Archive for the ‘2009/08/23 Wyoming’ Category

More of Wyoming

Saturday, September 5th, 2009
Taking a break on the Beartooth Scenic Highway

Taking a break on the Beartooth Scenic Highway

Brenda left us on Monday. After staying one more night in our cool campsite, #309, we headed on down the road.  One of the highlights we wanted to hit while in the Yellowstone area was the Beartooth Scenic Highway.  Having heard so much about it  from fellow travelers and motorcycle enthusiasts, we wanted to do the loop on our motorcycles.  From our locations in the park, the ride was crazy long. We relocated to a town called Cody, making the loop a reasonable day ride.

Island Lake off the Beartoot Highway

Island Lake off the Beartooth Highway

Wednesday was the perfect day for the ride.  The skies were blue and the sun was shining.  The Beartooth didn’t disappoint, nor did the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway that we took to get there.  Although we had to fight some construction and slow traffic, the riding was great and the views were fantastic.  We particularly liked our stop at Island Lake.

We left Cody on Thursday September 3rd, our 21st anniversary.  Having trouble deciding on how to spend our last month on the road, we finally decided to head toward Rocky Mountain National Park in the Colorado Rockies (a National Park we wanted to see but didn’t think we could fit in). We have really enjoyed the Rocky mountans, from southern Colorado all the way up to Jasper/Banff in Canada, so we were hesitant to leave them behind. Since we weren’t in any rush, we stopped at a midway point between the two National Parks, a town called Lander, WY.  We weren’t sure what we would find there, but were pleasantly surprised. We spent our anniversary in town at the CowfishRestaurant and Brewery.  We enjoyed sampling the micro brews in the “pub” then had some great “grub” at the restaurant (so punny).

Kim ponders life in 1868

Kim ponders life in 1868

Just outside of Lander was Sinks Canyon State Park.  The park gets its name from the “sink”, where the Popo Agie river (pronounched po-po-shuh) disappears into a limestone cavern, reappearing 1/4 mile down the road in a pool called “The Rise”, where huge trout make their home. The ranger at the visitor center shared some hikes, motorcycle trails, and historic sites that we should visit.  We spent a good part of Friday morning and early afternoon exploring the South Pass City Historic Site.  This old mining town, establised in 1868, has been restored and maintained as an open air museum.

Chris inspects the mining machinery

Chris inspects the mining machinery

It was very interesting learning about the history of prospecting and mining. Of course Chris enjoyed checking out the tools of the trade.

Back to school time

Back to school time

The 30 or so buildings each demonstrated a particular aspect of life at that time.  Some interesting tidbits about Wyoming…It was the first state to allow women the right to vote and hold office. In 1870 Ester Morris (who lived in South Pass) became the first female judge, and in 1924 Wyoming appointed the first female governor.

They finally caught up with us...

We shoulda got those mudflaps in Texas.....

After getting a look inside the jailhouse, we were happy to be on the right side of the law.  The cells were about 4′ by 6′ with nothing in them, including windows.

Cascades along the Popo Agie river

Cascades along the Popo Agie river

Once we escaped from our short lived incarceration, we decided to check out the Popo Agie Falls back in Sinks Canyon State Park.  The 3 mile roundtrip hike was a good end to the day.  The cascades along the trail were almost more impressive than the falls.

Popo Agie Falls

Popo Agie Falls

Of course we had to take the official timer shot at the falls.
One of the easy trails in the national forest

One of the easy trails in the national forest

Saturday, Chris took advantage of the great BLM land and National Forest trails in the area while Kim caught up with friends and family. 

Yellowstone… Take 3

Monday, August 31st, 2009
Elk neighbors

Elk neighbors

Our campsite at Grant Village was a convenient location for reacquainting ourselves with our kayaks.  Chris tested out the waters first and found himself surrounded by wildlife.  He not only found himself surrounded by elk, but also several birds and a swimming otter.

Brenda learns to paddle

Brenda learns to paddle

Brenda and Kim set out the next day to see the West Thumb Geyser Basin from the water.  It was a perfect afternoon to be on the water, blue skies and calm seas.  The view wasn’t half bad either.

Thermal activity view from the kayaks

Thermal activity view from the kayaks

It was wild to see the geyser basin from the water.  The steam rising, water bubbling, and the mini hot water falls into the water were quite surreal.  We even got close enough to feel the hot water, which freaked Brenda out a little.

On the campground trail

On the campground trail

After the kayaking, it was time to stretch their legs. A short jaunt around the campground was in order.  The trail meandered through the woods, along the shore of Yellowstone Lake, and across a cool suspension bridge.

Trail in the Gallatin NF

Trail in the Gallatin NF

While Kim and Brenda enjoyed the serene views on the lake, Chris set off on his motorcycle once again to explore the wildside in the surrounding National Forest.  He found some great trails and was having a blast when he unexpectantly became one with the ground. He went down pretty hard and came home earlier than expected with a sore shoulder. It does not appear to be anything too serious.

Backside of midway geyser basin

Backside of midway geyser basin

The next day the sun was shinning again. While Chris stayed back at camp to “lick his wounds”, Brenda and Kim set out to find Fairy Falls. It was an easy but hot hike to the falls, in direct sun the whole way. The first part of the trail paralleled the Midway Geyser Basin and the colors were fantastic.

Fairy Falls

Fairy Falls

Once at Fairy Falls, they spent a few minutes trying to capture the perfect timer shot, which was more challenging without Chris’s expertise.  From there they walked a little further to check out Imperial Geyer, small but active, set back from the hustle and bustle of the other geyser basins.  Out of water and a bit overheated they headed home to check on the invalid (don’t worry “moms” he is fine, just sore).

