Monthly Archives: October 2012

La Buena Vida Restaurant and Akumal, Mexico

Whenever we visit Soliman Bay, Mexico, to stay at our favorite paradise, Nah Uxibal,, we usually do most of our eating at the casa. However, once or twice during our stay we’ll pick a favorite restaurant and go for a fun outing. One of our favorites is Buena Vida Restaurant in North Akumal, about 15 minutes north of Soliman Bay.

You can shop in Akumal along the way and see some of the sights in town…

Statue after you pass through the gate into Akumal

Super Chomak is on your right as you enter Akumal and you can get groceries, liquor, souvenirs and tee-shirts. They also have a lunch counter.

There is a great Mexican artisan shop just through the gate to the right.

There is also a wide selection of Mexican touristy things in the open air market stalls to the left.

Cueva del Pescador offers food choices as well, specializing in fresh fish that they will cook up for you.

To get to La Buena Vida, go on past Cueva Del Pescador and the big dive shop and keep going down the stone road until you see the restaurant on your right. There are also a few shops across the street that have Mexican crafts.

Whether you go to La Buena Vida during the day or night, it’s a great experience. If it’s a nice day, take your towel and bathing suit and you can take a dip in the bay or their pool right next to the restaurant. Have a cocktail and lunch and then a nap in their multitude of hammocks that await. If you need a better view out over the ocean, climb up in the crow’s nest and have your bucket of suds hoisted up from below.

We saw critters running around when we parked and grabbed the cameras to capture this coati family hanging out by the gift shop.

The babies are SO cute!

We had arrived at our destination… La Buena Vida, “The Good Life”, and so it is…

They open at 11 a.m. for lunch and stay open for dinner. Happy hour is daily 5-7, so you know what time we usually get there. Oh, and they take credit cards. Hurray! Tequila for everyone!

These “Chi Chi” cinnamon drinks were yummy, especially paired with nachos for a snack.

It was a blustery day but that’s okay every now and then…

Our gang gathered for refreshments and dinner!

And then the food started arriving… My stomach started growling as I was posting this. Good thing Wally’s got chili on the stove so I can have some NACHOS later!

Nothing like a great meal complemented by a side shot of Centenario tequila and a margarita on the rocks…

Now you see why they have all those hammocks… And this might be the one that drinks WAY too much tequila… (glad it wasn’t me : )

Adios Amigos! Until we return…

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Thermopolis, Wyoming to Salt Lake City, Utah

Finishing up our Wyoming trip odyssey, we left Cody, Wyoming and headed south, deciding to take the eastern route back to Salt Lake City instead of going back through Yellowstone. I had bookmarked Thermopolis and their famous hot springs as a place to check out and it wasn’t far from Cody. Their town name is written in stone across the hill next to the spring.

I loved capturing this touching moment…

A small stream comes from the spring and pools further down the hill. The minerals then creep over the bluff into the river. There’s a walking bridge to cross over the river and look towards town.

This Native American Indian family was taking in the view as well. I wonder if this was the land of their tribal ancestors – I wish I would have asked them, but didn’t want to intrude. Isn’t the daughter lovely? The hot springs were once used by the local Indians.

The actual beginning of the spring is at the foot of the hill and doesn’t look like much…

The little stream brings the hot water to a holding pool and just beyond is the State Bath House and pool area where the public can soak inside or out for free.

Thermopolis State Bath House entrance

We had packed our bathing suits and a towel and I had left them out so we could reach them easily. The Bath House offers free soaks but donations are welcomed. They do rent towels out for a $1 donation or bring your own. They have nice locker room to change and shower after your soak. The warm water felt good after our week of driving, hiking and riding.

A vent was placed further down the hill from the springs and over time the minerals created a dome.

