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Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah
07/01/05 - 07/10/05

by
Paul Ridenour

Warning: Political opinions, religious beliefs, education, history, Indians, humor, Monty Python, beautiful girls,
a house of ill repute, Amy Grant, and four-footed creatures

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Friday July 1

We left Dallas in our Saturn at 08:30 AM and arrived in Colorado Springs at 08:40 PM.  Stayed in the La Quinta for $115 a night.  Visited the Broadmoor Hotel and saw a deer in the street.


Broadmoor Hotel - Colorado Springs

Saturday July 2

Saw two deer in our parking lot in the morning.  We visited the Broadmoor Hotel again and shopped.  We drove to Garden of the Gods.  We saw several Mountain Blue Birds. We drove through the town of Estes Park and I was not impressed.  Seemed like a tourist trap to me.  Decided to go to through the Rocky Mountain National Park but changed our minds when it started to rain.   Saw a ground hog.

I heard conservative radio talk show host Laura Ingraham for the first time and she was fantastic.  I also heard liberal Air America radio out of Boulder and Al Franken's guest was Walter Cronkite.  Walter has issues with the religious right.  He is associated with a New York based liberal group called "The Interfaith Alliance."  Just search the Internet for some of his anti-Right writings.  My opinion, he is not the most trusted man in America and never was.  Air America is just not funny or entertaining.  They did have a liberal guest who said he has learned that a majority of Americans are very religious and that "we need to work with them."  I have to give him credit - a liberal who gets it.

We drove to Cheyenne, Wyoming, for dinner.  Along the way, we saw a large herd of buffalo and some camels.  It started to rain and the winds blew dust at about 60 MPH so we skipped dinner in Cheyenne and drove to Casper.  Spent the night in Casper at the Days Inn ($88 with NRA discount).


Garden of the Gods - Colorado Springs


Mountain Blue Bird - Garden of the Gods

Sunday July 3

Met an older couple from Fresno, California, who said they wish the politics were different in California.  They were conservatives and glad that the "Governator" was in charge.  We left Casper about 9:30 AM.   Visited Hell's Half-Acre which is really 320 acres.  Saw a bunny.  Hell's Half-Acre was used to run buffalo over the cliff just like "Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump" in Canada.  We visited there in 1995.

We drove through a small town with a population of 10.  A married couple owns the convenience store and there were four locals in the bar.  Yes, a combined convenience store/gas station/bar.  If one could convince five people to vote for them, they could be mayor.  I don't think Al Gore could be mayor because Wyoming is one of those extremely red states.

Drove through the Shoshone National Forest and Wind River Indian Reservation and saw three prairie dogs. The hot springs in Thermopolis is a tourist trap.  We arrived in Cody at 1:15 PM.

We visited the Five Museums of The Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming,  Cost is $15 a person for two days. We saw John Ridge's portrait in the Museum of Western Art.  John Ridge is a brother of Dottie's third great Cherokee grandmother Sarah Ridge.

My mom wanted us to drive up Chief Joseph's Memorial Highway to Montana.  We drove about an hour and decided to turn around since we were running out of gas and had tickets to the 2005 PRCA Buffalo Bill Cody Stampede Rodeo that evening at 8 PM.  We saw deer and antelope and were very near Montana before we turned around.  Before the rodeo, we ate at the Irma Hotel, named after one of William F. Cody's daughters.  I had a buffalo rib-eye and Dottie had the prime rib buffet.

The rodeo was outdoors and was surrounded by mountains in the background.  Tickets were $17 a person.  During the opening prayer, they said "In Jesus' name we pray."   It was a very small town pro-America pro-military pro-God event.  The rodeo clown was a comedian and made a lot of funny comments.  He said "Texans don't clap.  They holler. They have a beer in each hand and are too busy talking."  He also mentioned that you won't see Spanish on our gas pumps in Wyoming because we keep "what's good about America in America."  Then he said he will probably get in trouble for saying that and may be the victim of a drive-by roping after the rodeo.

Cody bills itself as the Rodeo Capital of the World.   I have never seen so many wild horses and so many barrels knocked over by the barrel racers.  The  cowboys from Texas did well in the rodeo and I had to wear my Dallas Cowboys jacket due to the weather.

We stayed at the Holiday Inn in Cody for the next three nights at $160 a night.  It was not fancy and did not have an elevator even though it was only two stories tall.


