Saturday, July 24, 2010

SPLAT!






(Paul) So were you as impressed with the Corn Palace as we were? This part of the country is very thankful for corn. Nothing too exciting to report today. Had some repairs to make to the camper to keep it from popping up. I'm no Brent Comfort but I got the job done (me, my tool chest and some hardware from Lowe's). No wildlife sightings but I can report a kamakasi bird that wanted one of the hundreds of bugs on my truck grill. Unfortunately I was going 70mph at that moment... splat!

Lisa really enjoyed today's drive through Iowa. She had 5 bars + and "E" on her iPhone which meant lots of texting, emailing and Facebooking. At our restaurant stops we looked like a troubled couple. Each on our iPhones not talking to one another. Hmmm.

Since there's not much to report we're going to post some of our fav pic's that haven't been posted to date. We hope you enjoy them. Thanks for your comments/humor during our journey.

(Lisa) Yep, we slept in since it was a late night. Went to Lowe's and wanted McD's breakfast but it was too late! So we got some coffees and traveled across the state of Iowa. Saw lots of wind turbines, corn fields and on I-80 very few restaurants. Finally we ate at a Cheesecake Factory in Des. Moines about 2:00. I decided that I should probably work on my Ceramics class curriculum so I made myself work on that as we drove to the Fairfield Inn in Peoria Illinois. I'm sure you're thinking "they sure like Fairfield Inns." Well we'd saved our Marriott points from Paul's VISA forever so we have been staying at all the hotels for free using our points. It's really been nice. Anyways, we arrived here about 7:30 and went to an IHOP right by it and split a meal. Now we're full and tired. Our plan is to wake early and be home by around 2:00 tomorrow. Then back to reality with about 50 loads of laundry and a grocery list.

4 Presidents, 1 Chief, 1 Drug Store, 1 Corn Palace






(Lisa) Left the Fairfield Inn about 8:15 and drove to Mt. Rushmore-about 45 minutes away. It was a beautiful monument. It looks just like the cover of the history books but even more grand. The carvings are amazing and to think they hung off the mountain by single cables....wow. We walked a trail around them and visited the visitor center and headed out after about an hour. We drove 30 minutes to Crazy Horse. This is a mountain carving that is still in progress. It is privately funded. They are carving Chief Crazy Horse on a horse into this granite mountain. This center was huge with a museum to the American Indian, shops, exhibits....there was alot to see. We watched a short intro film and walked around there about an hour. We could have stayed way longer but, oh yea...we had a 7-8 hour drive ahead of us!

We ate our picnic on the road and headed across the state of South Dakota. Not a corn state, but it's a hay state. Tons of bales of hay everywhere. About 2 or so hours down I 90, we kept seeing signs for Wall Drug. Now, I had heard of this from a long time ago...either from folks in Colorado or on a 20/20...I don't know but we had to stop. It's a spot of a town with this GIANT store in it that was so crazy. There were lots of little stores in it selling every touristy thing imaginable plus cowboy wear, dishes, soda fountain, a t-rex, a jackaloupe, lots of old photographs...too much to tell. We wandered around and then went to the cafe for a treat. We definitely could have stayed longer but, oh yea...we still had like 5-6 hours to go. Obviously I had not planned well for this day b/c our stop was Sioux City Iowa and it was forever away.

We wanted to stop in Mitchell, SD b/c we were told (by Brent) of someplace very special called the Corn Palace, that's right, Corn Palace. We pulled in under threatening skies and took some pics of this building covered in corn. That's right, corn. It's an actual auditorium inside that was very nice and they were selling popcorn! Who would have thought to build a palace out of corn? Mitchell residents I guess. By now it's 7:30 Central Time and we were very hungry so we went to the Ruby Tuesday as a storm was on the western horizon. It was a good dinner considering we had not really eaten well that day. OK, 2+ hours till Iowa....we traveled onward beating the storm finally getting to our hotel about 10:45. However, this hotel has a tiny parking lot which presented a problem with our truck and trailer. After much turmoil, we parked across the street. We haven't checked on it this morning so we hope it's ok. Today is a short day, about 7 hours. We'll try to stay on task!

(Paul) Mount Rushmore was very impressive. There's only so many ways to photograph it but the scale of it is impressive. At the Visitor Center they actually had a surviving driller doing a book signing. Very impressive man with lots of stories (Dad, you could've talked with this guy for days).

The Crazy Horse monument is under construction and it's going to be enormous. Mount Rushmore will fit inside the head and hair of Crazy Horse and when complete it will be taller the Washington Monument. His famous quote was in response to a soldier that was mocking him about where is his land now. His response, "My land is where my dead lie buried."