It was back on the road and down through the amazing Wind River Canyon on the Scenic Byway. I didn’t snap any pictures of the canyon as we were whizzing down through the canyon so fast and I was just trying to take it in. After you leave the canyon, the Wind River Lake with the barren Wind River Range is an amazing view to drive past – so different from our green Tennessee and tree-lined lakes!

We drove through the Red Canyon and stopped at the top to take in the view. You can take the scenic windy red road you can see in the picture but we chose the fast route. Another AMAZING view!

We turned left at Riverton, but not before checking out their Main Street area that lured us in with their neat old buildings. Unfortunately it was Sunday and no one was open.

Some of the pretty Wyoming scenery…

We made it from Cody to Evanston, Wyoming and decided to stop for the night. That left us with a short drive on Monday to get to the airport at Salt Lake City.

Being Sunday night, our restaurant choices in their small town was limited, so we went with Don Pedro’s Mexican Restaurant. They’d been there forever, and it hit the spot. I loved their old partially-lit neon sign.

We had checked into the Hampton Inn right off the interstate, and I would recommend it for other travelers. It was fairly new, nicely appointed, super clean and featured quality bedding and a comfortable mattress for our weary bones. It was nice to finally have wi-fi to catch up on the world too! Breakfast was included, and they had a good selection of hot foods, cereals, fruits, etc. that should satisfy most anyone.

In just the week and a half since we arrived in the area, the maple leaves had turned to a vibrant red on the hills. They have a Welcome to Utah sign at the state tourist welcome center so you can get your stateline photo fix.

We had a little time to kill before getting to the airport, so decided to stop back off in Park City and check out the Utah Olympic Ski Park.

Wally hit the slopes… hee hee

View from Olympic Park across the valley

Then it was time to go get checked in at the Salt Lake City Airport for the flight home. They had some beautiful art hanging in the airport I thought I’d share as my parting views.

That concludes our week and a half in Wyoming and Utah. Wyoming is definitely on our return list of destinations! Happy Trails!

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Cody, Wyoming

We spent a couple of days visiting Cody, Wyoming, usually driving into town from Wapiti Valley for lunch. The first day we had burgers and fries at the Silver Dollar Bar and they were GREAT burgers!

Wally let me browse through the Old Trail Town on the edge of town, ($8 admission I think) and if you love the Old West, you really should take the time to visit to see how people lived. They also have a nice collection of Plains Indian collectibles in the museum.

I’m going to post a few highlight pictures and then put the rest in a gallery you can browse…

Old Trail Town, Cody, Wyoming

I love western wear and all kinds of horse trappings, so I was attracted to the Custom Cowboy Shop. The owners, Don and Kitty Butler have put together an amazing offering of quality gear for horses including handmade saddles, chaps, bridle headstalls, ropes, bosals and much more. There’s western wear for men and women, purses and belts and jewelry, and in the back room is a colorful selection of woven rugs, blankets and pillows and home decor items. Be sure and shop here if you’re in Cody!

Custom Cowboy Shop

On the second day, we had lunch at Adriano’s Italian Restaurant, ordering pizza and lasagna. Both came out piping hot and so delicious!  I liked their local cowboy and western decor in the front of the restaurant and the back was more “Italian” style.

Adrianos Italian Restaurant

I was lured past the Irma Hotel by the enormous rifle and antique sign on the corner. A local blacksmith was working in front of the antique store and had lots of neat items for sale.

Blacksmith at the antique shop

The antique store had lots of western and cowboy memorabilia, art, general store and kitchen collectibles as well as the rest of the usual finds. Just don’t expect anything to be cheap as this is a tourist town.

When at Adrianos, I got to chatting with two ladies eating lunch and they said to come see their new consignment shop in the shopping center on 17th Street, 2nd Hand Rose Boutique. They had a variety of home accessories, furniture, high-end clothing, shoes including cowboy boots, purses, accessories and such. It’s across from the big boot store in what used to be the Hallmark Store.

