"When I get to a place
for the first time and know it like home, this is when I know my journey
will be over"
"On the plains of hesitation lie the bleached bones of those who waited, and while waiting, died"......
"He who hesitates is not only
lost, but miles from the next exit"
"Never stop exploring.
If you're not constantly pushing yourself, you're leading a numb
'Forget the Box, Think Outside!'
"Mankind must conserve the
resources of Nature, or the world will at no distant day become as
barren as a sucked orange"
"When you're in a grove of
giant Sequoia, there's no need for someone to remind you that there is
something in this world that is larger than you, because you can see
"We need National Parks to have people - especially our kids - understand what America is.
America's not sidewalks. America's not restaurants.
We need National parks so
people can go there and say 'Ah, this is America.'"
"It is neither wealth nor splendor, but
tranquility and occupation which give happiness."
Cindy's September 2009 Blog
Feel Free to browse past blogs for plenty of travel ideas and many of the places we've been in our first 12 months on the road - 2007 Blog's
Solar Tips, Fact's and Trick's we've learned while on the road
Well-behaved women seldom make history
Tuesday September 1st
Pat worked at the YA Bookstore again today which gave me more time to just do my thing. Most of my day was spent cooking with the few remaining ingredients I had left in the cabinets. I ended up with some apple spice cake and some split pea soup when the day was over.
I forgot that it takes different timing in higher elevations for baking stuff, so when I opened the oven door and went to pull out the cake, it looked a little soft. So like an idiot, I shook the pan and watched the entire cake fall flat. Oh well, it ended up being apple spice bars instead.
I ended my day of down time with some dog grooming and also some Cindy grooming. I had bought some hair color about 5 months ago and just now decided to use it. I found myself asking "What has happened to my hair?"
I used to have thick dirty dishwater blonde hair, as my dad would say. I realize that I now have not so think salt and pepper hair!!!! My brother Ron told me that at 40, his hair just changed, at least I got a few more good years out of it than he did.
I tried plucking the white hairs as I saw them coming in, but then maybe that's why I don't have such think hair anymore. Pat says he can't even see the white hair, I guess that's one of the reasons why I love him so much. He also says I look spectacular without brushing my hair and no make-up, so I'm not really sure if I believe him.
When my father died in his 60's, he still had a full head of dark hair, not as much grey as my 45 year old brother does right now. I guess we must be getting our hair color from our mom. She had hair anywhere from burnt orange to fuchsia all of our lives, so I'm not sure what color her hair really is.
When Pat got home he couldn't tell that I had even put color on my head, so that should tell me something about his ability to notice change. Pat asked me if I wanted to go drive around again tonight but I just hate sitting in the vehicle all day long numerous, days in a row, I think I can feel my butt getting bigger as we sit for soo long.
It seems like whenever we go looking, we never see any wildlife, with the exception of Buffalo, who are always around the park. The rest of the night was spent just hanging out around the camper until we turned in early again.
Wednesday September 2nd
Today was the half a day shift at work, so I volunteered for that one. Pat came to work with me anyway since I don't think he really likes being alone. I on the other hand lavished in the down time and don't listen to the radio or anything when ever I have the chance.
I think all of the years working in busy restaurants and bars and having bands, loud laughter and fun makes me enjoy the quiet solitude. I tried to have Pat put our hammock up while we're here so I could be outside and listen to nature, but the trees are too close together to hang it any place around our campsite.
If Pat has time off to himself he has country music up loud and he sings every word while listening to it.
He can also type and read, heck he can probably even do some memorization skills while multitasking his way through the day.
I have to have complete silence to do my blog and can't even have Pat talk to me or my ADD kicks in and I lose my mind set.
Pat and I finished up our shift even earlier than planned since we worked together to put away the stock that came in today. Our 3pm departure time turned into 1pm and we were ready for some adventure. Some friends had contacted Pat through the website and are staying with us a couple of days for their anniversary spent here in Yellowstone.
Yee Ha, I love company and I love meeting new people even more, too bad I had no groceries since cooking for people is one of my favorite things to do whenever I have the chance. By the time we met up with Ryan and Nanette it was close to 6:30pm and our plans of meeting up with Larry and Michelle for the evening was looking impossible.
We had made these plans because Ryan had called us earlier saying that their trip was going to have to be cancelled do to illness in the family. When we got home from work and Pat had set up the plans to meet Larry and Michelle, we heard from Ryan that they had decided to come on the trip anyway.
Our plans to meet up in Hayden Valley might still work out, we would just have more people along for the ride. The only thing that held us back was the Buffalo Jams. I love when this happens, so many people come into the store complaining about how it took so long to get from point A to point B because of the noisy beasts blocking the road, but this is better than watching a movie for me.
We found a pullout just after the road started to get congested and watched as the herd slowly sauntered by, with the males carrying their noses in the air while the girls strutted their stuff. The noises the males are making right now are just jaw dropping, I can tell just how frustrated they are by the tones and huffs that come from deep in their abdomen.
By the time the herd had passed us the moon was high in the sky at almost it's full potential. The striking deep blue background that lined the sky only highlighted the white clouds that threatened to cover the brightness of the full moon.
I couldn't stop taking pictures of the blended melody in the sky that worked so well with the warmth of the evening. I could hear in the distance the frustrations of the buffalo and thought that this night was the most perfect one that I've been out in since we first arrived in Yellowstone back in June.
As Pat predicted, my shots didn't come out quite the way I thought they would since the perfection of the evening really can't be portrayed well enough through a flat photo but I was still pretty happy with the outcome.
Apparently we had just missed Larry and Michelle, they must have driven right past us on their way through Hayden Valley. Dang, I was hoping for a big pow wow with a group of new friends, but sometimes things just don't fall into place.
Our drive home was dark and scary leaving us wishing for more head light power or some sort of night vision, one or the other. I have always wanted some of those infrared goggles so we could take walks at night and see what we are missing in the night time animal kingdom. On the other hand, that might actually creep me out too bad and I won't want to leave the camper after dark.
Ryan and Nanette pulled in right behind, us set up their home away from home as we all enjoyed a beverage and talked about the evening. Bed time came soon enough since we were getting up early in the morning to get a jump on the animals before they are up and at-em'.
Thursday September 3rd
Our 5:30 alarm clock seemed to come way to soon for my liking. I brewed up some coffee, made some oatmeal for Pat and I and shared some spice cake with Ryan and Nanette. We were meeting a fellow employee named Bill for our excursion around the park today, looking for wildlife.
As I said before, whenever we make plans to see animals before they see us, it never works out. We pulled over in Hayden Valley to see a glimpse of the fog covered, lush grasses which apparently, nothing was ready to eat this early in the day, not even the Buffalo.
We did get to see Larry and Michelle as they were leaving the park to head on to Jackson Hole for the remainder of their trip. I thought it was funny that this park in 22 million acres big and what are the chances of running into someone at 7 in the morning on the side of the road.
We all meandered our way to Roosevelt Lodge to have some breakfast which took forever to come out and also took even longer to get our check.
Nanette's breakfast came out first and the server explained that they had ran out of home fries so she got tater tots?
I at first was disappointed since I was looking forward to home fries, but then after watching the crunchiness of the tots I thought they would be even better. When the rest of our food came out, of course we all had home fries. I finished every last carbohydrate loaded ounce of my biscuits, gravy, home fries and eggs before we all said our goodbyes for the day.
Nanette and Ryan went to play tourist in the park and Bill headed back to Old Faithful area where he and his wife live. Pat and I decided to continue on an incredibly long drive around the Beartooth pass. Pat has been wanting to take this route for a long time and I of course am always along for the ride.
After the full belly and last nights 5 hours of sleep, I was ready for a bit of shut eye before we reached the area of Beartooth Pass, which I have never seen before. I slept as we drove through Cooke City and Pat woke me as we entered the beginning of the pass.
Our first stop was an incredible lake that was so clear we could see the long grasses growing all the way out in the middle of the lake. This was a perfect day since the sky was filled with fluffy clouds, not the dark rainy kind, but the cotton ball kind that just adds to the scenery.
We took a short hike around the lakeside and snapped some photos as my eyes were just starting to open from my half hour nap. What a great way to wake up though.
Pat had given me his camera and lens to look through compared to mine and man, what a difference. His equipment made the lake look long and every bit of the sky and cloud reflection were captured in true color with his gear.
Mine looked flat and no where near the 3D effect that his does with its fullframe sensor. It kind of makes me not even want to take photos when we are side by side, because mine will never look like his does with my older equipment.
Oh well, I better not complain, because then he will want a new something or other for me and I am usually content with what I have.
We continued our trek around this mountain side and the car was filled with ooohs and awws, even the dogs couldn't stop sucking up all of the beauty.
The two of them hung their heads out of the truck for hours on end, fighting the sleep that they both usually fill their days with.
If they did try to lay down, Pat would make noises to keep them up also. Pat does not like for anyone to sleep in the vehicle while he has to stay awake and drive.
