Red, White, Blue & Yellow … Yellowstone, that is!

As an Arizona native, Fourth of July in Phoenix has always been a non-event for me. The jello salad melts immediately, the potato salad’s always at high risk for salmonella poisoning, friends look weird when viewed through a wavy heat haze.  Everything is just **too darn hot**!! That’s why we were so excited at the prospect of a full-scale, old-fashioned celebration in the cool Montana weather with our friends the Weeds!

West Yellowstone is a charming little town just outside the National Park.

First up, some good old-fashioned horseback riding.  Ryan practiced roping a pretend calf, and then he successfully roped his wife.  

Philip practiced his smoldering Fabio gaze and hoped to model for the cover of a romance novel. 

Tessa was a little confused about which way was up, or forward.

The desert never seemed less appealing in the face of the green, mountainous beauty.

After the ride, we walked next door to the West Yellowstone Rodeo and were excited to learn that the very same cowboys and cowgirls who had saddled us up for the trail ride, were also competing in the rodeo!

This poor fella was slammed into the gate as both his horse and the calf he was chasing made it through the opening … but he didn’t.  They later took him off to the hospital.

In between calf roping, barrel racing, bucking broncos, and bull riding, the rodeo clown entertained the crowd.  Out of the hundreds of people in the stands, our friend Ryan was one of 4 unwittingly chosen for the “dance-off” competition.  Check out those moves!!

At one point, the clown invited all the kids to come into the ring.  He then instructed them to lie down in the dirt and roll around (as moms throughout the stands shrieked in horror).  Then, they let a calf into the ring and the kids were off-to-the-races trying to catch him!  It was hysterical and the 6-year-old in our group loved it.

West Yellowstone is a darling town full of shops, museums and restaurants.  One of the most highly-rated restaurants is the Taco Bus.  We weren’t sure if that meant the Taco Bus was really good, or the competition was just really bad.

Turns out the food was awesome!  You enter the bus, you order (and they cook) in the back half of the bus, and the front half has benches and ledges built into it for you to eat.  The (large) overflow crowd eats outside at picnic tables, but we were lucky to get a seat inside the bus.   For once, Philip wasn’t threatened with getting beat up in a school bus!

There were lots of Fourth of July festivities all around town.  Although we passed on the buffalo-chip chucking competition, we couldn’t resist the homemade pie fundraiser.  All the local ladies had made tons of homemade pies of every variety, and they were being sold by the slice on the steps of the local museum to benefit the local Historical Society.  It was advertised as “1 PM until we run out” so you better believe we were there right at 1 PM!  Better safe than sorry!  Strawberry rhubarb, local huckleberry, chocolate silk, key lime, apple crumb … oh yahhhhh!

The West Yellowstone 4th of July parade was a small-town, homespun delight, and we loved the flavor of the local entrants and how they embraced not only their patriotic spirit, but also Western heritage.

Smokey and his lesser-appreciated sidekick, Woodsy the Owl
There were lots of old-fashioned cars in the parade
Yellowstone pawparazzi …..!
How did this car run on three wheels?  We were stumped!
This horse was actually painted red, white and blue!
These cool buses were used by the Park Service for Yellowstone tours in the 1930s-1960s. 
We never thought to enter Lucky Charm into the parade!  Philip is already brainstorming costumes for next year!
Beautifully painted bison models.  We just could NOT get enough bison.
Not a good idea, to let people know that you share your life with an inflatable doll.
An actor in the local community theatre … I asked him to pose and this is what happened … easily six feet off the ground!  

It doesn’t get dark until VERY late in Montana.  Fireworks didn’t begin until 10:15!  The town display was held in a huge lot right across the street from our RV park.  Hundred of cars poured into the area, but we just had to carry our chairs a few hundred feet to the front lawn to see a great show!   And, fireworks are legal in Montana, so the informal “show” continued for a very long time into the night!

It was one of the most fun and memorable Fourth of July celebrations we could remember.  Bye bye Yellowstone, thanks for the memories!

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