My favorite shop that I found by googling thrift stores was the Cody Bargain Box at 1644 Alger Ave, just a block or two off the main drag. I bought a Bill Cody Ranch t-shirt for $2.50, a pair of Ariat riding boots for $8, a western-style necklace for just a few dollars and a traditional dark green felt German hat for $8.
The lake and dam pictures are the Cody Dam and Reservoir. Here’s the rest of my pictures of Cody:

That’s it for now. Next stop: Thermopolis, Wyoming and back to Salt Lake City

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Wapiti Valley, Wyoming: Hikes, Rides, Bill Cody Ranch & Rand Creek Ranch

Continuing our Wyoming explorations, we had stayed three nights at Elephant Head Lodge and wanting to experience several of the guest ranches, moved down the Wapiti Valley to the Bill Cody Ranch for three nights. We really loved the amazing scenery in Wapiti Valley and everyone was so friendly. The owners, Ronnie and Tonia Stuard were super nice and helpful  with all my questions about hiking and shopping.

The common gathering area had a comfortable sitting area, tables, dining area and delightful outdoor deck off the bar area. Wi-fi is available in the common area, so you catch up on the world.

I loved the carved bar stools…

Resident blue heeler Maverick will entertain you and loves to play if you’ll give him the time. He especially loves you to throw the frisbee for him!


Rope the sawhorse bulls, hang out by the outdoor fire with Smores or play games in the game room

I went for a ride with their horse wrangler one morning, up the back of their valley, through the woods, over the stream and up to the top of the hill. Thank goodness I had taken gloves with me, as it was COLD!

My trail guide – Lauren? (sorry, memory is failing me)

Me on the mountain – great view!

While we were in Wapiti Valley we tried to get out and hike or explore every afternoon. You have to ask the locals or your ranch management where to hike, as you won’t have much luck finding anything online or signs along the valley road. When doing this blog, I finally discovered that the Shoshone National Forest website shows campgrounds, hiking and such on their site. Here’s the link so you’ll have better luck than we did in finding good trails. Use their map feature and look for the hiking figure symbol along the valley.

Our favorite trail was the Elk Fork Campgrounds trail that went up a valley overlooking a stream. You drive all the way through the campground and park by the horse corrals. There is a definite horse trail that follows the edge of the valley and overlooks a stream. The views are amazing and this would be a great trail to pack a picnic for lunch and explore.

We also hiked a ways on the Blackwater Fireman’s Memorial Trail.  The first time we attempted to find the trail, we made the mistake of not realizing you had to cross over the bridge past the memorial to get to the trail head. So we wandered past the little pond with cattails and then followed game trails.

So to actually get to the trail head, drive over the bridge and there is a trail entrance just over the creek, or you can keep driving a mile or so to a further entrance by a bridge over the creek.

At the time, we didn’t realize you could drive that extra mile, so we walked alllll the way down the road to the bridge… But it did have nice views.

We were a bit tired by the time we got to the bridge…

From there it was up into the hills and woods and then we walked out the trail along the creek instead of back down the road. There were lots of these huge crickets along the way…

And saw this track – mountain lion!

On another hike we went all the way through the Boy Scout campgrounds, past the river, than up a fork. On the way back out, this is what was hanging out in the picnic area… I heard Wally say, “Doe”, but it was actually a Homer Simpson “Douhhh” as it wasn’t a deer!

He seems to be telling us to keep moving…

Wally asks, “so what do the guide books say to do when you come upon a buffalo???” We moved as far away as possible at a steady walk – and he continued with his nap – Whew!

Rand Creek Ranch Ride

One day we went for a ride at Rand Creek Ranch, which is located just a little ways outside of the Wapiti Valley as it opens up on the way to Cody. This ride was described as a “high desert” ride and that should have given us a clue…

Amy from Pennsylvania was our wrangler/trail guide

Wally and Charlie – happy for now…

The other couple on the ride was an Italian couple – she had never ridden before and I don’t think he had much. They had a great time, constantly taking pictures the whole way.