Pat and I continued to stop at pretty much every pull off that was offered to us. The views and vistas as far as the eye could see were covered with jagged, granite rock formations, glaciers, glacial lakes and deep green valleys that looked like manicured golf courses from these elevations.
It didn't really matter to either of us that nearly every 10 or so miles we would be stopped by road construction, which made our trip even longer. It gave us a chance to rubber neck without causing any accidents.
The photos we took are nothing like what ours eyes could see and I wish that they would make a camera that could do that because then I would definitely let Pat purchase one of those.
At the bottom of the mountain we ended up in a quaint little town called Red Lodge. This place looks just like it did when it was founded in the late 1800's the only thing different are the cars and the paved streets. We drove around the neighborhoods a time or two, soaking up all the history before we moved on up Highway 308 towards Cody.
We stopped to take some pictures of an old mining town which had a tremendous life taking explosion back in the late 40's. This accident which claimed over 70 lives, pretty much destroyed the bustling town and left it without the human compassion to keep the place pristine as Red Lodge was.
What remained of the mine looked almost in better shape than the actual town did where people still lived. We stopped to take some photos and got stared at through curtain covered windows by the locals wondering what the heck we were doing. We left Bearcreek and headed towards Cody.
This time of the day is usually my nap time, so when we arrived in Cody to do a couple weeks worth of grocery shopping I was not excited like I usually am to spend a few hours in a store. Before I was even out of the first isle, Pat was already telling me to hurry up.
I shewed him away, telling him that I would meet him near the magazine racks when I was done. This always keeps him occupied and he can catch up on all of the truck, car, and outdoor magazines without making any purchases.
When we finally left Cody ,we were both dreading the drive home in the black of night. Pat drove quickly until it was too dark to see 10 feet in front of us which slowed him down to 35 MPH. It seemed to take a lifetime to get back to the camper, but we made it home just after 9pm.
Ryan and Nanette had just gotten back themselves and were setting up their roof top tent to get some shut eye before they took off tomorrow morning for the rest of their trip. Ryan has some surprise plans for Nanette to stay in a nice resort for the rest of their stay and enjoy their anniversary in luxury.
Sounds good guys and I hope you enjoy yourselves.
Friday September 4th
A day of chillin' for the both of us, we were back to us playing Battleship again since we figured out what was wrong with my computer. Warning, if you receive an email that says "I sent you my favorite joke" or "I sent a funny picture of you" Get it out of your line up of emails ASAP.
I never opened either one and it still messed up my computer. I had to delete the address that it was coming in from in order to get my computer back to normal. I will spare you the rest of our boring evening details and save my typing skills for another day.
Monday September 7th
Today was the last big to-do for the park. When I opened the store this morning at 9am until just after 2pm I didn't stop. That was awesome because the day went by so quickly and before I knew it, it was time to close the doors.
This job is such an awesome discovery for both Pat and myself. Although we work by ourselves, we have someone to talk to all the time because so many tourist have questions or want to share their experiences with us.
At no point really am I ever bored or alone and even if on the slight chance that I have a few spare minutes, I have tons of books to read and learn about the park, its geology, who helped create it and how many struggles it has had with Mother Nature to keep itself going.
Today I had a special treat that made my day. As I was walking from the counter back to the storage center, I was greeted by a smiling customer that said "Hello Cindy, how are you?" I said the usual greetings back and then looked down realizing that I didn't have my name tag on.
This struck me as strange, but thought maybe they saw my name somewhere or heard it some how. The thing was her endearing smile made it seem as though she knew me. I saw her shopping with her husband afterward and didn't think anything else about it.
When the crowd finally cleared a bit, Mary came up and introduced herself along with her husband, and explained that they had been following our website since we were in Baja Mexico. That is a long time to read about us two goofballs traipsing across this country.
She explained that they had just missed us when we were staying in a campground in La Paz and had recently sent me an email. Once she said that, I remembered her email right away and was delighted that we would get a chance to meet face to face.
We spoke for a few minutes, but I was so busy that day, they said they would come back later when it wasn't so hectic. My day was winding up and Chet popped his head into the bookstore to make sure it wasn't so crazy then proceeded to come in and chat for a while.
He had explained that he needed an internet connection in order to complete a few things on his computer but couldn't seem to find one. I offered him our computer or connection which ever one would help and then offered them to stay in our campground if it was possible.
Pat checked on the campsite for me, so I called them and left a message that we had a spot open if they would like to stay with us. Our plan was for them to stay in their current site and contact each other tomorrow to iron things out.
Great!! This is exactly what traveling is all about and if it weren't for this website we would be cheated out of so many opportunities to meet and enjoy new people.
I wrapped up the day, came home for some love from my pups and my husband followed by dinner and bed time. Life is good!
Tuesday September 8th
Pat woke up this morning and made coffee, breakfast and also a bag lunch for me to take to work. Wow, I feel special, he even brought me coffee in bed so he could warm up the camper before I got up. If this is what it's like to be a working woman, sign me up.
I got to work early and stood outside for a few minutes just listening to the Elk call for their mates as I took in the reflection of the morning light off of the lake that is directly in front of our cabin in the woods.
It only took me 2 tries to open the safe this morning which is a huge improvement from the 5 it took yesterday. This morning was completely different than the day before with the park being extremely quiet after the holiday weekend.
I had a few couples come in just before 10am and that was the first people of the day. At around 10:30 I heard someone ask me "Hey look at that magnet, it looks so real, Is it real, I think it's breathing?" This is the strangest question yet and I was curious to see what they were talking about.
I walked around the corner and hanging on a curve in the old stove pipe of the wood burner, was a bat, sleeping the daylight away. This is when I could kick myself for not having a camera with me, but you will just have to take my word for it. I waited for a Park Ranger to come around and asked what to do with the thing and she called the police to send a man out to remove the little bat.
Just after 1pm someone showed up with a net and took the little guy outside so it could sleep in the wilderness or find it's real home away from the visitors to the bookstore. I thought the funny thing was that not another person noticed him sleeping on the piping. It was at eye level or below and some people may have even brushed against it, it was so close.
I figured if no one saw him, that would be much better for his sleeping comfort until the net guy could arrive. That pretty much sums up the excitement for the day because this was the slowest day ever. My sales were half as much as yesterday, but I did learn alot from all my reading of the guide books.
I had a fellow come in during the day telling me that he was going to save the park this morning as he rushed for the nearest fire station only to realize that what he saw wasn't a fire at all, but steam coming up from the earth. Another person asked me why all the white stuff was coming out of the ground almost like steam and wondered if it was warm water? Come on people, where do you come up with these questions?
Just before closing the store, a guy came in and kept asking me where the lake was and how did he get to the West Thumb Geyser Basin.
After showing him on the map at least 6 times, I pulled him to the window and showed him the water. This still did not convince him that he was in West Thumb and he was looking at the Yellowstone Lake.
I finally had to poke fun at him and let him know that I thought I had the worst sense of direction in the world but I think he had just topped me.
After a few minutes, it was like a light bulb went on and he realized where he was, explaining his confusion was due to the wrong color blue on the map to portray it as water.
Right as I was closing up, a young couple came in and introduced themselves and their daughter and explained that they had seen the truck in the parking lot and just wanted to say "Hello". I guess they have been following our website too! Dang this is a small world and I feel very fortunate to be in the place I am right now.
When I got home from work, Chet and Mary had set up camp in our employee campground and we got together over a few drinks and a whole lot of snacks to tell stories of our travels. They have been full timing since 05 and have traveled in an RV for even longer.
The couple that we ended up spending time with in Mexico, Noel and Jackie, were also friends of Chet and Mary's, so we had plenty of stories to share. We all laughed really hard and I actually thought we were going to get in trouble for being the night owls in the park.
After four hours, which seemed like two, we said our goodnights and will reunite again in the morning. I am so glad that they dropped by to meet us, they are a great deal of fun and we all have the same mind set on our chosen lifestyles.
I went to sleep tonight counting my blessings, saying prayers for those less fortunate than us and giving thanks for the world we live in. It just doesn't get much better than this.
Wednesday September 9th
By the time we got up and about this morning, it was close to 11am. Chet and Mary are our neighbors now so I walked across the way to see how they were doing and if they had plans for the afternoon.
Their schedule was open so I suggested we take the 1/2 mile walk around the West Thumb Geyser Basin to get a feel for the place and what this area has to offer. Pat and I both tried to play tour guide to the best of our abilities and since we should know more about this area than any other, I think we did ok.
This really is a beautiful part of the park and I had almost forgotten that fact. We haven't been around the boardwalk since the first time we were here over a year ago. The walk is short and there are many different features to see such as the Abyss Pool, the Black Pool and also the Fishing Hole Geyser.
Rumor has it that before we knew what was good and what was bad for the people and the park, fisherman who caught trout in the lake would then drop their catch into the Fishing Hole Geyser to cook. The water temperature ranges from 110-190 degrees, so they would have their lunch cooked for them right their on the bank of the lake, boiled trout via Mother Nature.
