Thursday, September 30, 2010


Odel in Grand Wash I’ll have more (much more) to say about Capitol Reef National Park once I’ve gone through the hundreds of seemingly identical photos I’ve already taken, and the hundreds more to come…

It is almost impossible to show, in a photo, the immensity and grandeur of the rocks, canyons, cliffs, gorges, spires and domes in this national park.  It is indescribably fabulous, rivaling Arches National Park as my favorite of the “desert rock” national parks. 

On our hike yesterday, I asked Odel to walk ahead in Grand Wash, then turn and wave at me to provide scale to the canyon walls.  Can you see him here??  (Click on the photo to enlarge it.)  

Look inside the black triangle, twice as tall as Odel (and he just reminded me that you will want to know he is 6’1”, to provide accurate scale).

In our first 36 hours, we’ve driven the Scenic Drive (a total understatement), hiked the Grand Wash and - with Kate and Terry (Travels in Cholula Red), full-timers in a Lazy Daze who are here next to us in Wonderland RV Park (click here to read our review) – eaten at “southern Utah’s best restaurant”, Cafe Diablo. 

Entering a narrow canyon with a deep wash.We visited the excellent, small Visitor Center here in Torrey, and have so many hikes and drives on our “to do” list that I doubt we will get all of them done.  Not much time (or desire) to be sitting inside on the computer in this wonderland!

For those who asked for the recipe for German Potato Salad cooked in the crockpot, I’ll add it to the blog when I have a chance.  But now, gotta’ run – we’re off to hike among the golden aspen today.

Monday, September 27, 2010


A 14We haven’t done a whole heck of a lot the past couple days – just drive Interstate 15 and eat potatoes!

We’ve been doing what I think of as “positioning”… positioning ourselves for something more fun that what we’re currently doing.  Our target is Capitol Reef National Park, now just one day away – but we wanted to visit Costco and a well supplied grocery store before we arrived.

The day we left Ririe (and received the gift of potatoes), we spent the night in Fort Hall, an Indian reservation north of Pocatello, at the Fort Hall Casino RV Campground (click here to read our review and see photos).  Nothing special, but it had hookups to keep us cool on a hot day and easy access to the Costco in nearby Pocatello.

We were hungry when we hit Costco, and we gave their Saturday sample tables a workout.  They snared us with a marinated tri-tip, which ended up in our basket and, later, on our grill.  Breakfast, before we took off on Sunday, was tri-tip and Idaho potato hash!

Sites 1-10 Around 250 miles later, we were in a site at Canyon View RV Park (click here to read our review and see photos), a small, inexpensive, municipal campground in Spanish Fork, Utah, a few miles off the interstate.   While Odel played 18 holes on the golf course that surrounds the campground, I visited the grocery store and restocked our supplies… and made German Potato Salad in the crockpot.    Another eight potatoes eaten!

So… the chores are done, let the fun begin!  Capitol Reef, here we come. 

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Bison Jam Coming Towards us BIG Bison passes by...

Click on any photo in today’s blog to enlarge it.

We saw a lot of wildlife in Grand Teton Park, including several herds of bison that crossed the road whenever they felt like it.  Heading back to our campsite one evening, we stopped to watch the herd migrate to the west.  All of the sudden, one big bull decided to change course, coming right toward us.  As he veered to the right, I hastily put up my window, then snapped a quick photo as he walked past.  Man, that guy was HUGE!

Site B13 From Grand Teton National Park, we headed west to Juniper Campground (click here to read our review), a few miles from the little town of Ririe, Idaho.   The quiet campground, adjacent to a reservoir, is a green oasis this time of year, when the surrounding agricultural fields (wheat and potatoes) are dry, brown stubble.  We had a large, full hookup site and super speedy internet (Verizon), all for the great price of $16/night.  It was easy and relaxing to stay three nights, cleaning up and restocking after 6 days without hookups in Grand Teton National Park. 

This morning, we took off for Pocatello, looking forward to our first visit to Costco since we were in Minneapolis.  Leaving the campground, driving north on a deserted, two lane road, we came over the crest of a hill and saw… WHAT??  It looked like a traffic jam, more people than we had seen in the past three days!