Then it was onto the Wall Drug Store. Lisa had heard about this place and it's just simply crazy. Robotic T-Rex's, homemade pies, free ice water and 5 cent coffee (for real - see picture). And it was good coffee and EXCELLENT donuts. Thousands of historic photographs about the original inhabitants and the folks that built the town. Another place my Dad and I could have chilled for a few days.

All was well but it was a loooooong day and when I pulled into this Fairfield Inn it was an unmarked one-way, tiny L-shaped parking lot that was already full since it was 11pm. Took some real manuevering to get out of that pickle. Think I'll write Mr. Marriot a little note about better communication regarding parking accommodations for this location. Easier day today (knock on wood). Need to stop at Home Depot first thing to do some minor repairs to my home on wheels... otherwise it may just pop open on the highway.

PS - Lightning bugs glow for about 45 seconds after they smash into your window on a dark highway doing about 70mph. Though you should know.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Got Antlers?






(Lisa) We set our alarm for 6:30, got up, packed up the camper and got on the road about 8:15 a.m. under a cloudy sky. As we drove away from the Tetons we said our goodbyes…we will miss them. We headed toward Dubois and ended up in a construction zone for an hour trying to get over a pass that the Wyoming Transporation Department decided to destroy! It was a mess and now the camper is caked with mud that is on there like cement! We took the scenic route through Wyoming. This is such a pretty state with canyons, buttes, giant boulders and along the highway there are signs pointing to cliffs telling the driver how old they are. For example there was a sign that said JURASSIC 270 million years old. There was even one area that said the rocks were 3 billion years old. It was crazy. We are posting some different areas of Wyoming in photos.

We ate tuna sandwiches in the car while driving since we lost so much time with construction stuff. We did enjoy this drive b/c we had never been in this part of the country. Winding along near TenSleep (that’s the name of the town where the population was 304 and Paul said “I guess there are 294 awake!”- so funny) anyways….we come around a bend and there are about 4 cars stopped and people looking toward a stream and some woods and I’m looking….and I yell to Paul “It’s a moose with antlers, it’s a moose with antlers!” I know-can you believe it??? So we pulled over and ran to the area and took pictures of this moose that was pretty young b/c his antlers were fuzzy and not that big. He was about 100 yards away and sooo pretty! How exciting was that? Wow.

OK, OK, so moving along, we finally get to Devil’s Tower about 5:15 p.m. It was our nation’s first national monument. Kinda cool. It was stunning. Remember Close Encounters of the Third Kind from like 1980? This is the big rock that all the people were drawn to. We parked and walked up to it and snapped some photos. We didn’t feel like we had enough time to hike around so we stayed there about 30 minutes or so. It was very interesting and I would have liked to spend more time.

Drove on through Sturgis South Dakota and then ate some dinner at 8:00 at Chili’s here in Rapid City SD. We are at the Fairfield Inn for the night. Tomorrow onto Mt. Rushmore.

(Paul) 12 hours behind the wheel. The numbness is taking over again. Going through the Big Horn mountain range had my engine smoking on the ascent and brakes smoking on the decent (very slow group of bikers in front of us and I’m hitched to a load of downhill momentum). My truck and camper are coated in concrete-like mud, tar, locusts, pine sap, pollen, skunk juice, possum parts and corn husks. How cool.

Fueled up at the Flying-J because one of my cost-conscious co-workers swears by it. The gas hose had grease all over it and ruined my shorts and Lisa gave a wrinkle-faced thumbs down to the ladies room. Suffice it to say we’ll spend the extra nickel per gallon for a more respectable establishment.

There’s a special surprise we hope to post tomorrow. It will be awesome.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Got Moose?






(Paul) Today comprised of the single-minded objective of seeing and/or finding a moose. It was the only way Lisa was going to let me put a sticker of a moose on our camper. Last night we met a nice couple at the Jackson Lake Lodge that told us of a great spot to spy moose. They’d been there on four different days and saw moose on each visit. So we filled the gas tank and this morning we packed the truck with food, games, books, art supplies and other things that would help pass the time as we parked our keester’s in this “primo” spot. We’ve enjoyed nine days of perfect weather. It had to rain at some point. Right! And so it rained… and rained… and rained. But we stuck to our plan. We must find moose. The elusive moose. The e-moose-ive one. We can, we must, we will. Didn’t see a moose.

We’d brought our lawn chairs but those aren’t much fun in thundershowers so we picnicked in the truck. Had a good 3G signal and played on our phones (Words with Friends is a great iPhone ap). Sat there piddling around until about 1 p.m. but then we needed a bathroom break (not in the rain though) so we drove to the nearby visitor center. Then we decided to drive some new “off road” roads in hopes of spying a goat… just making sure you’re paying attention! Shot some cool Ansel Adam’s-like pictures. An aspen grove, cloud covered mountains… didn’t see a moose.

The sun is setting on our Yellowstone/Grand Teton adventure. It’s getting late and we’re starting to loose hope. So I’ll let Lisa takeover from here.