That is no longer allowed but I thought it was pretty neat story. West Thumb is pretty stinky due to the sulphur that is emerging from the Earth, but the beauty of the lake and the bold contrasts of the minerals that are seeping up from the hotter, harsher part of the Earth, make holding your nose during the walk soo worth it.
We finished West Thumb Geyser Basin fairly quickly and wanted to go see the famous Old Faithful Geyser as well as the Old Faithful Inn since that area is so pretty and has so much history. Chet drove so we could all ride together and our ride was pretty uneventful, not traffic, but no Elk or Buffalo Jams to speak of.
Once we got there we went straight to the center of the Old Faithful Inn. Each and every time that I come here, I am still amazed by the craftsmanship that was involved in this spectacular place.
We all walked around, until we had a crook in our necks from staring at the woodwork on the ceiling. Chet bought us each a four dollar cup of coffee and we sat out on the deck in the Old Faithful Lodge for a half hour or so just talking and taking in the surrounding landscape.
As it reached closer to the time for Old Faithful to blow, we walked down to the boardwalk that surrounds the world famous geyser. It amazes me every time I see the pressure that has built up under the earth blow only to blow off this much steam. Sort of scary if I think about it.
Earthquakes, explosions from the earth, bubbling mud pots seeping toxic gasses that have killed many animals. Here we are, us humans spending millions of dollars a year to be close to these treacherous things. It makes perfect sense right?
After our afternoon of sight seeing, of course it was time for lunch, my suggestion, so we went to the General Store that Pat and I used to work at. I always wanted to try their buffalo chicken sandwich and fries, with a bun. We all enjoyed our meals and by this point it was creeping close to 5pm and with a full belly and a few short hikes, I was ready for a nap.
We piled into Chet's car and headed for home before so he wouldn't have to drive in the dark. Although it is only 21 miles from our campground to Old Faithful, you never know what we might run into, literally.
Pat and I got home and attempted to watch one of the movies that we sell in the Yellowstone Association book store. They don't mind if we bring the Demo's home so that we can give people our opinion on the DVD's when the customers ask.
After about 15 minutes into the thing, we were both falling asleep. Looks like another early night for the Bonish's.
Thursday September 10th
It is so nice when we have friends that are on the same schedule that we are. When I went over to Chet and Mary's today around 11am, they were just getting up and going just as we were. Usually when people come to see us they are on vacation and have a tight time frame so they can fit as much into their trip as possible in as short a period of time, however, since Chet and Mary also full time in their RV, they can pretty much take as much time as they would like.
We suggested that we go to Mammoth this afternoon since neither Pat nor I have taken the hike around the Mammoth sulphur hot springs which is maybe the second most visited spot in the park. We thought they might like to see the first houses that were built for the Army when Yellowstone became a National Park.
There were many log cabins and such built before these housing units were erected however, these were the official homes for the now documented Park Rangers.
Before we arrived in Mammoth we stopped at Artist Point since Chet and Mary have never seen the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. We almost passed it thinking that we should not stop in order to be back before dark, but what is a trip to Yellowstone without witnessing the Upper and Lower Falls on the Yellowstone River. We then drove across the canyon in order to stand on the overlook right where the falls went off into oblivion.
I didn't see how any fish could withstand the fall over this massive amount of water dropping over the deep groove carved into the earth. The pressure of the rapidly flowing water just before it gets to the falls has to be enough to kill any normal human on the way down.
I remember buying fish from the fish store when I was little and being so gentle with the plastic bag full of fish, as not to hurt the poor things. Little did I know they can withstand much more than we could ever think about in the water. Have you ever been to a fish exhibit that says do no tap on glass?
How is that so much different than fish banging their head on a massive piece of granite before they drop 300 feet into ice cold, turbulent water. I think I would choose the tapping, thank you.
We drove separate this afternoon since I knew we would be gone all day. I try to bring the pups on our days off so they aren't as bored just sitting around the camper all day. Chet and Mary followed us to Mammoth and the first thing we saw was a pretty big herd of Elk.
One big bull and at least 25 women for him to fornicate with. Pour guy, I can't even imagine having that responsibility! Apparently the female only has one hour a week which she can breed, so the bull will walk around the females all day with his tongue stuck out, trying to pick-up the scent of the active breeder.
This makes for some fun photo's when the male, who's scent glands are on the roof of his mouth, is circling the women, drooling, grunting and sticking his tongue out as he tries to find his princess of the hour.
This big bull apparently is a shoe in for some lovin when he sprays scent all over himself with his own urine, I guess it is a cologne that the women elk could just die for. This has to be one of the strangest exhibits of male-hood that I have ever seen. I won't go into it right now, I just hope at some time in your life you too can witness this.
After we watched the group for a while we decided to have lunch at the Mammoth Dining room. (Great lead way into lunch?)
Mary has celiac disorder, which is an intolerance to gluten. She said she is sick of asking for everything without a a bun and wanted a stick to your ribs meal so that is what we got. I really enjoyed my eggplant Parmesan and this was actually the first good meal I have had in a restaurant in a long time.
I hope that everyone else felt the same which I'm assuming they did, since all of our plates were empty. Chet insisted on picking up the lunch tab and we didn't argue when he gave us the "You better not think about it" look.
After lunch we took a short walk around the boardwalk which lead us to the Mammoth formations on the hill. Apparently during the spring all of these formations are covered with the spring run off and they are supposed to be real pretty. At this point they look sort of Halloween scary and I can find a few ghosts hiding in the hillside.
Chet and Mary wanted to get back to the campground so they didn't have to drive in the dark, but since we had never been to this part of the park, we wanted to take the walk around the formations before we left.
As Pat and I were making the loop, we noticed another herd of Elk coming down from the hillside right across from us. The big male kept bugling and every time he did, the one across the parking lot would bugle right back.
These two were both so filled with testosterone, I cant believe they didn't go fight each other. These males make such fools out of themselves as they walk around puffing there chest, groaning and grunting. It is just like a high school football game and both captains are fighting for the lead cheerleader.
We stood and watched the elk near the hot springs for about an hour when I noticed a great big Jack Rabbit sitting just in front of us grooming itself. I could have taken a million pictures of this thing it was so darn cute. Its eyes weren't like normal rabbit eyes.
Instead of being a one color round eye ball, this thing had a yellow, greenish iris and a black pupil. I've never seen a rabbit this big, this close us. It kept biting it's nails and spreading it's big webbed feet to clean in between it's toes.
Pat and I finally tired of this group of animals and decided to check back on the ones in town. We drove a short distance (1/4 mile) to the parking area so we could get a little closer to the group that was still in front of the Mammoth Hot Springs Inn. This bull was acting the same as the one we just left on the hillside.
It would raise it's nose up and lift it into the air as we could see it's stomach muscles expand and contract, it would then bugle as loud as it could while it's stomach would go in and out, almost like a set of bagpipes were being played. The bull would then rub it's 6x6 antlers into the dirt in front of it as it urinated all over it's face, neck and head!
This thing looked like he had one of those oscillating sprinkler heads attached to it's stomach. I was amazed at how much urine came out, over and over again. I know I have talked alot about this subject but if you've ever seen this happen, you know just how fascinating it is. If you haven't seen it happen, you probably think I'm nuts and a bit sick in the head, but hey it is nature and I'm just reporting what I saw.
Nightfall was setting in and we both kept saying "Lets go" but neither of us could walk away from the group of elk. When it was so dark we could barely see the animals that were 50' in front of us, forget taking any pictures by this point, we had just been watching them for the past half hour, I finally said "Ok, we have to go, it will be pitch black on our ride home if we don't leave now."
Unfortunately, I was already too late because it was so dark on our ride home we were both scared to drive.
We rounded one corner and I yelled "Animal in the Road!" which ended up being a red fox which darted off to the side of the road. A few miles later, without any warning, we rounded a curve and in the center of the road were 3 huge bison. Pat slammed on the brakes and barley stopped in time to miss the stubborn road blocks.
As we sat in the middle of the road having a stare down with the lead bison, we could see headlights start to come around the turn and Pat started flashing his high beams on and off to try and alert the oncoming driver there was an accident waiting to happen.
Luckily they must have realized what was happening because they came around the corner pretty slow and came to a stop once they realized the bison were walking up the middle of the road.
When we got home at 9:30, I was a nervous wreck. I sat down with a glass of red wine and mellowed out while Pat worked on the computer for a while.
We have got to either get some more lights or be smart enough to stop driving at night. I think we better get more lights, because neither of us ever claimed to be that smart.
Right now with the evening approaching so early, and the animals being active closer to dusk, its just inevitable that we're going to be out more in the dark because of our love for photography. So it looks like Pat's new task is to find us some bright lights.
Friday September 11th
We said our goodbyes to Mary and Chet as they were going back to Old Faithful today to take the 2 mile hike around the geyser field. We had been planning to go into Montana ever since our friends from Utah, Ryan and Nannette had posted some photos from there, after they left Yellowstone.
