Thursday, January 24, 2013

We Closed Yellowstone For The Season
We finished up our Yellowstone experience at the end of September.  Here is a recap:

Our daughter, Jess, and her cousin, Shaunna, joined us the first week of September.  We had a ball showing them everything we could squeeze in in four days.

Day 1 - South to Jackson, WY
First day we headed south to Jackson, WY.  You can't visit the area without seeing that.

Not far south of Yellowstone is Jenny Lake.  Robin took a hike with the girls.  I had a sore foot so I had to (got to??) veg out in the truck with a good book while they tromped around the lake.

They went inland a ways to Inspiration Point:

After leaving Jenny Lake we ran across this guy hanging out in a creek:
What you don't see in the pic is the hundreds of people lining the bank across from him.

Fortunately, the forest fire smoke was almost non-existent that day so the views of the Grand Tetons were terrific.

Once in Jackson we headed to the elk antler arch in the downtown park:

Next stop was the Cowboy Bar.  For decades this has been a must see in the town.  I don't know if it is losing its appeal or what, but it was interesting to note that Robin and I were some of the youngest people there.  Jess and Shaunna were expecting any moment to get their cheeks tweaked by some of the grandmotherly patrons!

On the way back to the park we saw a momma griz and THREE cubs off in the distance.  Local watchers said they are frequent visitors.  They said Momma had two cubs and had adopted an orphan.  Exciting!!!
Click on the pic to get a bigger and better view

We had a fun drive back.  We stopped in the forest and watched the stars for a bit.  There was absolutely no light pollution.  It was spectacular.

You may recall that I have a history of camera problems. For a time I had to resort to some rather primitive illustrations while I made up my mind what camera was going to replace our trusty old Nikon Coolpix 995.   We ended up with a Canon PowerShot S100.

A great little camera but it is one of the modern pocket-sized types.  I have been concerned that given my tendency to leave things laying about I may loose it.  Wellll....

The morning after our drive to Jackson, sure enough, I could not find the camera.  We looked high and low.  I went through every nook and cranny of the truck. No luck.  Rats!!

I knew I had used it the previous evening to take pictures of the grizzlies.  I did not remember what I did with it after that.  I took the grizz pics while standing in the bed of the truck.  Uh Oh...

I was upset with myself.  Robin looked out the window and asked "What is that black thing on top of the truck?"
"That's the antenna module for the satellite radio."
"No, I don't think so" she responded.

Well, I went out and sure enough, there on the roof of the truck was the camera.  It was covered with frost but it was still there!!

We were all amazed.  It had ridden about 65 miles and held on through numerous twists and turns including a stop at Leeks Pizzeria.

I took it inside the RV and let it warm up.  It's working great.  That says something for Canon's camera as well as the smooth ride of our one-ton Dodge Ram!!

Day 2 - Car Tour
We did the entire figure-8 tour of the park in one day.  Great day and some beautiful scenery.

We saw a fox hunting along the road.  It crossed over to a ravine and stood still, cocking its head one way and then the other homing in on the sounds of a small animal, mouse, vole or whatever.

Suddenly it jumped straight up in the air and flipped to come down nose and front feet first.  It disappeared into the grass, then emerged with something in its mouth.  Very fun to see.

The girls got to see elk, bison, deer and as many of the natural features as we could find.  The bison were in rut.  That provided some exciting moments when we were stopped on the road while a herd passed by.  They completely surrounded us.  Suddenly, a couple bulls decided to claim territory and discuss harem ownership right next to our truck.

I told everyone all dents would be battle souvenirs and I was NOT going to get them fixed!
No dents - Rats.

We traversed Lamar Valley toward  the park's northeast entrance at Cooke City, Montana.  Had a scenic and fun picnic on the way:

We backtracked through Lamar Valley and headed north to Mammoth Hot Springs.  We saw elk in "downtown" Mammoth Hot Springs:

Had to get a pic of the North Entrance at Gardiner, MT:

Leaving Gardiner put us back in Mammoth Hot Springs.  We grabbed a bite and drove the looonnnggg 70+ miles back to Grant Village.

Day 3 - Girls Day Out
Robin had finished her work season at the store; I was still on the clock.  That worked out well as it gave Robin and the girls some time to hike and do whatever females do out in the woods sans my protection.  They made it back just fine.  I guess they didn't need my masculine presence.  Hmmmm...

They explored West Thumb Overlook:

Did a Ranger guided walk around the West Thumb Geyser Basin, home of the famous Fishing Cone:

The Fishing Cone is interesting.  Decades ago fishermen were allowed to stand on the cone and fish.  At that time it was an active thermal.  When a fish was snagged they'd turn around and pop into the thermal.  Instant fish sticks!!

I'm sure you're not surprised to hear that is no longer allowed.  Can you imagine the legal battle if someone cooked himself or got sick from the cooking process??!!   Sheesh....

West Thumb Geyser Basin:

That afternoon after I got off work, we all walked around Grand Prismatic Spring.  Shaunna had seen pictures of it and wanted to see it for real.  Unfortunately, the light was not too great.  The colors were not as brilliant as she hoped.  It was pretty chilly that evening too so there was a lot of steam obstructing the views.

Here is a aerial shot I lifted off the Internet.  The gray line on the left is a boardwalk.  That tells you how big the pool is.  You can understand why she wanted to see it:

We did get a nice sunset at the Grand Prismatic Spring basin:

We returned to the motor home in time for dinner and lattes - Doesn't get better than that!

Day 4 - More Girl Time (I'm still working - Rats!)
The next day the ladies did Lonestar geyser and Elephant Back.  They all agreed Lonestar Geyser is more impressive than Old Faithful (which we visited in moonlight on their first night).

Elephant Back trail's 800 foot elevation gain gets the heart going.  The view at the top overlooks Yellowstone Lake and is well worth the hike:

The hike to Lonestar Geyser is beautiful:

Lonestar Geyser is spectacular.  It has a three hour eruption schedule.  An eruption lasts about 45 minutes.  That's amazing compared to Old Faithful which erupts for about 3 minutes.  It erupted within minutes of their arrival.

Some features of the geyser are its remote location and the ability for viewers to get close:

What a great ending to a fun-filled four days!!!

Day 5 - Back to Civilization 
The girls' visit ended way too soon.

We drove Jess and Shaunna to Billings, MT.  They jumped on a plane and flew back to the real world.

"Love you guys - glad you came!!"

The Grant Village General Store Closes For The Season
The park season wound down.  We closed the store on September 24.  That was an interesting day.  It started as usual and moved quickly into organized chaos.

We closed the doors at noon.  By 3 (or 4, can't remember) everything was inventoried, packed and stored for the winter.

I had heard how it worked but I was amazed to participate in the transformation from a working store to a retail skeleton in just a few hours.  The next step was to board up the windows and doors and bid it "Good Night!" for its winter nap.  There is a special crew that does that.

Yellowstone Waves Farewell with a Grand Good-Bye
We packed up and left the park on September 26.  All went well.  Within a mile of leaving the park's east gate, headed toward Cody, WY, a beautiful grizzly ran across the road.  I saw him run across but before I got the motor home stopped and the camera ready he was a ways down the lane.  Looked like someone at the lodge was going to get a surprise!

What a good bye present!!

Yellowstone - We'll Be Back!!
In November we were contacted by Delaware North and offered a position for next summer back at Grant Village.  We readily accepted!!

The fun never stops while we're "Chasin' Our Dreams!!"