The ride was steep and rocky, going up, and up, and up… The view was amazing along the way and at the top you could see all the way to the Bill Cody Reservoir.

China wall

Great views at the top of our ride!

And it was all downhill from there… literally! Poor Wally’s knee had begun hurting on the way up, and the way down was awful for him. We hadn’t thought about that when we signed up for the ride. So for those of you with knee or ankle issues, I wouldn’t suggest rides in the valley, as most of them have steep climbing and descents that will put lots of pressure on your legs. (Maybe try riding in Yellowstone if they have rides through flat areas)

My closing shot for the day is a silhouette of the famed crazy log cabin mansion on the hill as you go through Wapiti above the gas station… I love that wacky gas station sign!

Next up.. a day in Cody, Wyoming!

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Okaloosa Island, Ft. Walton, & Destin, Florida

We recently took a quick trip down to the Destin/Ft. Walton, Florida area and decided to stay on Okaloosa Island. This was our first time to the area, so we did a bit of driving around exploring “The Emerald Coast”. It was stormy the first day we got there and we missed out on getting to see the colorful ocean colors.

We chose Okaloosa Island to stay as we try to steer clear of crowds and my brother-in-law had lived in the area and said this was the place. We arrived without reservations as we didn’t know what to expect, so we drove by the condo units and picked out a group that looked pretty new, Pelican Isle Condominiums. The girl that was working was very friendly and showed us an available unit on the top, seventh floor. It looked great so we checked in and relaxed after the long drive from Tennessee.

Pelican Isle condos from water’s edge

Buildings can not be higher than seven floors on Okaloosa Island, so this keeps the people density down. Our view from the ocean-front balcony was great and we enjoyed watching dolphins cavort along in the water.

Stormy weather..


The guys dropped me off at DeFrance Antique and Flea Market just a few minutes away from our condo in Ft. Walton to let me look around while they ran errands. I enjoyed checking out the Florida “antiques” and flea market finds.

Our condo had a fully stocked kitchen, so Wally had to check out the local seafood distributors to go pick up some fresh seafood to cook back at the condo. Wally was a bit shell-shocked after coming back from the local grocery at how high their prices were but it was cheaper than eating out for several meals.

Sexton’s is across the big bridge in Destin, and we took a drive around Holiday Isle and then went on down to Sandestin to check out the big golf resort. Wally admired the boats, we admired the high prices at the restaurants in the Sandestin “village”, drove around the golf course and headed back towards Okaloosa Island.

One afternoon we decided to try a little fishing so drove over to the big bridge going to Destin.

Harbor Village, Destin

There’s a nice sandy area right next to the bridge  where locals like to go and fish. One family had set up an outdoor kitchen and must have spent all day there! There’s a wildlife and bird preserve area there and the cranes watch the fisherman as they bring in fish, creeping towards them to see if they can steal one.

It was turning in to a fabulous sunset as we drove home…

I had Wally pull off at one of the recreation areas on the Ft. Walton/Okaloosa side to snap some pictures of the sun sinking…

One day for lunch we ate at High Tide Restaurant and Oyster Bar, just down the street from our condos. It has been in business for decades and I loved all their nautical memorabilia and old local pictures. We ordered raw oysters for appetizers and split a grouper sandwich, which was excellent!

Our last evening we sat out on the balcony, drinking cocktails and watching the sky fire up again for another amazing sunset. The water began to glow first gold, then a dark pink…

It was time for dinner and the boys had picked out the Old Bay Steamer just down the street for our last meal in Florida. We ordered one of the dinners for two and it was enough for all three of us.

That’s all for this adventure! Here’s all the important web links to plan your trip…

The management of our Pelican Isle Condos was Brooks and Shorey Resorts, and several of their other places looked really nice. They also offer 3 and 4 bedroom units.