(Lisa) So after driving some back roads, Paul wanted some pics of the Grand Teton range with the clouds hanging over them so we found a spot and waited…and waited…the clouds were not moving. It’s like 3:15 now and I was giving up all hope of the moose thing. We decided to try the Moose Wilson Road just one more time. GUESS WHAT? We saw her….a beautiful female moose…that’s right….she was eating grasses, bushes and drinking out of the stream…she was amazing! We followed her as she grazed down the stream and at one time, we were about 10 yards away. WOW!!!!!!!!! There she was…right before our eyes! We took about 75 photos and on the blog before this one are our 5 best pictures. I know, you are probably applauding us right now, that’s ok, we’re jumping up and down!!! I was soooo happy, we have seen every animal on this trip but a mountain sheep which is ok b/c they are impossible to find. We have been so blessed with the wildlife viewing.

So after watching this beautiful girl for about 20 minutes we drove back toward the campground and stopped at Jackson Lake Lodge and – that’s correct – I bought a moose
T shirt! Since we were loading up the camper, we ate at the local restaurant for dinner.

Now we are now packing and prepping for our drive tomorrow to South Dakota and to see Devil’s Tower. Paul has put the moose sticker on the camper. Life is good. Check out the blog before this one for the moose photos.

Got Moose!





Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Macy's and Mountain Dew






(Lisa) We were determined to get up early today so that we could get to Jenny Lake (an extremely popular tourist area for hiking) before the crowds hit. So, we rolled outta bed about 6:45ish, ate a hearty breakfast of eggs, sausage & toast and traveled the 30 minutes to Jenny Lake arriving there about 8:20 a.m. We were right, there were some folks there but not a lot. We got a prime parking spot and took a ferry across the turquoise clear lake to the other side. We hiked-straight up-to Inspiration Point where we could look over the entire lake area. It was inspiring. Then we came down to Hidden Falls which was somewhat hidden but truly magnificent.(see pic) I could have stayed there for hours. It was really beautiful.

Instead of taking the ferry back to the other side, we decided to hike it around the lake. It was a great trail-similar to yesterdays-but more crowded as the hours passed. Oh, on the way up to Hidden Falls, we passed a lady who looked totally out of place….she had her large purse on her arm with her phone in her hand and she was wearing flip flop sandals. She probably thought a Macy’s was at the top of the trail, I don’t know. I didn’t see one and believe me, if there was a Macy’s I would have noticed!

Anyways, we made it back to our car about 12:15 in time for a picnic on the back of the truck of ham sandwiches. As we were coming down the trail I was thinking of when I was a kid and our family would go to Colorado every summer to our cabin for like 3 weeks (which was forever back then). My grandmothers would give us money to spend and when we would go into town (like once a week) I would buy a 6 pack of Mountain Dew. My logic was that I was in the mountains, therefore I must drink Mountain Dew. Sooo, as we were almost to our car I told Paul I really wanted a Mountain Dew-and I NEVER drink these. Lo and behold, there was a store in this Jenny Lake tourist area and we bought a Mountain Dew to drink. I tell ya, it tasted amazing. Was it the mountains? Was it the actual bubbly sweet soda? Was it that I was tired after a 4.4 mile hike? Was it all just my imagination? I don’t know, but it tasted like heaven. Just thought you’d want to know that.

After a picnic, we drove a different route to see if WE COULD FIND A MOOSE!!! The short answer-no, we are beginning to think that moose do not live here at all. sigh. We got back to the camper about 3:15. I fixed some iced tea and we rested. We were plum tuckered out! Ate some grilled ham for dinner and decided to just chill.

Quick story mainly for Barbara: Yesterday morning I was laying in bed and heard “scamper, scamper, scamper” across the top of our camper. We are parked under some pine trees. I knew immediately that a chipmunk was on our roof running across, it was the same sound we would hear at the Colorado cabin. On our roof, we have a vent thing that has some screening on it – kinda like a skylight that goes up but the screen keeps things from falling in it. So I hear “scamper, scamper, scamper” some more and then “Hi there.” Mr. Ground Squirrel stopped and looked in the skylight right at me like “Hey, anyone in there? What are ya’ll doing?” It cracked me up!

(Paul) It was a day of waterfalls, streams, crazy awesome hiking and a few animals. Saw a herd of pronghorn and a small herd of buffalo. The highlight was a yellow-bellied marmot. A cute fella that resembled Dale from the infamous Disney duo (Chip and Dale). Didn’t see a moose.

I’m convinced that wolves have eaten all the slow and dumb moose. The only survivors are those that are super intelligent and elusive. I asked a Park Ranger if she knew where any moose were. I’d even settle for a tame moose (like a family pet in someone’s backyard) that I could take a picture of. I made her laugh but left that conversation empty handed.

