Thursday, July 31, 2008

Yellowstone Wednesday (Part 4)

Yep, yesterday was Yellowstone Wednesday. This was our third trip. We cheated just a little bit though. Got off to an early (for us) start at 9:15. We had to stop in West Yellowstone for fuel (just a few gallons, I'll tell you about that later) and were at the park gates before 10:00. Not bad for us. Our mission for the day was to find some moose. One of my "chatter friends", Dee gave me a phone number for a friend of hers who works at Yellowstone named Linda. I called her and she said she really couldn't give us any more info as we have pretty much done everything she would have told us to do. The only other thing was our quest for moose. She said she hasn't seen any moose in Yellowstone for two years. Apparently they have all moved down to Grand Teton National Park. So, that's where we were headed. To get there from where we are you go in the west gate of Yellowstone, drive down through the Geyser Basin to the south entrance and then enter Grand Teton there. There was a ranger at the gate but he was just waving everybody through. I don't know why that was. We stopped at the visitor center because there was nobody to give us a map at the gate. There was a restaurant right next to it so we had a bite to eat. The ranger at the visitor center showed us where to go to see moose and it was the same places that Linda had told us earlier. We drove on down the road and found out we weren't even in the park yet. There's an area of about 10 or 15 miles between the parks that is kinda a "no man's land".

I'm telling you there is no shortage of park guests in these places we've been visiting. People must be vacationing in the U.S. this year instead of travelling abroad. There's a list of campgrounds as you enter either park and almost all of them are listed as FULL. I believe it because everywhere we've been has been pretty crowded. Linda told us the more people there are in the park the less you see animals. They don't like people so they stay up in the hills away from people till they go home. Years ago people used to see a lot more animals because they were allowed to feed them (even bears!) so the animals associated cars with food. Now that you're not allowed to feed any animals (even squirrels) they stay away.

We saw so few animals in Grand Teton. Less than the south loop in Yellowstone. We still had a really nice day as the temps were pretty perfect at 80 and the scenery was absolutely amazing. I'd say "stunning" but people who know me know that I don't talk like that. LOL

Our first glimpse of the Tetons

Another view

And another

These are for you Jenny

We went down to the little town of Jackson, Wyoming to get fuel. We got fuel earlier in the morning but just got about $50 worth because Rod checked online and it was a lot cheaper in Jackson. It wasn't that much cheaper though. I think you probably had to get out of the city to get the cheaper prices. I didn't know Jackson was such a HUGE tourist area. Good grief, it was a Wednesday and this place was PACKED with people. It would have been nice to stop and walk around the town but we weren't about to look for parking. We just needed fuel. Found that and headed back to the park.

Downtown Jackson

The entrance to this city park has an arch made entirely of antlers!

One on each end

We found a place back at Grand Teton to sit and have our sandwiches for dinner and wait for the moose to show up. It was dusk, we were at a place we were told moose show up everyday and we had time to kill. We sat there for an hour waiting for something to show up but nothing ever did. We could hear elk off in the distance but they didn't come either. Jeez, I don't know what we have to do to see animals here. Go to a zoo??

We headed back home after that and still no animals even at night. Got back late again just like the last time we went to Yellowstone. These are making for very long days but they sure are fun. I think our next visit will be back at the Lamar Valley to look for wolves again.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Big Boat Day

YAY!! We took the boat out yesterday! It wasn't as bad as we thought it would be. Yes, it's very heavy but we manhandled it just fine. Rod deflated it and loaded it on the back of the truck without the floor boards by himself. I didn't even know he was doing it. We didn't leave till about 11:30 in the morning. We drove the 1/4 mile to Henry's Lake State Park and the boat wasn't in the water until 1:40. We used our little Honda 2000 generator plugged into our air compressor to inflate it right on the boat launch. I'm glad it was a Monday because the lake wasn't crowded at all. This launch has four lanes but only two were really being used at any one time.

