Good Wife Norma and I are recently returned from a much needed pilgrimage to paradise which is of course Yellowstone National Park or, more accurately the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Unless you’re new to this Saturday drivel you already know GWN and I lived a number of years in Powell, Wyoming, just outside the east gate of the park.

We visited Yellowstone often during our time living in that country - 15 times our final season - but there’s much more than the park to see and explore in that neck of the woods.

And so with Mike and Sally Bell from Broken Bow ... dear friends for decades ... we explored it pretty dang good a couple weeks ago.

Typical tourists (folks lacking our local knowledge in other words) tend to focus just on Yellowstone and, to a lesser degree, the Tetons.

That’s a shame because there’s so much more magnificence within spitting distance of America’s first national park you wouldn’t believe it. Unless GWN and I took you, in which case you would absolutely believe it.

We began with a quick stop at Ayres Natural Bridge state park between Douglas and Casper on the drive to Casper where we crashed that first night.

Then it was on to a couple nights in a wonderful old cabin tucked into the Shoshone National Forest within walking distance of the east gate of Yellowstone.

My former employer in Powell continues his amazing generosity in sharing the Bonner family treasure with us and our guests despite the passage of nearly 15 years since I worked for Dave at the Tribune.

Night four was back in Powell at the Lamplighter Inn and the final overnight stop was Cheyenne on the way home.

Along the way we saw all but the northwest side of the upper loop in Yellowstone (road construction). In fact we covered some of the park twice or more.

The 2019 Mose and GWN Tour also took in the Beartooth Highway between Cooke City and Red Lodge, Montana, (allowing time for at least a little shopping in Red Lodge and a hefty serving of huckleberry ice cream at the Red Box Car).

Add the Clarks Fork Canyon at the base of the Beartooths to the badlands of Badger Basin on the bench above Powell to Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area west of Lovell to Red Grade Road, a washboardy U.S. Forest Service track that’s worth the vehicle damage for its moose sighting prospects, and you get a rough idea of the points among which we ricocheted in our blitzkrieg assault on some of God’s finest work.

In addition to breathtaking mountain and desert views nearly everywhere we went, our wee troupe was privileged to watch a cow with a small bull moose (the aforementioned Red Grade Road in the Bighorns), five black bears in a variety of color phases including a jet black mom and her plump cub along a river bank, a magnificent bull elk, bighorn sheep, pronghorns, bison, a nice muley buck, wild mustangs and assorted forest birds small and very large, marmots (you might know them as whistle pigs, but probably not) and more. Lots more.

We very much enjoyed the lively staff and food at Shoshone Lodge just outside the east gate of Yellowstone (highly recommended) and breakfasted at one of our favorite haunts, the buffet at Lake Hotel (highly recommended).

We showed Mike and Sal the West Thumb Geyser Basin (highly recommended) and Old Faithful (meh). The traffic to get into the Artist Point overlook back up the canyon to the Lower Falls on the Yellowstone River was the worst we’ve ever suffered, but the view (I’m told) was well worth it. The reason I had to be told is because there was no way for me to see it since there was nary a single parking space to be found ... so I just kept driving circles. That’s OK, though. I probably have 40 photos of this great American icon down in the basement as it is.

Let’s finish this up with my standing offer to share our local knowledge of that region with anyone who wants a consultant. GWN and I will take your trip over the top. Guaranteed.

Our free service comes complete with maps and brochures, too.

We will be thrilled to help; yet this season or any other year. Just rattle our cage.

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