Two week vacations are awesome. I highly recommend them. I think I’ve forgotten all my passwords. This is a completely good thing. 

Monday, July 19, 2010

In Search of the E-moose-ive One






(Paul) Awoke today around 7:30am and headed for Signal Mountain Summit. It was a great photo op of the Tetons with the morning sun at our back. Didn’t see a moose.

Then we headed to Jenny Lake with the intention of taking the ferry across the lake and the hiking Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. I was not alone in that plan as there wasn’t a parking space to be had so we headed down to Jackson Hole, did some shopping and ate Billy Burgers at the Cadillac CafĂ©. From there we headed to the String Lake Loop Trail. It was the best hike I’ve ever been on. The first couple of miles we followed the lakeshore and the mountains as a backdrop. The last half of the hike was through meadows and old growth forests. Stumbled upon a giant granite boulder where Lisa and I parked our keesters for a while in hopes of spotting a moose. Didn’t see a moose.

From there we headed to an unnamed road that paralleled the Oxbow Bend in hopes of spotting a moose. Saw some fly-fishermen. Didn’t see a moose.

Headed back to camp, made plans for tomorrow, grilled up some barbeque sausage links, dirty rice and green beans. We were thinking about renting ATV’s but that’s lost it’s appeal. Maybe we’ll rent a boat and cruise Lake Jackson tomorrow…

P.S. – I gotta tell ya I have the cutest wife ever! We decided to off-road at dusk in hopes of a moose sighting. A ways into the bouncy ride Lisa said, “Paul stop! There’s a deer with big, big ears.” I told her, “That’s a buck and those are antlers.” On our way back we saw a doe and it had what appeared to be big, big ears.

(Lisa) I know that this must be getting redundant but it was another spectacular day in Wyoming. Even though the moose eluded us again, we did see a beaver on the hiking trail. Pretty cool. Oh, and we did see buffalo yesterday, I forgot to mention that. Jackson Hole was a very touristy town-it reminded me of Breckenridge, Colorado. I bought a bear bead for my Pandora bracelet the hens gave me at the wedding. All the t-shirts said “Jackson Hole” and we wanted “Grand Tetons” shirts so we passed on all that.

By the time we got back to the camper I felt so gross and dusty I had to go ahead and take my shower. Yes, we have a shower in the camper and we usually clean off before bedtime but sometimes a girl needs to shower NOW! Ahhh, felt much better.  We hiked about 3.5 miles today and my flat feet did great. That was a good length for me.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

On The Road Again

(Lisa) We woke up, ate some cereal, packed up the camper and left the beautiful KOA about 10:15. We drove into W. Yellowstone and I bought a few groceries at the store titled “Supermarket.” Drove through Yellowstone-said goodbye-and right into Grand Teton National Park. Stopped for a picnic at Lewis Lake and then for some photos at Lewis Falls. Found Coulter Bay Campground about 2:00. We’re in sight #2. We got the camper set up and bear-proofed and explored the area. WOW (again) at the most amazing view from about ¼ mile from our campground. The Grand Teton Mountains are right there on Lake Jackson. Talk about breath taking! (We’ll post pics of this tomorrow) Ate some Trader Joes ravioli and a great salad.

Right now we are sitting outside the laundromat where the wifi signal is strong. That is why we are able to post photos. After we finish here, we are going to sit in our chairs on the lake’s edge and watch the sun set behind the mountains. Ahhhhhhhh. We are going to try and get to sleep early so we can get up early and venture out. This national park is spectacular. Oh, we saw some elk today but no other critters. Another day in paradise.

BE SURE AND LOOK AT THE 2 POSTS BEFORE THIS ONE...THEY ARE STRICTLY PHOTOS!!

More Pictures-Click to Enlarge





Pictures-Click to Enlarge





Saturday, July 17, 2010

Pistols and Holsters

(Lisa) Last day at the KOA….this morning Paul went to the coffee stand and got a coffee for him and a chai tea for me! This is quite a great campground. They have a store with homemade fudge! We already bought and ate some peanut butter/chocolate fudge and last night we bought some raspberry/chocolate fudge. Paul may even go buy another flavor tonight…who knows? We’re on a 25 year anniversary vacation! Oh, back to the morning…we had a big breakfast and headed out to see a few more geyser spots. We went to Midway Geyser Basin and saw the Excelsior Geyser which was amazing but to top that was the Grand Prismatic Spring. Wow. If we can post pics, then we’ll try to get that one showing. Afterwards we went to Biscuit Basin where some German guy walked off the boardwalk and took a picture of a geyser that erupts every 7-10 minutes. WHAT??? This other guy was yelling at him to get back on the boardwalk-he ignored him. Literally he was about 45 seconds away from being burned b/c the geyser went off. It was really bizarre. No Park Ranger in sight.

