Itís just before 2PM as I leave Bozeman, driving towards Gardiner for the first time since the flood.
Itís hot, of course, because itís mid-August, so I crank the A/C. The view from the Pass shows mostly drying golden grasses, but I spy a few pockets of green here and there.
The first change I notice is just south of Livingston. The construction project is now complete and there is now a much wider road with left turn lanes that Iíll be the local community appreciates.
It might be my imagination but it looks to me that there have been some shifts in the channels of the Yellowstone River.
I stop at the Rest Area, remembering early photos in the papers. There is still evidence of being underwater for a few days. Grassy sections have been denuded and remain covered with sandy mud.
Pockets of sandy mud remain in the parking lot and some chunks of blacktop have washed away. I roam around and find a view of the river just downstream of a massive logjam. The field left of the bathroom it looks like a bulldozer has been at work, removing debris.
At Tom Miner basin, the road is still closed. A bridge in this area was washed away that day.
I stop in a pullout towards the far end of Yankee Jim canyon, where I find lots of remaining flood evidence, from piled up logjams, to scoured banks to the mud that remained once the water receded.
I see a few elk near the airport, including a beautiful bull, who seems eager for mating season to start.
Gardiner feels like a ghost town. I drive towards the Arch and find a row of teepees set up, part of the celebration of Yellowstoneís 150th year. They look really nice. I see a few bison and pronghorn on the southern rolling hills.
I check in at the Super 8, unload some stuff and freshen up.
Then I meet Rick, Jeremy and Jack at Wonderland for dinner. Turns out Taylor canít join us because she is taking care of last minute wedding preparations. (She and Jack are getting married this weekend.) But we four manage to have a really nice time.
Today I saw: bison, elk, pronghorn, and the spirits of Allison, Richard and Jeff.