Yellowstone and beyond – days 8 and 9

Yesterday was our last day (for this trip) in Yellowstone.  What a simply gorgeous day it was…. sunny and warm – perfect for photography and sightseeing!  We took off in an eastward fashion and went towards the northeast entrance of the park, where this photo was taken near the Lamar Valley.  What perfect beauty.

Our goal this day was to look for more wildlife in the abundant Lamar Valley of Yellowstone and make our way through the northeast entrance and up the famed Beartooth Pass.  We saw more buffalo, some moose, another black bear, but no grizzly – which is what we were really hoping to see!  Oh well, maybe next time.  Outside of Yellowstone’s northeast entrance, the road immediately becomes the Beartooth Highway.  This is a famous highway because it is quite literally one of the highest roads in North America at 10,947 feet – and one of the most scenic!  It was no surprise to find that there was still snow alongside the road as we climbed our way slowly to the top of the pass.  Here’s a view from inside the car. And yes, we saw lots of motorcyclists enjoying the snow, sun, and cool weather.  This road was sort of scary in a car… I think it may have been (for me) downright frightening on a bike! Here is a view from the top.  What a sight!!  Note the still frozen lake below us.  The mountain range in the distance is the Absaroka Range, a “sub-range” of the Rockies.  Thankfully our brakes worked fine as we came down this steep mountain pass road.  We made our way through Cooke City Montana and then back into Yellowstone park.  On the way back to our RV park, we came across a large traffic backup in Yellowstone – a fairly common occurrence.  A park ranger was directing traffic due to the huge back up and we had to ask, “what’s going on” as we went by.  She replied that there was a bear and a coyote in the meadow and that another ranger had a scope set up on up the road.  If we could find a spot to park she said, we could stop and have a look through the scope.  As luck would have it, there was a small spot for our little car and John pulled in.  We walked over to the large group of people all looking into the distance.  We found out that there was indeed a coyote, who had “taken down” an elk calf and was in the process of consuming it.  The bear was a bit of a distance away, having smelled or seen the commotion and no doubt wanted to get in on it.  He stayed away when we were there, simply watching the coyote from a distance.  The Yellowstone coyotes are MUCH larger than your typical version.  Maybe he even scared the bear.  Who knows?  Anyway, we both got a chance to look through the scope set up by the Ranger.  We were even able to take a snapshot through the scope.  Okay, it’s not a great picture, but you can see the coyote leaning over his fallen prey.  It was an awesome sight – seeing this in person was gripping.  Nature.  Raw and wild.  After returning to our motorhome, we gathered up our swimsuits and drove 25 miles north of Gardiner to Chico Hot Springs.  One of my good friends from work, Pam (a true Montanan), suggested we take a swim in the hot spring pool and have dinner at their stupendous restaurant.  We debated on what order in which to do these two things, and finally decided to swim first, eat later.  Thank goodness Pam told us to get reservations!  The dining room is oh-so-popular and was fully booked out… in fact there were more then one unhappy group of people leaving the dining area complaining that they didn’t know you had to have reservations.  We had a fantastic meal of Montana steak, potatoes, and salad.  It was absolutely divine!!! We walked out of there stuffed to the gills.  Thanks Pam for the heads up about Chico!

This morning we packed up our great home on wheels and headed south towards Victor Idaho – our spot for the next two nights as we explore Grand Teton National Park.  TO get there, we actually drove the big rig plus the car in tow through part of Yellowstone.  Here’s hubby as we’re about to enter the park.From here we drove about 160 miles or so to Victor Idaho.  Here’s a scene from the beautiful countryside on the Idaho side of the Teton Range.  Our elevation here is around 6,000 feet.  The lilacs are JUST NOW in bloom and we have some outside our motorhome.  From what we can gather, the folks around here are mostly farmers, raising grain and seed potatoes.  Frankly, I’m surprised that such things can grow at this elevation, but… they do.Tomorrow we are going to the Wyoming side of the Tetons and Jackson Hole!  I’ve told John that I’m itching for a pizza from somewhere in Jackson Hole for my birthday dinner 🙂  More soon from your rambling RV’ers!  Oh, we filled the gas tank today and were happy to see that our mileage has gone up to 9.3 mpg.  Needless to say, John is pleased!

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A happy birthday

The older I get the less excited I am about birthdays.  In fact I’ve begun to dread them, ignore them for the most part, and simply sweep them under a rug.  This year it seemed like we had a lot of stuff transpiring on and around my “big” day, and as it happens, people in our neighborhood decided that I got one HUGE present on the commemoration of my 54 years of life.  Contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t really a birthday gift.  Here is a snap shot of “it”:

June 2009 036It’s our “new to us” Winnebago Journey motor home.   This thing looks huge, and it sort of is!  We hoped to find one that was 32 to 34 feet long, but ended up with this beauty which is 36.  What an adventure we had… or should I say journey … to get it home from Olympia WA.  We navigated rush hour traffic through Tacoma and Seattle… trucked on through Everett, and then up the narrow, winding roads to home – where it barely fits in our driveway.  We’re not allowed to keep it at home for more than three days (homeowners association rules), so it will be moved to it’s home away from home on Saturday.  We are planning our first outing in July – can’t wait!

One of my goals is to get our cat, Jinx acclimated to the motorhome, so he can become a real RV cat!  The previous owners had two RV cats that went along with them.  One was an indoor/outdoor cat like our Jinx, and we were told that he adapted very well to the RV lifestyle.  I’m still not convinced that Jinx will truly adapt, but we are sure going to give it a try.  Here’s a picture of Jinx getting comfortable with the new RV.  June 2009 032

He actually had a great time exploring every possible nook and cranny!  On the counters, the sofa, the dash, the bed, and everywhere in between.  I do worry a bit the first time he is inside and we start up the big ol’ diesel engine…. he may go WACKO!!  Again, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he will adapt to the sound of the engine, the movement, and also the fact that he will most certainly have to stay INside while we are camping.   That’s a lot for a kitty to have to learn to live with, so we shall see.

June 2009 029What I really got for my birthday was this gorgeous bouquet of flowers from my precious husband – the best husband on earth (well, I think so!!).  Then we went out to dinner at Anthony’s, a popular seafood restaurant here in the Northwest.  I splurged and got the fresh Alaskan King salmon, and ohhh la la, it was delish!

Having a birthday at my age has lost it’s thrill, but there’s still something to be said for just plain happiness and contentment.  I’m lucky because I’ve got them both…. and great kids and step kids, the world’s greatest husband (oops, already mentioned him), fabulous neighbors & friends, a great job….  well, you get the point.  I’m a lucky girl and I really DO know it.