A Grab Bag from America’s Back Roads – The I Things #AtoZChallenge

In 2018 I  will feature a random (yet alphabetical) selection of photos I have taken from my nearly 20 years of back roads travel in the United States and Canada.  I may even throw in a few random shots from other trips to Japan, Mexico and the Philippines. My theme is called America’s Back Roads: A Grab Bag of Places in Pictures.

 

Idaho Potato Museum – Blackfoot, Idaho

At the Idaho Potato Museum in 2013 – Blackfoot, ID
Idaho Potato Museum – Blackfoot

Intercourse, Pennsylvania

Intercourse, PA Sign – the most stolen town sign in the US
Amish Buggy Sales lot just outside of Intercourse

Indian Falls Log Cabin Restaurant – Corfu, New York

Indian Falls Log Cabin Restaurant
Indian Falls from the parking lot of the Indian Falls Log Cabin restaurant in New York

I-80 Truck Stop – World’s Largest Truck Stop – Walcott, Iowa

Sumoflam at I-80 Truckstop in Walcott, IA
Full Size semi truck and trailer inside I-80 Truck Stop

Imagination Takes Flight Sculpture – Council Bluffs, Iowa

Imagination Takes Flight – Matthew Placzek in front of Council Bluffs Public Library

Ice Cream Cone Buildings – Canonsburg, Pennsylvania; Peoria, Illinois

Turtle Twist Ice Cream in Canonsburg, PA
Sumoflam and Twistee Treat in Peoria, IL

Inverness, Montana dinosaur

The dinosaur sculpture off of US Highway 2 near Rudyard, made by farmer Byron Wolery of Inverness, MT

International Bakery – Omaha, Nebraska

International Bakery – Omaha, Nebraska
Shelves of Mexican pastries and breads at the International Bakery in Omaha

Indian River Inlet Bridge – Bethany Beach, Delaware

The Indian River Inlet Bridge between Maryland and Delaware

Ironwood, Michigan

A section of the Miner’s Memorial Mural in Ironwood, which was completed in 2012
Historic Ironwood Theatre in Ironwood, MI

Indian Paintbrush – Cool, Texas

Indian Paintbrush

Indianapolis Children’s Museum – Indianapolis, Indiana

Giant Dinosaur at Indianapolis Children’s Museum
T Rex Trl in Indianapolis

Idan-Ha Drive In – Soda Springs, Idaho

Idan-Ha Drive In Theatre – Soda Springs, Idaho

Indian Head – Indian Head, Saskatchewan

Sumoflam at Indian Head Statue in Indian Head, SK in Canada in Sept. 2007

Iago, Texas

Iago, Texas

Imes Covered Bridge – St. Charles, Iowa

Imes Covered Bridge – St. Charles, Iowa

Irma Restaurant – Cody, Wyoming

Irma Restaurant, Cody, WY

Interstate by William King – Council Bluffs, Iowa

Interstate by William King at entrance to Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, IA

Independence Hall – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Independence Hall, Philadelphia

Island Hopping – Bohol and Cebu, Philippines

Island Hopping in the Philippines in 2006

Independence, Missouri

A portion of one of a series of ceramic murals on the Clay County Public Services Building in Independence, MO

Illinois Route 66 – Staunton, Illinois

Historic Route 66 in Illinois
Route 66 “Route Beer”

Indianapolis, Indiana

Capital Building in Indianapolis, IN
Welcome Sign in Indianapolis

Irvine, Kentucky

Welcome to Irvine, KY
A large wooden carving of a mountain mushroom in downtown Irvine, KY

If you like what you see, you may want to check out my book: Less Beaten Paths of America: Unique Town Names, available on Amazon.  My second book, Less Beaten Paths of America: Quirky and Offbeat Roadside Attractions, will be available in late April or early May 2018. Click on the photo below for more details or to get a copy of the book.

Books 1 & 2

 

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Vintage Neon Everywhere

Old Mojo Gas Sign - Rock Springs, Wyoming
Old Mojo Gas Sign – Rock Springs, Wyoming

Everywhere I go I see old neon.  These signs remind me of the my youthful days in the 1960s and 70s when we traveled.  Alas, for many, the only signs they see are the same unoriginal fast food, gas station and motel chain signs all over the place.  But, in the by gone days there were few McDonald’s and Motel 6 spots.  Instead, there were the little cozy motels with the old metal chairs in the front and the unique neon signs.  There were the local burger joints with their big shiny signs.  And there were the drive in movie theaters and the downtown theatres with their unique names.  Here is a trip down memory lane with neon I have captured along the less beaten paths and just a few comments, when appropriate.

