Monday, July 28, 2008

Wyoming, part III

Sunday, July 20, 2008
We drove to Yellowstone and put the rig in site 32 at Indian Creek CG. In the late afternoon we went up to Mammoth and viewed the Travertine Terraces and watched the elk lounge on the grass in the middle of the village.

We have made it to the land of the hordes and teaming masses. Do we look as bad as these people? Plenty of Europeans and Asians. Gawd, do we hate that the Fed let the dollar sink so low.

Monday, July 21, 2008
Up at 6 and off at 7:15 to Old Faithful. About 7:45 I recalled that I had forgotten to bring the information on where to meet for the ranger led hike. Too late to turn around and it did not matter anyway, since we did not get to Old Faithful until 8:26 and found the place we needed to be at 8:30 was a 15 minute walk and we did not even know which direction to walk. And so it goes. We are way too far away from Old Faithful to make the early morning ranger walks.

So we amused ourselves with walking around Old Faithful and seeing the dozen other geysers in the area. One even popped off for us. We waited a few minutes and Old Faithful was faithful, tho it is not a very good display.

We drove north and toured Biscuit and Midway Geyser Basins, the Firehole Lake Drive, where Great Fountain went off just as we were pulling up. On north to Firehole Canyon Drive. By this time, we were exhausted and found a pull off, had lunch by the river, then put our chairs in the river and soaked our feet.

We had to wait through two elk jams on the way back. Yahoo’s who stop on the road and pursue elk into the meadows. We hoped the elk would charge, that would have been exciting.

Tuesday, July 22, – Saturday, July 26, 2008
We have been rambling around Yellowstone seeing the sights that we missed in 2006. We went on three ranger walks, one on the Travertine Terraces, one at the Paint Pots and the last was a rim walk along the Yellowstone River. Interpretive rangers are in short supply this year.

Yellowstone is enormous! You will burn up lots of gasoline and time seeing it all. We like it best in the early morning from 6 to 8. I would not know how to photograph the delicate tones at that time. I think it could only be faithfully rendered in paint.

The waterfalls are spectacular this year because of the heavy winter snowfall. For us, the Yellowstone River and it’s falls are the single most impressive feature in the park. The drive through the Lamar Valley was our favorite landscape.

This trip we broke down and went to the well-liked Old Faithful. It was not very impressive - more steam than water. There are thermals galore in this area; geysers, hot springs, bubbling pools of mud etc. We happened on one cone geyser that went off just as we drove up. [see pictures] Like most geysers, it does not erupt on any sort of schedule.

We had planned to stay in Yellowstone for 4 or 5 days. As it worked out we spent a week, as we do not like to move on weekends. We have a good campsite, a corner one. I did not notice it was a corner site when we pulled in, but it has worked out excellent, as we are “protected” from the continual traffic looking for a camp site. Most people only stay one or two nights. They come after 5 and leave by 8.

Sunday, July 27, 2008
We drove through the Lamar Valley to the northeast entrance with the intention of maybe staying at Pebble CG, but it was full. We continued on through the tacky hamlets of Silver City and Cooke City intending to stay at one of the FS CG’s east of Yellowstone. Four of four were closed. When US212 went south back into Wyoming we changed national forests and entered Shoshone NF. We went into the first CG we saw, liked it and made camp. We wanted to dump, but we got a fine site next to a babbling river with electricity for $10. This breaks our 27 day stretch wo hookups.

We took an afternoon drive east on the Beartooth Highway. Charles Kuralt called it the best drive in the US. I cannot disagree with him, it is incomparable. We located more CG’s higher up that are open and numerous mountain lakes to dip the yaks in. We now want to stay a few days, so we may drive into Cody tomorrow to re-provision and dump. The afternoon temperature “on top” at nearly 11,000 feet was 66. Down in the CG, at 7,000 it was 83.

The only down side is that the weather system is bringing smoke up the Snake River corridor from California. Also there is a fire north of here.

We had cocktails by the river with Dennis and Carolyn of Florida. Super people.

Monday, July 28, 2008
We drove into Cody, only 57 miles, but it takes almost two hours, as you go DOWN, UP and DOWN on the Chief Joseph Highway. It’s almost as good as the Beartooth Highway. We bought groceries at Wal-Mart, dumped, gassed up for only $4.17, we have seen $4.70 and updated the blog. Back up the Beartooth Highway tomorrow and then we will reverse course to the west side of Yellowstone. We expect to enter Idaho in a week or so.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Wyoming, part II

Saturday, July 12, 2008
This was history of the mountain men day for us. We started out with the parade. Parades are a big deal in small towns and we like them. After lunch, we attended Michael Bad Hand Terry’s freewheeling discussion of the Plains Indians culture from 1740 to 1860 - from their first encounter with whites to the reservation period. Or in other words, the period of fur trade. Or how the carriage trade’s infatuation with beaver hats led to the destruction of a culture that had lasted for over 10,000 years. Michael dispelled several myths. One being that Indians were purposely infected with smallpox from trade blankets. Smallpox cannot be spread that way. It requires one-to-one contact. Moreover, the traders needed the Indians to help with the trapping and to have someone to sell their goods to. The period of the fur trade was relatively free from warfare, at least until the last 20 years, which was also after the period where money could be made from furs.