We got on the road with our bags packed by around noon, knowing that we would be spending the night. Our drive out to Virginia City and Nevada City was about 100 miles one way and who knows how long it will take us the way we drive. Instead of driving back late at night again tonight, we brought the dogs and the four of us are going camping.
About a half hour on the road we saw a bull Elk and his harem taking a soak in the Madison River and we had to pull over to get a closer look. This guy wasn't nearly as boisterous as the ones we met in Mammoth but he sure was big. He had a six point rack and about a dozen women to follow around and keep in line.
This late in the season, the bulls are such a strong looking animals with huge muscles protruding all over their bodies. The difference in these animals from when we first got here in June to now is incredible. They must have put on a couple hundred pounds of muscle and fat.
We took a few photos and watched as this buck went about the ritual of spraying himself with his own urine, right in the face, as he strutted around his group of women, looking for the right one.
I'm guessing this is a normal part of The Rut, so I had better get used to it since this is what we wanted to come back here for....but....Yuck!
We got back in the truck and began our trek out of the park through Quake Lake, then Ennis and ended up in Virginia City. We walked around this quiet little town and found that most everything was closed already since it was past 5 by the time we got here.
That didn't matter much because there was still plenty of interesting things that lined the streets and found their way in front of our camera lenses, even if we had to peek in the old wavy glass and crooked shutters covering the windows.
We ended up in the Bail of Hay Saloon and had a cold beverage while we chatted with the bar keep about the area. He informed us that the building we were in was a replica, due to loss to a fire back in the 1970's.
Our next stop was the Pioneer Bar where we had a few beverages with a frozen Tombstone pizza. We have visited so many saloons in the west where the bars serve up a frozen Tombstone or DiGiorno pizza, fresh out of the box.
We figured why not, it was only 7 bucks and that's basically what it costs us in the store anyway. This way I don't have to heat up the camper to cook it and there is no mess on my part to clean it up.
After our frozen pizza dinner we were both ready to find a spot to lay our heads. Pat suggested a hotel before we had left the camper, but I made sure that we had the sleeping bags and a tent with us just in case.
I told him that if the hotel cost over $30 a night, we weren't going to sleep in a bed. He always laughs at how cheap I am, but I don't care, I refuse to waste money on things I dont feel are needed. We stopped at one place and they had nothing available.
We stopped at the Inn in Nevada City and they had only one cabin that they would allow pets and it was $110. This was way too steep for my cheap ass, so we went to look for a place to camp for free.
What Pat didn't know is that I already had it all planned out to sleep in the truck atop the storage box where the dogs lay while we are driving. I brought a sheet so I could cover up the area and not have to sleep with dog hair and also packed us each a pillow, brought us an extra comforter to lay beneath us so the thing wasn't so hard and we could use our sleeping bags we keep in the bed of the truck for blankets.
The dogs went into the front seat with there dog beds and we slept in the back. The only problem was when we pulled up to our nights camping spot (some park along the side of the road) it was only 8:30pm and not even dark yet. What the heck would we do until we fell asleep?
While Pat took the dogs for a walk, I got the bed all made up and put my PJ's on and said, "Let's give it a try and if we can't sleep we will figure something out when that time comes."
To our surprise, we were out in minutes of putting our heads on the pillow, I'm guessing it was just after 9pm.
Saturday September 12th
When we finally woke for real this morning, it was close to 7:30am. Not bad for sleeping on a board, covered by carpet in the back seat of the truck. We were visited once or twice by Luca so he could come snuggle. When I say "For Real" I mean that we did wake up several times during the night.
That was ok though since we had the perfect view of the star covered sky which engulfed us in a soft glow. We would wake up every now and then and just cuddle, not because we wanted to or were trying to be romantic, but because we had no choice. The board we slept on was maybe 30 inches wide and that is a far cry from the queen size bed that we fight over now.
I woke up at one point and star gazed for a few minutes and I turned over to fall back asleep but noticed Pat was awake and just kept looking out the window. I said in a sleepy haze, "What are you looking at?"
I was expecting a nice romantic reply with something about how great it was to be camping and snuggling with his beautiful wife, but Pat responded with, "Just wondering why that weird looking guy is sitting at our picnic table with an axe in the middle of the night."
How can someone do that to me? He is sick and demented! When I yelled "Don't even start that, I want to get some sleep!" He just laughed and thought it was sooo funny.
We woke up to a chilly morning and had some breakfast that I had packed in our 6pack sized cooler. We let the dogs run free for a half hour, brushed our teeth and started our day before the sun even started to creep over the surrounding mountain sides. I was pretty pleased with our sleeping conditions all-in-all. The best part was that it was free, which is very easy on our wallet.
I guess these sleepy ghost towns don't rise and shine as early as we do because when we walked up to the Nevada City entrance around 7am, no one was there.
We went in anyway and walked through neighborhoods filled with barns, homes, storage sheds, outhouses, a small one room prison and a barbershop that looked like we had woken up in the 1800's.
When the place open's up, we will be able to enter most of the buildings as they are furnished just as they would have been in the mid 1800's.
The light was just right this time of the morning so we spent an hour or so just looking and finding things to shoot while we wasted time waiting for something to open so we could get some coffee to warm us up.
The one thing we both missed this morning was our morning pick-me-up, so Pat and I agreed to drive the mile and a half back up the road to the town of Virginia City and round up some coffee so we could get a little energy for the rest of the day. We found a cafe that was open and when we went in, we found that it is also an antique shop.
The menu was easy, eggs any kind, bacon or ham and toast, white or wheat. Although we had just eaten a couple hours ago, Pat ordered food because he thought it rude to just have coffee. I explained to him that people do it all the time and if he was going to become a coffee drinker, he needed to know the ways of the coffee consumer.
Our waitress gave us a bit of information on the town and made us anxious to get back out there after our 5th cup of java. Virginia City is an old mining town that used to have thousands of people that lived here during the gold rush. Like most mining towns after the gold left, so did the people.
What is left are the homes and the history of who lived there, how long they stayed and when they left. Pat and I love this sort of stuff, so we knew this would be a great get-a-way for us. Most of the buildings on the Main Street are original and if not original, they are exact replicas of what was there before.
Nevada City is totally different when it comes to the originality of the buildings. Most of the places in Nevada City have been moved there to preserve history by a gentleman named Charles Bovey.
His family owned General Mills, so he when he came to Nevada City with his wife in the 1940's, they had a pretty big pocket to finance the regeneration of history with.
Both he and his wife had a passion for making what was old more of an educational product instead of tearing it down and starting new.
In 1944, they joined with others to form the Historic Landmark Society and made a life of preserving what others would normally tear down in order to rebuild.
They house the largest collection of Merry-Go-Round organs anywhere is the US. Some of them can still be played by putting money in to hear them roar. Ompp Pa Pa Ommpp Pa Pa seemed to be the theme song back then. What an awesome piece of history.
They began their project of Nevada City in the late 40's and took care of rebuilt ghost town until they passed away in the 70's. In 1997, the son of Charles Bovey, Ford, sold the property to the state of Montana to keep the preservation alive.
We happened to be visiting on a weekend when people were placed in different homes and businesses to reenact the times of 1860's with clothes, works, and such to give a better view of life in those pioneering days of the wild west.
We spent hours in the Ghost Town after our second trip to the city today. We talked with the people who "lived" in the town and found out what part this area played in the history of the West. My favorite part was the China Town area which displayed goods from that era which would be sold.
We walked around for so long that I worked up and appetite and headed back to the truck to fix us some lunch while Pat continued his conversations with the locals.
By the time I had our lunch plated up, Pat came out and we both talked about how worth the trip and even the sleeping arrangements were for such a cool place.
By this point it was just after four in the afternoon so we headed home as not to be driving in the dark again, which we always do we even when we have the best intentions not to.
On our way back in the park, even though we both said we had enough images of the elk in the Madison River, when we passed through that area, I made Pat stop again.
This bull is so big, and the afternoon light was perfect on him and his ladies in the water. We both got out with cameras in hand and sat along the banks of the river to watch them go about their afternoon courtships.
I wish that you could see all of the details of this Elk as I can before shrinking. He is being swarmed by tons of bugs all over his head and in the big photo I can actually see the hair on his legs move under the water. It is so hard for me to always make our photos small enough to fit in our blogs. Alot of the best details are lost that way.
It was a perfect way to end our weekend, and I couldn't think of a better way to come back into the park.
Sunday September 13th
I Played catch-up all day today with the web site, my photos from our last two days, laundry, which included all the sheets, pillows and blankets, the dishes and some dinner for the two of us.
Pat went into work today and I guess I stayed home to work.
We had an awesome dinner and relaxed for the rest of the night.
Monday September 14th
I don't want to be boring and redundant but just filling you in. Pat went into work today and I stayed home to work!
We had an awesome dinner and relaxed for the rest of the night.
