Archive for August, 2008

Rafting on the Snake River 8/31/08

August 31, 2008 - 3:22 pm No Comments

Rafting on the Snake RiverWe had a good night’s sleep and the temperature was moderate; we woke up to 56 degrees.   It’s very cloudy here today and we hoped the weather would clear so that we could get a nice afternoon on the Snake River.   Around 11 a.m. the clouds broke and Hansen Outfitters picked us up at our park.   We started the 3 hour rafting trip around noon.   What a great time we had.

Our guide was a young woman (GIRL POWER) named Christina.   She is from New Hampshire, a recent college graduate who majored in outdoor recreation, environmental teaching, etc.    She is 23 years old, and works here during the summer and then goes back to New Hampshire to teach snow boarding and snow skiing in the winter.   What a free spirit!!   She was a great guide and did an excellent job in telling us all about the area and the wildlife.

Actually the only wildlife we saw were eagles,  and what a sight they were.   Every corner we turned there were eagles and nests in the trees.   The nests are huge; she said they can weigh hundreds of pounds.  We saw a few homes but they are very sparse; she said 97% of the land around Jackson is federal property and only 3% is owned privately.   Naturally, the costs are huge.   We saw a magnificent home on a bluff overlooking the Snake River which is owned by Uma Thurman.  She said Uma is only here a couple of weeks every year.   Imagine!   Also we passed the property owned by Harrison Ford.   Harrison lives here primarily all the time and he’s very active in community service.   You’ve probably all heard the stories about him flying his helicopter to rescue hikers and such.   I remember once he rescued a boy scout using his helicopter.  

At any rate, we had a great day; the scenery was awesome, and our luck is still holding out with the weather.   A bad cloud came up over the mountains as we were getting to the end of the tour, and by the time we were dropped off at our park, it started to rain, but just a little.

We are off to Montana tomorrow.   Stay tuned.   Oh, and dinner tonight is pizza, being delivered by the pizza hut!!!

A Day in Quaint Jackson, Wyoming 8/30/08

August 30, 2008 - 2:03 pm 2 Comments

We awoke to a warmer temperature this morning — mid-40’s.   The days warm up quickly so not to worry.   We had a nice leisurely breakfast and decided to take a walk around the campground.   This campground is on the edge of town and it is situated on a street behind the main road into Jackson.   Lots of locals ride bicycles.   It’s a very environmentally aware town, as you can imagine.   We can see the ski slopes up the sides of the dramatic hills surrounding town.   I’m sure in a couple of months or less there will be plenty more folks here ready to snow ski.  

We walked to the corner and got on the town shuttle.   The town of Jackson is very small and laid out in blocks around a central “square”.    On each of the four corners of the town park are the famous “elk antler arches”.   These antlers are gathered each spring in the mountains by the boy scouts.   The elk shed the antlers and leave them behind as they move around in the spring.   Everyone takes their photos around the antlers—we even saw a newly married couple having their photos taken under the antlers.   She was in full white gown attire and he looked like a cowboy (that’s a compliment).   I bet it’s good luck to have your wedding photo taken there, what do you think?

We walked around the square, did a little shopping, and walked past a little diner on the main street.   Billy’s hamburgers, sounded about right, so we walked in.   It was a little closet space with stools at the counter in a U shape around the cooking area.   Three young guys were working as hard as they could to make these famous burgers and fries.   We got in around noon, and by the time we left, people were standing on the sidewalk waiting for a seat.  So shout out to Allan—it’s just the type of place you would love!!!!

We took the shuttle back out to the campground and will spend the rest of the day (after 3 p.m.) reading and relaxing.   We are excited about our rafting trip tomorrow so stay tuned!

