Tuesday September 16, 2014 Room 113 Quality Inn Missoula, Montana
Tonight I will let the many photos I sent you pretty much speak for themselves. I tried to break the albums up so that you could take them in the segments in which we experienced them. I believe I mentioned in the last blog that when Mark and I brought Betsy out to college in 2004 we toured these National Park and then followed the Wind River to Casper. Because Barb had not been this way and because I remembered its beauty we decided to come to the Parks from Casper through it. As we left Riverton the Riverton Bank had a huge metal cutout of the bronco riding cowboy who is the emblem of Wyoming and sits in the middle of its license plates. It seems to be the closest I’m ever going to get to a rodeo!
Everything out here is huge, including the golf balls. The geological formations are incredible. We have our own pyramids but they are not MAN-made! The colors are just dazzling and for as beautiful as they are in some of these shots they are so much more beautiful in real time. The only real town between Riverton and Moran Jct. is Dubois and it is kind of stage set looking despite its long mining history. My photo was of the Jackalope but it also gives you an idea of the gas prices we are seeing.
At every turn it seems the landscape changes and not just moderately—you never know what is coming around the next bend—it is incredibly awe inspiring. Fall is arriving with the bit of color that occurs here—the golden aspens. Bets was pretty disappointed her first Fall in Bozeman, I recall. Love the story of the tiehacks and the tie drive down the Wind in Spring rush—just like the log runs in the NorthEast—get our your peevees guys and your spiked boots—there’s a tie jam ahead! As fro 300 inches of snow in winter—there is only ONE way I’d enjoy it—hibernated in front of a fire looking OUT at it. Actually, there is another way I’d enjoy it—hearing about it while sitting on the beach in Biloxi. As you can see the moon stays out most of the day around here. In time we rounded several wind turns in the road, reached a high point and off in the hazy distance we saw the Teton Range—glaciers and all. The mural in the lookout was just lovely, too. The mountains really do take on a blue tint at certain times of day and at certain distances. As we descended into the Snake Valley a mule deer ambled across the road, as though she owned it.
At the foot of the winding hill we came into Moran Junction—since it is really midpoint in the Teton Range we turned to the South toward Jackson Hole. We do not go to Jackson Hole—too yuppy and expensive. Beautiful like Sedona but not our type of place; Tourist and monied haven . The road is being repaired and so we had a 15 minute wait for our pilot car. Across from the Park were many Bison so I played with the telephoto and took a few shots. Out of the north came a nice shiny silver plane who was flying right along the spine of the mountains—with the sun reflecting on him he was as beautiful as the blue mountains and arch below him.
We entered the Park at Moose and off we went. The crowds are astounding—so many more people than in 2000 or even 2004! What was even more surprising—the number of younger people with school aged children. But then, home schooling is so very much more common than it was, so kids can be anywhere at anytime now. It was so wonderful to see Jenny Lake up again—there was such a drought here in 2004—it was sad to see the bare shoreline. And, if I could only give you a feel of the wonderful breeze gently blowing my hair and the smell of the conifers—no balsam pillow can ever reproduce the real thing. I could have stayed in this one place for days.
The markings on the rock faces are so much fun—some of them look to have been formed by rock masses falling out of them. We imagined one to look like the face of a clock. The Jackson River has been dammed to form the huge and beautiful Jackson Lake—isn’t the blue of the water amazing—like sapphires! Such fun to see these Westerners battling to get a picture of one group of trees that had a variety of colors and not just the aspen gold.
And so our day ended at Flagg Ranch. This used to be a privately owned Resort but now it belongs to some corporation that has multiple resort holdings all over the place. Fortunately, they’ve retained the cabins as they’ve always been. Originally, the cabins were right down on the Snake. The huge forest fire of 1988, I think, or one of the fires burned most of them to the ground. The State would not allow them to rebuild on the flood plain and so the remaining cabins there are used for staff and the new ones back from the river are for guests. Barb stayed down on the river with my parents in 1966 but I have only stayed in these. Although each cabin has four units in it—they are so well insulated and the doors arranged so well that you have absolutely no sense of any one else being around you. The cabins are close, too but at this time of year they are not filled and so they attempt to space guests. All in all, with no TV, no Wi/fi and no A/C it is a relaxing, peaceful place. I became the cook for the evening. So I served ham pitas with carrots and hummus with the remaining wine from Iowa. Notice I also was tasked with breakfast preparation. Grapefruit with honey, coffee and a Laughing Cow wedge for protein.