Tuesday September 15th
Alas, Groundhog day is over! Early riser that I am, I started the day off about 5am with some coffee and some computer time before I head on in to the West Thumb. I get the pleasure of the bookstore today which is a nice place to start the week off in.
Pat works today too, but he will be taking the motorcycle into the Fishing Bridge store, he is such a worldly traveler. I have made the conscious decision to turn off the spell check on my computer. As I'm looking back at the 5 paragraphs I just wrote, I misspelled at least 8 words so far.
One thing my father instilled in me before he passed away was that spelling well is a sign of intelligence. He is turning in his grave right now! It's the new technologies that allow us to not spell correctly or not remember phone numbers or pass codes or anything that used to be a function in everyday life.
I can remember my street number from the house that I grew up in until I was 8 years old and also our first telephone number, but ask me to give you a number that I have used daily in the last 5 years and I draw a blank. Have I filled up that brain space that I quit using with some great technologies that will help me survive in this world? Unfortunately the answer to that is a big resounding, NO.
Unless I count the right click button as a skill, but I guess if that were true I would be a millionaire right now. Anyway, if I have some misspelled words in here, you will know why, because I am making an effort to reissue the grey matter in the brain for the right to relearn things that have died away.
When we first got on the road my biggest time passer was crosswords. Man, did I know how to spell some words then. Many of those words I had no idea the meaning of, but I sure could spell them if they were used often enough in my puzzles.
Am I going back in time if I refuse to use these helpful gifts that the technology Gods have given us? No, I think maybe when my spelling gets cleaned up, I might even start to memorize some of those important phone numbers stored in my phones memory.
Enough about that, and on to the exciting day at the book store. Actually no highlights this afternoon, just something that I would like to share with anyone that might be visiting West Thumb Geyser Basin. If you could, will you please come into the bookstore before you take the beautiful half mile walk around the geyser basin.
The reason why is because when someone comes in after the incredible journey through a field of gleaming pools with deep green, cobalt blue and tropical blue waters, iridescent copper tentacles that stretch to the cool clear waters of Lake Yellowstone with grey moonscapes of acidic soil keeping the earth from blooming, well they stink.
They smell bad and it sticks with them for a while too. The aroma of rotten boiled eggs is almost like a green cloud that follows them into the store. I guess I should be used to it by now and nor would I ever tell anyone that they are odoriferous, just a heads up if you swing by West Thumb.
Also, when visiting this area, we have maps that explain what all the geysers, springs and pools are by name and location. I get about 50 people a day that come in AFTER they've walked the boardwalk only to find the guidebook and say outloud "Oh man, if I had only had this before I spent the last half hour walking the basin."
Just trying to help you enjoy your vacation more!
Wednesday September 16th
Woke up even earlier this morning at about 4:30am? Dang I love being a woman (a hister sister) going through her 40's! Leg cramps and dancing feet when when I lay down, night sweats to keep me turning throughout the night hours, and waking up before any human should have to get their day started, life is just grand.
This morning was an exception to the usual feeling of being cheated out of about 4 hours sleep. I sat there drinking my morning java when I heard the bugle boys outside serenading their women. I opened the door to the brisk 40 something degree temperatures so I could share their morning excitement when I heard a "Who Who Who Who" from the tree above me.
Granted it was still basically pitch black outside, so I really couldn't see the noisy owl but I sure could hear him. The longer I sat there listening, the better I could hear it, the morning dew was chilling to my bare feet and I knew I shouldn't be out here in a pink fluffy house coat but, "who who who who's" going to see me.
I shared my coffee with the morning sounds until I couldn't take it anymore and I had to wake Pat up so he could listen with me too. His interest level to get out of bed and sit outside in the almost freezing temperatures with me was not very high, so I let him fall back asleep.
I finally came in after I had pin-pointed his location and got a glimpse of the Great Gray Owl that had come to share the crisp fall morning with me, what a treat. The rest of my work day was lame in comparison to my morning treat but it went by quickly with plenty of things to keep me busy.
By the time 8:30 rolled around, my day was finished, Pat was fed, dogs were walked and fed and it was time to hang up my wife hat and put my menopausal sleep cap back on.
After reading until 11pm I turned in, hoping for the sleep fairy to really put a spell on me or I will start getting a little wacky without the proper amount of shut eye.
Thursday September 17th
Another early morning for me, this time waking up at around 3:30am and waking Pat up around 4:00. I told Pat that we needed to get our life back in order as soon as we leave Yellowstone. I tried not to say what I was really thinking but you know how couples are.
Pat: "What's wrong, why aren't you sleeping lately?"
Cindy: "I just have some things on my mind that we don't need to get into."
Pat: "Tell me, we need to talk this through because I can tell that things are bothering you."
Cindy: "It will pass and there is really nothing you can do anyway."
Pat: "I want you to be able to tell me what's bothering you, that's why we are married."
Cindy: "Ok, I hate never having money, I feel like you should be the provider for the family, I keep up my end of the deal by cooking you 3 meals a day, cleaning the house, doing laundry and taking care of the dogs. Your end is slacking, we need an income and not one that just pays for our fuel.
I'm tired of not being able to go out to eat and never having the money to buy anything extra. When we got married you said we worked together, my part was home maker, you were the provider. I need you to provide for me or take me some place that I can get a job myself.
I'm sick of never celebrating birthdays, anniversary's or Christmas because we can't afford to buy anyone presents. I want to be romanced and taken on a nice evening of dinner and dancing or just a bottle of wine by the fire like we used to. I'm tired of always working on the computer and never going anywhere without the cameras.
Our life has become one huge non-paying job and I want more! I need friends and a social life, I don't want to buy clothes from Wal-Mart. WAH WAH WAH WAH WAH!" I think I went on for about 10 more minutes before I got out of bed telling Pat that I wanted the romantic, gift giving, thoughtful man that I married 12 years ago.
Well, needless to say our conversation escalated and I ended up cleaning the refrigerator and slamming every cabinet door that I could in the place until Pat got out of bed also. We bickered back and forth until all that we could say was said, we then shared silence.
Pat then asked me if I wanted to go with him before sunrise to take some pictures at West Thumb as soon as he got off the computer. I of course said yes and our normal day began. The cat is out of the bag and my feelings will just have to work themselves out.
We waited just a tad too long to get the orange light of sunrise I was after, so the photos we took weren't spectacular, but it got us out of the house and into another mind set. It had to be around 35° this morning and both of us were under dressed.
As we walked around the wooden board walk, Pat and I were noticing that this thing needs so much repair. Between the nails sticking out to catch your shoes on or tear your pant legs and boards rotting or just falling off, I think we found our next volunteer job.
We got back to the truck with the intentions of finding the Elk that we had heard bugling near the camper all morning long. This only took around a mile until we almost ran into one of the males on the road. This is the smallest male that I have seen since we've been here at only a 5X5 rack!
I gave Pat my camera and he went to take photos while I sat in the truck and listened to their music.
Up on the hill was another, larger male that was competing in the loudest call contest.
We watched for a while before the bull walked past the truck and boy did that thing ever stink!
I guess he has done the old urine perfume thing like the other males had done since his odor was very powerful. He stopped traffic as he walked across the road like he owned the world and went on his merry way.
We got back to the camper and I made us something to eat and some coffee while Pat worked on the computer as we were waiting for our friend Jana to get here. Jana is the person that had sent us an email from Spearfish, South Dakota offering us a place to stay during the Sturgis Bike Week.
She has gotten some time off from work and has made her way across the West to Yellowstone for a couple of days. Jana is used to tent camping and brought her set-up to stay in our yard.
When she arrived, she set up her tent so we wouldn't have to be setting it up in the dark, then we all piled in her vehicle to hike the Natural Bridge trail.
This isn't the most fantastic trail or anything, we were just hoping to maybe get a glimpse of the owl that I had taken a photo of the last time we were there.
The bridge itself is really hard to photograph since the light at sunset is very harsh in the archway.
The hike was short and we had a chance to catch up on stuff as well as decide on our plans for the following day.
When we got home, the stars were so bright during our dog walk that Pat and Jana decided to do some photos which turned out really cool.
I turned in early and fell asleep reading, knowing that our plan for the morning was a 4am start to a very long day.
Friday September 18th
Rise and shine! The alarm clock had nothing on me since my frustrated mind had me up just after 3am. I packed us a lunch and some extra food just in case we got stranded or one of us were injured and had to spend alot more time than we wanted to in bear country.
Jana said she had never been to the Bechler area and wanted to do a hike there to look for bear and moose. She and Pat looked over the map of the area and found Union Falls, which to my understanding was 5.7 miles one way on some pretty rough terrain, which I was up for since I have been doing my leg workouts daily.
We drove our truck this time since Pat hates being a passenger. With Jana riding in the passenger seat, I would also get some extra time to sleep in my comfortable bed which I had made in the back.
I covered the area with our thickest sheet and brought my favorite pillow and a nice throw.
