Yellowstone - 9/7
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By far, today was the worst day of our trip.  We left Cody at 10:00 am in the rain.  About 5 miles into our journey, we were stuck behind two motorhomes traveling 30 - 40 mph on the 65 mph highway and not a passing lane in sight.  And these assholes wouldn't ever think to pull over and let the 15 or so vehicles behind them pass.  They were going so slow and holding up so many cars that we were really hoping they would get a ticket.

After following the pricks for an hour (about 35 miles), I see a sheriff in the pack working his way up.  As he passed us and continued, he ducked right in behind the first motorhome.  Denise and I were cheering.  Then the sheriff whips around the motorhome and continues on his way.  Our cheers turned to disgust as our hope had vanished.

Then I see another sheriff coming code 3.  Lights flashing and siren blaring.  As he worked his way through the pack (which wasn't to difficult as everyone was pulling into the shoulder), he too was stuck behind the motorhomes.  The idiots in the motorhomes were oblivious to anything other than themselves.  Finally the sheriff was able to pass.

Another 10 miles (nearly 20 minutes) and finally there's a passing lane.  The only problem is that it is uphill and that makes it hard when trying to accelerate a 24,000 lbs. load (truck & trailer).  But I give it everything I've got and manage to squeeze by just before the lane ends while Denise expresses her displeasure with a friendly one fingered wave.

So now were on our way.  Because of the continued rain, we decide that we just as well go through Yelllowstone and try to find a campsite there.  If we can't find anything, we will just go out the west gate as we have heard there are plenty of RV parks there.  But we're pretty sure we can find something in the park.

Near the east gate, all traffic is stopped.  This must be why the sheriffs were running code 3.  We suspect it's a traffic accident but as we sit, a couple of state troopers pass on the shoulder.  Why haven't we seen an ambulance or a tow truck?  Maybe they have come from the other direction.

Hence, we continue to wait and watch people who just can't sit still.  It is raining and cold.  So cold in fact that the rain is frozen.  Not hail but little pieces of ice falling from the sky.  Yet some people are out of there cars walking around and not knowing what to do with themselves.

After waiting about 30 minutes, a car and a pickup come from the west.  They are stopping at every car for a moment.  Then the cars are turning around.  The message is that the east gate is closed for the rest of the day.  So there is nothing to do except head back to Cody and come up with a new plan.  But we did get to go by the motorhomes and exchange friendly gestures one more time.

We went back to Bubba's BBQ and had lunch.  Rumor is that the east gate is closed due to a hostage situation.  But of course you know how rumors can go.  The manager at Bubba's suggested a stop at the Chamber of Commerce as they would have all of the latest traffic information.  My plan is to head north to Cooke City, MT and then come in the northeast gate as we did on our previous drive.  The Chamber of Commerce confirmed that the northeast gate was open and although it was snowing in Cooke City, it wasn't sticking and the roads were open.

Although we started this morning at 10:00 am, it is now after 2:00 pm.  The trip to Cooke City was uneventful although slow because of the grades and the two lane roads.  We pass through the northeast entrance around 3:30 pm and are quickly reminded of how long it takes to get through Yellowstone.  The speed limit might be 45 mph but you are lucky to average 35-40 mph because people are doing more looking than driving.  And heaven forbid if there's wildlife.  You're lucky if the people get their cars off to the side of the road before running after the animals with their cameras.  No wonder there are several incidents every year where people are killed by the wild animals, despite all the warnings.  People just go nuts when they see the wildlife.

Tension levels continue to rise as we work our way through the park, and its associated obstacles.  We pass Mammoth Hot Springs and continue toward the west gate.  Finally, we come across Norris Junction and check out the campground there.  It's not exceptional but any spot at this point is good.  We go through the loops and the spaces just aren't big enough to accommodate our trailer.  We barely make it through one of the loops as the turn is very tight.  I used every inch of the road and then some.  So we continue our journey toward the west gate.

Just past Norris Junction, there is a sign that says "Road Closed - 3 miles".  No explanation.  No detour signs.  Nothing.  Now what?  Our patience is gone.  Our minds are fried.  We need to park this rig and quit for the evening.  So we decided to try and squeeze into this one spot that was less than optimal but maybe a possibility.  So back to the campground to give it a try.

It only took two shots to get in.  While I was finalizing the parking, a pickup truck with South Dakota plates (which I had passed earlier as it toodled along at 35 mph) appears.  The driver talks with Denise and claims that he had just registered the site.  Fine.  Fuck it!  I didn't even have the patience to ask him if he would be willing to select another site as this was the ONLY one in the whole fucking campground in which we could fit.  And besides, we had to pee.

So we leave the loop and stop in a large parking area near the restrooms near the campground exit.  Denise chooses the trailer bathroom while I walk to the public restroom.  Denise seems to take an exceptionally long time in the trailer while I walk over to a ranger's office and ask about the road and other campgrounds in the area.  The road is closed for construction and was closed on August 27.  Although the ranger was polite, she was very "matter-of-fact" and direct.  So the very simple answer was that instead of traveling the 16 miles of closed road, we just needed to go around by traveling 70 miles via the east, south, and then the west gate.  There is also a campground in Canyon just 12 miles along the detour.

So fine.  What other choice do we have?  I return to the truck as Denise is coming out of the trailer.  I share the update with her.  At this point, there is almost no reaction as a person can only get so frustrated.  Then she asks me if I had gotten into the freezer on a previous stop.  I had not.  Why?  Because the freezer had opened and the ice bin had crashed to the floor.  "It's like an ice-skating rink...".  So now if/when we finally land for the night, we won't even have ice for a much needed cocktail unless we find somewhere to buy a bag.  However, I'm sure we would drink it straight if necessary.

Hence, on to Canyon.  12 miles might seem to be just a short distance but because of the obstacles, it takes nearly 20 minutes to make the journey.  I go in to register and fortunately a space is available for Friday and Saturday nights.  However, the entire campground will close on Sunday at 10:00 am for the winter.  I just pay for the one night as I have no idea what tomorrow will bring.  Then I find that there's ice available at the laundromat next door.  One small victory!

Our space is beautiful.  Finally camping in a forest, not a parking lot.  We spend the evening consuming a liquid diet.  When we did decide to eat, we found some tortilla soup mix in the trailer and fixed that.  It was very cold as we are at nearly 8000 feet elevation.  But the trailer has heat so we stayed comfortable as we finally retired for the evening.

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