Monday 27th June
After sending our blog from Dinosaur we motored on across the state line back into Utah and into the National Monument of Dinosaur where we found a Campground for the night again beside the Green river.
Waking early to explore what was on offer in the park. We drove to the end of the road to Rosie Morris’ cabin. She had farmed here basically alone for 50 years until she died from complications after falling on ice and breaking her hip while feeding her cattle at the age of 90. Her cabin which she had built herself was in a beautiful spot with a stream and a box canyon to keep her cattle in but extremely basic.
On the way back through the park we stopped at Petrogliths on the walls similar to Newspaper Rock but these had some pictures of Lizards not found elsewhere but also the strange triangular spaceman like figure similar to the one at newspaper rock but this is over 100 miles away. Did traveling artists travel that far?
We had hoped to visit the quarry where the skeleton of a Dinosaur had been found but the building was being re-constructed after it had subsided but we saw copies of some of the bones at the Visitor Center.
On the way out of the park we saw a huge Golden Eagle (we think) sitting on top of a rock.
Back on the highway we headed for Yellowstone National Park, unfortunately the Visitors Center at Jensen had told us that the North East entrance was closed which we had hoped to enter by because the road had been washed out with all the high water. Which was a shame as we had been told that this was one of the most exhilarating drives in the world especially with a large vehicle like ours. ( As good as the “Tisna Tes in Morocco? I wonder. That had “Z” bends for 111 km across the Atlas mountains without crash barriers) we will tell you after we have done it.
We took the scenic route across “Cowboy” country through the Flaming Gorge to above 8,200 ft and into Wyoming then onwards towards the Tetons on the 191. Mile after mile there was nowhere to stop any likely ones having “No Overnight” signs.
Eventually we found a large pull-out for viewing the migration of the Pronghorn Antelopes which had no signs so we had a good night there. A sign said that up to 40,000 antelope live on the prairie before us, an animal that could run at 60mph. Just before we closed up for the night we saw some come down to the river to drink.
Tuesday 28th June
We woke very cold as the temperature had dropped to 11degC overnight so we made some porridge (made by Quaker but not as good as in the to warm us up before continuing our journey towards Yellowstone. Just before arriving at Jackson Hole the warning on the dash came on to say we had to do an oil change so we asked at the Visitor Center in Jackson who told us where there was a “Lube` Station” to get it done. We phoned Cruise America to approve the cost and the whole job done in 15 minutes $58 (£35) which is less than the oil would have cost in Europe that’s including the filter and labour.
The rest of the day was spent walking round Jackson Hole the center of which has been carefully kept looking like a “Cowboy Town” while still allowing it to keep up with the times. The day ended with a gun fight at the crossroads.
We picked the nearest campground to the town so we could come back in for the evening for a meal. But it was about 8 miles along very bumpy dirt roads which took nearly an hour so we didn’t fancy doing it more than necessary. So dined at home! But there were so many midges around we found some logs and had a camp fire in the grate which are provided in all the campgrounds. It kept the midges away but we smelled like a couple of Kippers.
Wednesday 29th June
Although we were in the mountains the temperature didn’t drop as low as on the prairies so we woke early to head for Jenny Lake where we had been told there was a very nice hike to the “Hidden Falls” about 3 miles each way. The walk was very nice and the falls were stunning as there was just so much water this year. With the exceptional late snow the water was very high which had caused some flooding along the Green River but it all drains into lake Powell and lake Mead which were expected to fill up for the first time this year since their construction.
Judy’s hip was hurting after the walk there so Steve decided that the Horse Trail would be easier going back which appeared to be a similar distance on the map but he thoughtthat there would not be all the steps put in to resist all the erosion from foot traffic. The Horse trail was an easier walk even though it climbed higher but we were totally on our own and Judy especially was terrified we were going to turn a corner and come face to face with a Gizzly Bear. So Steve was clapping his hands at every bend so as to make enough noise not to surprise one if they were there. We came across none and it was actually a very nice walk back without the hundreds of other people on the trail as there had been on the way there.
We had seen piles of “droppings” along the trail and Judy was convinced it was Bears so we asked at the Ranger station who assured us it was “Moose Droppings” and told us what it would look like if it was bears. I am not quite sure what our reaction would have been if we had come face to face with a Moose but I am sure it would not have been as bad as with a bear.
We had decided to camp on BLM land just before Yellowstone so headed off there after our hike. But on the way we came across vehicles all over the road. It looked like a bad accident but as we drew nearer we saw people pointing to the tree line so Steve pulled over to the verge and we sarted looking, finally we saw an enormous Grizzly Bear easily seven foot tall grazing at the tree line about 100 yards away. After about 10 minutes watching Steve spotted a baby bear obviously with it’s mother then Judy spotted another baby. By this time some lady Rangers had arrived to sort out the traffic chaos. Steve chatted to one of them who said it was a Grizzley female number 399 who actually had triplets and she weighed about 350lb. This was the second set of triplets she had had. We must have watched along with the hundreds of other people for about 40 minutes finally seing the third cub who was quite large. So show over we carried on then about half an hour later we came across another “traffic Jam” this time it was a Black Bear on it’s own again about 100 yards away. We spent another half an hour watching this one, it was only just a bit larger than the largest of the Grizzley Cubs.
So an exiting end to the day, after half an hour we came across our Campground which was a free site beside the Snake River similar facilities of a pit toilet, picnic tables and a fire pit but no water which we didn’t need anyway, the only problem was that there were enormous midges, mosquitos or whatever which set about Judy when she jumped out to see Steve back into the pitch. So no walks, no camp fire and no use of the picnic table. Seal doors and windows and set about the bites with the miracle stick we had bought in Wal*Mart which seems to stop the irritation instantly.
