We started our day by taking a drive on the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway as recommended by the campground staff. As we left Red Lodge, we began to ascend the Beartooth pass which is part of the Rocky Mountains. As we continued up the switchbacks, the view was incredible. I took many pictures and have posted most of them. It is just too hard to tell which are the best so you can browse them and decide for yourself.
As we came down the other side, we decided to continue on US-212 and enter Yellowstone from the northeast gate. We thought this would give us the opportunity to loop through the park and check out campsites without the 15,000 lbs. burden behind the truck.
What we didn't realize is how long the loop was. The scenic loop we started on was supposed to be only 52 miles according to the campground staff. But by time we finally returned to camp, we had covered nearly 300 miles for the day. I did find this one sign to be interesting as we neared the park entrance.
We made a stop at some thermal mud pits in the park. They were these pools of muddy water that were steaming and bubbling. When we first left the truck, the stench of the sulfur was overwhelming. It smelled like a big pot of boiling rotten eggs. But it didn't take very long to get used to the smell and after a few minutes, it was unnoticeable.
From there, it was starting to get late so we resumed our trek back to Cody. We still had over 100 miles to cover and the speed limit in the park varies from 30 - 45 mph. Of course its hard to even go the speed limit as most people are doing more looking than driving. And then there's the problem of animals in the roadway like this bison herd we came across. One of the bison just stood right in our lane and stared at us while not allowing us to continue. We were the third car back. If we were in front, I would have moved forward slowly to see if the bison would move but the car in front just sat there until it finally moved.
When we got back to Cody, we tried the Elks Lodge again. Today it was open. It's a very nice lodge with good people to match. The town of Cody has about 8000 people. The membership in the Elks lodge is around 1100, about 15% of the population. We saw several people in the lodge that we had met while shopping two days prior.
We got lots of info on the area and on what it is like to live in Cody as we sat at the bar and help fold the monthly bulletin. It's amazing how many people live here that are originally from California. Land here is very cheap, about $1000 - $5000 per acre depending upon where it is. They have water fights just like CA. There is no state income tax but property tax is about double of what you'd pay in CA. The average annual income is $18-$20K as there is no industry in Cody. In the 1950's there was quite an oil boom in the area but as the wells dried up and the costs to extract the oil increase, the oil business faded away. Now the main industry is tourism which means most businesses have to do a year's worth in just 3-4 months.
We finally left around 10:00 pm and headed back to the trailer. We had a few more while watching the lightning storm brewing in the distance. Then it was off to bed to get ready for another day.
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