We then zipped into Old Faithful to shop around. Saw it erupt-again! Next was the Black Sand Basin and then we headed back to West Yellowstone. We enjoyed a yummy pizza at the Wild West Pizzaria. It was funny b/c the bathrooms were labeled pistols and holsters-you figure out which was which. The pizza was a great treat, then we walked around and bought some touristy stuff that I love! For the first time, on the way back to the KOA, it rained on us. We have been chilling in the camper-had a good rainstorm and started packing up a little.

We saw the same wiley coyote we saw yesterday. He was carrying a TNT box with ACME on the side. We think we saw a roadrunner just ahead of him. There were lots of elk hanging out at the same spot on the Madison River. There was even a tiny island in the middle where about 6 of them were chillin’. Didn’t see a moose yet. Those moose are not very friendly, they stay hiding. I refuse to buy any Yellowstone shirt or anything with a moose on it until we actually see one. Taking a stand!

(Paul) Too bad that nice cowboy saved that dumb German dude from burning his veenersnitzel to a crisp. Would have made a nice picture. Seriously! He was 30 yards off the boardwalk standing over a geyser that goes off every 7-10 minutes with 20 foot bursts of 300 degree water. And he was standing down wind. What a doofus! There’s like warning signs everywhere in 5 different languages (German being one of them).

Today was basically a chillin’ in Y’stone day. Finished up some loose ends and I can’t believe we didn’t have the Grand Prismatic Spring and Excelsior Geyser on the must see list. These along with the Brink of Upper Falls and Artist’s Point were colossal, majestic and grand in scale, color and sound.

Then it was to the nick-nack shops. Holy cow! Lisa is as picky about t-shirts as I am hats. Likes this color but not what’s printed on the shirt. Like’s what’s on this shirt but not the color. In a land of 100,000 made ready t-shirts we had to have one special printed onto the perfect color shirt for Lisa. Throw me to the momma grizzly. The process of finding Lisa the perfect t-shirt was more painful than any hike I’ve ever been on.

P.S. – Unlike my beautiful spouse I paid homage to the e-moose-ive one. Only 200 moose roam YS as compared to 3000 buffalo. I have a pre-printed YS t-shirt with a moose on it. That’s right! A moose. Holding onto hope of a sighting in the Grand Teton’s. It will happen.

We're Talking Bear Necessities, the Simple Bear Necessities....

(Paul) Today was another beauty. The weather was perfect. Blue skies with cotton ball clouds. Driving into the park this morning we saw a coyote right off the bat. It was just running down the side of the road, panting, kinda thin and looking a bit distressed in my opinion. Then it was on to the Norris Geyser Basin. It lived up to it’s gassy, sulphuric, bubbly, steamy reputation. We also saw several springs and pools.

Then it was on to Mammoth Springs (picking up where we left off the other day) – you remember “tiny hurting pieces”? Sadly on this day Mother Nature chose to show us Mammoth Dry Springs. Still a beautiful scene but it wasn’t the same without the flowing, hissing water. Oh, and on the way here we saw another coyote but this one was bigger and healthier. Got some pic’s but he was a good 400+ yards away so it tested the limits of my photo gear.

No worries though… on to the Black Tail Plateau. It was a scenic 6-mile, 4-wheel drive through the highlands of northeast Yellowstone. Lots of wildflowers and another buffalo. But this dude was a handsome boy. He’d shed all of his winter coat and was a dark, dark, brown. I was putting along at no more than 10mph and he had his eye on me from maybe 50 yards away. He looked confident… almost cocky. I have to admit that my first thought was “If he charges, I’m gunning it outta here. No way I’m letting him dent up my sweet pick ‘em up truck.” But we played it cool and he strolled across the road in front of us at 30-35 yards. He was all puffy chested and I read his mind when he paused and locked eyes with me. He said, “That’s right city boy. Stay in your little red wagon while I stroll over here.” It’s killing me we can’t get pictures posted.

Next was Tower Falls. I like waterfalls. I want one. From there it was time to head back to base camp but we hit another bear jam. But something was different about this one. There was a big yellow Yellowstone tour bus, and amongst the hoards of people with their camera’s there were two photographers with 2 foot long lenses and 5 foot tripods. You don’t see this kinda equipment for elk so we bolted from the truck and were about 100 yards away from a momma grizzly and her two cubs. Got about a dozen pic’s, in good sun, and then momma started coming up the mountainside right in the direction of us “intrusive humans”. The Ranger demanded everyone get BACK IN YOUR CARS AND LEAVE NOW! So we did. Then Lisa remembered that the Canyon general store had… yep, “two cherry slushies to go please!”

It really is killing me we can’t post pictures. We’ve taken over 600 to date.
Week One has been a string of blessings. Looking forward to another day in Yellowstone and then heading down to Grand Teton on Sunday.