Michael was so fascinating to us, so much so that we went back to his last “performance” of the day. So we got over 3 ½ hours of him. He consults on Indian culture for Hollywood movies. They ask for his opinion. he tells them and they do it their way. Remember Graham Greene’s haircut in Dances With Wolves? Well, the tribe was Shoshone and the men and women all braid their hair below the ears. Graham’s hair was in the Crow style. Which Michael said would have gotten him killed on the first dark night, as hairstyle was a primary recognition feature. Michael has killed several bison from horseback, with spear and bow and arrow. He is totally immersed in Plains Indian culture. He was a real treat for us. Google him.

Sunday, July 13, 2008
Today, we attended the Green River Rendezvous, a pageant telling the story of the Rocky Mountain rendezvous. Half the town puts on the pageant and the other half sits in the stadium with a few tourists. They made the story come alive. It was great fun, even if the sun was hot.

The population of Sublette county is 6,000, Pinedale is 2,300.

Monday, July 14, 2008
We moved camp 30 minutes north to Warren Bridge, a BLM CG. An open campground, with water and dump, $5.

After lunch and nap, we set out to find Green Lakes CG. It proved to be difficult for us and Glenda, our GPS, was useless. After an hour of touring ranches, we finally got on the right road after going through some wonderful Wyoming ranch land. After 30 miles, we got to the alleged terrible dirt road to Green Lakes. It was washboard in places, but we could do 45 in some places. Anyone who thinks it is a bad, has never ridden with us.

Green Lake CG is not so much. Green Lake is a feast for the eyes. However, the mosquitoes were the worst we have encountered, clouds of them. Maybe we could have paddled the lake, maybe they do not venture much offshore, but it takes 10 minutes to get the yaks in the water and another 15 to recover them. We took pictures and got back in the Jeep. How the campers were able to sit out, we don’t know. We thought camping along the Green would be better than at the CG, especially not in prime bug season.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008
We are dispersed camped near Alpine, WY, almost in Idaho. Last night, I decided I wanted to see the Grand Canyon of the Snake, so we drove an hour north and a half-hour west. The first hour driving US 189/191 was through some of the best landscape in the country. Mountains, lush green hillsides, wild flowers and the cascading Hoback River. It reminded me of the terrain around Jasper, Alberta.

US191 continues north to Jackson and US189 turns west and follows the Snake River. There are a few FS CG’s along the road, we checked out two and found them near full and lacking in scenic beauty. Plus they are close to the road, as you are in a canyon, plus, plus they are doing road work. So we passed on them. Why would I think that CG’s, even in a remote area, would be RV friendly when they are along a major river with commercial float the river operations abounding?

They are two FS CG’s on the Idaho shore of Palisades Res. But they contain full-time residents. i.e. people living in squalor in their RV’s on FS land. I suppose the FS in not into enforcement in this area.

Finally, we drove a short distance up the road besides Grey’s River, which dumps into the Snake and found private spot on a bluff overlooking the river. We backed KoKo up to the edge and have fine view of the swift river below. Cost? Zero!

It’s warmer here, we dropped 2,000 feet to 5,700. Mosquitoes are here, so we will view from the rear lounge.

Wednesday, July 16, 2000
We drove north along the shoreline of the Snake, dammed up and called Palisades Res. to the western side of the Grand Tetons. I thought this side would have less people than the Jackson side. It does, but the towns of Victor and Driggs are looking more like Jackson. The million dollar second homes are there – and many are for sale.

We decided to stay at Tenton Canyon CG, which is down five miles of dusty road. The CG was an instant hit with us so we signed up for four days. The neighbors are friendly, as is often the case when the surroundings are pleasing.

Just before darkness, mother moose and twin calves appeared and were not nervous about us or the cars that pulled into the CG.

Thursday, July 17, 2008
We tried the 3.7 mile hike to Devil’s Staircase. It’s not strenuous, only modestly uphill, but after two miles we turned around. The elevation is only 7,000 feet and we had only gained 300 feet in two miles, but we were huffing and puffing.

Friday, July 18, 2008
We drove north to view Mesa Falls, which is a decent waterfalls, at least as good as those in upper Michigan. Most of the land we drove through was devoted to BIG farms – horizon to horizon.

Saturday, July 19, 2008
We planned to hike to Table Rock, but did not wake up until 8:45, so we came to town to do laundry to be ready for the jump to Yellowstone in the morning.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Wyoming, Part I

Tuesday, July 1, 2008
We got up early, had a cup of coffee and hiked the Turtle Rock Trail. We saw lots of interesting rocks, but did not one that looked like a Turtle to us. An hour into the hike I (Dorothy) decided that I had probably reached my limit. It is an easy hike with a little up and down, but the altitude got to me. Don went a little further, didn’t see the rock, and turned around and we headed back to campground – we were getting hungry. We were gone 2 hours so it was good exercise and it didn’t kill us.

