Sunday, 18 January 2009

Monday June 14 2004, Cody - Yellowstone National Park

It's a gorgeous, bright and sunny day today. We leave camp a little later than normal today, as Cori has to replace a tyre on the van which was stolen in Chicago. We're off to Yellowstone National Park, which is absolutely enormous. After lunch we hike up the 'Elephant Trail', to a stunning view. The hike really knackers me out, but it's worth it to see some waterfalls that are even more spectacular than Niagara. Camp tonight is just outside the park in Montana (or Man-tana, as the locals sometimes say, 'cos there ain't a whole lotta women there...).

Despite the bright sunshine, it's a tad cold and windy - again I don't sleep brilliantly.

Sunday June 13 2004, Wyoming (Devil's Tower to Cody)

Another long trip today through the Blackhills National Forest, and heading to Cody, WY. Spectacular scenery and a long way up. In fact, we've gone so far up that on the way down my ears begin to pop quite badly and I have quite a headache for the rest of the afternoon.

We're most definitely in the midwest now, and it really begins to show when you drive through some of these places. Arriving in Cody, we take a look around the town - I desperately need warm clothes so head straight to the outdoor gear shop to buy a jacket to keep the wind and rain off. It's likely to get much cooler and wetter in these mountainous parts too, and I haven't slept that well. We set up camp in Cody - and in the evening the group splits. Three of the group go to the Cody Rodeo - not my cup of tea at all - and another three of us head to the movie theater to see Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azakaban. It's great fun to watch, and I do enjoy it, but - true to form in warm, dark places (!) - I fall asleep in the last twenty minutes!

Saturday June 12 2004, Wisconsin - Wyoming

A long trip across the plains today, and into the mountains - through Rapid City to Mount Rushmore. I'm impressed by the way these National Parks, monuments and forests are presented and organised. There's a pride and a devotion to national image here that would put even English Heritage and the National Trust to shame. Mount Rushmore represents what democracy stood for at the time of the Founding Fathers - and it's a pretty safe bet that Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln would be appalled at their successors' actions today.

There are union flags everywhere, as expected. Although I find the show of patriotism a little overwhelming, I still go to the gift shop to buy a copy of the US Constitution, which they sell in a nice handy little format for $9.99.

Leaving Rushmore, we head down the road on a short journey to the Crazy Horse monument - the Native American answer to Rushmore and very much a work in progress. As it's still being carved out of the stone in the mountains there's not that much to say about it except that it'll be quite spectactular when it is eventually finished! Astri and I pay $3.00 to travel in a clapped out school bus to the bottom of the mountain for nothing more than a photographic opportunity. Oh well.

Camp tonight is at Devils' Tower - a campsite at the foot of a somewhat sinister looking rock formation in Wyoming and which was also a principal location used in Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Apparently they show the film regularly on an outdoor screen - though it's very cold tonight, and I don't sleep too well.

Everyone in the group is beginning to bond quite well now, though I still can't help thinking it's a bit like Big Brother on wheels!

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