The journey described in Peter Thody’s travel memoir Yellowstone Roadtrip really began forty years ago in Leeds, England. Thody first dreamed seeing a wild wolf in its natural habitat when he was ten years old. By 2013, in spite of numerous road trips all over North America, Thody had still not realized his boyhood aspiration. Deciding it was high time to achieve his goal and see a wolf in the wild, Thody and his wife headed to Yellowstone National Park in the dead of winter.
This well-told story is a delight from beginning to end. Thody’s description of his trip and his commentary about his discoveries along the way are both amusing and intriguing. Outstanding photographs at the end of each chapter enhance the vivid writing.
A recurring and compelling theme of this book is embracing the unexpected. The Thodys arrived in West Yellowstone planning to ride on a snowmobile. Instead, they discovered that the snowmobiling season had ended. While disappointing, the lack of sufficient snow also meant a dearth of people. This in turn meant that the entire Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center was practically deserted, and that Thody enjoyed the rare opportunity to capture amazing close-up images of grizzly bears. Another series of unplanned events led to Peter’s sole encounter with the Lamar Valley wolf pack. Without unexpected delays and detours, he would have completely missed watching wild wolves in action.
Peter’s narrative imparts a real sense of what it’s like to travel in this part of the country in winter – ground blizzards and all. Peter’s sense of humor bubbles to the surface when he shares his impressions about the people he meets – especially those who spend all winter at Yellowstone chasing wolves with the same fervor as train fanatics and storm chasers. In addition, Peter shares local history, like the story behind the naming of Idaho Falls. This had always puzzled me, since the only “falls” in the area is a man-made ledge on the river than runs through town.
Yellowstone Roadtrip is a journey worth taking. I’m betting it will also make you want to take a roadtrip of your own.
Yellowstone Roadtrip: In Search of the Lamar Valley Wolf Pack by Peter Thody
Available on Kindle.
File Size: 10555 KB
Print Length: 114 pages
(Published: April 14, 2014)