AmeriCanada 2015

NOTE:  When Sharon adds comments, they will be in {curly brackets}. 

Day 4. Tuesday, July 28, 2015. Through Yellowstone National Park to mid-Montana

--- MONTANA TO YELLOWSTONE, WYOMING -------------------------------------

Last night I figured out that we could alter our path as follows, approximately speaking. If one has a tall rectangle, and one wants to get from the lower left corner to the upper right corner, you have two paths resulting in the same end: 1) go up, then right, or 2) go right, then up. Originally, along these lines, I had us going up and then right. But if we start at West Yellowstone, go right, then up, we can pass through a big chunk of the wonderfulness of Yellowstone National Park, which we wuv! Originally, I planned for us to go up, then right.

I spring this on the ladies, and they are, as ladies often are, delighted. So we also make a plan to get up SUPER early tomorrow to try and get the animals when we know they are easiest to see. Hot dang. I love a good plan. {Shirley and I are excited to go to Yellowstone again, after our great trip there a few years aago.}

We get ready and roll out. Shirley wants to get a shot of the figures on top of one of the lodges here, so we let her. Very cool. We are treated to a nice pre-sunrise scene soon after.

There is an entry road just before the park, and we get in line behind two cars. Quickly we arrive, and flash our "old person pass" to the check-in person, who smiles and gives us the map that, yes, we would like please. Then we're off. We take a long eastbound road to get to the Grand Loop Road, at which point we turn north (remember the rectangle thing?).

In no time at all Shirley yells "Stop" as she has seen some animals out her side of the truck, {Bob, as usual makes a great U-turn} we come to a pullout by the Yellowstone River, after bypassing a few because we were not ready to pull over yet. There are two park workers who have just arrived and are backing up a pickup truck loaded with equipment. I have to wait for them, but I finally am able to slip through and we find a spot. What's exciting is that there is a small group of female and young elk in and across the narrow river. Everybody gets out and we push the figurative spring-loaded buttons that pop the cameras and camera phones into our hands and we all start shooting. One of the elk looks like it has been attacked by a bear. Most, if not all, the young elk still have their white fawn spots.

 

There is also a family of Canada Geese, where the young are getting pretty big, but the parents seem to treat them as teenagers, and have the attitude, "As long as you are living under our roof, you will do what you're told." Oddly, it comes out, "Quack, quack, quackity quack." But we know what they mean.

Suddenly we hear a female mallaard duck making quite a racket then a Bald Eagle swoops over and the Canada Geese parents corral all the young to protect them, in the water, as the eagle lands in a tree across the river. Sharon thinks the eagle may have been after one of the goslings. {It was fabulous to see the parents gather the babies into a tight circle with the two parents on the outside protecting them from a possible eagle attack.}

It's 5:50 am!

While this is all going on, the elk are making their way up the slope (I typed 'slop' first, but then I fixed that. And you'll never know. Ha! Wait. Did I type that? I thought I just thought it.). Suddenly there is a huge crash, and a huge rock, was it a small boulder? Hmm. A big rock plunked into the river, and scared every animal in sight except the eagle, who may have actually been directing the scene. {Actually, it sounded to me as if someone had shot at the elk. They all rush down into and across the river. Then the worker says he thought it was a rock or tree falling that made the loud noise.We see that some of the fawns didn't make it across and can hear them calling to their mothers and the mothers calling back. A National Geographic moment.}

The elk that were in the river quickly climb out, the geese fly, and we all get great adrenaline rushes. But things settle back down. We finally move on, and come to a pullout we take because up ahead, where the parking is too tight, a couple of people are intently looking down into the river.

I grab my camera and head upriver to see. On the way, I come across what strikes me as a pleasing scene, with a well-dressed fellow, camera bag over the shoulder, walking through the mist and flowers beside the river.

I continue on, and the thing that attracted the folks' attention turns out to be a group of three river otters diving and surfacing in vertical circles, like a ferris wheel. I get some video of that, then turn to go back to the trailer, getting a picture of Sharon, standing beside the parked trailer with binoculars, looking at something across the river.

Continuing on, we're excited by two things, in increasing order of wow-ness. First we see a sign to watch out for buffalo, then, forewarned, we find what's in the second photo.

Onward we travel, and see this great view of the road built out from the vertical mountain face. {In the 1800's it was built for horse drawn carriages and even then only one carriage could cross at a time. What a job it must have been to build the first cantilevered road.}

Continuing further on, we come to a muddy paintpot place. We pull over, and while Sharon takes a bathroom break, Shirley and I head up the walkway to check it out, though it seems to be fully engulfed in mist. But the walkway is iced over, covered with frozen frost - possibly the only kind of frost.. Dangerous walking for old people, who we will warn if any come along..

We resume our drive, and pull out to a spot overlooking a couple of waterfalls. It is well laid out, and is a great morning. A ground squirrel on a rock seems to be warming himself up. I like the sun hitting this branch of a conifer.

A number of scenes of the falls and path are shown below.