OLD MOTELS

Chinook Hotel - Chinook, Montana
Chinook Hotel – Chinook, Montana

Of all of the unique neon signs, perhaps the hotel and motel signs are the most fun and bring back the fondest memories.  My first ever motel stay was in some non-descript motel in Amarillo, Texas in 1968.  At the time I was only 12.  It was exciting to sleep in a motel bed, see the paper covered drinking glasses, taste the strange tasting water, sit on the metal rockers on the front porch.  We watched the news and stock reports on the local television and ate pancakes at a local cafe before heading to our new home in Richardson, Texas (we were moving from Albuquerque, so yes, we were on Route 66 back then).

Motel Galata on US Hwy 2 - The Hi-Line - in Galata, Montana
Motel Galata on US Hwy 2 – The Hi-Line – in Galata, Montana
Thunderbird Inn in Savannah, Georgia
Thunderbird Inn in Savannah, Georgia
El Kapp Motel in Raton, NM
El Kapp Motel in Raton, NM
Covered Wagon Motel in Lusk, Wyoming
Covered Wagon Motel in Lusk, Wyoming
Kool Breeze Motel in Irving, Texas
Kool Breeze Motel in Irving, Texas
Cave Land Motel - Cave City, Kentucky
Cave Land Motel – Cave City, Kentucky
Log Cabin Motel - Ashton, Idaho
Log Cabin Motel – Ashton, Idaho
Dude Motel - West Yellowstone, Montana
Dude Motel – West Yellowstone, Montana
D-K Motel - Arco, Idaho
D-K Motel – Arco, Idaho
Wagon Wheel Motel - Kadoka, South Dakota
Wagon Wheel Motel – Kadoka, South Dakota
4 Winds Motel - Jackson Hole, Wyoming
4 Winds Motel – Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Arena Motel in Shelby, Montana  The sign is all that remains
Arena Motel in Shelby, Montana The sign is all that remains
Generic Motel Sign - Shelby, Montana
Generic Motel Sign – Shelby, Montana
Old Stanley Cour-Tel Sign (from Missouri) now at Ra66it Ranch in Staunton, Illinois
Old Stanley Cour-Tel Sign (from Missouri) now at Ra66it Ranch in Staunton, Illinois
Lays Motor Lodge sign in Kingdom City, Missouri.  Motel building is dilapidated, but the sign remains
Lays Motor Lodge sign in Kingdom City, Missouri. Motel building is dilapidated, but the sign remains
Motel in Havre, Montana
Motel in Havre, Montana
Palace Hotel - Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Palace Hotel – Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Antler Motel - Kemmerer, Wyoming
Antler Motel – Kemmerer, Wyoming
Texan Motel - Raton, New Mexico
Texan Motel – Raton, New Mexico

And to round off the trip, how about one of the more famed ones….

Sleep in a Wigwam - Wigwam Motel in Cave City, Kentucky
Sleep in a Wigwam – Wigwam Village Motel in Cave City, Kentucky

CAFES AND RESTAURANTS

Goody Goody - St. Louis, Missouri
Goody Goody Diner – St. Louis, Missouri

After a nice evening a a comfy motel, what is better than starting the day off with a great breakfast at a diner, a pancake house or a local cafe. The servings are always big, the mom and pop service is better than any fast food joint.  Of course, while on the road you can also stop for lunch and even a big dinner, in some cases even more than you can manage if you are willing to take the chance (think Amarillo, Texas!!)

Donut Whole - Wichita, Kansas
Donut Whole – Wichita, Kansas They have a giant rooster on the roof there too!
Voodoo Doughnut - Portland, Oregon
Voodoo Doughnut – Portland, Oregon
Royal Donut - Danville, Illinois
Royal Donut – Danville, Illinois
Crystal Cafe - Raton, NM
Crystal Cafe – Raton, NM
Golden Burro Cafe - Leadville, CO
Golden Burro Cafe – Leadville, CO
Presti's Bakery - Cleveland, OH
Presti’s Bakery – Cleveland, OH
Lil' Cafe - Commerce, Oklahoma
Lil’ Cafe – Commerce, Oklahoma
Irma Restaurant and Grill - Cody, Wyoming
Irma Restaurant and Grill – Cody, Wyoming
Pickle's Place - Arco, Idaho
Pickle’s Place – Arco, Idaho
Sport Bowl Cafe - Tripp, South Dakota
Sport Bowl Cafe – Tripp, South Dakota

How about some burgers for lunch?

