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  1. #61
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Southern California
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    5,011

    Default

    DAY 36 - TRIP OF "FIRSTS"

    photo(80)

    As we pulled into our first sightseeing stop of the day, on our way to Billings MT, we noted a sign that said, "America's First National Monument - Devil's Tower". The day before, we'd been to America's first national park to protect a cave, Wind Cave. After going through the very small museum/visitor center, we set out on the Tower Trail, a 1.3 mi hike that would take us all the way around Devil's Tower. On the trail, we didn't meet any wildlife, but we did get to observe, albeit from afar, a set of 5 or 6 climbers on the face of the tower. We could hear them like they were in the next room, though they were about halfway up the tower.

    Between Devil's Tower and the next stop in Montana, we experienced a brief "thud" with the engine falling out of gear and immediately jumping back into gear. This is different from the problems we experienced in Bismarck, though we've experienced this before, wondering again about a sensor. However, there were no electrical interferences that were observable.

    Back on the 90, heading for Billings, we pulled through Gillette and discovered a coal mine at the side of the road.

    photo(79)

    This was the first trip in which we have attempted to see two places and still drive 450 miles on the day we did so. Our second stop was at Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. This was not on the original trip plan at all. Hubby happened to say, when we were in Custer State Park, that someday he'd like to see where Custer's Last Stand took place. I looked it up, saw that it was right on the way (1/2 mile from I-90) to Billings, so we left early that day (6 am) in order to have time to see it. We spent about 2-1/4 hours there, getting to see the movie, do the 5-mile drive and visiting both the Indian Memorial and to a lesser extent, the Cemetery. It was very similar to Gettysburg and Vicksburg, but on a far smaller scale, of course. It made us both remember that the Native Americans got a raw deal.

    photo(77)

    Situated in an EconoLodge in Billings, MT, we went for a short "swim" then a warmer dunk in a hot tub, did dinner, and then relaxed and discussed the next day's plans, the approach to Yellowstone National Park. This was a reserved room with the special request for a first floor room "please", but they still attempted to give us a 2nd floor room. We are still trying to figure out why every motel attempts to give us a 2nd floor room even though we have requested a first floor room, are in "fairly" early (5:45 pm or earlier), and we have reserved. It's very frustrating. If there's an elevator, we really do not mind. But carrying a heavy suitcase or two up a couple of flights of stairs is not something we really want to do, and we leave early enough to feel sorry for the people below us who hear us thump around at 5 am and roll suitcases around before 6 am. Usually we have to explain that to the check-in folks. Grrrrr!


    Donna

  2. #62
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,110

    Default Nothing has changed .... and a simple solution.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonnaR57 View Post
    It made us both remember that the Native Americans got a raw deal.
    Like in the rest of the developed world, they still do.



    We are still trying to figure out why every motel attempts to give us a 2nd floor room ....
    Get a walking stick.

    Ever since I have had to use one, I have not been offered anything but a groundfloor room.

    Lifey

  3. #63
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,260

    Default Beautiful

    Very nice shot of the Devils Tower!

    ...And yes, I know that the software still needs to be fixed. Soon, soon, soon.

    Mark

  4. #64
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    5,011

    Default

    DAY 36 CONTINUED --

    Just got my photos out of the good camera. Thought some of you might like to see a few more.

    Better, closer shot of Devils Tower:
    DevilsTower and Little Bighorn 016

    This little guy came right up to me, probably looking for a handout (which I wasn't going to give him). It made for a nice photo op! He was a part of a HUGE field of Prairie dogs, which of course aren't really "dogs". They're just rodents.
    DevilsTower and Little Bighorn 034

    Hubby had the camera for Little Big Horn, and took this shot of the mass grave marker.
    DevilsTower and Little Bighorn 083


    Donna

  5. #65
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    5,011

    Default

    DAY 37 - OHHHHHHHHHH MYYYYYYYYYYYYY GAWWWWWWWWWWWWWSH!!

    Headed out from Billings with a 12 mile stint on I-90 then southwest on US-212. Quick bite to eat at Red Lodge before starting the Beartooth Highway. Well, thank you very much for this recommendation, as this was the most breathtaking highway either of us have every been on! Photos do not do it justice! We were thankful that everything worked out for us to be able to do this, including the weather. The report that morning had been for rain 40% chance all day. Managed to make it up the pass and down into Cooke City with almost no rain. Cooke City and Silver Gate got the rain!

    Beartooth Yellowstone Day 1 008

    Beartooth Yellowstone Day 1 033

    Beartooth Yellowstone Day 1 037

    Beartooth Yellowstone Day 1 038

    Beartooth Yellowstone Day 1 057

    Paid the entrance to Yellowstone at the northeast entrance station. $25 covers both Yellowstone AND Grand Teton for a week. So we won't have to pay again. It occurred to me that I've now been through every entrance to Yellowstone -- before this trip, only the NE entrance was missing.