Pat and Jana kept each other company while I got another hour of sleep on the way there. I was finally awakened by the jarring of my frame on a very bumpy, pot hole filled road.
A few minutes later, we had arrived at our destination, the middle of nowhere.
We started down this really pretty trail that looked more like a game trail than anything else, which ran along the shore line of the river. This trail brought us the first signs of fall we have seen this season. Where we are in camped in Yellowstone, we basically have one kind of tree, pine. This leaves not much of a fall color change since the pine and spruce will stay green all year round.
I had no idea that the foliage was starting to change in other areas already even though it is the middle of September. All of us couldn't get enough of the tumbling waters across large boulders and rocks. The shore line was alive with incredible oranges, reds and yellows highlighted with the whites and pale grays of the downed trees.
The rushing water left a heavy layer of steam in the air as it trailed down the river bends. This was the perfect time to get great photos which got the trip off to a great start.
As we moved ahead down the trail, not too long into the hike, it seemed as though the trail came to an abrupt stop.
We all looked at the map and decided that this was where we needed to cross the river. It seemed as though this river ford had come up on us pretty quickly, but we just continued on our way hoping that this was the right way.
When we reached the other side, there was no trail to continue on. At this point my suggestion was to back track since we had gone less than a mile and obviously we were going the wrong way. Pat and Jana insisted that we were on the right track and I just needed to enjoy the adventure.
After a half hour of post holing through downed trees, which I was sure would snap my ankle at any moment, I insisted on rethinking our trail. Jana agreed with me at this point since we were now heading away from the river and up a mountainside in the wrong direction, according to her compass.
Jana and I found a log to sit down on and mapped our coordinates according to her hand held Garmin GPS. We figured out our location and we were correct about heading in the wrong direction, when we looked up to tell Pat, he was gone.
Jana and I both looked at each other and said "Why would he do that?" We had just found some fresh bear scat, he had the bear spray and we had the compass, now one of us or both of us could be in trouble.
We started hiking in the direction that we thought he went in as I whistled loudly hoping for a response. I got numerous responses from three different birds which had decided to follow us, mocking my whistle every time I would send another one in Pats direction, but nothing from Pat.
We hiked around aimlessly waiting to see or hear a sign from Pat as we both talked about what a silly thing this was for him to do. When we finally did catch up to Pat, he was jumping around on the downed trees like Peter Pan. Jana and I just don't have the balance that his nimble body does, so his trail was worse than walking through fire for us.
As Peter jumped around the logs he commented that we were soo slow and asked if we had clown shoes on since our feet were getting stuck between the logs. He is so lucky that Jana was there or I would have caught Peter Pan and given him the Captain Hook treatment.
As I again questioned Pat on how he knew where he was going he remarked "The trail is 100 yards away in this direction" I have no idea how the hell he knew this, but he was right, dang he is good. I praised my husband and apologized for ever doubting him as Jana laughed and repeated that "it was all part of the adventure."
Just a few hundred yards after getting back on the trail we had to ford Cascade Creek, which was the area we thought we had seen on the map before. This meant that we had crossed one river area that was unnecessary but who cares, it's all part of the adventure.
This time our boots had to come off since there was no way to cross without going in at least knee deep. The day had just started to warm up so we didn't mind feeling the brisk water on our feet at all by this point.
Our long trail continued and when we finally reached a mile marker, it was completely different than what our map said? I'm not sure which one was correct but judging by how tired I was getting, I believe the trail marker was correct, not our paper map. The trail marker had already added over a mile to what we thought we had hiked.
The hike through the brilliant ground cover on the forest floor looked like it had been covered by an old Scottish kilt, worn to perfection. None of the leaves have fallen yet but most of them have felt the affects of the brisk nights and the shorter days of September.
The only wild life that we saw while hiking were ground squirrels and chipmunks that playfully crossed our paths repeatedly as they took a glimpse of us visitors to their home. They hurriedly filled their nests with fixin's for the winter season, knowing that the warmth of the summer would soon be gone.
We then had to ford another river called Proposition Creek. Jana and I took our boots off and were starting to cross as we saw Pat crossing a big log up the river around 20 yards, oh well, by this point the chilled water felt incredible.
Jana had decided to leave her hiking boots behind and just hike in her Teva's. I did that one time and thought my ankles and arches were going to buckle underneath me, as well as having raw feet from the dirt and gravel rubbing the skin off. She hikes all the time so she knows her limits.
Our assent was slow but sure, as we took photos of our surroundings and stopped a few times for some food and water. We looked at the time and I started freaking out. The speed that we were traveling was going to leave us hiking back out in the dark in bear country.
Pat and I are used to doing really fast hikes, we get in quick so we can spend time at whatever we are hiking to see, then hike back out just as quickly, maybe even at a jogging pace so we can make it out before dark.
I think that most people would spread this 18 mile hike over a few days time, camping in between and spending some quality time at the sights.
Pat and I really don't have that option since we have the dogs to worry about, leaving us no choice but to hike quickly. After a while we would get ahead of Jana and then wait for her to catch up at the top of a hill. If I stop in the middle of a climb, I am done, leaving me no energy to reach the top.
After 4-5 miles, Jana said she was very tired but there was no way she was turning back now, we had made it this far and she would finish no matter what. She did throw in the comment, "That these better be some incredible waterfalls to hike this far."
Our last mile or so was nothing but an up hill climb and seeing switch backs after a surprisingly long 8 miles of hiking was the last thing I wanted to see or feel on my tired legs.
I hoofed it up the switch backs without turning back to check on Jana, as I reached the falls area I could feel a cool breeze coming from the ridge overlooking the beauty that time has created. What a relief to know we had finally made it! I didn't even pick my camera up, I perched myself over the rock lookout point and stared in awe as I let out a sigh of relief.
I'm not sure if the sigh was because we finally made it or if it was because it was well worth the hike to get here. The Union Falls got the name because it is where two rivers meet before they gracefully drop over the 250 foot Pitchstone Plateau.
From where we sat I could see three bodies of water joining at the top to become a scattered bed of white water at the bottom of the rocky river bed. This is one of the least viewed water falls in the park since the hike is so long.
Besides most people won't go more than a mile off of the road to see the sights in Yellowstone.
We all enjoyed some food and drink then realized our water was gone. No worries, Jana had brought a water purifier which would allow us to fill up with the cold mountain water before we headed back down. I of course was the party pooper and reminded everyone to rush along with their photo's as we had to get going so we could make it back in good time.
We had one more stop to make on the way down the mountain and man am I glad we did. We took a 3/4 mile detour off of the trail to reach a hot spring settled in the Mountain Ash river. The hot springs are also known as the Scout Springs since many boy and girl scouts take this hike to the warm waters as a retreat.
Pat was the first one in, then me, followed by Jana. Pat went in his boxers and Jana and I wore our clothes since we both had on quick drying material. I however took off my bra since after loosing 30 pounds I have enough padding in the thing to sink me if it gets wet.
Again I played the worry wart and got us moving out of this warm bath water to get us down the trail before dark. We all agreed that the 3/4 mile detour was the best part of our hike and wished we could have spent more time in the warm, clear waters that were deep enough to dive into.
That water treatment gave all of us a bit more pep in our step. Jana went ahead of us while we packed everything up and dried off while putting on our boots again. By the time we had caught up to Jana, she had a limp going on which did not look good.
She said she wasn't sure what happened but her ankle and foot were cramping up something awful and she needed to take it slow. We gave her some Tylenol and had her drink lots of water, hoping that this would work the cramp out.
She was a trooper and limped along as fast as she could since we were already about 2 hours behind our planned return time. I've never had anyone get hurt on a hike before let alone so far back in the woods. I had no idea what to do for her and Pat and I felt pretty helpless.
I could tell she was pretty upset, so I figured the best thing to do would be to leave her be and if she needed anything she would let us know. Pat and I walked really slow but we still were too fast for Jana and her foot hurting. We would stop and wait often and Jana would catch up, cursing her foot the whole way.
After a while she seemed to have worked out the cramp and we were all going at a pretty good pace. We had 45 minutes of light left and 3-4 miles to walk, so we had to move quickly, we really had no choice. All of a sudden we heard Jana cry out from behind us on the trail.
We stopped and I yelled if she was ok, she said "Yes, just wait for me!"
When she approached us she had no limp and was moving quickly, she had been startled by the sound of breaking limbs in the woods and didn't want to be eaten by a bear. By the way, I found this picture on blogspot.com, it was not taken on our hike.
When we finally reached the river to ford where Jana had left her hiking boots , all of us were feeling pretty confident that we wouldn't need flashlights to get back, especially since we didn't have them. I brought two, one of them the batteries died 10 seconds after I turned it on and the other was our trusty solar flash light which we know works for 8 hours without the sun to recharge its battery pack.
But not having to use any flashlight would be the option I would choose. Pat volunteered to carry Jana's 30 lb. camera pack as well as his own up the hill we were about to tackle. Not that it was steep, it was just constant for at least a mile, maybe even two.