I’m not even going to mention dinner tonight; it’s going to be the “chef’s surprise”.    The chef will see how surprised Greg is when she doesn’t cook!   LOL



The Grand Tetons into Jackson Wyoming 8/29/08

August 30, 2008 - 1:29 pm No Comments

This morning we awoke to a low temperature of 40 degrees.   We are still warm and cozy in our unit.   We had a quick breakfast and got the RV ready to pull out of Yellowstone.   We leave with a sense of wonderment at the beauty of this place.   We stopped by the registration station just to tell them what a wonderful visit we had.   On our way out toward the south entrance, we came upon a “bear jam”; ahead of us in the woods we caught a glimpse of two grizzly bears (a mother and cub).   We could not get a good photo because they were running through the woods.

Ten miles south of the south entrance of Yellowstone, we stopped by Lizard Creek Campground.   Our cousin Stan Mauldin has close friends who are hosts in this campground, so we stopped by to say hello to them.   Unfortunately this was their day off, and the other host did not know where they were.   We also tried to call their cell phone, but could not get a connection.

We continued our drive through the Grand Tetons.   These are magnificent and dramatic mountains between Yellowstone and Jackson Wyoming.   We had lunch at a pulloff right on the Jackson Lake with the tetons in the background.   Absolutely beautiful and breathtaking.   We always said we hoped one day we could sit in our RV, having lunch, looking at a beautiful site.   Well, this was the day.   Simply overwhelming!

We arrived in Jackson around 3 p.m. and found a beautiful Albertson’s Grocery and went in for a few things.   As we were looking at the milk aisle, a man came toward us and Greg said to me “Bonnie, that’s Governor Bredesen”.   So I said to him “Hello Governor, Greetings from Chattanooga” and he turned and smiled at us and shook our hands.   He said he has a “place” out here and is here on vacation.   We said we were happy that Volkswagon was coming to Chattanooga and he agreed it was a big accomplishment.   Nice gentleman.   He said his wife sent him to the store with a grocery list, so guess he’s just like Greg 🙂

We got settled into the Virginian RV Resort and I’ve been busy getting these posts on the internet.   This is by far the most expensive place we’ve stayed but we have a beautiful view right out at the mountains.   There is a shuttle stop near us so we will take the shuttle into town tomorrow for some retail therapy.   Well, I’ll do the retail, and Greg will need therapy!!!   Whatever, it will be fun…

Then Sunday we will take our much anticipated rafting tour of the Snake River.   Thirteen miles of (we hope) scenic beauty and lots of wildlife.

For dinner this evening we had (I cheated tonight) fried chicken courtesy of Albertson’s, green beans, and scalloped potatoes.

Stay tuned.

An Exciting Day in Fishing Bridge Campground 8/28/08

August 29, 2008 - 5:40 pm 2 Comments

This morning we awoke to an outside temperature of 36 degrees! We were comfortable inside and slept well last night. The sky here is so clear and blue it’s hard to believe. This morning, although cold, seems just about perfect.

We had breakfast and walked over to the registration/laundry building a short distance away. We started the laundry and I went to a pay phone to call Allan. Just when I hung up the phone and got inside the building, I heard a muffled sound coming close. I looked up and saw a herd of buffalo coming right through the middle of the campground, circling the registration building. The buffalo were making grumbling sounds and the males were agitated. The staff said this is the mating season and the male buffalo are very angry and agitated. They are chasing the female buffalo and it was quite a site! So we all stayed in the building for quite some time to be sure the entire herd had passed.

We read this morning and it didn’t take long for the temperature to rise to a comfortable level at noon. After lunch, we actually took a nap! We really enjoyed the day just hanging around the campground. On one of our walks, we came upon two deer walking right in front of us. Naturally we didn’t have the camera with us. This afternoon around 4:00 p.m. we were quietly reading when Greg looked up and saw two male buffalo walking right beside our RV. By the time we scuffled around and found the camera, the buffalo had walked into the woods right next to us. So we’ve had some excitement today!

We leave Yellowstone tomorrow morning with a sense of wonder that this beautiful park is in our United States. We have planned this trip for a long time, and are so happy to have spent this time here. It is a beautiful park and well maintained. The people who visit here are respectful of the environment. We’ve talked to folks from all over the US from Oregon to New York and all in between.

