Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Cody, Star Valley and Yellowstone

The upper half of Wyoming is truly a sight to be marveled. Nicely-sized mountains, colorful meadows and windy roads through small hardy towns. One such town is Cody. On our way to Star Valley to spend a couple of days at Bea Latham's house (the house that she and Bob built), we stopped in Cody for the night.

One of the big draws to stopping there was the Buffalo Bill Museum which featured the Cody Gun Museum, an absolutely world-class collection of every gun the Wild West saw in action (and some it didn't).

Ethan was enthralled and it goes without saying that I was mighty impressed as well. Thousands of guns from long-time manufacturers like Winchester, Remington and others. And cool dioramas too, like the one where Etho took on a Polar Bear!

Leaving Cody about mid-day (after the museum), we cruised through Yellowstone and Jackson Hole on our way to Star Valley and Thayne. Loads of touristas (like us) driving the speed limit, but there was enough scenery to keep us busy. Plus, a fellow had showed us a short-cut to lop off 45 minutes easy from the trip.

An extra-special stop was "Lewis Falls", a 35 ft. drop on a fast river. The falls are no-nonsense, and the meandering river that follows down the valley below them tranquil.

Thayne lies in the middle of Star Valley, down from the Grand Tetons. A sleepy town that seemed not much more than a collection of businesses on the highway, it was about 5 miles from the house we would call home for the next 3 nights. The house is modest from the outside, but with an open floor plan, a full-finished basement with 3 bedrooms of it's own, and a spectacular porch overlooking the 6th tee of the local golf course, this thing was clearly meant for family parties. That's certainly what Bob had in mind as the long-term plan.

Etho and I had only intended to stay a couple of nights, but got caught up in family stuff, and mostly things that we were psyched to do anyway. Golfing, hiking, fishing. I actually played a decent game of golf - at least I think so. I shot a 102 for 18 holes in my first game in over 8 years. I said playing golf on the Nintendo Wii had kept my skills sharp - ha!

The next day we hiked to a place called the "Intermittent Spring", which is a spring feeding a pretty nice river. One of only 3 in the world! Thing is, between September and May, the Spring will shut itself off through a weird series of bends in the rock for about 30 minutes a day.

It was really nice for Ethan to hang out with the cousins - Tamara and Kim's kids: Logan, Brody, Dane, Caiden, and Abbie. He really bonded with Dane, the eldest. The day we left Star Valley, we actually went fishing for 1/2 day, and Etho caught a fish like he was born knowing how to do it! Fun stuff!

I was looking forward to heading back up through Yellowstone, but due to our extra couple of days we were definitely behind schedule. Still, I wanted to make sure we saw Old Faithful, and stopped when we felt like it through the Nat'l Park. We blew through the Grand Tetons (for the 2nd time), and got to the Geyser Visitor's Center and viewing area with about 15 minutes to spare. Good seats for the show! Ethan was really excited to use the new camera to take a movie of the eruption. I thought it was cool when the rain started just after the geyser blew, almost like one caused the other.

As we drove out of Yellowstone to the West, I was struck (for the millionth time) at how beautiful it is. The Nez Pierce river, a stand of trees, fly fishermen in a quiet stream, hot springs everywhere, bison by the road, colorful meadows, mountains on the horizon filling the mind's eye with majesty.

(more pictures on my Flickr space)

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