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!

Motorhome trek to Yellowstone day Seven

Don’t miss Day Six below….  I am publishing both day Six and Seven today.   At the end of Day Six (previously stated to be our “day of the buffalo”) we finally got back to the RV park about 7:30pm.  I was too tired to eat (mark that down as a first!) and so John was on his own for dinner – sort of.  He decided to barbecue for dinner and guess what he cooked?  Uh huh.  Buffalo sirloin that we’d picked up the day before from the local market.  I will fully admit that even if I’d been hungry, I would have been hesitant to try the barbecued buffalo.  I am simply not very adventurous when it comes to meat!!  After consuming the buffalo steak, potatoes and peas he said it was “okay”.  I guess that means we won’t be rushing out to the local market to stock up our freezer with buffalo to take home.  Yay.

This morning we did not rush to get out and get going.  After skipping dinner the night before, I was hungry for a “decent brekkie” this morning so made us sausage, hashbrowns, and toast.  A perfect start for the day.   Our plan was to do the upper half  of the figure eight (the park’s main roads are shaped like a figure “8”) and we knew the upper half was shorter than the lower half.  Hence the slightly later start.   We had a leisurely drive this morning, still on the lookout for WILDLIFE, not really expecting to see any because they (all the park people) tell you that your best chances of seeing anything (EXCEPT buffalo!!) is to go either very early in the am or late in the evening, towards dusk.  Not far into the park this morning we came across – A couple of female big horn sheep!  A pleasant surprise!   We drove a few miles further and I noticed something sort of orange in the distance.  As we got closer we discovered we’d come across…

Some Pronghorn deer!  We were so excited!  We thought it couldn’t get any better…. until!! The coup de gras!

You guessed it!  A black bear, wandering around in the woods 🙂  Our day was officially made!   Remember to double click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

We continued our drive to Tower Falls, Norris Geyser Basin, Mammoth Hot Springs, and stopped for lunch off the beaten path alongside a quiet little creek.  Getting close to the end of the day, we drove past Sheepeater Cliffs and near there was the Yellowstone River again.  We walked down to river’s edge and on a whim did a quick self portrait.  I love how it turned out.  Just a couple of happy modern-day Yellowstone explorers.

To finish off today’s post a pretty cool photo of the travertine terraces of Mammoth Hot Springs.  Yellowstone… many faces, all astounding. 

Motorhome adventure, days 4 & 5

Hi again from Suz & John, direct from Gardiner Montana, about 1 mile north of Yellowstone National Park!  The photo at left was taken on our way from Livingston Montana to Gardiner.  Such spectacular countryside!  I have been to Montana several times, and each time it somehow grips me in it’s natural beauty.  You may have seen many photos of  Montana, but seeing it in person is a special experience – to me anyway.

Yesterday, day four, was a travel day.  We got a late start and when it came time to hook up the car to the motorhome it took longer than day one.  We discovered that we didn’t have it exactly right the first time, and so with a little extra effort, we did get it right yesterday.  We lost an hour when driving into Montana and that contributed to us arriving in Deer Lodge rather late.  We gassed up in Missoula and this time we were able to calculate mileage.  It wasn’t as good as we’d hoped, but not too bad considering the mountainous terrain we encountered.  (8.3 mpg)  We arrived in Deer Lodge about 6:30 pm – just in time to hook up everything prior to another rain storm.  I made a yummy dinner of Asian pork and noodles with snow peas and broccoli (one of our favorites)… before we knew it, it was bedtime.   This morning we got going much quicker!  We didn’t need to hook up the car as we’d left it connected overnight.  We were on the road by 9:30 am.  We arrived here at Rocky Mountain RV Park about 2pm, in the middle of a hail/rain/wind storm.  The funny thing about weather in this part of the USA, it literally changes minute by minute.  After unhooking the car (also known in RV language as “the toad”) and hooking up our electric, sewer, cable, and water, we snapped this picture.  Yep, the clouds were gone, replaced by beautiful blue skies.

We drove from the RV park into the town of Gardiner in our little car, just to “check it all out”.  We stopped at the local grocery store, picked up a few items we needed and then drove to the Roosevelt Arch, the original entrance to Yellowstone Park.  Way back in the early 1900’s, tourists would disembark from the train and get into stagecoaches that carried them through the arch and into the nation’s FIRST national park.  Here is a picture I took after asking John to turn the car around and head back out through the arch.  Our little car making it’s way through this very famous landmark!

Tomorrow will be our first day exploring this national treasure!  I am so thrilled that we have three full days here to take it all in.  More photos will follow, no doubt.  The locals say that the weather is supposed to get nicer and nicer – now that would be awesome.

And now, a few words from my dear hubby (the motorhome chauffeur) whom I wish a VERY happy Fathers Day today!!

I’m not quite sure what to add really, except that I love the coach, it drives like a dream, I almost feel like I could leave it in cruise and climb in the back and take a nap!…kidding of course. I’m not too unhappy with the fuel mileage through the mountains, if we maintain our 10mpg “on the flat” I will be very happy. We have had a chance to check out many of the systems we have on board including the furnace and so far they all work as designed, except the backup camera which is being temperamental, sometimes it works and then it doesn’t, I’m sure its an easy fix,  a loose connection or something. Montana is beautiful, rolling green hills and snow capped mountains, wonderful scenery. I am keeping up with all the sporting events and with an Irishman leading the open, England about to win the world cup,  a beer in the fridge, my own personal chef as we travel through the western US….. what more could a man ask?