Friday, October 23, 2009

35-60: End of the Road

So they caught us. All red-eyed and bleary, they caught us. Being good sports, we did the only kind thing we could: we cleared out of the room and let them borrow our beds for a couple hours till checkout time.

What to do? What to do? Stuck in West Yellowstone for several hours. There must be something we could do. Say.............we could go to Yellowstone! Good idea!

There were no buffalo. I will just tell you now before you can ask. All the flashing buffalo signs were for the elk. (The buffalo warning signs were flashing, not the buffalo themselves. Just to be clear.) In that area, the Madison elk herd takes advantage of the valley's special characteristics to increase their species. It is one of the last places to get snowed in and lose all the luscious grass, and one of the first to thaw come spring. The thick forests along the sides of the valley, until the '88 fire, provided shelter for the new calves when they were born. Already the new growth from the replanted trees looks pretty thick and lush, but apparently no one is quite sure what the elk will ultimately decide to do. I don't know - they looked pretty comfy to me.

Steam vents rose from the river as we drove along, doubtless making some of the fly fishermen very happy on such a cold, cold day. I mean, we saw snowflakes at breakfast, and here are all these men (I didn't see any women, whether there were any or not) standing up to their hips in frigid water, whipping their poles around as if they didn't have a care in the world. I'm sure it was pretty near the ultimate in fly fishing, if you're into that sort of thing.

There wasn't time to go all the way to Old Faithful, so we contented ourselves with taking a winding little side road and walking down to a steam vent that was so close to the bank it had been fenced off. It was so odd to stand there shivering at the edge of a boiling turquoise pool. It was even odder to hobble back to the car, looking around furtively to make sure no tourists were looking, when I'm used to leaping like a gazelle. Soon, very soon, I will leap again.

Anyhoo! Arriving back at the motel, we quickly tossed the last couple things in the car and took off, following Dad. Mom was already chafing at the slow pace long before we got to the first uphill stretch, and our speed dropped from 60 on down and down and down, until we were dashing along the highway at a breathtaking 35 mph.

Going through the town of Big Sky, which is still undergoing all sorts of road construction, we saw the craziest thing. This house had been shingled with all sorts of loops and whorls. Mom and I are still arguing about whether or not it was on purpose. We did agree that it was unlike any other roof either of us had ever seen.

Fast forward through a couple hundred miles of 35-60, and Mom was getting really eager to pick up speed. At last, reluctantly (on my part) we sped (on her part) off, leaving the boys to follow at their own speed. At about 11 pm we arrived home and tucked ourselves in.

Slowly but steadily, the menfolks joined us several hours later, and all grew quiet under the Big Sky.

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