People and Cars Everywhere Gleaners Free Taters

We slowly rolled up behind the white horse trailer that was blocking our lane, wondering what the heck was going on.  Everyone was carrying potatoes!  Buckets of potatoes, sacks of potatoes, boxes of potatoes.  When the horse trailer pulled away, Odel asked a woman standing in the road what was going on.  Her response?  “We’ve digging potatoes.  Park that big RV and I’ll get you a bag!” 

Of course, there was NO place to park Scoopy, so we smiled and declined, but she wouldn’t take no for an answer.  In a few quick steps, she was knocking on the door, handing up a bag with at least 20 pounds of fresh Idaho spuds!

Take a bag! Fresh dug spuds Washed and ready to eat 

Taking Delivery

Fresh dug, and covered in dirt.

Washed up and ready to cook!

We’ve seen a lot of interesting sights in our travels, and met a lot of friendly people – but this was a first.  We gave half a dozen taters to our neighbor here at tonight’s campground, who told us it is an Idaho tradition that locals go out to glean the potato fields after the mechanical harvest is complete – free spuds for all.  We’ll be sharing them for days.  Thanks, Idaho!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


The outside temperature was well below freezing this morning when we awoke, so I was happy to stay snuggled in bed while Odel arose, started water heating for tea, opened the shades, etc., etc.  But when he yelled “THERE ARE MOOSE RIGHT OUTSIDE THE WINDOW”, I shot straight up!

Morning Moose

There they were, a mama and her baby, grazing in the brush directly in front of our big picture window.

two moose

We admired them as they turned this way and that, enjoying their breakfast as the sunshine crept towards them.

moose fans

Meanwhile, the admiring paparazzi congregated just outside our driver’s side window, cameras clicking.

In the right place, at the right time… how exciting!

Monday, September 20, 2010


Forces of Nature The current body count of mice: seven!  I don’t think they all rode along with us from Baker’s Hole – at least a few of the locals have tried to join our household.  Odel keeps the traps set, and snap, snap, snap…! 

I really hate killing them – they are so cute, and I know they are simply looking for a warm home as the weather cools – but they cause too much damage to co-exist peacefully. Thanks to the many of you who have sent suggestions on how to get rid of them!

When we aren’t busy trapping mice, we are out and about, enjoying our fabulous fall weather here in Grand Teton National Park.  The area near the Gros Ventre Campground (click here to read our review and see photos) is a favorite pasture for herds of bison, and we often see them close beside or on the road.  The scene above appealed to me on our way home recently – two Forces of Nature, bison and fire (a USFS prescribed burn, several miles to the east of our campground).

Yesterday we hiked 6+ miles on the Leigh Lake Trail, near the popular area of Jenny Lake, right up against the Tetons.  Though the Jenny and String Lake trails looked quite busy, our trail – an out-and-back, rather than a loop – had few hikers.  Instead, look who we found along the trail!  She was very interested in her forage, and quite unafraid… finally bounced off a couple yards so we could pass by.

Along the Leigh Lake Trail Clear Leigh Lake

Close encounter on the Leigh Lake Trail

Transparent Leigh Lake

Even though both of us prefer at least an electric hookup to camping with no hookups, we are enjoying our time here so much that we extended it yet again, eking out our water supply a bit longer so we don’t have to move.  Rain is in the forecast for Wednesday, so we decided that is the day we’ll move on. 

As for me, it’s time to take my book out into the sunshine.  My lounger is calling my name.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Today’s photos have been taken over the past couple days here in Grand Teton National Park.  Mouse over any photo for a caption, or click to enlarge. 

Teton Range and weathered buildings of Mormon Row in morning light.7:21.  35.2.  71.5.  12.7.  Do I sound like a quarterback?

These are the all-important numbers I reported to Odel this morning when I got up and he lingered snugly in bed at 7:21 am.  The outside temperature was 35.2, while the inside temperature was a cozy and warm 71.5, thanks to Odel’s pinpoint accuracy with our Kozy World propane heater (he turned it up at 5:25 am, to bring the temperature up from 63 comfortable sleeping degrees to the warmer 71.5 time-to-get-up degrees). 

And 12.7?  The voltage of our batteries, comfortably high after a short workout of the generator last night.  Later, we’ll peek at our fresh water tank, to estimate how many of our 100 gallons of fresh water we have used since we arrived on Thursday.  That’s boondocking, folks!

