Yellowstone Avoids Delayed Opening Thanks To Efforts Of Wyoming Town

Yellowstone National ParkOver the past month or so we’ve all heard stories about the impact of sequestration on America’s national parks. Severe budget cuts, brought on by Congress’ inability to come to a fiscal compromise, have resulted in a loss of services in a number of parks across the country. In order to operate within its revised budget, this year the National Park Service has been forced to close visitor centers, cut back on staff and even delay the opening of some of the parks. One of those parks is Yellowstone, where the NPS decided to delay the spring opening by two weeks. That decision was made when park officials realized they could save as much as $100,000 by not having to plow snow from the roads following the scheduled May 3 opening. But thanks to the determination and generosity of one Wyoming town, the park will now open on schedule.

The town of Cody sits 52 miles outside of Yellowstone and serves as an access point for the park’s East Gate. As you can imagine, the sleepy little village sees a lot of traffic during the summer travel months with travelers stopping by on their way in or out of the park. Last year, over 11,000 visitors passed through the East Gate in the first two weeks of the season alone. The loss of that early season traffic this year was estimated to cost Cody more than $2 million in revenue.

Cody Chamber of Commerce executive director Scott Balyo saw the delayed opening as both a potential crisis and a major opportunity. He challenged the local citizens and businesses to raise the $100,000 necessary to pay the road crews to plow snow from Yellowstone’s highways, setting a deadline of April 1 to reach their goal. The response was overwhelming with contributions ranging from as little as $10 all the way up to $10,000. Together the citizens of Cody managed to complete their fund raising efforts well ahead of schedule.

Working in conjunction with Yellowstone superintendent Dan Wenk and officials from Wyoming, the town of Cody has now arranged for state vehicles to plow the roads inside the national park. The $100,000 raised will completely cover the costs, allowing the East Gate to open on schedule. That means anyone planning a visit to Yellowstone in early May will still have access to the park despite all of the on going sequestration drama.

This is good news for fans of Yellowstone and a job well done by the citizens of Cody.

Create like Jackson Pollock

Jackson Pollock’s studio in East Hampton, Long Island, methods and personality are featured quite nicely in this less than 4 minute YouTube video where he talks about his life and work. He mentions Cody, Wyoming and where he learned his techniques. It’s clear that a sense of place was important to him. Years ago my brother rented a house for the summer with another friend at East Quogue which is almost next door to East Hampton, but at the time was its less glitzy cousin. The first time I went out on this part of Long Island I was surprised by its beauty. The beaches here are quite lovely and there was a sense of remoteness, quite the opposite of Jones Beach near Manhattan. Pollock’s talk about painting sounds a bit like a world traveler’s process. He says “Because painting has a life of its own, I try to let it live.” Isn’t travel that way?

Outside of the house where Jackson Pollock lived and worked looks just like the place where I stayed. It’s a place that brings out one’s creativity and musings. In my search for Jackson Pollock stuff, I also came across this Web site where you can create like Jackson Pollock. Just move your mouse. I’ll let you figure out how it works since that’s part of the fun. Watch this short video for some inspiration.

Jackson Pollock’s studio and house in East Hampton

When I was finding out details about Cody, Wyoming for my post on Cody Cowboy Village, I found out that Jackson Pollack was born in Cody Wyoming in 1912 and yesterday (January 28) was his birthday. Jackson Pollock is one of those artists whose work I admire tremendously, but don’t know exactly why.

One of the things I remember about my first trip to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City is Jackson Pollock’s paintings. A long time ago I took the Foreign Service exam just to see what would happen and found out that there are some things I just don’t know. What I did know, was Jackson Pollock’s picture. There was a photograph of him painting and I recognized him immediately.

To celebrate his birthday, I looked into what mark he made on the world besides his art that you can see in museums. I did think about making a list of museums where you can see his work, but instead am happy to report that his former studio and house is now a museum and study center in East Hampton, New York. The house built in 1879 belonged to a fisherman’s family. Now it’s the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center and is where Pollock did most of his work from 1946 until his death. Visiting here is one way to soak in the atmosphere and belongings of a person who is certainly one of abstract art’s most energetic contributors. The house is open seasonally. Visits begin again May 1.

By the way, East Hampton is also a gorgeous, trendy place to spend some time, but bring money.

Cody Cowboy Village in Cody, Wyoming: a family friendly place

Cody Cowboy Village’s name grabbed me when I was reading over Trip Advisors’ Best of 2008. It’s number 7 on the Best Bargains list. We head through Wyoming by car almost every year, and as timing has it, we usually stay for the night in a hotel somewhere in this state so we aren’t totally road weary by the time we reach Montana.

Cody Cowboy Village looks like a good road trip stop for more than a couple of days. One thing that attracts me is the log cabin style rooms that are grouped into a setting conducive to feeling like you are part of a place. The decor captures the ambiance of staying in the West–much more interesting than another chain hotel that looks like all the others, no matter the location. According to the Web site there’s a large swimming pool which is an item we list as our must haves after hours of driving. Staying in a hotel with a pool is one of the carrots we dangle to our son so that he gets the idea that road trips are fun.

Cody, Wyoming is worth a stop for a few reasons. A big one is the Buffalo Bill Historical Center that pays tribute to Buffalo Bill Cody, one of the American West’s iconic cowboys. In this museum center there are other museums that highlight the Plains Indians, Western art and natural history. Check out the center’s calendar for special events throughout the year. Cody is also only 50 miles away from the east entrance of Yellowstone National Park and has a rodeo every night in the summer. Rafting trips and fishing are two more area offerings.