Sister Shirley contemplates the river below. And Sharon gives me a jaunty wave. {Notice these bundled up people. Hard to believe that it is hot back home. The road worker we come across tells us it snowed the day before!}

We leave Gibbon Falls behind, Sharon (mother of two boys - men now, actually) says to Shirley, "That sun is bright," and Shirley comes back with, "yours are too."

As we continue our way north, now heading out of the park, we see a familiar scene with a number of fumeroles.

Wait. Time out. When I pronounce 'fumerole', in my head I begin singing 'Figaro', but saying fumerole instead. You oughta hear it.

At the top of a hill along a seven mile stretch of road being redone, in a major reconstruction, we are stopped, and have to wait about 15 minutes for the pilot car-guided pickup from the other side to clear the one-lane gravel and dirt road presently being redone as asphalt. We will miss that road fix. It's about 8:30am.

We finally clear the dirt, get back onto pavement, and begin looking for a place to stop for breakfast, hopefully with some nice scenery. Sharon is driving and says, "There's a pullover there," and Shirley comes back with, "Or a nice cardigan." {That Shirley, we laugh all the time.}

We have breakfast, and continue north, then turn east on the interstate, near Gardiner. The miles go by.

We cross into Mountain Daylight Time.

A little before noon, we are working a crossword puzzle, and are looking at one eight-letter word that starts with DYS. We think it's going to be dyslexic. I say to Shirley, who is riding shotgun, "Spell that backwards for me," thinking how clever I am. She slowly rotates around, facing backwards and spells it.

We decide to look for a place to have lunch, and come upon a sign that says, "Prairie Dog Town," and decide well, hey, we can't pass this up. We want to compare them with the prairie dogs further west. It is located at a rest stop, so we have a look at them, then have lunch. Before we leave, I have to record a sign I like. {We learn that there are two types of burrow openings. The ones that are like a crater are the "Back door" or escape hole while the mounded up ones are the front door. Love the informative signs like this.}

We come to a town (Billings?) with a Target, and the ladies have a list of stuff they want and we need, so they go shopping while I grab a nap in the trailer.

I call ahead to tonight's RV park and make reservations - one where we don't have to unhitch the truck from the trailer. Some smaller RV parks have only back-ins. A lady answers and I ask to make a reservation. She starts telling her early life story, but finally says she has our reservation, and "... we will welcome you, dear Robert." Well that sounded a little weird.

We arrive, and I go to the office, which is closed, but a note with a phone number suggests that I call. I start the call, but a very large woman coming up behind me says, "I'm coming up behind you. I had to go check on the boys that are putting together a ... (didn't quite get what this was). Sometimes they just get it wrong. She unlocks the door and in we go. She starts again on all her problems, well actually none of them are HER problems, they are all caused by other people. As she continues her banter, she slides a sign-in slip to her left and puts a pen down, continuing her story all along. Finally I ask if I should fill that out. She nods as she continues. I finish and move it in front of her, and first she ignores it and continues her story.

Well, she finally looks at it and exclaims, "SAN JOSE!? I have a friend in San Jose. " Then she says, "Did you have a reservation?" I say yes, you took it over the phone about two hours ago. "Nope, not me, and I'm the only one here. You probably called the KOA across the highway." I check my iphone and show her the number I called. "That's our number all right, but it wasn't me and I'm the only one here." The phone rings, and she takes a reservation over the phone and ends with, "We have a spot for you dear William."

Ha. Now I know it was her. Without actually acknowledging that it was her, she finishes our check in, as another gentleman comes in. He wants a pull-through but when he finds they don't have any, he leaves, after asking about nearby RV parks, some an hour away. {I love the assurance of this man as we notice he has both a belt AND suspenders holding up his pants.}

We drive around and use the enormous gravel space for our rig that's as wide as 3 roads, and I back in. We set up and get the evening under way.

The electronics driving our beautiful clock (at left) in the trailer keeps malfunctioning, stopping time. I take it down, replacing it with another timepiece (below right). I think it's funny, but Sharon nervously asks what I did with the old clock, fearing that I might have tossed it without telling her. But the watch clock I put up is hard to read in the middle of the night when you get up to go to the bathroom.

Sharon messes around with the electronics, pops out the box, pulls out a spindle or a do-whitchie, replaces it, puts it back together, and the clock is now keeping perfect time. Nicely done, Sharon. {He WAS going to throw it away and replace it with something that I didn't think would look as good. I'm glad it was fixable.}I retrieve my wristwatch, and feel normal again. Well...

The wind is high so we play some Rummikub, and head for bed. First I continue preparations for issuing trip reports. Lots of stuff to get lined up.

Began: West Yellowstone, MT
Pass Through: Gardiner, Big Timber, Billings
End: Hardin, MT
Miles Today: 276
Miles for Trip: 1252
Stay at Grandview Camp and RV Park again? Yes, barely.
 
Previous Report 3. Elko to West Yellowstone, Montana. The Big Bridge
Next Report 5. Hardin to Bismarck, North Dakota. The Queen Kingbird

Next STAR Report (14). Pipestone Lake Lodge to Gilbert, Minnesota. Last Day at Pipestone. Down Goes Frazier!

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