However, the number I am most interested in is Odel’s morning report of mice killed. 

Bison on the move across Mormon Row While I was reading late one night at Baker’s Hole Campground near Yellowstone, I was distracted by a quick movement out of the corner of my eye.  Twice.  Each time, I decided it was an odd reflection of my reading light off my glasses… until the third time, when it was very clear to me that a MOUSE was running back and forth across the floor between the driver’s seat and the kitchen.  ACK!

It was almost 11 pm.  With GREAT reluctance, I awoke Odel, the designated mouse killer in our family, and he went outside and dug our bag of five mouse traps out of the basement.  He set three, and we retired to bed together.

Twenty minutes later, I heard a few drops of rain falling on the roof, a soft pitter-patter.  As I raised my head to look out the window, Odel sat bolt upright in bed and yelled ACKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK!  What I had heard was not rain, but the pitter-patter of little mousie feet crossing our mattress or headboard so it could run across Odel’s HEAD!  ACK, ACK, ACK!

Jenny Lake As we lay in bed, wide-eyed, freaked out, we heard mice (yes, plural) running through our ceiling.  All we could do was make sure all our fingers and toes were under the covers, and hope these mice were hungry for the peanut butter snacks Odel had set out for them.   (We had a long conversation about whether mice could climb up under our covers… and would they?)  It was a fairly sleepless night.

I don’t know how many mice frolicked in Scoopy that night, or how many came along when we left Baker’s Hole.  What I do know is: 2, 1, 2 – the number of mice caught at Baker’s Hole Campground, Teton Mountain View Campground, and now here at Gros Ventre Campground!

And Odel’s morning report: 0.  Let’s hope it is the new trend.  :)

Thursday, September 16, 2010


West side of the Tetons, on the road to Grand Targhee. If I could order up a day of perfect high mountain hiking weather, yesterday would have been that day – and we took advantage of it!

Drive 6 miles south from Tetonia to Driggs (the “urban center” of the Teton Valley, between Tetonia on the north and Victor on the south), hang a left (east) at the only signal in town, and follow the road up the mountainside to it’s end at Grand Targhee Ski Resort (in Wyoming).  The center of this small ski area is located just under 8,000 feet, on the west side of the Teton Range.

With summer season over (the hiker/biker lift had just closed three days ago) and winter season still many weeks away, the resort was very quiet, all the shops and restaurants closed, the lifts hanging idle.  The only sounds came from a couple of construction workers on the roof of the lodge, hammering down new shingles.  We wandered through the buildings until we found an administration office, where a couple of friendly staffers gave us a hiking map and advice (including the usual “bears in the area” cautions).   

Through the Aspen at Grand Targhee Hiking at Grand Targhee

“Quaker Ridge” trail through the aspen trees.

“Rick’s Basin” trail, looking east.

We had the mountain to ourselves – and whatever wildlife watched our progress well hidden from our prying eyes.  :)   We took our hiking GPS – it’s been a LONG time since it got a workout – and our elevation stayed within a few hundred feet of 8.000.  We were relieved to find we have acclimated to the elevation since our first hike in Yellowstone over the Labor Day weekend, when I thought I might need a lung transplant.

I was surprised to see so little fall color at this altitude.  Though the ground cover was red and gold, very few of the aspen leaves showed any sign that summer is waning.  I wonder how different this will look in a couple more weeks? 

Coming back down into the Teton Valley, we turned south on Stateline Road, the boundary between Wyoming and Idaho, to visit a 9-hole golf course at the base of the mountains.  A bench overlooking the driving range was the perfect place for our picnic lunch, sitting in short sleeves in full sun.

Looking towards the Teton Valley as we descended the mountain. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed our stay in the Teton Valley.  Odel played a round of golf at The Links at Teton Peaks and we had a delicious burger at North End Bar and Grill, a short walk from our RV park. 

I drove some of the “back roads” of the Teton Valley (anything off of Hwy 33 seems to be a back road, since blacktop ends almost immediately) and scratched the surface of Driggs (found more titles in a series of books I enjoy at Dark Horse Books).  We didn’t make it to Pendl’s Bakery and Cafe or the Warbirds Cafe, both recommended. 

