Saturday, August 16 and Sunday, August 17

Saturday morning we all said our goodbyes and Kurt and Marty headed out shortly after 9:00 to return to San Francisco. I dropped Mark off at the airport to catch his return flight to Austin just after lunch. All by myself again, it was time to change gears.

I got on the highway and headed west toward my next destination: Yellowstone. Soon after turning south in Buffalo, I entered the Bighorn mountains, a range which is adjacent to, but not part of, the Rockies. I had heard that this was a pretty drive, but I had no idea how majestic and sweeping the views would be! I must have stopped at every pull out for 30 miles! The Bighorn river runs in a gulch below the highway against an ever changing backdrop of looming cliffs, rocky outcroppings, immense boulders and waving grass. It was nothing short of hypnotic. The road was a fun one to drive, too. Lots of 180s snaking along the sides of mountains. The temperature was a perfect 74 degrees, it was sunny and warm and I had my windows rolled down and my stereo turned up loud. Bob Mould crooned an accompaniment to one stretch, MC Hammer, another. It could not have been a nicer drive and it made me glow with the joy of being on the road.

I arrived in the small town of Worland late in the afternoon and decided to check into a hotel rather than do a lot more driving. When I checked in, one of the clerks was nice enough to make sure I knew about the Wyoming State Barbeque Championship and Bluegrass Festival that was happening right down the street. "Better than eating at McDonalds or ordering a pizza in your room!" he reasoned. I couldn't argue with that logic. It was a lovely balmy evening and it would give me a feel for the local scene. Singing cowboys and such. The clerk added, "You might not think much of the barbeque, since you're from Texas - but it's not bad." I was impressed that Texas barbeque had such cachet here in Wyoming.

I quickly procured a plate of smoked chicken wings and pork ribs from an outfit called Chubby Cheeks and sat down at a picnic table with other festival goers to snarf down the meaty goodness. As I was gnawing the last salty strands of smoked pork from one of the ribs, a fellow dressed like a pig wearing a cowboy hat walked up and shook hands with the little boy sitting across from me. I myself found the pig menacing - I was surprised it didn't make the poor little child cry! I wondered to myself what it would take for me to dress up like a pig so I could scare kids. I figure I've got a few hundred projects ahead of that on my list so I needn't worry about getting fitted for a pig suit quit yet.
Sunday morning (finally THIS morning - I've caught up!) I packed up my belongings up and checke dout of the motel early so I could set off for Cody. I decided en route that I'd use Cody as my home base to explore Yellowstone for the next couple of days. Cody is only about an hour away from Yellowstone, and an extremely beautiful drive from what I hear. I guess I'll find out tomorrow when I make my first visit to the park. I think I'll head straight for the classic attraction Old Faithful and then see where my journey takes me after that!

How glorious to be so free, with one of the most beautiful spots on earth in front of me to explore. I am fortunate beyond my imagining or understanding. Swell!

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