We reached the top of the hill and poor Jana said her foot was hurting again, we gave her more Tylenol and trudged ahead as the sun had already dropped behind the trees. By the time we got to the last mile of the hike, it was dark and I mean, can't see 20 feet ahead of you dark.
I was so freaked out, I told Pat that I felt like we were running from vampires at this point and as soon as the complete darkness engulfed us, we would be prey to the unholy side of this earth. Yep, that's me, always the optimist!
I heard Jana say as the light was disappearing, "Yeah, great, it's all part of the f***ing adventure right!" I had to laugh although she really didn't see the humor in it until we reached the truck, or maybe she was just too tired to laugh at her own joke.
When we reached the truck it was almost to the point that we couldn't see 10 feet in front of us. Thank goodness we had moved as quickly as we did to get out of there, because even a well marked trail is hard to follow in the woods with no light fall off at all.
I dug into our console and brought out a flask of Jager which had been in there since we took off on our journey 3 years ago. We all did a toast to the completion of the hike and I passed out in my cozy bed as Peter Pan drove us home.
What a day, we were gone 18 hours, 3.5 of them were spent driving and 14.5 of those hours were spent hiking. Not what we had expected, but a story to remember for the rest of my days. Just think yesterday morning, I wanted romance, money and a social life PSHHT! Who needs that crap when I can fear for my life in bear country with friends and loved ones.
Saturday September 19th
Surprisingly enough I woke up with no aches or pains this morning. A little bit of a shoulder strain, but nothing to complain about. That's a change! The three of us didn't get the 5am start that we had all talked about last night, we actually got out of the house closer to 10am.
We drove to the same area again today since Jana was bound and determined to see some moose no matter what. She thought that we got started too late and they would be bedded down for the afternoon since we had been driving in the well known moose area all morning and we saw nothing.
I was riding in the back with my animal eyes on and saw an incredibly huge lake that was almost completely covered with lily pads. The lilies were feeling the affects of the chilly nights also and had turned a golden yellow. This made for an awesome photo. I made Pat back-up so I could take the trail down to the water and get a better angle.
Jana came down with me carrying her binoculars as well as her camera. She yelled out that she had found her moose, they weren't sleeping after all, they were 3 football fields away on the other side of the lake.
We could see through the binoculars three mommas and two calves that were parading across the shoreline directly across from us. The lake was land locked on that side so we said goodbye to them and continued on our way to Cave Falls to get some photos and take a short hike.
By the time that we got to the falls, I had lost interest in hiking anywhere. I had something on my mind that I could not stop thinking about. Those of you who follow along with us know that we have a few readers that Pat and I have become pretty close to.
Usually we will meet up with them on the road somewhere or we will just keep our communication lines open until we can meet sometime in the future. We have had a friend named John that we talk with at least 2-3 times a week, sometimes more.
We ask him advice about alot of things and he enjoys the RV lifestyle as well as having our same interests in solar and renewable energy. He and I joke with one another and he has become like part of our family. I know that some people can't understand that, but it happens or a least it does to us.
I hadn't heard from John in a few weeks and for the past week or so I have continually asked Pat if he has heard from him. When Pat kept saying no, we both got concerned because just as we keep him up to date on things we're doing, I would think he would let us know if he was on vacation or out of town or something.
I ended up sending John an email, asking him if everything was ok and letting him know that we miss his conversations and would like to hear from him to know he is ok. This was on the 17th, this morning Pat read me the reply to my email and I can't stop thinking about it.
The reply was sent from John's assistant stating that on the 3rd of September John had been in a tragic accident and was unable to respond to his emails and had been in critical condition in the hospital. He also said that he is expected to fully recover but it would be a long hard road for him.
He left me a number so that I could talk to him and find out more information about John if I wanted to. When I called his assistant, he informed me that John was on his way to a meeting when a text message came in from another employee.
He looked down for just a moment to respond to a text message and he ran into the back of a semi-truck while driving down the interstate. Just typing this out is making me want to cry right now. He filled me in on his injuries which include most of his upper body being broken and also his right leg.
His front and side airbags saved his life, but he will have a very long road to recovery. I can't get this out of my head, I wonder if he has family and friends to help him out when he comes home and I wonder if there is anything Pat and I could possibly do to help.
I do know that I'm going to ask all of you who read this to put John in your thoughts and prayers for him to have a speedy recovery and pray that he has the support he will need to get through this difficult time.
With these thoughts weighing heavy on my mind and in my heart I really just wanted to go home and check to see if we could do anything to help and also find out about his support system of friends and family.
I opted to get some pictures of the waterfalls and head back home. With both Jana and Pat unaware of the thoughts in my head and considering the drive to get here was at least 2.5 hours, my vote was vetoed immediately. I did however get Pat and Jana to agree to drive to the area where the falls were located instead of hiking it.
Jana was tired and still limping, so she wasn't hard to convince and Pat was not really up for hiking either after our big day yesterday and knowing Pat, he was thinking the same things I was. After some photos, we piled in the truck and drove back toward the camper.
We saw a bunch of cars pulled over on the roadside and figured we should stop just in case it wasn't a buffalo or an elk like usual. What a wise decision that was since we saw one of the coolest things we've seen since being in Yellowstone.
This marshy area along the Snake River was home to at least two moose and most likely more than that by all the bedding down that had been done in the area. The two that we saw were male and female and they were courting one another something fierce.
The female who looked to be a couple hundred pounds bigger than the male would make this moaning sound and stare at her handsome prince. He would then respond by putting his adolescent nose in the air and coming toward the female.
I don't know why, but the age difference, the female older than the male, and the height and weight difference of these animals made me think of Pat and I. If we were a moose couple this is what we would look like.
The closer he would get to the moaning female, the more she would begin to back away. At one point he was chasing her up and down the river side in the deep grasses, trying to catch this girl to find out why she was moaning so bad.
This went on for a half an hour while Pat, Jana and I all took photos around 25 yards away from them. At one point Pat looked at me and said "If the female gets any closer to us, drop the camera and run for it because the male is going to be right behind her."
Luckily it never came to that, leaving the end of the night with a great surprise find for all of us. Jana got to see her moose and a couple of action moose at that and we all went home happy.
Back at the camper, I had prepared some chilly before we got started this morning, knowing we would all be hungry when we got home. We all scarfed down a big bowl then headed off to bed. Jana bundled up in her tent and Pat and I in our warm cocoon we call a camper.
I fell asleep talking to the big guy upstairs about life and holding on to loved ones and people we care about, vowing to always tell the ones who mean something to me just how I feel about them.
Sunday September 20th Happy Anniversary Pat!
Today marks our 12th year of marriage, wow time sure does fly. It seems on one hand, that Pat and I are just starting our life together and then on the other hand, we feel like old souls. We were engaged for quite some time before we took the plunge, so we have actually been together for 18 years.
This is half of Pats life that we have been together and almost that much of mine. I couldn't imagine finding someone that I truly love more deeply and whole heartedly in the entire world. Pat makes me a better person just by being around him and I feel fortunate to have found him.
We made some plans for dinner this evening at the Lake Lodge, which both of us have really enjoyed the few times we've been there just to watch the sunsets. We have never had dinner there so I was pretty excited that we were actually going out on a real date.
Pat gets off at 4:30 and has an hour drive home and I get off at around 5pm. Pat was the one who suggested that we go to the Lake Lodge for dinner tonight and celebrate our anniversary. Since Lake was half way between us, we would meet there after a days work and celebrate our years together.
This photo was taken by our friend Sonya Prather when we lived in Florida. She had asked us not to smile in this picture, we actually were happy to have our photo done. I wish I had some wedding pictures on my hard drive but it was so long ago, I can't find any on the one we're carrying with us.
Thinking that today would be just another nature lovin' day in Yellowstone, I had a surprise when a ranger came in this morning and filled me in on a situation to be aware of in the park. Apparently there had been a tour bus of people from a Psychiatric Ward visiting the park earlier in the day. One of the people on the bus had escaped from the group, went into the Old Faithful Store and purchased a large hunting knife.
I'm not sure of the exact story but I guess the way the guy was acting gave the clerk some reason to be alarmed. They spoke to the rangers and realized the guy who made the purchase was the escaped person who was now considered armed and dangerous.
The ranger just wanted to make me aware of the situation and gave me his description and told me to use the panic button if I needed to. This made me look at every person that walked in to see if they had sweat pants on, which is what the ranger had described the psycho wearing.
By the time Pat had gotten to his book store in Canyon at noon, the person had been caught and the park had sent out a bulletin which had been shown on CNN about the event. This usually doesn't happen around here, so I thought I would share our dramatic situation with you.
All day today the wind gusts were so strong that the 60° air felt like 40° when it hit your skin. The sun was shinning, but man was it chilly. They were calling for temps to drop quickly after 5pm and since Pat had ridden his motorcycle to work I called him to have him come home first instead of us meeting at the lodge. This way he won't have to ride the bike after dark in such cold, windy weather.