Our short visit showed me that there is much more to explore, and when we leave this morning, the Teton Valley will be on the list of places to return one day for a longer stay. But now?  On to Grand Teton National Park!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Odel meets grizzly in the Forest Service Visitor Center If you’ve ever thought of driving a big rig over Teton Pass – from Victor, ID on the west side to Jackson, WY on the east – forget it!  What a bear! 

According to the Wyoming Department of Transportation, the grade is 10%: 3 miles from top to bottom on the west side, 5 miles on the east.  Five miles of winding, 10% grade is plenty exciting in a car, no doubt heart pounding in a motorhome.

We set out at 10 am on Tuesday for a long day trip into Grand Teton National Park, on the other side of the Teton Range from our current “home”, Teton Mountain View Lodge and RV Park (click here to read our review and see photos).  We are planning to move to the national park on Thursday, and had a list of potential campsites we wanted to checkout.  First, though, we negotiated Teton Pass, SO GLAD to be in the Jeep.  We’ll be taking the “long way”, a more southern route, when we move our home to the other side.

Plenty of tourists still enjoying Grand Teton National Park.We entered the park at the southern end and made our first stop at the Visitor Center at Moose Junction.  As in Yellowstone, visitors are still here in abundance!  Then we were off to Moran Junction, on the east side of the park, where we exited the park to check on a boon docking spot just outside the park boundary.  Nice (and free) – and currently occupied.

Back in the park, we drove through heavily forested Colter Bay Campground, with big rigs lined up one after another in pullouts just off the edges of the campground roads.  Hmmmm, not really what we had in mind.

We continued all the way north, past the northern park boundary, to check on a few free camping spots off Grassy Lake Road.  These were gorgeous (also currently occupied), but no cell service there.  Yes, we are spoiled – we like our cell phones and aircard to work.  :)

Stopped for a break at the Oxbow Overlook. Turning back, we drove the entire length of the park once again, into Gros Ventre Campground, the most southern and most lightly used campground in the park.  We’ve stayed there once before, and found that it best met our needs/desires once again: rather open, mostly back-in sites in amongst cottonwoods.  We drove past a herd of bison (mamas and calves) to get there, and saw two huge bull moose relaxing in a small grove of trees on the edge of the campground.  Phones work!  It’s the place for us.  We made notes on our favorite sites for our return on Thursday.

Our round trip driving day was over 200 miles – SO unusual for us.  What made it palatable?  The gorgeous, incredible scenery.  Yellowstone is a fascinating place, but I don’t think you can beat the sheer beauty of the Teton Range, the rivers and lake of Grand Teton National Park.  Can’t wait to get back over there!

Monday, September 13, 2010


Red pushpin is Tetonia, Id, surrounded by mountain ranges.

Tetonia, Idaho – ever heard of it?  We hadn’t, until we dug into the Passport America directory, looking for an inexpensive full hook up site between Baker’s Hole – no water or sewer – and our planned boondocking site in Grand Teton National Park.   Since no such animal exists traveling through Yellowstone National Park to Grand Teton National Park, we decided to take a longer, western route, and picked Teton Mountain View RV Park (click here to read our review and see photos), in tiny Tetonia, ID, as our goal.

We had a fantastic site at Baker’s Hole – huge, with electricity, with a gap through the trees for the satellite TV dish to do it’s thing.  We had plenty of choices when we arrived on Tuesday, and by Thursday we were beginning to see how lucky we had been as the campground filled early.  Friday was the same and, on Saturday afternoon, campers in the non-electric sites were walking purposefully through the campground checking the dates slips on the electric sites to see which rigs would be vacating their site on Sunday. 

Jules on Horse Butte, near Baker's Hole, admiring Hebgen Lake. That’s a tricky business because, since Baker’s Hole is a first-come, first-served campground, campers can extend their stay from day to day, up to 16 days (we had already extended twice), as long as they do it before the 2 pm checkout time.   On Saturday evening, after a couple of hours of watching rigs circle the campground (which was completely full) and campers wander past, peering at our site and our slip – marked 9/12 in big numbers – we heard a knock on the door.  A fellow Escapee, currently parked in a non-electric site, wondered if we were really leaving on Sunday.  When we said “yes”, his face lit up. 

At Baker’s Hole, if you can find someone leaving, you can pay for the next day (or more), and put YOUR payment stub on the site pole under the current stub, thus guaranteeing yourself the coveted site.  That’s what he did (after discussing with us), and he went away happy.