Wimpy's Hamburgers - Dallas, Texas - I'll gladly pay you Thursday for a hamburger today....
Wimpy’s Hamburgers – Dallas, Texas – I’ll gladly pay you Thursday for a hamburger today….
Paul's Hamburgers - Kansas City, Kansas
Paul’s Hamburgers – Kansas City, Kansas
Waylan's Hamburgers - Home of the Ku-Ku - Commerce, Oklahoma
Waylan’s Hamburgers – Home of the Ku-Ku – Miami, Oklahoma
Scotty's Hamburgers - Idaho Falls, Idaho
Scotty’s Hamburgers – Idaho Falls, Idaho
Hutch's on the Beach - Hamilton, Ontario
Hutch’s on the Beach – Hamilton, Ontario
Frostop Root Beer - Ashton, Idaho
Frostop Root Beer – Ashton, Idaho
Schroeder's Drive-In - Danville, Illinois
Schroeder’s Drive-In – Danville, Illinois

Perhaps you want to try an ORIGINAL Cozy Dog….a Route 66 Classic indeed.  This one deserves two photos

Cozy Drive-In - Home of the Cozy Dog - Springfield, Illinois
Cozy Drive-In – Home of the Cozy Dog – Springfield, Illinois
Cozy Drive-In - Springfield, Illinois  The sign says it all
Cozy Drive-In – Springfield, Illinois The sign says it all

Don’t want a burger or a corn dog?  How about a Maid-Rite Sandwich?

Maid-Rite Sandwiches - Lexington, Missouri
Maid-Rite Sandwiches – Lexington, Missouri

Or perhaps some great authentic Bar-B-Q?

Bryant's Barbecue - Kansas City, Missouri
Arthur Bryant’s Barbecue – Kansas City, Missouri

And a little Ice Cream for an afternoon treat….

Zesto - near the zoo in Omaha, Nebraska
Zesto – near the zoo in Omaha, Nebraska
Another Zesto in downtown Omaha, Nebraska
Another Zesto in downtown Omaha, Nebraska
Jimmy's Ice Cream - Waldo, Arkansas
Jimmy’s Ice Cream – Stamps, Arkansas

Okay.  So this next one is not neon.  But it is certainly Vintage.  And who can resist stopping for an ice cream at a place that LOOKS like an Ice Cream?

M & M's Twistee Treat - E. Peoria, Illinois
M & M’s Twistee Treat – E. Peoria, Illinois

There are lots of places that you can get dinner…many of the old neon places are a combo bar/grill or bar/restaurant.   And many have unique signs.  Personally, I don’t drink alcohol, but I have certainly enjoyed a few good meals at some of these kinds of places.

Manhattan Bar - Leadville, Colorado
Manhattan Bar – Leadville, Colorado
Mint Bar and Lounge - Chinook, Montana
Mint Bar and Lounge – Chinook, Montana
Acoma Restaurant and Lounge - Butte, Montana
Acoma Restaurant and Lounge – Butte, Montana
Atomic City Bar - Atomic City, Idaho - no longer in business, but the sign is a classic!
Atomic City Bar – Atomic City, Idaho – no longer in business, but the sign is a classic!
Elk Bar and Good Food - Chinook, Montana
Elk Bar and Good Food – Chinook, Montana
Steaks - what more needs to be said? - near Turkey Ridge, South Dakota
Steaks – what more needs to be said? – near Turkey Ridge, South Dakota
Riscky's Steakhouse - Fort Worth, Texas
Riscky’s Steakhouse – Fort Worth, Texas
Lariat Saloon - Buena Vista, Colorado
Lariat Saloon – Buena Vista, Colorado

And let’s not forget two of the most iconic vintage neon places for travelers….

Cowboy Bar - Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Million Dollar Cowboy Bar – Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Big Texan Steak House - home of the FREE 72 OZ Steak (if you can eat it all) - Amarillo, Texas
Big Texan Steak Ranch – home of the FREE 72 OZ Steak (if you can eat it all) – Amarillo, Texas

Maybe you prefer something a bit more ethnic in the evening….