    In the Lamar Valley, there were herds of buffalo. None were as close as the ones we had seen in Custer a few days before. Then a little later, there were some pronghorn out, also not as close as the ones in Custer. Some elk and a black bear were out too. The elk, a buffalo closer to Canyon Village, and the black bear all caused the major "animal jams".

    Beartooth Yellowstone Day 1 125

    We decided to stop and do some walking through Norris Geyser Basin.

    Beartooth Yellowstone Day 1 093

    Beartooth Yellowstone Day 1 097

    We were walking the 1.6 mile Back Basin boardwalks when thunder was heard in the distance, and there were the clouds too. When the wind picked up, we decided it was time to head back for the truck. In so doing, I really did a number on my foot, disturbing my heel spur which I've had for years.

    Beartooth Yellowstone Day 1 119

    We settled ourselves into the One Horse Motel in West Yellowstone just outside the west entrance. Our room is very small, we don't have bedside table/s, but the bathroom is decent sized. It's got A/C and a ceiling fan, and appears to be exceptionally clean. The price was "right", especially for this town. We'd made this reservation back in January!

    Everything you need is within walking distance, so when you get back from a day in the park, you can park your vehicle and go everywhere on foot. Our dinner was at the Buffalo Bar, which had the best bar food we've ever had, and no kids are allowed in the place. A small supermarket, with typically higher resort-area prices, is within a couple of blocks. (No Wal-Mart here.) There's another one down the road. We picked up some picnic food for the following day, and hubby found beer to take back to California with us. (We had a great laugh out of that, singing the theme song from Smokey and the Bandit.)


    Donna

  6. #66
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,260

    Default All that and the One Horse Motel too!

    Sorry to hear about the heel spur issue. But very glad you had nice weather for the the pass.

    Mark

  7. #67
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    5,011

    Default

    DAY 38 -- YELLOWSTONE, DAY 2

    Up early in the morning and at Old Faithful by 6:35! Traffic was almost non-existent and parking was a breeze. We had decided to start with the most congested area in the park and go early to enjoy it without a lot of extra people. There were probably 4 or 5 dozen people around the boardwalk waiting for Old Faithful to erupt, all in jackets and a little cold. She finally erupted at 7:10 am.

    Yellowstone Day 2 020

    Decided to splurge a little and enjoy breakfast in the Old Faithful Inn. That's a beautiful inn. Though we had the breakfast buffet, service and presentation were impeccable. Xanterra is doing well with what used to be Fred Harvey's domain, so Fred would have been proud! Wasn't too pricey, either, when you consider juice and coffee were included. Offerings were 2 types of scrambled eggs, bacon or sausage, two types of hash browns, French toast, biscuits and gravy, sweet rolls and muffins, four types of dry cereals (with milk), oatmeal with brown sugar and raisins separate, hot grits, a fruit salad, two types of fat-free yogurt -- I'm sure I am missing something here. Anyway, for $12.98 that was a pretty good deal for all you cared to eat.

    Went back outside to catch Old Faithful erupting for the second time, 20 minutes later. Then, despite my painful heel spur, we walked most of the boardwalks around Upper Geyser Basin.

    Our next stop was at the West Thumb Geyser Basin. Walked that entire thing, which was really neat to see the geysers right at the edge of Yellowstone Lake.

    photo(84)

    We also walked the entire trail for the Mud Geyser Basin.
    photo(81)

    We took a break in a picnic area on the shore of West Thumb, before moving further up to the Upper and Lower Falls area. We did the viewpoints there, and walked to the Brink of Lower Falls -- 3/8 mile STRAIGHT DOWN 600 ft in elevation. I did fine going down but was very slow coming back up due to that heel spur. At a different spot, hubby walked to the Brink of Upper Falls. I declined as my foot was hurting pretty bad by then.

    Brink of Lower Falls.
    photo(82)

    Brink of Upper Falls.
    Yellowstone Day 2 138

    Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone Walls.
    Yellowstone Day 2 134

    Came back to the motel just after 4, rested, then walked more -- over to get pizza for dinner.


    Donna
    Last edited by DonnaR57; 07-16-2014 at 06:44 PM. Reason: added photos

  8. #68
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    5,011

    Default

    DAY 39 - THIRD DAY, YELLOWSTONE

    No doubt about it, Yellowstone is a very large National Park. It is very, very busy -- traffic can be a source of contention, parking is often a problem (particularly between 10 am and 4 pm), and even foot traffic is a headache. Still, it is a beautiful park with so much to see and do. We planned 3 days, enough to do an overview and decide what to see in more detail the next time we come.

    So on the third day, we drove the northern section of the Grand Loop. Our first stop was at Gibbon Falls, which is an overlook with a "lower overlook" 1000 ft down the road. Beautiful, and at 7:30 am, we still had a number of people there!

    Yellowstone Day 3 007

    Drove up to the Artists' Paintpots. Hubby wanted to see boiling mud, and this was going to fill the order. Unfortunately, we were the 4th vehicle in a line and all 4 of us turned in -- even at 7:45 am!!!! Still, once on the trail, people spread out and it wasn't an issue. We loved the area, and had become accustomed to the aroma.