After breakfast, after Dorothy yelled at Caremark about her prescription, we drove to Cheyenne and then west on Wyoming 130 into the Snowy Range, where there is still plenty of snow and closed campgrounds in the upper elevations. I had picked Brooklyn Lake solely because it is located at 10,200. Maybe another time.

The population of Cheyenne is only 27,000. For a city whose name I have long been familiar with, it seemed it should be larger.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Dorothy is still suffering from altitude sickness. So the morning activity was driving Forest Service road 700 looking at rocks, taking pictures and scouting for places to stay. We took one spur road and Don finally found his “Jeep Road”. We were rewarded with the most gorgeous vistas.

Vedauwoo is sorta like Jumbo Rocks, Alabama Hills or Chiriacahua, except with green trees and grass. However, we have been told that normally by this time of the year, this area is Wyoming is getting brown.

That afternoon we went to the camp host, Jim & Linda, to have cocktails. They insisted that we stay for dinner. We had a delicious grilled chicken dinner and more cocktails. Life is Good!

Thursday, July 03, 2008
Dorothy wanted to see the territorial prison in Laramie, so we did.

There is a sign near the CG directing traffic to the Ames Monument. We had no idea what the monument was about, but we were curious enough to drive two miles down the dirt road to find out. It’s a really swell rock pyramid commemorating the brothers Ames who the Union Pacific thought did so much to get tracks laid that they built the monument. Well, that’s what the plaque on the monument says. I found that odd and Googled it. Recall Credit Mobilier? Here’s the story:

Friday, July 04, 2008
We wanted to camp in the “outback” of the area. We had seen several places that looked real good on our 4WD trips during the week. So we drove out to find the perfect one. All taken by the hordes. We decided we would be real happy in the CG. And we were. We had Jim and Linda over to dinner.

Saturday, July 05, 2008
We did some projects in the morning, lazed in the afternoon, had cocktails with Jim and Linda and were in bed by 9.

New record for us, we made it 4 and ½ days on a tank of water, five days on the gray tank and six days on the dark tank.

Sunday, July 06, 2008
Into Laramie for groceries, gas, propane and to dump. We then drove out WY130 to Centennial for lunch at the Beartooth Tavern. Dorothy wanted another Breakfast Burrito, which is a HUGE meal. Then we drove up the mountain to North Fork CG, We got a pleasant site by the Little Laramie River, a fine babbling brook. We had cocktails by the brook. It’s a little cooler today, 68 at 5 pm.

The white noise from the brook will make for excellent sleeping. And so it did.

Monday, July 07, 2008
We drove west across Wyoming to Firehole in Flaming Gorge. It’s a nice CG on the Green River. It’s lower, 6,200 feet and so it’s warmer, 88 in mid-afternoon. If the wind will lay down, we plan to paddle the yaks. They have not been off the Jeep’s top since we left home.

The view of Western Wyoming from I80 is not much different from west Texas.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008
After we ate a breakfast of pancakes, we put the yaks in the river and had an hour or so paddle on flat water. There are more birds here than in an aviary. We saw huge catfish and large mouth bass also. Pronghorns live between the CG and the river. We saw the whole herd when we put the yaks in. Later, we saw several just behind our site browsing in the mid-day sun.

After we got back to the beach, we drove the Jeep in the river and washed it off. It was coated in dust from being towed one mile the other day.

We are laying low in the afternoon heat, with three fans on. By 5, it cools off and sleeping is good. It’s actually cool in the morning.

Our location on the Green River is due north of Canyonlands in Utah, where the Green and the Colorado merge. So it’s not surprising that the terrain resembles that which you see in Utah. When the Tetons were higher, the Green was much wider judging by the shelves on the canyon walls.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008
We drove north from Green River to Pinedale, through some most unremarkable landscape. We are in the Lake Fremont CG, a FS facility. Most sites are at some distance from another. But, only a few on the lake. We are on the lake, but have to climb up 10 feet to see it. We have partial shade, so by moving the LD in the morning into the sun, we can keep the batteries charged and still be cool in the afternoon.

Thursday, July 10, 2008
After breakfast, we put the yaks in the water for a delightful paddle on mirror like surface. There are plenty of trout in this lake, we saw them.

After lunch, we went to the Mountain Man Museum (MMM) and were surprised at how informative it was. This happens to be Mountain Man Rendezvous weekend and we happened to be here for it. There are activities Thursday through Saturday.

Friday, July 11, 2008
We went to a 9:00 presentation by Dr. Fred Gowans, a history professor, on the rendezvous of 1833, ‘34,’35, ‘37, ‘39 and ’40 at the location of the rendezvous, the confluence of the Horse Thief and Green rivers. The rendezvous were where the Mountain Men and Indians met with their beaver pelts and a caravan would arrive with supplies for the coming year. There was fun and games and lots of drinking.

We had cocktails with some characters across the way that attend rendezvous all over the country. They are long time chums. The youngest, a former Marine, works security for high-level folks for the DOD. The security clearance for these details must be as high as the officials they are escorting as they cannot leave their clients at the door. Remember at the start of this Gulf War there were reports of zoo animals being killed? Pictures were run in Time. They did not have much to eat and there was no more food for the animals, so this guy killed a few gazelles at Saddam’s zoo. Dressed them out and ate them.