Once on the water we discovered that we didn't exactly fill it as full as we should have. It was bending at the bow every time we hit a little wave. We found a little finger off the lake where the water was really, really calm. In fact there were some people there with knee boards and tubes. Rod ran the motor really slow to break it in. It's supposed to have ten hours on it before you can run it at full speed. I don't think we'll ever run it at full speed. I tell ya, it's was such a relaxing little cruise around the lake.

Do we look relaxed or what??

There were a lot of these white pelicans on the lake but it's really hard to take pictures when the boat is bobbing up and down

We spent three hours on the lake and were exhausted when we got back. Between the sun beating on us and the wind blowing constantly it just zapped our energy. When we got back to the rig Rod decided he was going to make popcorn for dinner. We didn't eat the lunch I packed until about 3:00 so neither one of us was really hungry for dinner.

I got on my computer and one of my chat friends was online. We had tried the other night to get my webcam up and working and couldn't so we were going to try again. This time it worked just fine and I got to "meet" Dee through our webcams. Pretty funny. She and her husband Jim are looking to buy a 5th wheel as soon as they retire so she was asking about our floor plan. I unplugged my computer and walked it around the rig and gave her a tour. It kinda reminded me of the show, The Big Bang Theory when the Indian guy (Raj) had his parents on webcam and they kept telling him to turn the computer around so they could see. LOL I hope you enjoyed your tour, Dee.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Boat Inflated

Last night in the RV chatroom there was some discussion about someones blog (Ellie) featuring a picture of a fellow chatter (Speedy) and his little, uh, run in with a quite large beetle. Apparently he was trying to upstage Ellie's husband Jim who had an encounter with a snake in the grass. Speedy is known for his "slight" exaggerations hence the picture by Ellie. Jenny thought it would be funny for everyone to include his picture in their blogs so here's my entry. Great photo Ellie.

We got the boat out a few days ago to inflate it and put it together. We bought this boat way back in October to take advantage of free shipping. This is the first time we've even had it out of storage compartment underneath. I think we made a HUGE mistake in the size we chose. It's 12'6" and it weighs a TON. I think we're going to have trouble putting it on the truck. It took us about 4 hours total to put it together. Then we had to deflate the bow in order for it to fit under our rig. I think once we get used to it we'll be able to put it together faster. Now the only thing we have to figure out is if we want to completely take it apart to store it or leave it partially put together and figure out HOW we're going to store it. Anybody have a 9 or 10 foot boat they want to trade for a 12 foot one?? Maybe we'll just have to find a U-Haul place and rent a trailer for a day. I also found out by reading the literature that we got with it that it has to be registered. Since we are still residents of Florida it has to be registered there. We're certainly not going back to Florida anytime soon. If we use it without the motor we don't have to register it. Who makes up these rules anyway???

Before inflation

In the process of

Fully inflated

Nice and cozy in storage

We went into the little town of West Yellowstone yesterday to do a little bit of shopping. Rod bought the plywood he needed to make his little box for the motor and completed that project. We also picked up a few groceries we needed. There are two stores in town and both are quite small but do carry the basics. The entire store smelled like fresh baked bread so I asked the cashier if they had a bakery. She said they did and the lady brings it out from the back of the store. Of course I had to buy some. I bought a loaf of roasted garlic french bread. It just sounded really, really yummy. On the way home we saw a deli so we stopped in and bought some salami and provolone cheese to go with our bread. I think I might just save it for the next "Yellowstone Wednesday".

I just got this in an email and HAD to share. Click on the picture to read. It's pretty funny.........

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Yellowstone (Part 3)

Yesterday was Wednesday and you know what that means. That's right, Yellowstone Wednesday!! This time we decided to take the north loop since we did the south loop last time. We got out at 9:30 and were at the park by 10:00 after spending about 10 minutes cleaning the windshield of the truck. There are about 100 little swallows here that make their homes in the eaves of the office/laundry building and deposit their droppings all over the place. I'm serious, we have to constantly clean our picnic table daily, clean the windshield of the truck every time we go somewhere and pretty much can't sit outside or risk being pooped on. Anyway, on to Yellowstone. I finally got a picture of the entrance sign without a crowd of people there.