Yesterday we spent the entire day in Yellowstone. We entered from the South entrance and departed through the West entrance to West Yellowstone or as Betsy’s friend Crystal who was from there called it, simply West. There were lots of bison, absolutely no elk, for which we were terribly disappointed. In 2000 all along the Yellowstone River the bull elks were gathering their harems—everywhere you looked there were elk, in the road, on the banks of the river –Barb almost bumped into one getting out of the car to take a picture. Not this year. Why?
We are ten days earlier, the crowds have increased, there is an elk refuge outside the park down near Teton. Don’t know what the reason might be. There were no wild burros this time either. Nevertheless, the park is still beautiful and we even found a place we’d not discovered before—Firestone Canyon and Falls—magnificent!!
We came across a group of three bison close to the road. One large bull was ahead of the other two. Then, one of the pair behind, mounted the other. We were VERY close—said to Barb, let’s get away from here NOW! These lacksidaisical animals can move at 37 miles an hour. We didn’t need to be so close if there was going to be a romantic melee.
We stopped at Old Faithful’s visitors’ center. The old Geyser spouted as I was stamping my passport. So, no photos! Oh, well, there are tons on-line and that’s how it looks. Far more interesting was the antics of a flock of Ravens in the parking lot—scavengers , you know. Well, they decided the unprotected bags in a pick up truck and the saddle bags on a couple of motorcycles were fair game. Another couple was also watching the performance and taking pictures. We got talking to them and found that they live in West Glacier. During the course of our conversation the man went into their camper and came out with two beautiful ink sketches. He gave them to us and said how happy he’d be to have his art in Vt and NY—he said New Yoork! Told us to google him which we did later. I’m keeping the bison and Barb is keeping the Bobcat. If you’d like to check his work and story out—here are the links.
I also chatted with a couple from Ohio who had come down from Belgrade through the Gallatin River Valley. I asked about the road and found that it runs at the bottom of the Valley along the river with mountains on both sides. It was with much pleasure that we finished our day on such a pleasant road—with the sun painting the mountain tops as dusk seemed to fall in the valley. In about an hour we arrived, exhausted but exhilirated at the Comfort Inn in Bozeman. It felt so strange to be here and not have Betsy be in town. We saw places we’d been with her and places she frequented with friends and places she’d worked. And, of course, her favorite mountain was right outside our motel window.
Which brings us to today—a travel day on Interstate 90 and through our first major pass—but another nice one—treed with little evidence of height. Homestake Pass. We crossed the Continental Divide again at around 6000 ft. My perfect sister even wore purple to match our huckleberry licorice. After we passed through Butte the sky became very threatening and we had a very heavy rain for a few miles. We followed the Clark Fork for a bit and passed through high mountain valleys whose agricultural fields presented views that looked more like paintings than real places—the colors and compostion so perfect and pleasing.
We ended our day early in order to organize our brochures, etc. Also to have dinner out—Johnny Carino’s Italian Restaurant. Sausage skilletini and malbec wine for me, eggplant parmesan with a Belgian wheat beer for Barb. We brought dessert back to the room—I have turtle cheesecake mini and she has a mini tiramisu. I hear them calling us from the fridge. Heck with WW points tonight or Atkins. Tomorrow I think we are going to backtrack to Phillipsburg to sapphire mine and then on to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. We might get farther but will be happy to go that far for the next day will be Washington and the San Juan Islands and maybe but not sure, Alaska.
Now, even though I did not keep my promise to be brief, I’m going to get off the computer, get cozy in bed and watch pt 3 of the Roosevelts.,most of which I already knew but interesting anyway. So, for now, it is good night from the Sated and Pleasantly Stuffed Sisters, Kathy and Barb