July 11, 2004

Jackson to Bozeman

Jackson to Yellowstone.

Monday July 5th was a housekeeping day for the most part. Dan washed the camper and we went grocery shopping. We discovered the RV-er's haven that is the Dollar Tree. For $8 we got laundry detergent, banana chips, pretzels, hydrocortisone cream, beans, canned corn, a few other things I am forgetting and a picture frame. I then went to Smith's and had a photograph I had taken developed to give to Landa as a hostess gift. Total cost $1.29. This concludes the section on how to be a gracious guest on $40/ day.

In the afternoon we met up with Mike again and rode the Cache Creek to Putt-Putt trail in Jackson. This a very scenic single-track mtn. bike ride. I had a minor break down because I was feeling like the weak link all weekend and this sort of came to head after I had augured into the mud for the fourth time, but a few tears and new bruises aside it was a fabulous ride.

Then we returned to Landa and Keith's house for a wonderful dinner. I got to ride her Arabian for a short while, or should I say it took me for a ride.

Raymond, the pet cow, reaffirmed my belief that cows are not so smart, but even so he remains my favorite pet cow. The fact that he is the only pet cow I know not withstanding.

After dinner we went to watch the postponed fireworks display which was rather impressive. The echoes off the mountain sides were thunderous. This morning we said goodbye to Landa and Keith and headed for the national parks.

Teton proved as majestic as we had heard and Jenny Lake is a must see for anyone passing through.

Unfortunately we had heard of the construction up north and the very long delays so we did not dilly dally in Teton for long.

The Lewis River in Yellowstone.

We checked into Grant's in Yellowstone in the early afternoon. I pre-paid for all but one night of our Yellowstone stay so our total camping costs for this week are skewed as a result, but we make and break our rules as we go. Grant's is gi-normous! And costs $18/ night for a no-hook-up spot.

Additionally it will cost you $3 to shower if you use their facilities. It shows the signs of very heavy usage. We are in Spot 60B and have a nice view of the lake through the trees and the lake shore is only about 200 yards away.

View from the beach right below our campsite.

When you enter the park, be sure to get the Yellowstone Today newspaper. From reading this publication we learned of a free guided tour in West Thumb Geyser Basin. The tour takes about an hour and a half and as a good introduction to the geo-thermal goings on below. One drawback the speech feels very canned, you know: " blah, blah, blah, enter joke here, blah, blah, blah, ask group interactive question here, and so on." The thermal pools and pots are amazing. Some are over 200 degrees in temperature. A few are just offshore in the lake and many are right next to the board walks.

Another word to the wise. The visitor's centers do not make getting free publications easy. They try and funnel you into the bookstores and have you buy guides. If you know what you are looking for and ask the attendants, you can most often get free guides, but you have to ask for them. I suppose this is an effective way of minimizing waste, for those intent on getting one of every brochure and never opening most of them, so it seems a small price to pay.

Our first night in Yellowstone finds us eating the last of brother Pat's salmon, (really folks we aren't roughing it here), and sipping some frosty malted beverages. All this and it is only day nine! Life is good.

July 7, 2004 Yellowstone/ Mud Volcano Area

Slept in late after our first ever movie night in the camper. The very computer I use to write this on has a fairly nice DVD system in it. We popped popcorn and curled up in bed to watch 50 First Dates. Not a bad way to spend a night when the swarms of mosquitoes are forcing you indoors.

We decided to tour the Mud Volcano Area north of Fishing Bridge today. This spot is filled with geo-thermal features much like West Thumb, but if you could only visit one I'd vote for West Thumb over this one. The neatest feature we saw was named Dragon's breath, an impressive thermal cave which sounds like I'd imagine a dragon breathing would.

Bison at Mud Volcanoes.

Across the highway we hiked out to a rock out cropping which had a broad ranging view of the Yellowstone River. Across from us was a heard of Bison and sprawling, lush green hills. There are springs boiling up from the river floor and they bubble on the river's surface sporadically. We were wondering why you cannot boat the rivers in Yellowstone but, perhaps the springs of sulfuric acid in the middle of the current explain at least part of the reasoning.

We also did a short side ride up to Natural Bridge. The trail is mostly paved and shared by hikers and bikers. Round trip is only about a mile or so.