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Oscar & Lalo’s Restaurant, Tulum, Mexico

One of our “regular” restaurants to eat at most every time we stay at Nah Uxibal ( on Soliman Bay, Mexico is Oscar & Lalos. They’ve been in business since 1984 and a few years ago moved from the bay over to Hwy. 307 between Akumal and Tulum. The restaurant is right across the road from the entrance road to Soliman Bay, and their new billboards along the highway can now help you tick off the miles until you arrive in paradise.

Look for their billboards along Hwy 307

Their new restaurant is lovely, set amid tropical greenery with a bridge crossing a stream to carry you to their front door. The interior is crafted of local stone with the traditional Mayan grass roof and they have an outdoor courtyard area in the back part of the restaurant with hammocks hanging along the edge (I do recommend taking bug spray if you want to dine outside in bug season). The kitchen is large and open so visitors can watch their food being prepared if they wish.

Indoor dining area

Outdoor dining – and napping!

The menu consists of many Mexican and regional favorites and their claim to fame is their “Lalo’s Special” which is “Lobster, Shrimp, Fillet of Calamar, Fish Fillet, Whole Fish and Chicken Fajitas all grilled to perfection. Served with rice, beans, fried bananas and French fries.”

We usually get an appetizer sampler and a ceviche to share to start off with while we’re downing our loaded margaritas, cerveza and wine.

Food ordered, drinks on the table… Good times!

Fajitas and rellenos are always popular, and they offer several combination platters. Being right by the ocean, they always have fresh seafood selections, depending on the season and prepared in a variety of ways.

A relleno dish

Another attraction at Oscar and Lalo is the gracious and lovely proprietor, Virginia, who makes sure everything is just how you like it and always has a warm smile and greeting. Her sidekick is a charming petite spider monkey named Lalita that was orphaned and Virginia raised.

Virginia and Lalita

If you are adventurous, be sure and ask about whale shark excursions (seasonal) and other Maya Riviera outdoors adventures. Virginia can fix you up with a memorable trip of a lifetime with local guides. For more information about the restaurant, visit their website at:

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A Weekend in Valladolid, Mexico

When visiting Mexico this year, we  decided to take a road trip to Valladolid for a Saturday night to visit friends and go the the fair. From Tulum, you drive out the Coba Road and be sure your driver has their official driving and insurance documents as there are checkpoints when you get close to Valladolid.

We stopped off at the “coco frios” stand in one of the little communities along the Coba Road for refreshing cocos and oranges. Nothing like cold coconut juice on a hot day! Their little “nina” was adorable…

Upon arrival in Valladolid we wandered around the square and then checked into our hotel. We stayed at El Meson del Marques on the square which was very nice, had lunch at Las Campanas on the opposite side of the square. We then went to the local fair/carnival/flea market with a local couple and enjoyed hanging out and watching the dancers at the show. I think we were the only “gringos” at the entire fair!

On Sunday we went to Casa de los Venados and then visited the Convent de San Bernardino de Siena where they were baptising or blessing the children. We had lunch at Taberna de Los Frailes, located next to the Convent and the food and service was excellent.

Here’s a gallery of photos and then more information and highlights afterwards…

Our Hotel: El Meson del Marques

Calle 39 No. 203 x 40 y 42 | Centro Historico, Valladolid 97780, Mexico

We stayed on a Saturday night and I loved the dining and courtyard spaces of this hotel. We booked the standard room and it was clean and roomy with nice A/C to fend off the heat. Loved the hand-wrought iron bed. The mattress was very firm but that’s what we’ve come to expect in Mexico. Bathrooms in standard room are just basic but adequate. Nice pool and casual congregation area with wi-fi for drinks and they have a free book trade in the registration lobby for readers, as well as local books for sale. Great location on the central Square with dining, shopping and history right at your doorstep. Loved the hand-made leather shop next door, artisan shop on the corner and visited the Casa de los Venados across the square to see an American couple’s restored hacienda filled with Mexican art.