On Sunday morning, the campground was jumping!  Campgrounds usually empty out by Sunday afternoon, but not this one – at least not this Sunday.  As we walked the loops to get our exercise before we hit the road, some rigs were departing, others were arriving, and still others were moving from one site to another. 

Beautiful landscape along Madison Arm Road near West Yellowstone.That in itself provided us with much entertainment – and then our social life kicked in.  Walking past a big 5th wheel, Odel thought he heard someone say his name.   He turned, and an unfamiliar face said “Odel?  Are you Odel?  I read your blog!”  This always kind of thrills me, and we stood talking with Mark and Lisa, blog readers from Texas, for a few minutes before they took off for their day’s explorations.  Fun!

Two more bends in the road and we ran into Jerry and his wife (with the pretty, unusual name that I can’t remember), new fulltimers from California we met 10 days ago when we visited Diana and Steve at Norris Campground in Yellowstone.  Small world!  We could have chatted with this enthusiastic couple for much longer, but we needed to get a move on.  It felt like we were leaving a comfortable old neighborhood.  :)

We were on the road by 11:30 for the short drive west and south to Tetonia.  The entire ride was beautiful, but especially so as the snowy Teton Range came into view to our east.  When we left Hwy 20, we came closer, closer, closer to these famous peaks, then turned south to run along their western flank.  Eye-popping!

Teton Range from the west, near Tetonia, Idaho Tiny Tetonia is surrounded by mountain ranges on three sides: the Teton Range to the east, the Big Hole Mountains to the west, and the Snake Range to the south.  We are very happily settled in at Teton Valley View RV Park, with a GREAT view of the Teton Range right out the window.  We’ve got full hookups, satellite TV, phone and internet service.  Hooray for off-season: the park is one quarter full (no close neighbors) and we’re paying Passport America rates, half price ($15) for as many nights as we want to stay. 

First on my agenda after check-in was a long, hot shower.  We did four washers full of laundry in their giant commercial front-loaders, after we had scouted out an 18 hole golf course for Odel ($22).  The weather report shows sunny skies, highs in the 70’s, lows in the 40’s for the remainder of the week.  We have a 40 mile designated scenic drive from here to Jackson, WY, on today’s schedule.  So far, we’re liken’ Tetonia!

Friday, September 10, 2010


Busy parking lot at Norris Geyser Basin We came to Yellowstone after Labor Day, thinking the summer crowds would be gone.  And, perhaps they are.  But the post-Labor Day crowds are still here, and they, like us, seem to head to the park around 10 in the morning. 

Now, if we were smart – and disciplined – we’d be up early, pack a lunch, and hit the West Yellowstone gate by 8 am, or even earlier.  Instead, we lounge in our warm bed, make and drink our tea, check our email, have some breakfast, dress, make and pack our lunch, gather our maps, hats, coats, sunglasses, camera, cell phones… and hit the West Yellowstone gate by 10 am, along with thousands – maybe tens of thousands – of other slow starting visitors.

It’s commute time!

The Yellowstone CommuteThe West Yellowstone gate has one major drawback (I’m sure the other entrances have their own problems): wildlife!  It’s what we all want to see, and it is here in abundance. 

We’ve traveled the 14 miles from the West Yellowstone gate to the “Grand Loop” road three times, and each time we’ve seen bison and small herds of elk right along the roadway.  The tipoff?  Traffic slows to a crawl as tourists move their cars halfway off the road and park, then step out into oncoming traffic to photograph the nearest large mammal.  It’s CRAZY!

Once past the snarl, we speed up to 13, 19, 23, 35 miles per hour.  We’re a rocket – ZOOM!  Then, up ahead… red brake lights.  Slow down… 22, 14, 7, 3.5 mph.  Three miles later, a lone bison saunters down the shoulder of the road.

Bison walking along the road A bison, a bull elk and a harem member

It’s frustrating, and it’s delightful.  It’s what we put up with for the opportunity to see wildlife in a natural environment, not a zoo, not a wildlife ranch.  It’s Yellowstone.