Plan set, we would ride together for dinner at the Lake Lodge around 6:30 for our anniversary. I hurried out of work by 5:15 and ran to the Grant grocery store to pick up some bread, wine and something to make Pat for a mixed drink. When I got home, I poured both of us a drink and waited for Pat to arrive.
When 7:30 rolled around and I hadn't heard from him, I warmed up some chili for us since the lodge closes at 8pm now that season is winding up. I was just about to go look for him when I heard his motorcycle pull up. He explained to me that although he was supposed to get off at 4:30, his manager asked him to stay later and since he didn't say anything about our anniversary to her, she kept him until almost 5:30pm. He then got stuck in a Buffalo Jam in the Hayden Valley on his ride home and was quite frustrated when he walked in.
Pat gave me a kiss, wishing me a Happy Anniversary and asking me what I wanted to do for the night. My first thought was yell at him for being so inconsiderate by not calling to say he would be late or to tell his manager it was his anniversary and he had plans with his wife to take her out to a nice dinner. My second thought was to just start crying, go to bed, and just wish this day would pass.
My third thought was the winner and I handed him his watered down drink and said "Nothing, we can't afford to go out anyway." We both had a drink and ate a bowl of chili while we talked about our days. I felt pretty disappointed and my feelings were hurt but at the same time thought that the word 'I' has been the main part of my vocabulary lately so I figured it best just to let it go.
About that time we heard Jana pull up from her day in the park. She had the fortune of sighting a bear on her trip around the park today which meant she had gotten to see the two things she was looking for while here, moose and bear.
She said that she was driving through snow flurries on the way home and it was getting colder by the minute.
The three of us looked through pictures we had taken over the past few days and all felt real lucky to have seen the two moose frolicking like they were.
Jana went out to her tent around 9pm and I was in bed by 9:30 trying to keep my eyes open to finish a book that is really good, but I can ever seem to stay awake to get it finished.
Pat wasn't far behind me giving me a kiss and a cuddle and wishing me a Happy12th anniversary. I think even though I really wanted to go somewhere to celebrate our 12th year, just knowing our lives will intertwine for many more years to come is enough of a celebration for me.
Saturday September 26th
What a crazy week we have had! Instead of going through all of those past days, I'm just going to recap the highlights and put in lots of pictures. If anyone remembers watching the night time soap opera, "Soap" this is sort of what they would do in the beginning of every week.
Last Monday after I celebrated our anniversary in my own pity pool, I decided to get off my rump and stop dwelling on material things and wants....who has time for that crap anyway. Enjoyed my day at the office and came home to get ready for the arrival of Bob and Judy, my in-laws.
Tuesday, I heard from my friend John who was in so many peoples prayers, thank you everyone, and he is in good spirits and is going to be going home on Wednesday. He has a plethora of friends and family to give him support during his recovery and he seems to be doing well. Pat and I both had to work this morning and by the time his parents got here, they had time to check into the room before we all went to dinner followed by bed time.
Wednesday, Pat and I had to work again while Bob and Judy toured Old Faithful and kept themselves busy with the geysers and shops in that area pretty much all day long. Wednesday night we had an employee party for the Yellowstone Associates. I rushed home to get ready, ironed my waddled up dress clothes and waited for Pat to come home. He never came home, miscommunication meant that he was there waiting for me and I sat at home till he finally called me at 7pm from a pay phone to see where I was and what was taking me so long to get there.
In the mean time the party had started at 5:30 and was over at 8pm. I drove to the beautiful Lake Lodge as soon as I got Pat's call, walked in, ate the food just before they put it away, watched a slide show and it was over. I was there for maybe 25 minutes! Woo Hoo!
Thursday, Got an early start with Bob and Judy, headed out to tour the park. With Pat driving, the rest of us are along for the ride as he gives us the thorough trip of everything lovely to stop and gawk at north of our campground.
The stops include Hayden Valley, Fishing Bridge, Artist Point, Brink of the Falls, a picnic lunch in a shady spot just East of Tower Junction, the Calcite Springs as well as Mammoth Hot Springs and then back home. There is a huge fire that was started by lightning over a week ago and is only a few miles from our camp site. The smoke was incredible over the lake and left such beautiful deep red night skies that we stopped to take photos for hours.
Thursday, another day of driving to let Bob and Judy see as much of Wyoming as we could show them. We drove down to the Tetons this morning and stopped at most of the pull offs along the way. We wanted to get as many photos of all of us so we won't miss each other as much when Bob and Judy leave.
I very much enjoy my time with Pat's parents and they keep my laughing and talking the entire trip. This has been a great visit so far, not seeing family is what makes me so home sick for Michigan so this will do my heart good, I can feel it already.
Our views of the Tetons were blocked by the huge plumes of smoke that had settled on and below them. We have been told that four fires are burning now, two have been started by lightening last week and two are controlled burns in other areas around the Tetons.
Kind of a bummer for Bob and Judy since the true beauty of the area is hard to see when it is covered in a thick, hazy smoke. When we arrived back at our campsite last night, the road just North of us was closed due to the fire, our campground is working off of a big generator. I'm not sure if it's because power lines have been affected or what has happened but we could hear it's rumble all night which ruined any chance of being serenaded by the bugling elk, the howling wolves or the yipping of the coyotes that I've grown to love.
Saturday, This morning we took advantage of the road being open until 10am since Bob and Judy's reservations are on the other side of the road closure at the Lake Lodge. The drive over was smoky and slow going and when we arrived we all hurried to get the heck out.
Little did we know that we would be engulfed in smoke and ash for most all of the day. We took a trip over the mountains on The Chief Joseph Highway, even with the valleys filled with smoke, this was a ride to remember. It's strange how even though we are at the same elevations that we are at in Yellowstone, the views are of all mountain peeks, gorges, canyons and buttes.
Our trip took us back into Cody where we really could not see through the smoke which hovered upon the Shoshone Lake. We could see the ashes from the pines that burned furiously miles and miles away.
We all tried not to get out of the car as much since Bob has Asthma, Pat and I have allergies and none of us could breath very well in this air. By the time we got back to Bob and Judy's cabin at Lake Lodge, the place looked like it had already caught on fire.
The smoke was so thick we walked with our jackets over our nose and mouth until we reached the lobby. During dinner my eyes were burning like crazy and I could feel my throat closing up.
Judy had said that if they start watering down the buildings that they were leaving. We all laughed and thought this really wouldn't happen since the fire looked to be miles from the lodge.
When we walked back to there room Pat noticed that the firemen had put together an elaborate sprinkler system which completely wrapped around the lodge and cabins. The water was being drawn from the lake and being pumped into the woods in the perimeter of the lodging.
We left as soon as we got back to the room because we just couldn't take the smoke anymore. I hated to leave Bob and Judy there but they didn't want to have to sleep with the dogs. Besides, for all we knew, the fire and smoke had taken over our campsite also.
The road had been closed on and off all day since the flames from the fire had threatened to cross the road a couple of times. This situation is getting scary, I hope things are looking better by tomorrow.
Wednesday September 30th
Our parents have gone back to Michigan leaving us sort of sad, but very grateful to have had them visit. I couldn't ask for a couple of people this close to me in my life that are so kind and giving, not judgmental of our choices or what Pat and I have chosen to do, since most think we are out of our noggin'.
We will see everyone else at Christmas time if all goes well with our lives in the mean time. Until then, I think about them almost every day wondering how big the nieces and nephews are getting, how big the tress are getting that Pat almost killed when he trimmed them for his parents and also praying for everyone's health and happiness.
I think our long strand of friendly visitors is over, although Nathaniel is still coming and going daily, but he is as quiet as a mouse, so we hardly know he is here. There is not much time for anyone else to visit since our days in the Park are numbered.
Pat and I have been splitting our time between the book store, mostly giving information to people about the fire and how long we think the road leading to the north end of the park might be closed. At this point, the only access to the upper part of Yellowstone is taking a 200 or so mile detour.
I hate telling people that when this truly is the vacation of a lifetime for most; involving months, sometimes years of planning in order to come here, only to be disappointed by the road closings on both sides of the park.
Our stay here in Yellowstone is coming to an end, a bitter sweet end that is. I am so glad that we came back here to work at the Yellowstone Association and have enjoyed pretty much every minute we could while staying here. I am however, ready to move on to our next leg of life, exploring new places and seeing new things, not to mention finding a better temperature that I can enjoy!
It is snowing this morning and all the trees are covered in the white fluffy stuff while the wet, black top gives an awesome contrast. There is no accumulation on the roads so far, but they are calling for 5-8 inches through out the night. Tomorrow is our last working day which leaves us with a departure day of Friday or Saturday, depending on how much we have to do to get our butts in gear and get us back on the road.
I just wanted to give a short update as not to fall too far behind. I'll try and get some photos today of the first snow and have them up in a day or two, until then, so long.