And because you all are having fun with our dinner meals: tonight we had chicken cordon bleu (for real), rice pilaf, and a fresh salad from Pam’s garden. Thanks again, Pam!

We look forward to driving to Jackson, Wyoming on Friday morning (100 miles) to continue our adventure. We have scheduled a “scenic rafting tour” on the Snake River to view wildlife on Sunday, and will stay in Jackson until Monday morning. Stay tuned.

Buffalo, Elk, and Waterfalls 8/27/08

August 29, 2008 - 5:39 pm No Comments
This morning we awoke to a 40 degree outside temperature, but inside, we are toasty and comfortable. We had breakfast and took a brisk walk outside. We left our campsite around 8:30 a.m. and stopped for diesel fuel outside our campground. The diesel here is $4.70/gallon.
Our experience here in Yellowstone, and particularly the Fishing Bridge Campground has been awesome. From the moment of check-in the rangers and workers have been extremely efficient and friendly. Everything has gone so smoothly. The campground is kept very clean and we just love our location right on the edge of the forest. We keep waiting for buffalo to come out of the woods right beside us because we can see trees that the buffalo have rubbed the bark off. I’m sure there’s a name for this, but we saw the buffalo yesterday rubbing their heads on trees (in the Hayden Valley) until the bark comes off. Anyway, we know they have been in here because of the bark missing from the trees. Also there are other traces of buffalo, if you know what I mean!
We drove the “lower loop” road today which was more scenery than geysers. The Hayden Valley was wide expanses of meadows with the Yellowstone River in front and the dramatic mountains behind it. In the Hayden Valley we saw many buffalo herds (literally hundreds of them), some of them causing “buffalo jams”, meaning they cross over the road right in front of vehicles without any thought to being hit by them. And they take their time, so all traffic stops to let them cross. Also we were very excited to see one herd of elk, and a lone elk in the meadow with a huge rack. We got some terrific photos, but we continually say that the photos just do not do justice to the real beauty of the area.
Another beautiful site today was the Upper and Lower Falls in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. This is referred to as “Artist Point”, and we certainly think the name is appropriate. This is a must see of Yellowstone. The canyon is very deep and narrow, and at the end of the canyon is a very dramatic waterfall, hurling water down into the canyon below. It is absolutely breathtaking. We also saw the “Roosevelt Lodge” which was built in 1906 for Theodore Roosevelt. Another interesting site was Mammoth Springs. This is actually a little town with a lodge, housing, restaurant, etc. The attraction here are the Mammoth terraces, meaning the boiling pools are up high, and the landscape terraces down as the water flows over the sides of the terraces. The terraces are extremely white, which made us think of kaolin, or chalk.
Many areas of Yellowstone still show signs of the great fire of 1988. Fallen trees are everywhere amongst the new growth of pines. Many wildflowers are growing also. This is a testament to nature’s ability to rejuvenate without interference by man. The new growth is thick and healthy.
We arrived back at our campground around 3:00 p.m. today and since the high temperature today is less than 60 degrees, we had a chance to rest and read for the first time we’ve been on this trip. Tonight we are having barbeque pork (from our own smoker). Today is the first day we’ve had clouds but no rain.
Although we don’t have cell phone access or internet or television, we do have Sirius radio and we have enjoyed listening to CNN in the evening.

We’ve decided to leave Yellowstone one day early, on Friday rather than Saturday, to give us an extra day in the Tetons. We’ve done everything in Yellowstone that we wanted, and tomorrow we will stay in the campground and do laundry, take walks, read, and just enjoy a day devoted to “doing nothing”. Stay tuned.