(Lisa) It was another great day but Paul failed to mention that it was hot today. Like 90 degrees hot. For this area, it was toasty. All the sights have been amazing. It’s hard to comprehend that we are sitting on a volcano. But when you walk around smelly pools of bubbly water, you remember! And it seems like every time we walked around the pools of bubbles, the wind would shift and blow that rotten egg smell right in our face! Blah. Tomorrow is our last day here and then we have to pack everything up and move. We plan to have a light day of just a few sights, shop a little in town and eat dinner there. Oh, today we had pancakes for breakfast and tacos for dinner. I like to throw in our meals so I can remember what worked and what didn’t. And for the record, during the grizzly bear and cubs sighting I, too, learned something new about Paul.

Friday, July 16, 2010

A Zoo Without Bars


(Lisa) We left the camper after a breakfast burrito meal about 9:30. Headed toward the Canyon area. Surprisingly we did not have to wait but a couple of minutes at the construction zone on the way to Norris. It was another gorgeous day, brilliant blue skies and temps in the 60’s-will be in the 70’s in the afternoon. If I haven’t mentioned it before, the SIRIUS radio that I gave Paul for Christmas for his truck is awesome. We have listened to all kinds of music consistently since KY, no commercials, no losing a signal. We have especially enjoyed listening to jazz as we toddle through the park. It really has been wonderful

Anyways, we drove all over the Canyon area after stopping in the visitors center and wandered through the store. Then….WOW….the upper and lower falls were beautiful. We did a major hike down to stand in a viewing spot for the lower falls and huff and puffed our way back up. But it was worth it b/c every single view was amazing. Artist Point was breathtaking. We had a picnic there sitting on our ice chest!

After the Canyon, we drove through Hayden Valley and saw lots of buffalo. We stopped at Mud Volcano which had some really fun bubbly pots and pools. But one of the coolest things was a buffalo just wandered up the trail right at us. He stopped and ate some grass. He totally ignored us! We enjoyed the drive by Yellowstone Lake and stopped to soak in the view. Then we headed to West Thumb where the geysers and hot springs were right next to the lake. In West Thumb an elk was just walking around. It was a big day for animal sightings. We stopped at Grant Village at the visitor center where we watched a film about the 1988 fires.

Thanks to Cathleen’s advice, we brought our dinner food with us and had a picnic on the Continental Divide. We grilled hamburgers but it was a tiny bit eery b/c we were the only people in the picnic area. Nevertheless, it was delicious! We had just left the picnic area and got about a mile down the road when there was a giant bear jam. We jumped out and spent at least 10 minutes watching a big ole brown bear just eat and eat in a meadow. It was too awesome! I’m telling you what, it was like we were in a zoo today without the bars!

So now it’s like 8:00 and we decided to stop again at Old Faithful where we saw the eruption at 8:45-the lighting was amazing! Took some great photos and enjoyed the front row seat. So, it was a full day-we got back to the camper about 9:45. Whew-we’re tired but really enjoyed everything we did. About to take a shower and go to bed. Will post this in the morning and (hopefully) get some pics uploaded. For some reason the slow connection is not letting us do that.

(Paul) WOW whata great day. The Brink of Upper Falls was an insane view. Discovered my iPhone has video so been getting some great moving pic’s along with the stills. Fantastic close ups today of open range buffalo and a black bear that was truly enjoying being a bear. We closed down the park today… it was a great day.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tiny Hurting Pieces

(Paul) The plan today was to do Mammoth Springs, hike the Beaver Ponds Trail and 4-wheel the Blacktail Plateau. After taking 2.25 hours to arrive at our destination (serious construction work between Madison and Norris) we decided to eat lunch (on the back of the truck again) and then do the hike. That way we could get back in a couple of hours and enjoy the stroll through Mammoth Springs. Well, about a half mile into the hike (and a 1500 foot elevation change… puff, puff) I/we lost the trail. Not sure how it happened… one minute it’s there… the next it’s POOF gone! So I meandered around awhile trying to find it again. I went this way and Lisa went that way (after a nice sit). I told her I’d found the trail… actually found some people that were on the trail. Lisa decided to continue her search in her area. After a few reminders that I’d found the trail she decided to join me. At this stage I could read her mind… “this isn’t very much fun”. So I told her I sprang my ankle, had another stroke and that maybe we should just head back to the truck. She basically responds with, “horse hockey, let’s keep going, we’re almost to the top”. Oooooo-Kayyyyyy! About 45 minutes later we made it to the top (I won’t detail the range of ages that passed us during this time). It was about then that I heard her say, “this isn’t very much fun”. Hmmm, where have I heard that before? Things got better though. We walked through fields of vibrant wildflowers, the sky was a paralyzing blue and the hike finally started going downhill (really, the slope… not the mood). It was at about mile 4 (or so) that I was reminded of one of my wife’s finer qualities. She’s as flat-footed as Daisy Duck. But we made it back. A nice Park Ranger with a similar condition highly recommended we pick up a pair of those cushion insoles. So we did. At the local Super Market (the place had 4 isles… very impressive). That’s right! The super market. Never made it to Mammoth Springs or Blacktail Plateau but there’s always tomorrow.

