Day Seven


"9/11 in Western Wyoming"

September 11, 2002

West Yellowstone, MT -
Rock Springs, WY

350 miles

6:18 riding time

3 Passes Today
21 Passes To Date

"Is anything special going on here today because of September 11th?" 

We're sitting in the Snow Lodge in Yellowstone Park, adjacent to Old Faithful.   Since the next expected eruption of Old Faithful is about an hour from now, we decide to take the time to have some breakfast.  Ross is our waiter, a young man from New Hampshire.

Ross, from Yellowstone's Snow Lodge

"They gave us these little red white and blue ribbons to wear behind our name badges, other than that, nothing special."

I nod as I take another sip of hot coffee. 

"We're curious ... did September 11th have any effect on you personally?"

Ross takes a deep breath, pauses, then nods.  "Actually, yes.  I was in Missoula last summer, taking some summer school classes.  My father was scheduled to be flying from the East Coast to LA on one of those flights that went down.  At the last minute, he changed his plans so that he'd be leaving a week later."

Whoa.  What do you say to that?

Ross went on, "After the news broke, I was glued to the television for the rest of the day.  We got the entire family on the phone that night and had an opportunity to all talk in a way that we hadn't before.  It's made a big difference in our family."

No kidding.

When we began planning this trip a couple of months ago, we realized that we would be on the road on the first anniversary of the awful events of September 11th, 2001.  As the plans took shape, we started to talk about how we would approach writing on this day.  We weren't really sure what we would do, so we're figuring it out right here in front of you.  Undoubtedly you have been saturated by media coverage today, so perhaps the most meaningful thing we can do here is to report how the world looks on September 11th, 2002, in Western Wyoming, United States of America.

I woke up about 15 minutes before the alarm went off this morning.  My first impulse was to turn on the TV, but not to The Weather Channel.  Instead, I wanted to see if there was any breaking news that we needed to be aware of.  I flipped through the channels.  A quick scan didn't seem to reveal anything.  All of the news shows seemed to be saying the same thing - high state of alert, many special ceremonies and events.  I left the TV tuned to CNN while getting ready for the day.

We arrived at the entrance to Yellowstone at 6:30am.  There was already a line of cars waiting to get into the park.  With major road construction going on in the park, all of the local motels are advising their patrons to get an early start if they want to get through the park in a reasonable amount of time.  It seems that many folks are paying attention.  However, once we're in the park, it's pretty smooth sailing.  Based on our Italian lessons from Glacier Park, we are going exactly 45mph when we pass the first Park Ranger.  We even wave at him.  He's not interested in us.

Waiting to get into Yellowstone Sunrise in Yellowstone Morning mist in Yellowstone

There were signs all over the place telling you to watch out for wildlife near the roads.  We saw plenty.

Wolves with a deer carcass Buffalo right-of-way

At Old Faithful, we met a couple from Charlotte North Carolina touring on a Harley Road King with a trailer towed behind.  They are on a four-week tour of the US.  We gave them a W&G card and invited them to join the club.

Old Faithful at work Alan and Cindy from Charlotte

Leaving the park, we observe lots of fire damage in the treed areas along on the road.  There is a flag flying at half-mast at the guard house, one of the few visible reminders in Yellowstone of today's 9/11 legacy.

Burn damage along the road Half-mast at the guard house

As soon as we leave Yellowstone, we're into the Grand Teton National Park.  This mountain range is the most beautiful mountain range I've seen. 

The Grand Tetons - an actual photo we took, not a postcard.

Loyal reader Steve Wadsworth (San Francisco Bay Area) reports that Togwotee Pass, one of the passes we traversed today, has special significance for him.  His great-grandfather, Harry Elmer Wadsworth, was the first to go over the pass by motor vehicle.  That's worth mentioning.

Harry was here first The view Harry enjoyed


Scenes from the Wind River area

By the end of the day, it had become clear that the predominant visible evidence of 9/11 was the display of the American flag.  Even out here in the middle of nowhere, there are people that were directly touched by the events of a year ago.  It seems appropriate to close out today's report with images of the American flag on display today.

Dubois WY Lander WY


Eden WY

Rock Springs WY

I'm not sure how September 11th will blend into our national rhythm over time, but I'm certain that it will not be forgotten.  As we were riding today, what to say and how to say it dominated my thoughts - and that's without the help of the media reminding me.  It seems like an appropriate time to let your friends and family know that you love them.  That's what I have to say today.

Whizmo Here:  I echo what Gizmo had to say about September 11th.  It was a day of mixed emotions.  The overall feeling I had from watching and talking to people today was that they were getting on with their lives.  We're traveling through areas where people work hard to scratch out a living from the harsh land.  They're too busy to worry too much about the past.  I find that comforting.

It's time for Contest #5: Ask The Psycle Psychics!

We're rummaging around in the Contest Corner storage bin, and we found a copy of last year's 'Ask The Izmos', which was lots of fun for everyone.  So here's how it works.  You know that lady on the Animal Planet, Sonya The Pet Psychic?  Well, we're really annoyed that she has her own television show and all we've got is this crummy web page.  So it's time to crank up your email program and send Whizmo & Gizmo your questions.  We will randomly pick the ones that we think we can have the most fun with as the winners.  Oh yeah, and then we have to actually answer them.  So send your imponderables, your puzzlers, your head-scratchers to Whizmo & Gizmo, c/o this station.  And help us get our own TV show, won't you?

Click here to send your clever question to Whizmo & Gizmo, the Psycle Psychics.