Casa de los Venados

Calle 40 #204, Valladolid, Mexico

Take a few hours to tour this lovingly restored hacienda just off the Valladolid Square. The owners, John and Dorianne Venator spent 10 years restoring this historic building and adding their own modern touches, and it has won numerous architectural awards. They have been collecting Mexican folk and contemporary art for years and personally share their treasures with their visitors daily at 10 a.m. Tours are given in English or Spanish and visitors are asked for a minimal donation which goes to local charities and larger donations are happily welcomed. John led our tour and it was so interesting to learn where he found his treasures and the history behind his discoveries. Many pieces are from renowned Mexican artists and some are anonymous finds that were bargains. You will be educated and inspired to look closer at the Mexican culture and their art! Go and see for yourself!

Taberna de los Frailes

Calle 49 #235 | Next to the Convent of San Bernardino de Siena,Valladolid 

After visiting the Convent next door we headed to the Taberna de los Frailes for lunch based on other Trip Advisor recommendations. George, who spoke excellent English and had lived in the U.S. got our party of 8 seated and read through the menu giving us the highlights of their offerings. The restaurant is a reproduction of an authentic Mayan building and I loved the outdoor ambiance. We ordered a variety of different appetizers, and soups, and I had one entree, and we shared our dishes so everyone could get a taste. Everything was delicious and my favorites were our Shrimp Cocktail, Tuna Tartar, and Taberna Sopa (seafood soup). Also enjoyed the Rellenos de Negro main entree – definitely different from what we have in the States! For dessert we shared the creme brulee and it was yummy! Service was excellent and food great but don’t be in a hurry as everything is made fresh when you order. Would definitely go back!
That’s all for now! Hope you enjoyed the weekend!

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A Day at Yellowstone National Park

We packed up our picnic lunch, snacks, water and drinks for the day and headed out from Elephant Head Lodge to explore Yellowstone. The Grand Canyon and Geyser Basin topped our to-do list so our plan was to do the lower loop of Yellowstone.

I had picked up a Yellowstone travel guide at McKay’s Books in Nashville the week before our trip and it really was helpful in telling us things not on the park map. I would highly recommend visitors invest in a detailed guide to let you know areas worth stopping, places to picnic, good trails, etc. The park is HUGE and if your time is limited you will want to maximize what you see.

Since Elephant Head Lodge is located just outside of the East Entrance of Yellowstone, we stopped off at Pahaska Teepee Lodge to fill up with gas on our way. Here are a few snapshots of Pahaska Teepee, which offers cabins, a store, gas, and restaurant. It’s also prime wildlife sighting territory – we spotted a moose mama just across the road in the river and several guests spotted grizzlies along the river in late Sept/Oct.

I’ll post my favorite pictures to go along with our day and then include all the rest in the gallery of photos for explorers to check out.

Pahaska Teepee Lodge

Pahaska Teepee bear and cabin

Little hikers ready to GO!

Up, up, up and over Sylvan Pass, and as we were winding down the mountain on the other side, we spotted some mule deer in one of the meadows. We stopped off at the Fishing Bridge Lodge in the park to check it out and use the restrooms. They have a big assortment of Yellowstone and Wyoming souvenirs, supplies, sundries and a casual restaurant in the back.

We dodged the buffalo wandering down the road around Fishing Bridge without losing too much time and turned to go north towards the Grand Canyon and Falls area.

Mud Volcano along the Yellowstone River was the first stop off along the way… the buffalo were hanging out by the river right by steaming geysers…

We then passed through a golden-colored open area known as Hayden Valley and home to many of the park’s grazing wildlife.

Hayden Valley

Then we parked and walked out to Artist’s Point to see the view of the Grand Canyon and falls. An artist was set up painting so I captured her too.

We backtracked down the road and got a different view…

The Geyser Basin was next on the agenda after leaving the falls, and I couldn’t wait to see all those bubbling geysers!