PS – Sorry about the Wifi quality here and our inability to post pic’s. We will try again when we get to our next destination in Grand Teton. Otherwise, for our devoted followers, we will post some pictures when we arrive at a Marriott on our way home. God Bless.

(Lisa) Happy Birthday to my sister, Barbara. She is old. My feet feel like they did after the wedding –like someone has taken an axe to them and cut them into tiny hurting pieces. My flat feet prevent me from hiking more than about 4 miles. So, I overdid it today but will soak them tonight and then try again tomorrow. We did drive about 2 hours to get back from this area today b/c of road construction and a car accident (not us) and elk. OH YEA….we saw a bear again today on the side of the road….finally got some pictures this time. Maybe we can get them posted? AND…we had a great dinner of steak, potatoes and salad. Another great day of vacation:)

It Was a Blustery Day, Pooh Bear!

(Lisa) We decided that we were not going to get up early and rush around trying to get to the park. So we slept in till about 8:00. I made some mean sausage, eggs and toast which we gobbled down. We figured out this internet thing here, got the picnic stuff ready, got the food from the ice chest in to the now cool refrigerator, packed up the backpacks and headed out. We left the campground about 10:40. We saw a car jam and everyone was looking at a bald eagle up on top of a tree so we jumped out for a few pics. We went to the Old Faithful area, found a parking space and got to Old Faithful just as it was about to erupt! So cool! There are trillions of people here. It was a beautiful blue sky but OH MY GOSH it was insanely windy-like 30-40 mph gusts. I wore shorts today and it was the right choice!

We walked the boardwalk all around and saw so many cool things. I think my favorites were Grotto Geyser and the Morning Glory Pool. I also like Chromatic Pool and Bee Hive Geyser. After walking for about 2 and a half hours, we walked to the car to make a sandwich-it was about 2:30. I had a mustard explosion all over my new Life is Good shirt b/c when you change altitudes, pressure builds up in bottles and SPLAT…everywhere. UGH. After a wildy windy lunch on the back of Paul’s pick up, we walked to the Yellowstone Lodge and sat on the 2nd floor balcony and watched Old Faithful erupt again! Very cool, we then got some ice cream and returned to balcony to chill for a bit. We then zipped into the visitors center for some information! As we were leaving the park, a giant buffalo was eating some grass…..so we took his picture!

Drove to Firehole Lake and saw some more geysers. Then walked the Paint Pots/Mud Pots area and loved that! Very fun! Then we drove the Firehole Canyon loop and WOW….it was gorgeous with a rushing stream/river down a canyon with amazing waterfalls. Absolutely amazing. On the way back to W. Yellowstone Paul spotted what he thinks is a moose in the river….but we couldn’t stop and it was far away. Got some gas for $3.04 a gallon and drove back to camper. Chili for dinner…yum. We walked to the camp store and bought some homemade fresh peanut butter/chocolate fudge. Gonna shower and go to bed early so we can get an early start tomorrow.

(Paul) Dagnabbit… I know I saw a moose. It was about 600 yards away with the sun behind it as it was walking across the Madison River making its way to the roadside riverbank. We tried to get further up the road for a closer shot but there wasn’t a clearing. Now we’ve missed a photo op for a grizzly and a moose… but I did get a nice shot of a bald eagle. The scenery here is unbelievable. Fire Loop Canyon provided some amazing views. Hopefully we can get some of our pic’s to post tonight. Very weak internet WiFi here… difficulty checking work email. Can’t tell you how much that destroys me. ;)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Wyoming Doesn't Look That Big on the Map!

July 12, 2010

(Lisa) We spent the night at the Fairfield Suites in Laramie WY. Very nice hotel, very clean, good breakfast. We left there about 8:15ish and headed to Walmart where we bought the rest of the food we would need for the next 2 weeks. Uh oh…where are we going to put all these groceries? We managed to squeeze everything in and headed out of town about 9:30 a.m. I bought a new Atlas before leaving Louisville and I really like it because the maps are big. I like Wyoming because it’s the last map in the atlas and easy to find. However, when I look at the map it seems that Wyoming is a small state and the towns do not look that far apart. But, believe me, they are far apart. It took way longer for us to get to the next town then it looks on the map. We stopped in Rock Springs and ate at a Wendy’s because (ironically) it was too windy outside for a picnic. We finally made it to Jackson about 5:15 due to construction by Hoback…yes, that is the name of the town.