Joe Mama's Italian - Time for Fine Eats - Pittsburgh, Pennsylania
Joe Mama’s Italian – Time for Fine Eats – Pittsburgh, Pennsylania
El Fenix Restaurant - Best Tex-Mex in Texas - downtown Dallas, Texas
El Fenix Restaurant – Best Tex-Mex in Texas – downtown Dallas, Texas
Hung Far Low - Famous Chop Suey and Famous name - Portland, Oregon
Hung Far Low – Famous Chop Suey and Famous name – Portland, Oregon

Or perhaps just a late night Philly Cheese Steak?  How about two choices and they are just across the street from each other in the triangle….(I actually tried one at each place on the same evening – add the whiz!)

Geno's Cheese Steaks - Philadelphia, PA
Geno’s Cheese Steaks – Philadelphia, PA
Pat's King of Steaks - Philadelphia, PA
Pat’s King of Steaks – Philadelphia, PA

Movie Theaters, Drive-In Theaters and Music Halls

Teton Drive-In - Rexburg, Idaho
Teton Drive-In – Rexburg, Idaho

Perhaps you have had a long day on the road and need a break from motel room TV.  A visit to an old drive in theater with some popcorn and thus fuzzy little speakers hanging in your window will do ya.

Too cold outside?  Then there are some classic old movie theaters around that show some cool movies or maybe even will have a live band playing in them. Many of the old theaters are multi-purpose nowadays, but their old neon signs still draw you in and bring back the memories of 1960s childhood.

Following are a few classic looks with neon I have seen over the years as I travel the back roads of America.

 

Plaza Theatre - Glasgow, Kentucky
Plaza Theatre – Glasgow, Kentucky
Lund Theatre - Viborg, South Dakota
Lund Theatre – Viborg, South Dakota
Liberty Theatre - Vandalia, Illinois
Liberty Theatre – Vandalia, Illinois
Great American Music Hall - San Francisco, CA
Great American Music Hall – San Francisco, CA
The Blue Room - Kansas City, Missouri
The Blue Room – Kansas City, Missouri
Pix Theatre - Winner, South Dakota
Pix Theatre – Winner, South Dakota
Westside Theatre - Newman, California
West Side Theatre – Newman, California
Kentucky Theatre - Lexington, Kentucky
Kentucky Theatre – Lexington, Kentucky
Fox Theatre - Detroit, Michigan
Fox Theatre – Detroit, Michigan
Skyline Theatre - Rudyard, Montana
Hi-Line Theatre – Rudyard, Montana
El Raton Theatre - Raton, NM
El Raton Theatre – Raton, NM
Fischer Theatre - Danville, Illinois
Fischer Theatre – Danville, Illinois
Orpheum Theatre - Wichita, Kansas
Orpheum Theatre – Wichita, Kansas
Leeds Theatre - Winchester, Kentucky
Leeds Theatre – Winchester, Kentucky
Bing Crosby Theatre - Spokane, Washington
Bing Crosby Theatre – Spokane, Washington

VARIOUS AND SUNDRY OTHER PLACES

Pelo's Sundries - LeClaire, Iowa (Home of the American Pickers!)
Pelo’s Sundries – LeClaire, Iowa (Home of the American Pickers!)

Sure, I meant it when I included “Sundry” in this section.  That term seems old fashioned now, but the old five-and-dime shops had “sundry” items.  There were also the old drug stores that sold magazines, had fountains in the shop and they sold “sundries.”

I also include the “various” in here since there are a few odds and ends neon signs that I  want to include in this section.

The famous Public Market sign in Seattle, Washington
The famous Pike Place Public Market sign in Seattle, Washington
Pilgrim Cleaners in Houston, Texas.  They also do shoe repairs
Pilgrim Cleaners in Houston, Texas. They also do shoe repairs
Arco City Hall - Arco, Idaho - First City in the world to be lit by Atomic Power
Arco City Hall – Arco, Idaho – First City in the world to be lit by Atomic Power
Boring Rexall Drugs - Warsaw, Missouri
Boring Rexall Drugs – Warsaw, Missouri
The Old Drugs Store - Cumberland Gap, Tennessee
The Old Drugs Store – Cumberland Gap, Tennessee

Now, wasn’t that just a yummy adventure through the past?