I have seen many natural bridges, living in the southwest for so long, but this was the first hard rock one I had seen. The bridges of Moab and Southern Utah are primarily sandstone. There is a small creek that runs beneath the arch. It is worth the ½ hour it takes to bike to and from.

Afterwards we visited Fishing Bridge. This is the only campground in the park with full hook-ups. A spot there will cost you $31/ night- even if you have a golden age or access pass. We saw no evidence of fish at fishing bridge, but the wind was kicking up and the water became very choppy. So we decided to check out the General Store, since I still owe my mother a birthday gift. Sorry Ma, I didn't find anything for you, but my husband spent $21 on a two-person-sized dutch oven. It really is very cool; we are making our dinner in it as I type this.

On our way home we stopped at a pull-out to fetch some fire wood. You can either pay $5.80 for a bundle of wood at the campgrounds, or plan ahead and stop alongside the road where the fallen timbers from the ’88 fires provide great logs for burning.

The winds were ripping across the lake and we saw 3' swells you could surf on if you were so inclined. Back in camp we are preparing for a roaring fire and an early evening. Tomorrow should be a big day.

July 9, 2004 Yellowstone
We began by biking four miles to Lone Star Geyser. I had a good feeling about seeing the geyser erupt because we passed a guided tour on the way up. The road follows a stream surrounded by lodge pole pine trees. Lone Star is in the middle of nowhere really, and there were few others there. It erupts every 3 or so hours and we got there around 10:00am.

Sure enough, right as the tour leader showed up the thing went off. Dan's convinced they are all on remotes.

We decided to make this a whole day of biking so we continued on to Old Faithful. The park has very few bike friendly trails, but amazingly enough they allow you to race your bikes through the throngs watching the most popular attraction here. We left the bikes to hike up above Old Faithful, (something about watching with 5000 other people doesn’t appeal to us). I will say that it is impressive, but really the crowds are almost enough to make it not worth it. We kept on down the bike path, past many thermal features.

Grotto Geyser.

Morning Glory Pool.

Here the trail splits and bikers take the Daisy Trail.

The View from the Daisy Trail.

You go through a burn area and along a river with plenty of hot pools and fumaroles to keep things interesting. At the junction of Daisy and the highway there is a short path that takes you up to Artemisia Geyser.

This one was my favorite.

Jewel Geyser.

Then we forged on for another few miles along the highway to the Ferry Falls trailhead, also biker friendly. This trail is 5.5 miles long; it passes some pretty ponds and ends up at a pool called Ojo Caliente.

Then it was time to turn around. All totaled we rode for 30 miles and hiked another five. A big day.

On our way to the Madison campground we spotted Firehole Canyon Road.

Firehole Falls.

We had heard nothing about this road so of course we took it. And thank goodness we did. Since our grey water tank is small, it is hard to use the inside shower without a hookup, and these campgrounds are so crowded that using the outside shower is a bit risqué. So imagine our glee when we happened upon Firehole Canyon Swimming Area. This river is fed by so many hot pools that it is itself warm. Not quite bath water temperature but not cold either. We jumped right in.

Camping at Madison was fine; we played a rousing game of bocce ball. Rachel won, but Dan insists that he did (he’d had a few PBR’s though so he cannot be trusted). The only thing this day had lacked was wildlife.

Then came Friday, or as I have some to call it, "safari day". We got an early start and headed back to a swimming hole we had found. Our Yellowstone guide says that you can’t swim in any of the thermal features or any pools fed solely by a feature. "Swimming in the lakes and rivers of Yellowstone is discouraged." Discouraged huh, but not illegal? So we found our own little swimming hole, which we had passed while biking the day before and washed up (before anyone goes into a tizzy, we merely sat in the pool no soaps were used, no features were harmed). We were treated by a visit from a river otter while we were drying off on the shore, and a bald eagle flew overhead on our return hike.

Then we started driving to the Canyon. En route we saw eight elk, including the two babies pictured below, a mama and a baby moose, also pictured and numerous bison.

You will notice here that mama has a radio collar on. Dan insists this is really an invisable fence collar to keep the elk on the side of the road so you can see them from the comfort of your car.

My personal favorite was when we were caught in a bison traffic jam. We were on a very narrow stretch of road and a bison/ buffalo decided he liked this passage as well so he just started walking down the center of the road. There is nothing so entertaining as watching guys in sports cars trying to pass a bison on a blind corner. Good times.