Norris Geyser Basin view

My guide book noted picnic areas before and after Gibbon Falls, and this is where we stopped off for our picnic lunch. As we were driving along the Gibbon River between Elk Park and Gibbon Meadows, Wally spied something weird looking by the river. There was a pullout, so we stopped to see what it was. Another car was there and when I got out a lady excitedly told me that it was the “chocolate pots” we had found. “We’ve been here four or five times and this is the first time we’ve seen them,” she exclaimed. While they don’t spew, this big one is just really cool looking!

Chocolate Pot on Gibbon River

When we reached the junction at Madison, we stayed left towards the Geyser Basin. It was worth driving through the Firehole Canyon Drive to see the Firehole Falls which looks like it would be fun for families in the summertime. (Worth noting – they have bathrooms along the road by a swimming are in the river for those in need).

We took the Firehole Lake Drive and it’s worth your time with some colorful pools and big blows..

Bubbling brew… on Firehole Lake Drive

We missed the big spew… Firehole Lake Drive

Next stop was the Midway Geyser Basin and Grand Prismatic Spring – WOW! My favorite of all the geyser areas! Loved the popping colors … the oranges and aquas are amazing!

View as you walk up to Grand Prismatic Spring…

Biscuit Basin was next… and then Old Faithful! We arrived in the huge parking lot, found a spot and headed towards the lodge area. We saw people lined up and figured that must be what we were looking for…

We found a spot and watched as the geyser began to sputter and spit. Weren’t we the lucky ones??? Less than 10 minutes from when we arrived, we got our photos and headed to the Old Faithful Inn to do a quick run through and beat the crowd’s departure.

Old Faithful lobby

Old Faithful dining room

We made it back to the Elephant Head Lodge in time for dinner and to visit with the other guests about their day. Wow! What an amazing American treasure!

I have to say the pros to staying inside the park is less driving so you can see more. The cons are fighting the crowds and feeling like you’re on a cattle drive.

Here’s the rest of my shots from the day…

Categories: Travel: WYOMING | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Elephant Head Lodge, Wapiti Valley, Cody, Wyoming

Continuing with our trip to Wyoming, we spent three nights at Elephant Head Lodge, located about 10 minutes from the East Entrance of Yellowstone National Park. The lodge and cabins are located on a hill with amazingly figured red rocks framing the backdrop and a view out over the Shoshone River. The name of the lodge comes from one of these figural rocks – the head and body of an elephant stand sentinel on the ridge.

Antler arch in foreground, Elephant Head rock in background

The lodge and most of their cabins are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, with the lodge, dining room and trapper cabin built in 1910 by Buffalo Bill Cody’s niece, Josephine Thurston and her husband Harry W. Thurston.

A natural spring in the front yard was the reason Harry Thurston chose the cabin site, and today, wildlife wander through the yard daily for their morning and evening drinks. If you sit quietly, birds, chipmunks and squirrels are also usually busy around the water. Mule deer does and fawns browsed and cavorted about the yard daily, a buffalo bull had been stopping in every few days and mountain sheep girls made an early fall appearance while we were there. The water is also used for the lodge and it was wonderful! We filled up the gallon pitcher provided in our cabin and all our water bottles for when we were out hiking. The altitude definitely makes you dehydrated, so I would recommend packing some powdered Gatorade to take on your trip.

Regular visitors include these mule deer does and their fawns

Kevin and Debbie Millard are the current owners of the lodge and they are fourth generation Wyoming natives with ranching backgrounds. Debbie and their staff were so welcoming and friendly. Kevin was on a packing trip so we didn’t get to meet him. Ellie, a blue heeler, is the lodge guardian and greeter, but she’s a bit standoffish and prefers you just say hello and not give her a pet.

Debbie Millard and Ellie

Here are some snapshots and then I’ll post a gallery of photos at the end with many more.

Dining room