Yummy House - Idaho Falls, Idaho
Yummy House – Idaho Falls, Idaho

Some roadside assistance provided by friends at……

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Eastern Wyoming to Yellowstone: Cowboy Country, Buffaloes and more

Buffalo Bill Reservoir
Buffalo Bill Reservoir

On June 2, 2013 I continued my trip westward from Lexington thru South Dakota and into Wyoming.  On this leg I started in Gillette, Wyoming and made my way to Rexburg with a trip through Yellowstone National Park.

Welcome to Gillette, WY
Welcome to Gillette, WY

Gillette, Wyoming is the first large town in Wyoming on the western end of I-90.  It was incorporated in 1892 and is now called the “Energy Capital of the Nation” due to the high grade coal reserves as well as nearly 13,000 oil wells.

Cowboy Mural
Downtown Cowboy Mural by Harvey Jackson

Downtown Gillette is not too large, but, along the main street there are a number of sculptures and a great wall mural.  The mural above was done by Gillette artist Harvey Jackson, who has murals throughout Wyoming including a giant mural on the side of L &H Industrial in Gillette called “Campbell County Industrial Mural“, which is twice as large as Mt. Rushmore.

Poco a Poco Se Va Lejos by Pokey Park
Poco a Poco Se Va Lejos by Pokey Park

Gillette has a Mayor’s Art Council which features an “Avenue of the Arts” annually.  They have a number of pieces made and display them on the Main Street through town and then auction them.  Here are a few that I took while driving through town.

Abraham Lincoln - by Gary Lee Price
Abraham Lincoln – by Gary Lee Price

This Abraham Lincoln bronze work by Gary Lee Price is a duplicate of a piece in Jackson, Wyoming, which I visited a couple of months ago.

Talvez Manana by Pokey Park
Talvez Manana by Pokey Park

Pokey Park is a sculptor from Georgia.  She has the two turtles on display.

Belle - Jeannine Young
Belle – Jeannine Young

“Belle” is a work by Jeannine Young of Salt Lake City.

Cowboy - artist unknown
Cowboy – artist unknown
Feeding the geese
Feeding the ducks

Gillette is also home to the “Rockpile Museum.” This Campbell County Museum focuses on general, regional, and local history with an emphasis on the culture and people of Campbell County.  It was opened in 1974 at the site of the historic natural rockpile, which has been a piece of Gillette history since the 1890s.

Rockpile Museum - Gillette, Wyoming
Rockpile Museum – Gillette, Wyoming
Gillette's Rockpile
Gillette’s famous Rockpile

From Gillette I headed west towards Buffalo, Wyoming on I-90.   It was a beautiful day heading into the mountains of Wyoming.  There were some nice views and I also saw some antelope.

Mountains near Buffalo, WY
The Bighorn Mountains near Buffalo, WY
Heading West on I-90 in Wyoming
Heading West on I-90 in Wyoming towards the Bighorn Mountains
Antelope grazing near Buffalo, Wyoming
Antelope grazing near Buffalo, Wyoming
Welcome to Buffalo, WY
Welcome to Buffalo, WY

Buffalo, Wyoming is a nice small town in the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains.

Horse Sculpture - Buffalo, Wyoming
Cool Water – Buffalo, Wyoming

The sculpture above is called “Cool Water” and was done by Buffalo artist D. Michael Thomas, who has been sculpting cowboy themed pieces for over 30 years.

Nate Champion's Last Run - D. Michael Thomas
Nate Champion’s Last Run – D. Michael Thomas
Buffalo by Lyndon Fayne Pomeroy
Buffalo by Lyndon Fayne Pomeroy

Havre, Montana artist Lyndon Pomeroy did the unique bronze buffalo above.  I noted some of his work in Havre on a previous post.

Mountain Wildflowers - east of Buffalo on US 16
Mountain Wildflowers in a Mountain Meadow – east of Buffalo on US 16

The road from Buffalo, WY to Cody, WY has mountain majesties, wondrous wildflowers and amazing canyons.  Following is some of what I was able to see along US Route 16.

Mountain Scene on US 16 east of Buffalo, WY
Mountain Scene on US 16 east of Buffalo, WY

There are lots of wildflowers in bloom.  The yellow ones closeup look like this

Yellow Wildflowers in Bighorn National Forest
Arrow Leafed Balsamroot in Bighorn National Forest
Lupine in Big Horn National Forest
Lupine in Big Horn National Forest
Meadowlark Lake in Bighorn National Forest on US 16
Meadowlark Lake in Bighorn National Forest on US 16
Tensleep Canyon on US 16
Ten Sleep Canyon on US 16
US Route 16 into Worland, WY from Ten Sleep, WY
US Route 16 into Worland, WY from Ten Sleep, WY

Worland, Wyoming is also home to the Washakie Museum which features exhibits that portrays the history of the Big Horn Basin.  It is also home to a giant Mammoth Bronze statue.  The statue is 25 feet tall and weighs 6000 pounds.  It is the work of Casper, Wyoming (and Sedona, AZ) artist Chris Navarro.