After we checked in at the Canyon Campground we headed off the south rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. After our trip to Old Faithful the day before we were ready to get away from the crowds so we hiked along the Ribbon Lake Trail. We saw no one else for hours, it was fabulous. We walked through lush fields filled with sage brush, arnica, lupine and bison poo. Past thermal features which threatened to blow at any moment, and through enough mosquitoes to require a blood transfusion. When we reached the junction to Artist's Point we met a super nice family from Florida who too are underaged rvers, we are joining them a loop over for desert tonight.

From here I'll let the picture speak for themselves. However, one note. You may notice that there are no Old Faithful pictures in here. If you absolutely must see when then do a Google search, I am sure there are some fabulous ones out there. We have decided to try and not post all of the "normal" Yellowstone pictures on here. Some, yes, those that we really love. Or ones that are typical, like the ones of the falls, but taken from harder to get to spots then the overlooks, or from a car, we like to think we earned them. We are high and mighty like that. ;)
Off to eat peach cobbler with the Floridians.

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

Lower Falls.

Upper Falls.

Here's what I hiked to get this picture...

Alright, maybe just one super cheesy shot.

Warning here comes my second ever "Blog Shout Out".
Later on that evening...we had a fabulous time with the Wood family from Florida. Thanks to you all for allowing us to hear someone else talk for a change, and for the wonderful hospitality. Here's to hoping you are all full-time and underaged by this time next year.

July 10, 2004
Beartooth Pass

We broke camp at around 9:00 am and took the round-a-bout way to Beartooth pass, because the Canyon Road is currently closed. We visit an Internet site called RV.Net which is a wealth of information on everything you might want to know about RV-ing. The wonderful folks who frequent this site will quickly respond to whatever question you may have, it is fabulous way to pick the brains of people who know what you are getting yourself into. From this site we learned that more experienced RVers (at least of those on this particular site) think the Beartooth Scenic Highway is the most beautiful drive in North America, than any other.

The MOST beautiful drive?? Come on! I mean we just drove through Logan Canyon, and along Canyon de Pintado and even through Teton and Yellowstone, not to mention that we lived at the Million Dollar Highway in Southwestern Colorado. We had to check this out for ourselves.

Well, I am here to tell you that this drive does not disappoint. For endless views, mountain lakes, summer snowfields and feats of engineering genius, this is THE pass.
(Note: this pass is the real deal. It is steep, and ridiculously narrow in spots. It is more suited for motorcyclists than motor homes. If you have a toad or a tow vehicle then leave the RV behind.)

There is a ski hill near the summit. After doing a bit of research we learned that this is where they hold their summer ski camps and it is only open from April to July.

This appeals to my husband who loves snow. Here he is making a snow angel atop the pass.

Once we made it down the other side, a full3500' lower than the summit mind you, we headed into Redlodge. I REALLY like this town. I am putting it on my "maybe" list. It has skiing, rafting, fishing, biking and charm out the wazoo. Tonight we are boondocked below the pass on a forest service road which is riddled with pay campgrounds and a few free spots along the way. We are in a free one along a very nice fishing stream, it just so happens that we liked this spot better than any of the pay ones and it is free. How lucky are we?! As an additional bonus, while we were searching for free camping we saw the first bear of the trip, and at a pleasant distance I am happy to report.

Tonight over dinner we did a bit of itinerary planning. We are shaving off a few places during the next week, for the sake of having some extra time. We were feeling a bit rushed. Tomorrow we are off for Bozeman and in the next week we will visit, Helena, Whitefish, and Sandpoint, Idaho. Then if all goes as planned, on July sixteenth I will turn 31 years of age and we will arrive in British Columbia.

Note to readers/ writers: We have had no Internet connection for the last week. Thanks for the emails, and sorry our replies are so tardy.

This week's expenses:
Fuel $69.65
Liquor $14.39
Treats $5.89
Repairs $-
Camping $23.00
Park Fees$-
Other $45.98
Total $240.59
Remainder $9.41


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I loved the time I went to Yellowstone National Park because I lied on the ground and stated reflecting about my life. It was like a dream for me to see those outstanding lanscapes.

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sdid you know that yellowstone all that beautiful mountains and rivers are a huge volcano?
i saw 2012 movie and really dont wanna go on vacations there

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