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Sunday, September 27, 2015

YELLOWSTONE CRAZINESS


When we finish up at the workshop it is still raining, so we decide to head into the centre of Salt Lake City to tour the main attraction here. Yes, that is the massive Temple for The Church of the Latter Day Saints (Mormons). We score a carpark practically outside one of the entrances & feed the machine (who would have thought $4 would get 2 hours!) Then head off to get our tour. The tours are more like instruction in their religion, but it is impressive to see inside the lovely temple, the older small one & then the gigantic conference centre. For the first 2 we had 2 lovely young girls showing us around, but the next guide was an older, much more boring guy. We finally escaped. Followed by a drive around town, before heading to Tim’s driveway for the night. John had met Tim at the Isuzu dealership. The long & the short of it is that Tim & his mate Brian are building a camper out of an ex USA army 4x4 large truck. Should be something special when finished as they are both very competent engineers,

Bright & early we leave the city and head due north. Next stop: Antelope Island State Park, set on an island in Great Salt Lake and connected by a long causeway. Such a great place - we spend the better part of the day exploring. Lots of bison & pronghorn antelopes (all other species here remain hidden from us.) Would be a great spot to stay – but more to see & do, so we continue on. To Logan & then through Logan Canyon. Really pretty, but nowhere to camp, so finally head up a side road until we find a nice spot beside the river. Brrr a chilly night – wake to find our roof vent encrusted with ice. GR2 takes ages to warm up.

On & up over the mountains, with great views of Bear Lake. Then on across the border into Idaho. Lots of farming communities, all with their own large Latter Day Saints Church. Even pass a really lovely LDS cathedral/temple in Paris. Another summit, & in to Wyoming. Lots more towns before we head in to Wyoming’s Grand Canyon. Again lots of white water rafting. Finally reach Jackson Hole – an incredibly touristy town, which we can’t wait to leave. Then on in to Teton National Park. Everywhere we drive we are overshadowed by these magnificent peaks. We finally find a spot in the forest to camp with views of the Tetons/peaks. A campfire, sunset & then sunrise. 

An early start means we get to see a huge male moose, lots of elk & a fox hunting breakfast. Some lovely views over the lake, then more scenic driving. We can’t drive all day, so head off on a walk. Back driving, the road continues straight in to Yellowstone National Park. It is massive, and there is no simple way to drive around & to top it off it is the weekend and the place is packed. We decide to explore the south east quarter & head out to Cody (that way we can return via the very scenic Beartooth Pass that has been highly recommended. On to explore the West Thumb thermal area with its wooden walkways. Lots of aquamarine steaming pools, little geysers going off, and bubbling mud right beside the huge Yellowstone Lake. Apparently fishermen used to cook their catch as soon as they caught them – in the bubbling water. Then we drive along the edge of the lake & up into the mountains, through yet another canyon and in to the town of Cody. And yes there is a Walmart. Campspot solved. Dinner out in a local restaurant with the old boys belting out country & western. Awesome!

The next morning we head to the incredibly famous (here anyway) Buffalo Bill Museum. A big section is about a guy by the name of William Cody/ alias Buffalo Bill: who was a famous tracker, explorer & finally entrepreneur who took his Cowboy & Indian Show around the world (rather like Circus Soliel). There are also sections about Native Indians, the animals in the area, the biggest display of guns we have ever seen etc etc. You really could spend all day here – in fact your ticket is valid for 2 days. But the weekend is nearly over – time to venture back in to Yellowstone, with hopefully fewer people. Finally leave town with an empty loo, full water tanks & full diesel tank (with the cheapest fuel in town of course – thanks to Gasbuddy) Head off towards Beartooth Highway – find a great spot for the night beside the river – it even has a pile of firewood waiting for us.

Up bright & early ready to attack the mountain. And what a drive it is. Near the summit we see a sign – Road Closed. But the barrier isn’t shut & the cars that passed us haven’t returned, so we carry on. Once it snows this road gets closed – and there is evidence of fresh snow all around. The summit is very chilly. Perfect to stop for coffee. Then a magic descent passing heaps of shiny blue lakes. Finally back in to Yellowstone. The list is up for camp grounds (yes we plan to legally camp in one). At least half are closed for the season, and only a few of the remaining have empty spots. We decide to book one once we get there – quite a drive away. On through trees & in to Bison territory. Lots of cars stopped & massive lens trained on these huge beasts. Another stop cameras are pointed to the hills – there is one lonely longhorn sheep there! Too far away for my camera. On to the camp ground – it is now full!!There are cars everywhere, and parking areas are already getting tight. Luckily GR2 can squeeze in to pretty small spots.

Head on south to see one of my must sees – the falls over Grand Canyon – awesome. Then we decide to walk down in to the canyon to the lower viewpoint – what a trudge back up – but worth the great view. More mud pools & crazy thermal areas before doubling up on part of the loop past Yellowstone Lake. No way will we be able to finish the Old Faithful & other geyser areas & exit the park today, so we turn in to Grant Village to see if we can find a spot there. The camp ground is closed. There are heaps of empty carparks…..couldn’t we just use one of them. We see a ranger vehicle & ask. Sure thing – just go behind the petrol station. What a relief! Here we meet a couple from Aus who have hit a moose in their VW camper & are waiting to be towed. What a small world.

Phew another day exploring & tackling the crowds (even carpark queues!) First to the very famous Old Faithful – who faithfully puts on her show. The Beehive puts on an even more spectacular display. Lots of boardwalks to explore – and 100’s more photos taken. More geyser areas to explore – more boardwalks & even more photos! One special stop was a walk to the unofficial outlook over the incredibly gorgeous Giant Prismatic Spring (surely the most vibrant, amazing pool of water). The carpark in to view it was jampacked with a queue waiting – but we got there. Many more thermal areas before it really is time to start heading out of the park. We are geysered out. But one last stop at Mammoth Falls to trek yet more boardwalks, to see the limestone terraces. Magic. Then in town we finally see lots of elk. Males rutting & bugling (all to catch the female’s eye). Finally we are out – find a spot beside the Yellowstone River for the night. Two other motorhomes join us – and yes they are both Aussies! And no we did not see Yogi or Boo Boo.

Coming Soon: “Going to the Sun”  

 

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