Despite the hours it took to get there, it was a BEAUTIFUL drive, the landscape was amazing. We got gas in Jackson and headed to the Grand Tetons National Park….the only word I can use to describe it is breathtaking. You turn a corner out of Jackson and there are the mountains-wow! We stopped and took some pictures even though it was late-like 6:00 p.m. We drove through the park and saw what is called a bear jam…cars stopped to see a bear…it was just for a split second but we saw a grizzly bear walk into the bushes. It was amazing! We also saw pronghorns, elk, and buffalo-just on the drive through the parks! We did get to Yellowstone and pushed on to West Yellowstone where our campground was. FINALLY at 8:30 we pulled in-ugh. Got our campsite-141- and started setting up. Paul bruised his hand trying to get the thingies down to balance the camper. We both worked hard to get all the stuff set up and organized…it was pretty hard. Finally after 10:00 we sat down and ate some cheese and crackers for dinner (not the chili I had originally planned!) We worked on the inside of the trailer and went to bed about 11:30, pretty darned tired but really happy to be here!

(Paul) Well Lisa pretty much summed it up. We failed to account for the 35-45mph in the park so the last 100 miles was very slow going with bear jams, elk jams, your general rubber-necking and the pullover's for the irresistable scenic photo shots. Learned something new about my wife along the way but I still love her... the adventure continues.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Day 2 of 16, Corn, corn and more corn




July 11, 2010

(Lisa) We left Brent, Renee and Erin’s house, better known as the Comfort Inn, around 7:00 a.m. We wrestled our way through the maze of downtown Kansas City, it was tricky and we’re just glad there was no traffic! We headed up I 29 with off and on rain storms. It was a really pretty drive with interesting terrain. We zipped across to Nebraska and traveled I 80 surrounded by corn fields. Got some McD’s sweet tea and stopped for a picnic at a rest stop near Grand Island again encased with corn fields.

Back on the road to travel aaallllllll the waaaaayyyyyy across Nebraska. Let me describe what we saw….corn and then some corn and then more corn. We did stop for gas and YIKES it was $2.99 a gallon…what??? Nebraska must like to overcharge for gas b/c we paid $2.99 again later down the road. However one great thing about Nebraska’s roads is that the speed limit is 75 mph on the highway. We stopped at the original Cabellas and to be honest, we were disappointed, just bought some tshirts.

Headed to Wyoming and it is truly a beautiful state. We saw a hillside of those giant wind turbines (see pic). We drove to the USA’s smallest town on Buford. (see pic) Then, believe it or not, we stopped at a real pyramid. We traveled down a dirt road to see it and it made us happy!(see pic) It is a monument to 2 brothers…..interesting and yet very odd. Made it into Laramie about 7:10 mountain time-we drove 13 hours today. We checked in and headed to a Mexican restaurant called Corona Village and it was very good. We just got back to the hotel room about 8:45 and we are exhausted. I can’t get the internet to connect so we might try again to add this in the morning.

Tomorrow…on to Yellowstone!

(Paul) Numbness has spread to my legs. Can’t feel my feet. Call a medic.

Saturday, July 10, 2010




July 10, 2010

(Lisa) We left this morning about 7:20 a.m. Pumpkin was very sad that she was not going with us. She saw the camper hooked up to the truck and started panting, drooling and whining. We couldn’t bring her with us because a bear might eat her up for a snack. I’m sure she thought “What the crap?” when we pulled away. Ally and Adam are going to take care of her so I know she will be fine, but still.

We were planning to stop on the road to get some breakfast but if you’ve ever driven
I- 64 west then you know that there is NOTHING on this road. In Evansville IN, we stopped at the only McDonalds just to walk in behind a bus load of church kids and only one register open. So, we left. (Riveting commentary, isn’t it?) We did find a lovely rest stop outside of St. Louis and picnicked. We discovered Arizona Tea Arnold Palmer in the vending machine-very yummy.

We passed the arch, the Mississippi River was flooded. Right now we are on I -70 about 170 miles from Kansas City

(Paul) My butt is numb. I could use a bourbon.

(Lisa) Now we are in Olathe, KS at Renee and Brent's home. We arrived about 3:45 central time. We enjoyed visiting and an AMAZING dinner of grilled filet mignon. It was a gourmet meal and we loved it! Then, to top it off, they made homemade vanilla ice cream....wow....we may never leave!

(Paul) Had a fantastic time at the Comfort's but I'm starving. They pretty much just let us in the house and then left us on our own. OK! If you know me you know I'm sarcastic and toy with the truth. The Comfort's have overfed me. Steaks, iron skillet cooked green beans, baked sliced potato's and an awesome salad with a homemade dressing. Then we finished off with a batch of homemade vanilla ice cream. Then Brent and I had a glass of Macallan Scotch Whiskey. Neal Peart (drummer from Rush) finished all his evenings on the road with a glass of this tasty beverage. It's not bourbon but, it was aged in a bourbon barrel so I approve.