Mammoth Bronze Statue by Chris Navarro in Worland, WY
Mammoth Bronze Statue by Chris Navarro in Worland, WY

From Worland I headed north on US 20 towards Greybull and then west on US 14/16/20 towards Cody.  This provided some great scenes of the mountains of Yellowstone.

Heading west on US 14/16/20 out of Worland
Heading west on US 14/16/20 out of Worland
Another view of the Rocky Mountains near Yellowstone
Another view of the Rocky Mountains near Yellowstone

I eventually arrived in Cody, Wyoming by late morning.  Named after William “Buffalo Bill” Cody who was one of the founders of the town. There is plenty in town of you are a Buffalo Bill (and I don’t mean football) fan!

Welcome to Cody, Wyoming
Welcome to Cody, Wyoming
Painted Grizzly on a corner in Cody
Painted Grizzly on a corner in Cody

The grizzly above is part of a Cody fundraising program called “The Grizzly Gathering“, which was created to raise funds for their library.  Many towns are doing similar things.  We had the horses in Lexington (“Horse Mania“) and I have seen buffaloes (“Buffalo Roam” project in West Yellowstone, WY), birds, etc., as I go through some towns.

Large mural in Cody, Wyoming
Large mural by Austin Kuck in Cody, Wyoming

The mural above is on the wall of Seidel’s Saddlery in Cody.  It was painted by Colorado Austin Kuck.

Cody Theatre - Cody, Wyoming
Cody Theatre – Cody, Wyoming

Of course, like many older towns in the west, there is still plenty of neon….

Irma Restaurant, Cody, WY
Irma Restaurant, Cody, WY
Irma Hotel, Cody, WY
Irma Hotel, Cody, WY

Then, of course, there are the many Buffalo Bill items in town…

Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Cody, WY
Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Cody, WY
The Scout by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney
The Scout by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney
Alternate view of the The Scout - Buffalo Bill statue
Alternate view of the The Scout – Buffalo Bill statue

The Scout is a bronze statue of a mounted rider outside the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody. It was placed in 1924 to commemorate the town’s most famous resident, Buffalo Bill Cody. Originally in open land on the western outskirts of town, the statue today stands at the end of Sheridan Avenue. The project was initiated by Cody’s niece, Mary Jester Allen, who had established the basis of what would become the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. A New Yorker, she persuaded heiress and artist Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney to sculpt the piece.

"Hard and Fast All the Way" - Buffalo Bill sculpture by Peter M. Fillerup
“Hard and Fast All the Way” – Buffalo Bill sculpture by Peter Fillerup

The above bronze was done by Peter Fillerup of Heber, Utah.  It represents a younger Buffalo Bill as a Pony Express Rider.

Old Indian Woman -m Cody, Wyoming
Indian Woman, Cody, Wyoming
Indian Chief, Cody, Wyoming
Indian Chief, Cody, Wyoming

From Cody I was next on my way to Yellowstone, continuing along the same highway.  As I got closer there were more spectacular views of the Rocky Mountains and other unique things as well.

Buffalo Bill Reservoir
Buffalo Bill Reservoir
Highway to Wapiti, WY
Highway to Wapiti, WY
Cliffs near Wapiti, WY as seen from US 14/16/20
Cliffs near Wapiti, WY as seen from US 14/16/20

Then there is the famously unique Smith Mansion high up on a hill in Wapiti. This 40 year old structure was the brainchild of Wyoming artist Lee Smith. Smith spent his life, and eventually tragically ended it building this unique house for his family.  He fell to his death at the age of 48 in 1992.  The home is 5 stories tall, has numerous staircases and rooms and hidden entrances.  There is a great deal written about this odd place.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to venture up there, but I did get a good shot from below.

Smith Mansion - Wapiti, WY
Smith Mansion (The Crazy House) – Wapiti, WY
A Black Billed Magpie on a fencepost in Wapiti
A Black Billed Magpie on a fencepost in Wapiti
View towards mountains in Wapiti
View towards mountains in Wapiti
Giant stack of Antlers and Skulls in Wapiti
Giant stack of Antlers and Skulls in Wapiti
Closeup with skulls
Closeup with skulls

From Wapiti the road winds slowly into the East Gate of Yellowstone National Park.