It's really GREAT that we have a whole month to explore this park. It's soooooo big and I just couldn't imagine only having one day. It makes me think about other places we've visited before going fulltime and only having one day. Imagine all the stuff we missed. It makes me want to go back to Yosemite. I took my kids to the Grand Canyon once and although it was absolutely beautiful I couldn't enjoy it because I was afraid one of the kids would fall off. I know, paranoid.

As I said before, we took the north loop this time. There weren't that many geysers and frankly not a lot of places to stop at. We saw some people pulled over and when we looked we said, "oh, just another geyser" or "it's just more Bison". We got spoiled. I think the elevation was a lot higher too. The roads were kinda scary sometimes as they were quite twisty and not real wide. I had the cliff sides on my side and a lot of times there were no guardrails. YIKES!! I know at one point our elevation was 8800 feet.

Our mission though was Mammoth Hot Springs and the LaMar Valley. I had seen pictures of the terraces at Mammoth Hot Springs and they were stunning. Alas, when we got there the water at the terraces wasn't running. The pictures were from 1977! It looked like a terrace of salt. Apparently it's not like Old Faithful and can't be predicted. Sometimes it could be years before it starts flowing.

The LaMar Valley was the viewing area for the wolves. We had planned to be there at dusk because that's when most of the animals are active. We saw so many more animals on this loop than the south loop. When we pulled off on a road to see a petrified tree there were a TON of cars on this little one lane road. We saw a ranger there and she told us there was a black bear on the hill. We had to go to the end of the road to turn around so we got out the binoculars to see the bear and let me tell you, unless you knew what you were looking at you would have NEVER known there was a bear up there. It was so far away and it was laying down. Somebody told us where to look and then he lifted his head so we knew he was there. Way too far away to take a picture. We forgot all about the petrified tree.

We took a picnic lunch to avoid the crowds in the restaurants but didn't anticipate the crowds in the picnic areas. Oh well, we had our chairs with us so we just found a pullout and had our lunch there. Since we were going to look for wolves at dusk we had to find a place to eat dinner. We chose the Roosevelt Lodge because it was close to where we were headed. The food was not so great and I wouldn't recommend it. We both got the baby back ribs but they were way over cooked and not much flavor. Good thing the barbecue sauce was really good.

We made it to the LaMar Valley but couldn't find any wolves. We did find some pronghorn, some deer and lots more bison. We were sitting on the side of the road watching this buffalo herd when we heard the distinctive howling of wolves. We never did see them but we sure did hear them.

We decided to head home as it was starting to get dark. We really didn't want to drive back in the dark but the day that we had really made it worth it. I put our coordinates in the Garmin to head back but didn't like the way she was sending us. Just as we were preparing to make a U turn to go her way we ran into a mini traffic jam. That usually means a wildlife show. Sure was! We finally saw a bear up close!! He paid no attention to us and continued eating his flowers.

After leaving him we drove further down the road and saw another traffic jam. Sure enough there was a little guy who was scurrying up the hillside. He looked like a pretty young bear. I think he was scared because he was really fast. Too fast for pictures. Further down the road we saw a herd of deer, a herd of elk, several coyotes and Uinta ground squirrels. It was too dark to take anymore pictures. We saw way more animals on this loop than the other one. It was a very good day.

Some more pictures of our day...

Believe it or not this is NOT snow. Kinda looks like a painting, doesn't it?

More of the amazing scenery

Friday, July 18, 2008

Yellowstone (Part 2)

We went to the "big" town of Rexburg today because I checked in the Garmin and there was a Walmart there. It wasn't a Supercenter but that's okay because I don't like shopping there for groceries anyway. When we got there we saw an Albertson's right next door. We were looking for a spatula that I broke, a life jacket for Reilly and some fishing supplies. We found the fishing supplies and the spatula but no life jackets. We found a Big 5 sporting goods store and they had some so we got it there. Then we went shopping for groceries. We needed to get a few weeks worth because Rexburg is about 75 miles away. We decided not to go to the Bear World because we're going to wait until we go back to Yellowstone on Wednesday. Some people have told us there is more wildlife on the northern loop than the southern loop. If we still don't see anything than we'll go back down to Rexford. We need to do a big grocery run before Michele and Todd and the grandkids get here in a few weeks anyway.