    Yellowstone Day 3 015

    Next stop was for coffee at Canyon area, then off to Tower Falls. We'd tried to get into that parking lot when we first came in, but it was jammed then so we skipped it. Glad we got to see it, finally, as the falls are beautiful!

    Yellowstone Day 3 054

    We'd gotten into a number of animal jams. The most common had been for bison, including one jam that has lasted for days because people were watching a dead bison -- we supposed, seeing what other animals would come to feast on it. This day we had a bear jam, for a mother and THREE cubs. That is unusual, for sure. What is not so unusual is the idiocy of people who get out and try to get a close up photo!!! We also saw some pronghorn and some female elk (at Mammoth Hot Springs).

    Yellowstone Day 3 060

    Yellowstone Day 3 104

    At Mammoth, we did the Lower Terrace on foot, the Upper Terrace both by vehicle and on foot. Also we drove to Gardiner and the Roosevelt Arch. We were sad to see that the Terraces have died off so much -- the sign said after the 1998 earthquake.

    Yellowstone Day 3 082

    Yellowstone Day 3 092

    Yellowstone Day 3 101



    The day ended at the park by crawling through a construction zone. Some of the road between Mammoth Hot Springs and Norris Jct is being replaced. Much of the work is being done between 11 pm and 7 am, so they actually close the road there. But the other work is still being done during the day. There was a 3-mile stretch of pilot car, one-lane only traffic, right around Roaring Mountain.

    Long road trips always require things like laundry, and the One Horse Motel in West Yellowstone had a washer and dryer -- $1.50 each.

    BTW, this "40 Day Road Trip" is actually going to be something like 46 days. I guess I can't count!!!!


    Donna
    Last edited by DonnaR57; 07-17-2014 at 04:14 PM.

  9. #69
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,260

    Default Yellowstone breakfast treat

    Wonderful photos and thanks for the report about the breakfast fare!

    Mark

  10. #70
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    5,011

    Default

    DAY 40 - GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK

    Up early, checked out of One Horse Motel in West Yellowstone and was on the road before 6 am. Before 7:30 am, we had traversed Yellowstone from the West Entrance, to Madison, to West Thumb and South Entrance and arrived at Flagg Ranch for breakfast. Bad mistake. The service was incredibly slow, the toast was cold and the coffee was strong and tepid, and it was expensive. The waiter was really nice, though.

    Since there was no entrance station on the north end of Grand Teton NP, we never had to show our receipt from Yellowstone, nor did we get a map of the park until we stopped at Colter Bay Visitor Center. Once we had a decent map, I could plan our drive accordingly.

    We stopped at all the overlooks that looked interesting, and got on Teton Park Road. When we came to the Jenny Lake Scenic Drive, we took it. Very pretty! Then kept going, stopping at the overlooks. When we got near Moose Junction, we pulled into the Menor area especially to see the Chapel of the Transfiguration. That was as beautiful as the first two times I saw it, when I was much younger!

    The Chapel.
    Grand Teton NP 033

    View out the Chapel window.
    Grand Teton NP 038

    Menor area, the ferry across the Snake.
    Grand Teton NP 042

    Menor transportation garage.
    Grand Teton NP 052



    Headed north on US-89, just to drive up to the Snake River Overlook.
    photo(87)

    Grand Teton NP 073

    Then headed back south again, turning left on Antelope Flats Road. Mormon Row looked interesting, especially to photograph that much photographed barn. Not sure I got the right barn, but I got an interesting one! Then drove over to Gros Ventre Road to follow the river a little and peer into the Elk Refuge. Nary an elk did we see!

    Grand Teton NP 083

    In Jackson, what a nightmare! Stopped in the visitor center for naught. Then backtracked and found parking to get some ice cream for lunch! Meandered through the town just to try to find our route and missed it. Fortunately, we made our way back to it.

    We took WY-22 West over Teton Pass. With 10% grades up, we heated up the tranny a little but nothing too bad. (The only reason we knew that it was hot was that we have a tranny temp gauge.) Coming down was even harder, though, as there was construction and we came down at the end of a very long line of vehicles. Hubby is a skilled driver, put the General into 1st gear and 2nd when needed and rarely had to touch his brakes!

    Grand Teton NP 088

    We situated ourselves in Driggs, ID, at the backside of the Grand Tetons, in a Super 8. This one has the largest rooms we'd ever seen in a Super 8, and very clean. After being crammed into very tiny quarters for 3 nights, having a lot of space was appreciated! The price was much better than we would have paid in Jackson, too. It's about 30 miles out of Jackson, just over a pass. There was also an indoor pool and a hot tub. The only drawback to the place as that the closest food was a Subway across the street.

    View out hotel room window. (Look between trees for Grand Tetons.)
    photo(88)

    Though there was still the trip home to go, the sightseeing days were about done at this point on the trip.

    Donna

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