Yellowstone snow After a cold, steady, soaking rain on Thursday, we got our usual 10 am start this morning and spent 45 minutes driving 14 miles from the gate to the Grand Loop.  There we turned right, heading south to West Thumb to see the little thermal area on the edge of Yellowstone Lake.  This route crosses the Continental Divide twice, near 8,300 ft. elevation both times. 

Although dry, today was forecast to be cold, and that forecast was right on target.  Up into last night’s fresh snow we climbed, then down to West Thumb.  We got out of the car, crossed the parking lot, stopped and shivered.  Went back for a layer of wind protection over our fleece, crossed the parking lot again, shivered again.  Went back to the car and said “Yikes”!

Half an hour later, we were back in the lower elevations, exploring thermal areas at a lower – and barely warmer – altitude.

Steam on a cold day in Yellowstone Bubbling pool along Firehold Lake Drive

We’ve enjoyed our stay – and our site at Bakers Hole Campground – so much that we’ve extended it twice.  Assuming that traffic in the park on Saturday would be even heavier than during the week, we’ll find something else to occupy us tomorrow, then head into Idaho on Sunday.  Warm, sunny weather in the forecast.  :)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Everybody has seen photos of Yellowstone, right?  Geysers.  Steam pots.  Lovely blue, orange, and gold hot pools.  Bison.  Elk.  Bears.  Wolves.  The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River and the upper and lower falls.  World class trout streams and beautiful Lake Yellowstone.

So, I promised myself that, out of the hundreds of photos I took, I would post only a few!

Our drive from Livingston to West Yellowstone was easy and appealing.  Only one regret – that we hadn’t known to plan an overnight stop to explore Bozeman!  It looked like a vibrant, lively town as we drove through, with well-maintained historic buildings, a brew pub, a huge natural foods co-op, and a restored old theatre building now apparently used as an arts venue.  Odel reminded me that there was a university there; we almost always find university towns appealing.

Driving through Bozeman 191 to W Yellowstone

Driving through downtown Bozeman, MT

Along the Gallatin River (I think), south on Hwy 191

We pulled into Bakers Hole Campground (click here to read our review and see photos), on the Madison River just 3 miles from the National Park, at noon and quickly set up camp.  It was a beautiful day, forecast to be the best of the week, so we didn’t want to waste time hanging around home – we were off to Yellowstone!

Roadside Bison Three miles to the west entrance of the park, flash the “get in free” Golden Age pass.  We hit our first traffic jam ten minutes later: three bison, a huge bull elk and his harem were relaxing on the banks of the Madison River.  This will sound horribly jaded, but we don’t stop for these guys any longer.  Fabulous though they are, we just roll slowly past, dodging the cars and spectators clogging the roadway.  I do snap away as we roll along, though!

In another 45 minutes, we pulled into the HUGE parking lots at Old Faithful and hit the boardwalk trails.   This is one of my favorite parts of Yellowstone – the steam, the smells, the sounds, and the colors.  We walked for the rest of the afternoon – well over our daily 10,000 steps – in short sleeves!  In sunshine!  It was sublime.

Blue Star, an old favorite.

Punchbowl, a new favorite, off the beaten path.

Blue Star Punchbowl

If you’ve paid any attention at all to Yellowstone National Park, you have seen a photo of one of it’s most iconic sights: the Morning Glory Pool, so named because the shape and COLOR are so reminiscent of the flower.  Well, bad new, folks.

The ethereal blue of the morning glory is fading into green.  The National Park Service blames this on vandalism, visitors throwing coins, rocks and trash into the pool, clogging the vent and cooling the water temperature.  Deep blue is the color of the hottest pools – which Morning Glory is no longer.

Morning Glory Pool, June 2004

Morning Glory Pool, September 2010

Morning Glory Morning Glory-1

When we were here in 2004, I took a photo of Morning Glory – and again this year, though it was quite a disappointment.  Well, like all of nature… things change! 

We awoke to the pitter-patter of raindrops on the roof this morning and a big change in the weather.  Once again, we headed into the park, this time in long sleeves, with hats, coats and gloves along “just in case”.  Once again, big crowds in the park.  Traffic snarls for the roadside wildlife, and long lines of traffic in two constructions zones along our route.  We visited more geysers and bubbling pools at the Norris Geyser Basin, then headed east to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River where we walked the two-mile south rim trail from the Upper Falls to Artist’s point. 