Hell's Half-Acre bunny that survived the hell, fire, and damnation ["What?  Behind the rabbit?  It is the rabbit!... Go no further, for death awaits you with big, nasty, pointy teeth"]


In the middle it looks like a guy is preaching from a pulpit to the lost souls in Hell's Half-Acre


Dot near the dried lake of fire


Museum of Western Art at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming.  Oil on Canvas portraits by Henry Inman (1801 - 1846)

middle left:  Shar-I-Tar-Ish - a Pawnee Chief
left to right top row:  Red Jacket - a Seneca War Chief, John Ridge - Cherokee delegate and writer, Kai-Pol-E-Qua - the Sauk and Fox Chief and leader of the Oshkosh Clan
left to right bottom row:  Hoo-Wan-Ne-Ka (Little Elk) - a Winnebago Chief, Pes-Ke-Le-Cha-Co - a Pawnee Chief, and No Tin - a Chippewa Chief


Antelope


Shoshone National Forest via Chief Joseph Memorial Highway - north of Cody


Shoshone National Forest - Chief Joseph Memorial Highway


The Rodeo Queens:  Selena Ulch - 2005 Miss Rodeo America (light sparkle blue) and Maggie Engels - 2005 Miss Rodeo Wyoming (pink)

Monday July 4

Left at 8 AM for Yellowstone National Park.  The first to be made a national park.  Five years after it was established as a national park, the beloved Nez Perce Chief Joseph kidnapped some campers and then let them go.   He was a Peace Chief but got the credit for his brilliant military strategist brother named Ollokot as the tribe kept beating back General Howard, Captain Perry, Colonel John Gibbons, and Colonel Samuel Sturgis on the tribe's "1,300 mile fighting retreat."  (Chief Joseph's People and Their War by Alvin M. Josephy, Jr.).  Chief Joseph quit fighting for the starving women and crying babies and he gave a speech that endeared him to America.  The speech ended with "From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever."  His tribe was defeated at the last battle just 30+ miles from the Canadian border.

From Cody, one drives through Buffalo Bill State Park, Buffalo Bill Reservoir and Dam, Shoshone River, and Shoshone National Forest before reaching Yellowstone.

Before entering the park, a mother moose and her baby were in a pond and the baby was running around in the water like a little kid. 

The cost is only $20 a car for a week.  We came into Yellowstone from the east and about 8 miles of park roads are under heavy construction.  The delay was five minutes to 22 minutes.  Much of the east side was burned in a recent fire and 36% (nearly 800,000 acres) was burned in 1988.  We stayed on the south side of the park.

Yellowstone consists of the large Yellowstone Lake that includes Dot Island and the Yellowstone River.  The river has a bridge where Cutthroat Trout spawn.  We saw a bunch of buffalo and another blue bird.  Spent two hours at Old Faithful which goes off about every 90 to 94 minutes for five to eight minutes.

Before dinner, I visited the Cody Firearms Museum with its 2,700 guns at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center while Dottie shopped downtown Cody.

We both had blackened tuna at a restaurant called Cassie's Supper Club - www.cassies.com.  It used to be a house of ill repute and many famous folks have performed music there including Vince Gill and Amy Grant Gill.

At 10 PM, we parked at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center to watch the fireworks from the river.  The explosions echoed through the canyon.


Mama moose and baby


Yellowstone River ["
is in my blood, itís the place I love"]


Buffalo or Bison


Old Faithful


Yellowstone Lake - Dot Island (left) and Frank Island (right)


Yellowstone

Tuesday July 5

Spent another day in Yellowstone on the north side.  The north has the Hayden Valley where all of the big animals hang out.  We saw two herds of buffalo, seven elk, three deer, a coyote, and Cutthroat Trout jumping upstream.  We visited more geysers which smell like sulfur.  Shoshone means "stinking water" and there was plenty of that at Sulfur Caldron, Mud Volcano (boiling mud), Dragon's Mouth (black exhaust smoke coming from a rock), Artist Point, Artist Paint Pots, and Emerald Springs.  They have these beautiful blue water ponds/geysers named Emerald Lake, Emerald Pond, and Emerald Springs, but they should be called "Emerald Stink Holes."

At the Sulfur Caldron, two buffalo were 10 feet from the parking lot and one decided to run down to the cars.  The park ranger then got everyone out of the way.  The other buffalo came down the hill and seemed to butt the other one back up the hill.

 We also saw the Virginia Cascade and some waterfalls.

We did some more downtown Cody shopping, ate at Subway, and were exhausted by 9 PM.


Elk


Mud Volcano


Dragon's Mouth (exhaust fumes)

I kept thinking about those New Agers who migrate to the mountains, especially Sedona, Arizona, who believe that a rock equals a rat equals a dog equals a man and equals God.  With exhaust coming out of a rock and boiling water and mud, it takes more faith to believe that man is God than God is God.


Emerald Springs (or "Blue Stink Hole")


A very attractive stink hole

Short video of a stinky geyser


Need a bath?