Old Faithful, Mudpots, and Wildlife 8/26/08

August 29, 2008 - 5:34 pm No Comments
We awoke to a beautiful cool morning around 53 degrees and had a good breakfast. Our RV was warm and comfortable. As we opened the door to go out for a walk, a beautiful deer was close to our front door. She was walking quietly through the campground. We left the campground around 8:30 a.m. Our route today was called the “lower loop” which was 96 miles of geysers, bubbling crystal pools, mud pots, etc. One of our biggest surprises since arriving here is how large Yellowstone Lake is. It is massive and looks like an ocean, with big waves and beautiful blue water. We saw beautiful waterfalls, and stopped at Old Faithful. We arrived around 11:30 a.m. and Old Faithful was due to erupt at noon. It erupts approximately every hour. Sure enough, around noon, Old Faithful erupted to cheers from the crowd. The temperature was cool and it was interesting to see and hear all the foreign visitors. We decided to have lunch right there in the parking lot before continuing our drive.
After lunch we continued on the loop drive through Biscuit Basin, Midway Geyser Basin, Fountain Paint Pot, Artists Paint Pot, Mud Volcano, and Sulphur Caldron. These were all very interesting sites and it is impossible to put into words how strange and beautiful these areas are.
While driving on this road, we came upon several buffalo grazing close to the road. At one point, a herd of buffalo crossed the road and all the traffic stopped both ways to let them cross. We also saw a magnificent elk in a meadow. That was quite a site.
We arrived back in our campground around 4:00 p.m. We had a very interesting day. Found cell phone service near Old Faithful so we called both Allan and Ben to check in. For dinner tonight we had a ground beef and rice casserole from home, asparagus, and corn. We think tonight is going to be very cold due to how cool it has been today. Tomorrow we will drive the 70 mile “upper loop” road which encompasses Mammoth Hot Springs, Roosevelt Lodge, and Hayden Valley, where we should see a lot of wildlife.
Stay tuned.





Settling into Yellowstone 8/25/08

August 29, 2008 - 4:28 pm No Comments
Pam came by this morning to say goodbye on her way to a meeting. We did laundry and while there I met a nice young lady who was also doing her laundry. She and her husband are from California. They are in Cody specifically to check out the area for possible relocation. They are avid outdoorsmen and serious bike riders. I told Pam about her and she said to give her Pam’s phone number if she would like to discuss the area. The girl was thrilled to know that Pam was president of the Cody Bike Club and I bet she will give her a call. On our way out of Cody we stopped to fill the fuel tank and the propane tank. Then the mandatory stop at super Wal-Mart for fresh fruit and plenty of drinking water. We are drinking lots of water due to the high altitude and dry atmosphere.
Pam has a little garden and before we left her house last night she gave us lettuce, radishes, carrots, etc. She also baked Greg’s favorite chocolate chip cookies and gave him a box full of them.
We drove into Yellowstone and stopped for lunch by beautiful Yellowstone Lake. It’s a sight to see right out our dinette window. We checked into Fishing Bridge RV Park inside Yellowstone. We have a perfect campsite at the edge of the forest. We keep looking out the window for wildlife. There are a lot of rules for staying here because bears especially are near the area. We’ve already seen a group of buffalo on the side of the road coming into the park. We have full hookups but no cell service and no internet service. We do have Sirius radio so we can listen to CNN and other news channels.
Today we decided to get settled in the campground, study the Yellowstone map and determine tomorrow’s route. We think we will take the lower route to see the geyser areas, especially Old Faithful. We took a walk this afternoon and met a nice couple from Folkston, Georgia.

Tonight we are having chicken casserole from home, some of Pam’s fresh carrots, and peas. We are excited to start our day tomorrow. Stay tuned.





Fun in Cody Wyoming with Pam and Werner 8/24/08

August 25, 2008 - 8:07 am 2 Comments

Well first off, let me tell you about the two photos posted.   Pam and Werner’s son, Dieter, is a freshman at the University of Montana as a music major.   He is a serious musician and has played in jazz bands for years.    He is in the University of Montana marching band, and he also was the only freshman who made the university jazz band.   So we are very proud of him.   Anyway, a fundraiser was held for the band.   Huey Lewis is a Montana native so he gladly helped out with the fundraiser.   As you can see from the photos, Dieter is on stage playing his sax with Huey Lewis playing the harmonica.   The next photo is Pam, Dieter’s proud Mom, Huey Lewis, and Dieter.  Dieter is an Eagle Scout and has many other honors and he is one special young man.

