and a stack of groceries (mostly meat), for herself and the boys. 

Repacked, we set out again, heading past the local landmarks and gas stations, and into the wilderness once more. Well, it's not really so much wilderness, on the eastern approach to Yellowstone, until you get really close to the entry gate. Up until then, there's plenty of civilization leaving its mark on the landscape.

It's that nice middle ground every western-movie-watching kid dreams of.

As we neared Yellowstone National Park, the road went from valley runs 

to foothills, 

to the snowcaps

in less than an  hour.  By 11:00 we were at the gate, prepared to pay our $25 entry fee for the park. 

And there was more good news. 

The young woman working the booth asked which one of us was the disabled veteran who owned the license tags on the truck. My friend waved her hand from the back seat and said the truck and its plates were hers, and then asked, why the inquiry? The ranger informed her that disabled veterans have free admission to the national parks, and that admission includes all those who are in the same private vehicle.  

Woo HOO! freebies! We established that, for all the agony and frustration, sometimes it's good to be a disabled veteran or to have one as a friend and traveling companion.

From there, we headed inward, toward Yellowstone Lake, following the map included in the papers we were issued with our pass. 
Yellowstone Lake. Winter hadn't quite quit it, yet.
It was coming up on time to get out and stretch our mangled legs, as well as to use the head, seek nourishment and souvenirs, and generally take care of our needs. We made our way to the first major stop, the Fishing Bridge tourist center, with restrooms, information center, and General Store.

From there, to more adventure.

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