Short video of another stinky geyser


Wile E. Coyote


Upper Falls - Yellowstone


Old man at Kepler Cascades (photo by Dottie)


Dottie looking across Hayden Valley - Yellowstone


Western Blue Flax and Yellow Sweet Clover - Yellowstone

Wednesday July 6

We left Cody for the Grand Teton National Park via Yellowstone.   We only saw one buffalo in Yellowstone.  We saw a small waterfall before entering the Grand Teton National Park.  The Grand Teton is not a big park but very nice especially at Lake Jenny.  We drove through Jackson Hole and shopped in downtown Jackson.  After Jackson, we saw about 20 deer and some antelopes.  Spent the night at a Days Inn ($105) in Rock Springs, Wyoming.  Two words for Rock Springs - "windy and dusty."


Grand Teton National Park


Grand Tetons (or "French triple breasts")


Lake Jenny

Thursday July 7

Left about 8:30 AM and drove through the Green River, Flaming Gorge, Red Canyon, and Ashley National Forest.  We saw five prairie dogs and a fawn.  We visited Dinosaur National Monument in Utah.  I was here when I was a kid and it still looks the same.  We drove through very scenic Ouray, Colorado, and saw a beaver.  We shopped in Silverton and had dinner at the Pickle Barrel (the best restaurant in town).  I had an elk steak and Dottie had an excellent soup and salad.  I ran into a Robert Richardson who owns a shop and graduated from my high school in 1962.  His brother Gary Richardson graduated Bryan Adams High in 1976 and Gary would be at the shop tomorrow.  We left near sundown so we could see some deer in the late evening on the way to Durango.  We saw 10 deer and some had nice racks.  We arrived in Durango at 10 PM and will spend the next two nights in the Strater Hotel ($149).   The hotel is 118 years old.  We were in room 100 and it rated a 100.


The Flaming Gorge


Fawn - Ashley National Forest


Dinosaur National Monument - Dinosaur bones in the rocks ["Look at the bones!...bones of full fifty men lie strewn about its lair"]
 (My grandfather used to say that the scientists spent all day making fake dinosaur bones and putting them in the rocks)


What's the first thing that comes to mind?

Friday July 8

Slept very well.  We got on the 09:45 AM coal-powered nine-hour round-trip steam train to Silverton.  We saw many waterfalls, two deer, and some dirty snow up close.  There is an area where the train is surrounded by rocks.  That is where Robert Redford jumped on the train in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid."  A train personnel said "Ladies, that is as close as you will ever get to Robert Redford."  The train spews a lot of soot and embers.  We were covered in it and we were in the last car.  You had to wear sunglasses or you would get embers in your eyes.  The cost was $62 a person.  There is a steam train in Texas from Rusk to Palestine that is an hour and a half and $14 a person.

On the train we meet the Reynolds family (Steve Reynolds, Cindy Reynolds, and Alison Reynolds) from Houston.  Cindy has an apparel design company called Blue Water Clothing.

We had burgers at the Pickle Barrel.  We bought some jewelry in Gary Richardson's store called the "Enameling Shop."  He gave me the "Bryan Adams" discount which was close to 70%.  I remembered him but he did not remember me.  He was shy then and still is.

The wildflowers were in full bloom in all three states including Silvery and Silky Lupines (bluebonnets), Daises, Common and Wyoming Paintbrush, Yellow Sweet Clover, Western Blue Flax, Scarlet Globemallow, Meadow Salsify, Yellow Pond Lily, Harebell, Western Fringed Gentian, Sticky Geranium, Blue Penstemon, and Columbine (state flower of Colorado).

We both had grilled Rocky Mountain Trout at The Palace in Durango and shopped some more.  We sure did shop a lot.


Steam train -
www.durangotrain.com


Silverton jail - "I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti"


Scarlet Globemallow


Harebell


Meadow Salsify


Lupines


Columbine

Saturday July 9

We left Durango about 9:30 AM.  We wanted to drive 25 miles up to Durango Ski Basin (the old Purgatory ski area) and shop.  I have never been to a ski basin in the summertime.  We also wanted to drive 36 miles in the other direction to Mesa Verde and visit the Indian ruins.  Basically, we were tired and decided to do those on another trip.  We were ready to get home. 

Had lunch at Tomasita's (very spicy food) in downtown Santa Fe and shopped The Plaza.

Did we buy anything on this trip?  We bought a lot of clothes, books, jewelry, and souvenir spoons.  Did I mention clothes?

We spent the night in Clarendon, Texas, at the Best Western ($102).


The Strater Hotel - Durango, Colorado


Room 100

Sunday July 10

Arrived home about 2:30 PM.

I took around 500 digital photographs and drove over 3,800 miles.