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Wild West road trip Day5 Cody, Yellowstone, Prairie Dogs
 
 
(Click on the images for a larger version.)
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We woke up on our fifth day of the road trip in our hotel in Wapiti.
 
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On a hill behind the hotel was the largest oddest
 
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log cabin in the world.
 
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Our hotel was
 
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near
 
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Cody, WY
 
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home to the IRMA hotel, which was owned by Cody's most famous resident -- Buffalo Bill.
 
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Cody is a touristy (though not as overwhelmingly touristy as Jackson), cowboy town
 
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complete with a cowboy mailman.
 
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On our way back to Yellowstone, we passed the forest fire camp
 
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where all of the fireman slept in between
 
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fighting the fire
 
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that was still smoldering a bit (it was pretty much sorted out by the time we got to Yellowstone, but it was a really big fire before).
 
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Yellowstone pretty much lets fires burn now, because their previous strategy of putting out all of the fires left many of the trees too old and sickly.
 
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One we arrived at the gate,
 
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we drove the windy road to the main section of the park.
 
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Ilaria wanted to take a picture of the giant SUVs that Americans drive to show her friends in Italy. We saw some much bigger than this one, but this was the largest one that would fit in a camera frame from where we were standing.

We wanted to see the north of the park and head to Montana, so we had to pass the part with all of the buffalo and buffalo-induced traffic jams, which was pretty annoying until we saw what was one of the more spectacular things I've seen in my life
 
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buffalo at a watering hole.
 
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If you just didn't look to the side and see all of the tourists, it felt like you just went back 500 years to a more beautiful time when everything was natural and not so tainted by man (not that I want to go back to that time, but it was nice for those 10 minutes).
 
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There were buffalo rolling around in the dirt, drinking water from the stream, and some were just hollering out in buffalo-talk (much louder than a cow-mow).
 
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As we try to get out of there, a group of buffalo decided it was time to cross the road.
 
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How did the buffalo cross the road?

However he wanted...
 
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More people in Yellowstone each year are hurt by buffalo than by bears,
 
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and it's pretty easy to see why.
 
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A little bit up the road, we saw a few elks next to some geese.
 
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Then we headed North and Ilaria took a nap,
 
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while I took a photo of the Petrified Tree.

This tree was a redwood like they have in California. 50 million years ago, Yellowstone had a warmer climate like California. A volcanic eruption petrified and preserved this tree fragment.
 
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We arrived at the north entrance of Yellowstone,
 
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and I woke up Ilaria.
 
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She wanted to travel along the Northwest side of the park a little.
 
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We found some pretty
 
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neat
 
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geothermal sites.
 
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Down the road, we saw how one naturally reseeded area
 
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was really coming back to life.
 
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Then Ilaria wanted to take her daily afternoon-put-her-feet-in-the-water time.

That's not my thing, so I became obsessed with trying to photograph a
 
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dragonfly.
 
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Once, I'd mastered foliage-based dragonfly photography, I moved on to
 
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aerial dragonfly photography.
 
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I think I'd really need a better camera to have a quick enough shutter speed and light sensitivity to photograph a dragonfly at this zoom level, but I did manage to capture the dragonfly doing a rare
 
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bend-yourself-in-half maneuver that surprised Ilaria and I.
 
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Yellowstone, despite being tourist heavy, was one of the better places I've visited, and I'd love to go back someday (preferably in a lower season).
 
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But two consecutive days of driving around the place was enough for me
 
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to be happy to move on
 
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to other places.
 
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Here's a bigger RV (actually this would be a Mobile Home). Note to Italian friends: they only get a little bigger than this, but it's not uncommon to see these big ones pulling an SUV with a boat strapped to the top.
 
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Driving north through Montana,
 
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we experienced what we thought was weird at the time, but learned is something normal in Montana. When they're doing road work, you sometimes have to wait in a long line not moving until
 
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a pilot car arrives that you follow (very slowly) to the end of the construction.

Our last stop for the day was to the only part of the trip that I helped plan:
 
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seeing some Prairie Dogs.
 
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There were a bunch of them out at Greycliff Prairie Dog Town. Prairie Dogs are studied a lot as an example of altruism in mammals.
 
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They are extremely consistent in their behavior. When you walk towards one, they start barking and slapping their tail to let their friends know to watch out. When you get too close, they run into their hole. They peak out every now and again to see how close you are, and if you are far enough away they'll start barking again. And when you get far enough away, they stop barking and anybody else in the hole comes out to have a look.

It was one of the highlights of my day...
 
wild west map day 5  1
We spent the night in the college town of Bozeman, MT where Ilaria and I went out for dinner. Ilaria had a trout; I had a buffalo steak; and I lost my American Express card at the restaurant.