Unique Formations west of Wapiti
Unique Formations west of Wapiti
Sandstone Cliffs and Mountains west of Wapiti
Sandstone Cliffs and Mountains west of Wapiti
The Approach to Yellowtone
The Approach to Yellowstone

The last time I visited Yellowstone National Park was in 1973 while my family lived in Bozeman, Montana.  So, it has been about 40 years since then.  Much has changed, but much has remained the same (or at least appears to have – we all know that geology is also ever changing).

Sumoflam at Yellowstone - First time in 40 years
Sumoflam at Yellowstone – First time in 40 years

In the lower 48 states there are many magnificent National Parks including my personal Big Five of Yellowstone (WY), the Grand Canyon (AZ), Glacier National Park (MT), Zions National Park (UT) and Grand Teton National Park (WY).  There are many others ( I probably would have included Yosemite, but I have not been there yet).  Indeed, I may be known for my visiting offbeat and quirky sites, but don’t let that fool you.  I am enamored by the amazing geographic and historical diversity of this country.  But, I  have only made it to 22 of the nation’s 59 national parks thus far.  I dream of getting to Denali in Alaska and the North Cascades in Washington, along with Yosemite. (Here is a complete list of the National Parks)

Snowy Mountains in Yellowstone
Snowy Mountains in Yellowstone

Unfortunately, I did not have a lot of time on this trip, so I tried to hit the highlights I could on the Grand Loop Road through the park to West Yellowstone.  Here are a few scenes from the drive, some without any captions.

SCENES OF YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK

Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Sylvan Lake - Yellowstone National Park
Sylvan Lake – Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Sylvan Pass - Yellowstone National Park
Sylvan Pass – Yellowstone National Park
Burned trees - Yellowstone National Park
Burned trees – Yellowstone National Park
A survivor - Yellowstone National Park
A survivor – Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Steam from Hot Springs - Yellowstone National Park
Steam from Hot Springs – Yellowstone National Park
Upper Falls of Yellowstone River from Artist's Point
Upper Falls of Yellowstone River from Artist’s Point
Sumoflam at Yellowstone Upper Falls
Sumoflam at Yellowstone Upper Falls

Buffalo and Elk in Yellowstone Park

Buffalo in Yellowstone Park
Buffalo in Yellowstone Park

Of course, everyone knows that wild buffalo roam Yellowstone National Park, as elk as do deer, elk, moose, antelope, mountain goats, bears and more.  Unfortunately, all I saw were the buffalo (and almost hit one too!!).  I saw a couple of elk as well.  I heard from a few other tourists that they saw some bears hanging around the rivers, but I didn’t see any.

Buffalo in Yellowstone Park
Buffalo in Yellowstone Park
A solitary elk bull relaxes in the meadow at Yellowstone
A solitary elk bull relaxes in the meadow at Yellowstone
Buffalo in Yellowstone Park
Buffalo in Yellowstone Park
Buffalo in Yellowstone Park
Buffalo in Yellowstone Park
Another bull elk meanders into a field
Another bull elk meanders into a field
Buffalo in Yellowstone Park
Buffalo in Yellowstone Park

As I noted above, I almost ran into a HUGE buffalo while driving through the park.  I rounded a corner and there he was crossing into the road almost in front of me.  This guy was taller than my car and could care less about me rounding the corner. He just kept meandering across the road casually.

Buffalo in Yellowstone Park
Buffalo in Yellowstone Park
Huge buffalo right next to my car
Huge buffalo right next to my car

Alas, I eventually made my way to the road out towards West Yellowstone and into Montana.

Heading west out of Yellowstone National Park
Heading west out of Yellowstone National Park
Welcome to Montana
Welcome to Montana

West Yellowstone still has some of the old motels from ages past.  Here are a few of the Ho-Hum Du

Ho-Hum Motel - West Yellowstone
Ho-Hum Motel – West Yellowstone
Dude Motel - West Yellowstone
Dude Motel – West Yellowstone
Westward Motel - West Yellowstone
Westward Motel – West Yellowstone
Leaving Yellowstone for Idaho
Leaving Yellowstone for Idaho

I finally made it into Rexburg late that evening…what a fantastic day this was!!

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