Another good but eventful day.
Thursday 30th June
We left our forest campsite heading for Yellowstone National Park and arrived at the visitor center to plan our visit. Unfortunately there was no Internet here so this post will be a bit long until we find a connection. The Ranger at the desk reminded us that it was the 4th July holiday weekend and the park was almost full already so our first task should be to find where we should stay. She then outlined what we should see. Back in the van we looked at the map she had marked for us and decided that Norris Campground would be the most central. The park roads being basically a figure of eight Norris was just above the West Center join. Unfortunately we had to drive past the major attractions to Norris which was thirty miles to the north. We arrived at the campground at about 11 am first encountering an enormous Buffalo (Bison) in the parking area, he was at least 6 foot at the shoulder and just standing there eating the long grass at the bottom of a sign post. Photo taken we drove round the campsite finding every spot taken. Finally we had the choice of the last two pitches so chose the flattest and filled out our envelope and paid for two days, we could always pay for more while we occupied the spot but might want to move on elsewhere to save all the driving.
So accommodation secured we headed north to visit Mammoth Hot Springs. Ten minutes along the road we encountered oncoming cars in a que waiting behind another Bison lumbering along in front of them while another was about to cross our part of the road. Bear in mind that these magnificent animals can weigh up to two tons and can run faster than a good human runner. We waited and the one on our side decided to move over for us so after the pictures we cautiously drove past it.
Mammoth Hot Springs were nothing like we had experienced before and it is best if you look at our Gallery to get a feel for what we saw. After a lot of walking round the boardwalks we arrived at the village and immediately encountered Elk who had taken up residence on every bit of grass around and one very harassed Ranger on Elk Duty trying to stop the tourists from approaching them too close. The law is 25 yards for all large animals except Beers which require 100 yards. More tourists are injured by the seemingly harmless lumbering Bison than anything, just by invading their personal space and making them uncomfortable. So a fairly tiring afternoon and back to the campground where we decided to cook our dinner on the campfire which was very enjoyable although a bit of a challenge, cooking on wood rather than charcoal.
Friday 1st July
Up very early to head for “Old Faithful” geyser to catch the 7:30 eruption but it was thirty miles away and Steve’s calculations didn’t take into account the Bison we again encountered in the road so we arrive five minutes after it had finished so about 90 minutes to wait. The visitor center opened at 8:00 and they ran their film early for us so we could watch that and join Ranger Sam on a walk round the Geysers. Sam had been working Summers at Yellowstone for 45 years so was extreme knowledgeable and gave us a good two hour tour. We saw “Old Faithful” erupt from the back along with very many other sights then after the tour we saw it from the front then somebody said that the “Grand Geyser” would be erupting in half an hour giving us just enough time to get there but then we met some “Geyser Gazers” who spend all their vacations just watching and monitoring the Geysers they said that “Beehive Geyser” was going off first so to go past that one first. What an experience ten minutes of an enormous eruption of boiling water and steam out of a four foot diameter spout with aterrific roar. That done the “Geyser Gazers” radio’s started saying that the “Turban Geyser” was spluttering so “Grand” should follow shortly so hot step along the boardwalks between the hundreds of people to get there just in time. We sat next to some more “Geyser Gazers” who talked us through all the indicators and then a wonderful show of three connected geysers erupting simultaneously. The “Las Vegas Fountains” pale into insignificance against natures display. The “Geyser Gazers” then told us about “Great Fountain Geyser” which would be going off at about 2:30 about 12 miles up the road which gave us enough time to visit the General Store and drive there to wait just fifteen minutes for another staggering display. We were really so lucky to have experiences Ranger Sam’s tour and he had told us about the “Geyser Gazers” who were more knowledgeable about the timings of the Geysers than the Rangers who in turn helped us to experience so many terrific shows.
We had a late lunch and a bit of a rest while downloading all the photo’s, thank goodness we had bought a second battery for the camera in Jackson Hole as we would never have managed. We used two batteries and two memory cards plus charging the dead battery between stops.
We finished the day visiting all the rest of the sights back to our camp ground arriving at about 8:30 pm absolutely exhausted but excited after all we had seen and the smell of the pungent sulfur still in our nostrils.
We have decided to head out of the park for the 4th July towards Cody and hopefully some of the celebrations so hopefully we can send this update tomorrow. The pictures unfortunately will have to wait until we have time so sort them out to upload hopefully next time.
So check the gallery regularly to see the pictures of our blog.
Saturday 2nd July
Got on the road early to see the sights on our way out of the park before the crowds arrived. This part was the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone the first being a short hike to the brink of an amazing waterfall falling about 250ft then we saw the upper part which was not quite so high but very impressive. The canyon is about 1000ft deep and really as we expected the Grand canyon to be but that was so huge that it was not as impressive as this one. Strange really but everyone we speak to says the same. The scale of the Grand canyon is just too large to take in. We saw some more bubbling mud pots and boiling water pots and some extremely acidic sulfur pots which were nearly as corrosive as battery acid! It was a nice morning seeing some different things before setting off to Cody, Wyoming.
We arrived at Cody at about 4:30 and found the Visitor Center to sort out what there was to do. Being the 4th July weekend there will be a street parade tomorrow and Monday and the Rodeo will be on each day so we headed out to the Rodeo to find out more. After finding that tonight and tomorrow were the qualifiers for the 4th we booked our seats for the 4th, it will be interesting to see the difference between the local Navajo Rodeo that we saw before and this one which is the top professionals.
We will tell you more next time as it is Steve’s birthday we will be finding somewhere to eat after sending this. Thanks for all the birthday emails and facebook greetings, with our limited internet time I can’t email everyone back but hope you all receive the blog.
Steve & Judy