We also stopped in at Henry's Lake State Park to check out the boat launch. We were actually looking for the dock since our boat is an inflatable we can just drop it in the water from the dock. They have two docks there on each side of the boat launch so I think it's going to work out just fine. It's only $4 to launch your boat there. We've had the boat for 7 months now and have yet to inflate it. There's nothing to stop us now.

Yellowstone Lake

LeHardy Rapids

Geyser Basin

Boiling Mud

Dragon's Mouth, The steam "roars" like a dragon

Desperately Searching for Wildlife

Elk Making a Hasty Retreat

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Beautiful Meadows and Rivers Everywhere

Tomorrow we'll be going into the town of West Yellowstone looking for the lumber store so Rod can get the wood to make something to put the boat motor in.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Island Park, Idaho

We left our cute little campground on Tuesday morning. We didn't get an early start leaving at about 10:00 but we only had about 90 miles to drive. When we stopped at the Visitor Center when we entered Idaho the lady there told us about a scenic drive that was on our way so that was the plan. The road came off Highway 20 in Ashton (pretty cool name, huh)? Had to get a picture of that. There were a couple of places to pull off and we pulled off A LOT to admire the scenery. We were pulling the rig so we had to have really big pull offs and there were plenty of those. The highlight of the drive was Mesa Falls (upper and lower) but there was plenty to see along the way. It took us 4 hours to drive the 90 miles to Island Park but that's okay. We had reservations so there was no hurry to get there. We are right across the road from Henry's Lake State Park and about 15 miles from West Yellowstone, Montana which is just down the road from the west entrance to Yellowstone Park.

We took a right......

We could see the Tetons from the road.

Lower Mesa Falls

Upper Mesa Falls

We decided when we got here that every Wednesday would be "Yellowstone Day". There is no way that you can see the whole park in one day and we do have a whole month here SOOOOOOO Wednesday we went to Yellowstone. Rod has one of those "old people" cards so we get in free to every National Park in the US. Pretty cool, I think. We took the south loop through the park because it goes to Old Faithful. There are so many places to stop along the way so it actually took us the entire day to do that loop. There are TONS of geysers and pools to stop at along the way and the views, well, what can I say? Absolutely unbelievable. I don't know where all the wildlife was but we didn't see that much. Lots of bison, a few elk and a couple of bald eagles, but that's about it. We did find some kids who were feeding bugs to the trout in the river. They would throw the bug into the river and the trout would actually raise their heads out of the water to eat the bug. There were also a lot of people fishing in the rivers there.

These pools are called Paint Pots

Can you believe the color? Looks like the water in the Caribbean but this water is about 160 degrees.

Just one of the MANY geysers along the south loop

We did finally make it to Old Faithful about 45 minutes before it went off. We got a good seat, a bottle of water and just waited for it to "blow". It was pretty awesome but we had seen so many other geysers along the way that the hype just didn't do it justice. If we had come in the south entrance that would have been the first stop but since we came in the west entrance we had to go through Geyser Basin and it's just really incredible all the geysers that are there along the way.

Old Faithful

Bison doing what they seem to always be doing, eating

Just meandering down the highway

Right on the side of the road

After Old Faithful we went to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and Yellowstone Lake before heading for the exit. I have so many great pictures that I think I'll wait and post again tomorrow so you can see some more of the really fantastic scenery. We'll be doing the north loop next Wednesday so be prepared for more pictures then too.

Today we need to get laundry done and tomorrow we're going to take a long drive down to Idaho Falls which is about 100 miles from here. There's nothing here but small grocery stores so we need a "big" city to stock up on food and Rod needs wood to make something for the boat motor to sit in. We're also going to take a trip to Rexburg where there is this bear and wolf place that you can drive through. It's called Yellowstone Bear World but it's not in the park at all. It should be another busy day.