Clepsydra Geyser

Clepsydra Geyser

For Brenda’s last day in the park, we set out to hit all of the last “must see” spots. We stopped at Firehole Canyon and Firehole Drive to see some falls, cascades and geysers. At Fountain Paint Pots we caught some nice action.

On of the many springs at Midway Geyser Basin

On of the many springs at Midway Geyser Basin

Of course we had to stop at Midway Geyser Basin to share with Chris what we had spotted from our hike the day before. 

Grand Prismatic Spring

Grand Prismatic Spring

We had to take a photo op in front of Grand Prismatic Spring, the largest and most colorful hot spring in the park.

Mystic Falls

Mystic Falls

Our last stop of the day was a hike to Mystic Falls, which didn’t dissappoint. Having to burn off some calories, we continued on to the Biscuit Basin Overlook before heading back to the car.

No more hiking for Brenda

No more hiking for Brenda

Well, she did it.  Brenda managed to see all of the park’s highlights, and none the worse for wear… Although she didn’t agree at this moment in time.

Sunday was Brenda’s last day.  The ladies spent the day sightseeing in the Tetons (“no more hiking”, said Brenda) and shopping in Jackson Hole. The trip ended on a high note with a very nice dinner out and Scrabble in the hotel with a Hagen Daz chaser:)

Bye Bren, we’ll miss you!  See you in October.

Yellowstone… Take 2

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

20090826-068x

The past few days have been filled with geysers, canyons, colors, and waterfalls.  The weather has been more than cooperative and we have been taking advantage of it.  We spent a lot of time in the truck in what Scott would call “Bison Jams”.  They are all over the place and act as if they own the park… go figure.  We got a kick out of their parading down the road.

We walked around Yellowstone Canyon trying to capture views of the Upper and Lower Falls from various vantage points.  We hiked down to Red Rock, a great observation point to see Lower Falls from.  The hike back up was quite steep and we almost lost Brenda (she was up for the challenge). From there we stopped at the Mud Volcano area, which was on our way home.  Not as impressive as some of the other points of interest, but we did like Dragon’s Breath.

On Tuesday we moved to our new campsite at Grant Village.  We lucked out and got the site we requested which was overlooking the West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake. We relished in a “REAL” campsite and enjoyed just hanging out the first day there. Who needs electricity and water.

On Wednesday, we finally made our way to the Old Faithful area.  We spent the better part of the day hiking around the upper and lower geyser basins.  We observed Old Faithful go off from two separtae vantage points during the afternoon.  Although it is predictable and relatively tall, there are many other more impressive geysers, springs, and pools in the surrounding basins.  Some of our favorite spots from the day were Grotto Geyser, Morning Glory Pool, and Chromatic Pool. We saw several other geysers go off as we happened by, which was a bonus. To top the day off… Giant raspberry/chocolate swirl ice creams in waffle cones, YUM!

Yellowstone… Take I

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009
Upper Terraces at Mammoth Hot Springs

Upper Terraces at Mammoth Hot Springs

After spending our first night in a Walmart parking lot, we arrived in Yellowstone on Thursday. The park entrance road was thin, twisty and turny and to complicate things, they were repainting the stripes. Fun with the camper in tow, only to be topped by the charging bison on the road we encountered as we rounded a corner. The excitement had begun. The first campground (Fishing Bridge), although full service, was pricey and tight (no fires allowed) but it was the only place that would fit us that night. After getting set up, we headed out on the motorcycles to find a better spot, which we did (Grant Village).  We will move there in a few days.

The Grand Tetons

The Grand Tetons

Brenda was due in on Friday, so we spent the day in Grand Tetons National Park, since it was close to the airport.  We had a great day hiking around Jenny Lake to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. 

Best friends back together again

Best friends back together again

Brenda arrived without incident.  It was great to see her and she was excited to be here.  Our first day together, we headed out to do the upper loop of the park.  Our first stop was Virginia Cascades, an interesting cascading waterfall off the beaten path.

The Norris Geyser Basin

The Norris Geyser Basin

From there we went to the Norris Geyser Basin where we were all impressed by the multitude of colorful steam vents, acidic features, and geysers.

Constant Geyser

Constant Geyser

We were even lucky enough to see one of the unpredictable geysers going off.

Artist Paintpots

Artist Paintpots

After Norris we went to check out the mudpots and colorful springs at Artists Paintpots.

Lower Terraces at Mammoth Hot Springs

Lower Terraces at Mammoth Hot Springs

Another impressive stop was the travertine terraces at Mammoth Hot Springs.  These terraces are formed by the calcium carbonate dissolved in the spring water. From there we made a few more stops as we worked our way back home.

Yellowstone River

Yellowstone River

We checked out several overlooks that showcased the Yellowstone River, as well as Undine and Tower Falls. There is so much more to see but we had to call it a day. 

Lola Pass

Lola Pass

Day two brought some cloudy skies.  We decided to divide and conquer once again.  Chris set off on his motorcycle to explore the National Forest just outside the northeast entrance. He found great roads and scenery, including many old abandoned mining camps.

Natural Bridge

Natural Bridge

Although the weather was threatening, Brenda and Kim decided to do a few hikes around the Fishing Bridge area. First stop was a short jaunt to Natural Bridge tucked away in a small hilly area by Bridge Bay. After the hike the weather became more of a challenge so Brenda and Kim did some auto touring along the east entrance road hoping it might clear up.  Unfortunately, the rain was persistent so Scrabble under the awning won out.

Because of the thermal activity in the caldera where we are staying, this place is so different from every other place we have visited this trip. Hence the absurd number of pictures. Or maybe it is because we have such beautiful models this week…. Everyone is looking forward to what is next, as we have only explored half the park so far…