West Yellowstone, August 2020

We left Columbus, MT heading west through Billings, past Bozeman and then south along the Madison River to West Yellowstone. We stayed there two nights to do some grocery shopping, explore a bit and look for a fishing net.

One of the goals for this trip is to try some fishing. The last time I went fishing was in 1966, 54 years ago with my sister. We went out on Whitefish Lake “up north” in Minnesota one evening when and where everyone said there would be no fish. But we did anyway and caught some Northern Pike. And there is a picture to prove it. Somehow neither of us looked too happy about it, it was more likely being forced to pose for a picture.

A Fishing Net

Back to today … I got most of what I needed before we left but just in case I actually caught something I figured I needed a net. My friend Chuck, suggested I wouldn’t need one. I think he knew just how futile this effort might be. Since Yellowstone is prime fly fishing country and September is some of the busiest I figured advice and a net couldn’t be too hard to find. Do you know that you can spend several hundred dollars on a net to scoop up a fish from a stream? I had no idea but in most of the fly fishing shops we went into that is about where the prices started. After checking out several shops I went into Jacklin’s Fly Shop. I was able to get a package of small snap connector swivels and there at the very bottom of the stack of nets there was one for about $30. I asked the proprietor what the difference between the $30 net and the ones ten times the price. He said “the price”. Like hand tied custom made flies vs mass produced ones they both work. If you can afford an expensive fly or net or rod or reel and you think (believe) you will have better success then they are for you. I coughed up $30 and now have a functional net. Well, we shall see.

I had no expectation of even catching a fish and if I did no idea what to do with it. I have no fancy stripped willow woven creel. I brought a Walmart plastic bag. I sort of remember cleaning a fish from 50 odd years ago so I supposed we could use our folding picnic knife, no fancy engraved filet knife here. I had no idea how to even use the reel I bought (a spinning reel) so I had to go on YouTube and find a video on how to use the reel, how to cast with it and even as an old Boy Scout, how to tie an appropriate knot to attach the snap swivel on the end of the line. Not quite like lashing some logs together. I guess I was set. Oh, there was no fishing advice in West Yellowstone for that activity in the Tetons.

Groceries

There are two grocery stores in West Yellowstone at least as far as we could tell. One had a big sign that said RV Parking. We figured that attracted more tourist/campers. The other one didn’t have much parking and looked bigger. Maybe it was where the locals shopped. Looked that way when we walked in but prices said otherwise. Maybe it is just really expensive in West Yellowstone. We figured cheaper here than in the small grocery store in Colter Bay so we got what we needed, loaded it into our own bags and walked back to the camp ground. The grocery stores in Wyoming charge a nickel a bag for paper bags. Not a plastic bag in sight. I like that especially since we use our own bags as much as we can.

The Last Supper

We had been hungry for a hamburger for some days. We haven’t been making them for ourselves for some time so we started checking out the local eateries. The Buffalo Bar got some favorable comments. There were others right on the main drag through town that may have been OK but the Buffalo Bar had a large outdoor dining area, just what we wanted. Quite a menu as well, Buffalo meatloaf was tempting

We ordered up a couple of hamburgers. Susan chose a mushroom swiss burger with fries. I had a mushroom swiss burger as well but chose Tater Tots. We ordered a couple O’Douls as well. The burgers were gigantic, we could have easily split one. The fries were hot and crispy. The Tater Tots were not little barrel shaped things we are used to but more like small crispy quarter sized hockey pucks. In any case they tasted like Tater Tots, they were hot and crispy. Great burgers, we ate half of each and took home the remainders along with most of the fries and tots. Dinner for two nights, the tater tot and fries got chopped up, reheated and found their way into breakfast burritos.

The Buffalo Crossing RV park was right behind the local movie theater. It was an OK stop, nothing special. Neat and tidy, only a block from the main West Yellowstone crossroads, gravel sites, good water, electric service and waste hookups. Each site had a small patch of grass and a picnic table. It is a new park, paved driveways are coming. And it was probably about $30 a night cheaper than the Resort Parks. Staying in the RV park got you discounts on movie tickets and in their gift shop. It also got a nice soft serve ice cream cone for 50¢. Lots of stuff out this way seems to be Huckleberry flavored.

Travel in a Time of Pandemic

We were pretty pleased to see that most people wore masks in town. Every store and restaurant required a mask to get in. Tables at the Buffalo Bar were spaced more than six feet apart. We can control our own space in an RV but need to depend on others to do their part everywhere else.

We are off to Colter Bay in the Grand Teton National Park next.

More Later, Much Love,

Roger and Susan

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