Bison and golden grass We were lucky – it rained off and on, saturating the striking colors of this fantastic canyon.  Big dark clouds swept across the sky, then the sun dazzled us again…

I took 118 photos today, all classic Yellowstone shots, of which I will share just one.  As we drove back to the west, a blaze of sunshine lit a golden meadow and turned the recent rainstorm dark, dark, black.  A lone bison grazed in the meadow, undisturbed by weather, and Odel pulled over so I could snap this shot.

Back home, we were beat – we did a LOT of hiking today!  I’m off to bed, where I can hear Odel gently “snoozing” as I write.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Writing today from Livingston, Montana, north of Yellowstone National Park.  It is cold, gray, wet and windy as a thunderstorm passes overhead and rain moves in behind.  Inside, bright, cozy, and warm.  :)

Friday was a beautiful day for travel, and we didn’t have far to go – 160 miles, all on freeway.  As we left Hardin, I made a phone call to arrange something quite unusual for us: a mid-day social stop!

OK, LB, Janna and MichaelWe “met” Janna and Michael through this blog.  Janna comments from time to time, and I had occasionally visited her blog, Tin TeePee/Log Cabin.  When Janna noticed our travels were bringing us through their home town of Big Timber, she sent their phone number and suggested we give a call if we had time to stop for a visit on our way west.  The phrase “Wilcoxson milkshake” caught Odel’s eye, as we have experienced some of Montana’s delicious, rich Wilcoxson’s ice cream. 

We met in the parking lot of a truck stop just off the highway (where the price on diesel was 15 cents less than our last fill-up, so we topped off our tank with 44 gallons), and walked a few blocks to the little town center of Big Timber for lunch.  Yummy food, wonderful company.  Michael is a fourth generation Montanan – in fact, he had a bit of a tie to The Grand Hotel, where we ate lunch: it was lost by his scheming ancestors in a horse race.  :)  

I had a delicious and messy BBQ’ed lamb sandwich, Odel (and Janna and Michael) had fish and chips.  As we ate, pieces of the puzzle fell into place as we discovered the friends we have in common, and I finally realized I knew a good chunk of their travels last winter from our mutual friends’ Ellie and Jim’s blog.  Time sped by as we talked, and it was time to hit the road too soon.  Thanks so much, Janna and Michael – we hope to see you in the southwest next winter.

Yellowstone River at Rock Canyon Our pretty little RV park, Rock Canyon (click here to read our review and see photos), is 3 miles south of Livingston and 55 miles north of Yellowstone National Park, on the bank of the Yellowstone River.  We knew that visiting the park over Labor Day was not a good plan – and we’re going to stick around after the vacationers leave – but we couldn’t help ourselves and off we went.  The park was crowded, but Odel picked out a trail and – the usual magic – we left the crowds behind after the first 500 yards.   

Remember, we were essentially at sea level the past 8 months.  Yellowstone is at 6,500 ft.  This was me:   Wheeze.  wheeze.  Gasp “rest break!”.  Sip water.  Wheeze, wheeze, rest break… you get the picture.  Pathetic!   I need to acclimate!

When we made it back to the car,  we headed deeper into the park to track down Diana and Steve and their boys, of Life In The Blue Daisy.  We first met this family through our friends Marlene and Richard Dopp – Steve is their son – and knew they were in Yellowstone through a recent email exchange.  It was our good luck to find them at “home” in their Blue Bird bus, and we spent another couple hours in their warm, lively company swapping road stories.  But I forgot to get a photo!  Check out their blog for the story of converting the bus into a home and their road trip adventures this year.

A Yellowstone moment.The ride back home seemed long, and we were dirty, hungry and tired when we arrived – only to have voice mail messages from Boomer friends camped for the night just two miles from us.  YAY, friends!  BOO, hungry and tired.  After a hot shower, a bowl of taco soup from the crockpot, and a couple of glasses of wine, I was going nowhere but to bed.

We were up early this morning, and managed to catch up with Bill and Fran Rayner and Jan and Chuck Moore before they took off for the day’s travels.  Really, our social lives at home were NEVER this busy!   Today: catching up on the usual stuff of life – laundry, grocery list, oil change for the Jeep, opening the mail that was forwarded… 

Happy Labor Day weekend, all.  Travel safely.