Pam and Werner picked us up Sunday morning and we walked to a nearby restaurant for a wonderful breakfast.   They even had grits on the menu, but none of us tried them.   After breakfast, we drove over to their cabin which is only 5 miles from the east entrance of Yellowstone.   It was a marvelous cabin, very rustic, and they go there in the winter especially to cross country ski.   Pam and Werner are the most active people we know.   Pam is the president of the bike club in Cody and Werner is on the rescue squad.   They have ridden their bikes 50 miles to Yellowstone and back all in one day.   They are serious bike and ski advocates.  We had lunch at a cafe right at the entrance of Yellowstone and then returned to their home.   Well, not really, because Pam took us to the Sierra Club store, a wonderful store with all sorts of clothing, etc.   And we stopped by a little store to get an icecream cone (Greg’s favorite).   We have laughed out loud all day, because everywhere we go, people know Pam and Werner.   Cody is a small town of around 10k, so they know everyone, and everyone knows them.   Even in the little store for ice cream, three old guys were sitting on a bench out front with their dog at their feet, and they said “hello Pam, where are the latest fires?”  We have a couple of photos of the fires that pop up across the mountains.   The fires are extremely close to their cabin, so they have actually taken most of the furniture out of it while the fires are raging.   This is part of life out here.   Fire spotters are parked along the road and everyone out here is vigilant in watching out for their neighbors. We grilled salmon for dinner and enjoyed hearing stories of Pam and Werner’s adventures.

We will go into Yellowstone Park on Monday morning so probably will not have internet access for a while.   But I’ll update the website as soon as I can.   Stay tuned.

Big Horn Mountain and Cody, Wyoming 8/23/08

August 24, 2008 - 6:59 am 1 Comment

This morning we awoke in Buffalo, Wyoming, to 49 degrees!! We slept toasty last night by using the gas heat. You just set the thermostat and it cycles on and off just like your house. We decided to pass on the pancake breakfast, because it was to be held outside in the “kamper kitchen”. We didn’t see anyone out there so we decided to have our cereal inside today. Perhaps they decided not to have it this morning due to the cold temperatures.

At any rate, we left Buffalo around 8:30 am. Again the scenery is just spectacular. The photos really do not do it justice. We passed through a little town called Ranchester right before starting the ascent onto Big Horn Mountain. Ranchester has a population of 700, but right in the middle of town we passed the “Crazy Woman Saloon”. I gave a shout out to my good friends, and YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!! LOL

Big Horn Mountain is unbelievable. The roads are treacherous due to the steepness of the grade. I didn’t even attempt to drive it, because I’m getting jumpy about driving on high mountain roads. Must be the age. At any rate, I took the photos, and Greg did the driving. We have to laugh at the types of rigs we meet on the road. Many, many motorcycles as well as all sorts of rigs. We even saw a pickup truck pulling a 5th wheel trailer, and behind the 5th wheel they were pulling another trailer with 4 ATV’s on it. Folks coming out west have no fear!!! The folks who live out here are an independent bunch, that’s for sure. We saw folks primitive camping all along the roads, back in the woods. (I’m a gal looking for amenities)

Some of the rock formations on Big Horn mountain are 2.5 billion (yes BILLION) years old. There are signs all along the roadway telling how old the rock formations are.

Oh, we also passed a gal in a little car with a bumper sticker saying “Don’t postpone joy”. Very suitable, don’t you think?

We arrived in Cody, Wyoming around 3 pm. Cody is a beautiful little city, very western looking. We are excited to visit with Greg’s sister Pam and her husband Werner. Pam and Werner enjoy the outdoor sports that this area of the country gives them.

Pam picked us up at 4:00 p.m. and drove us out to their home. Their home is absolutely beautiful and the views from every window of their house is breathtaking. From Pam’s kitchen window she’s looking out at the beautiful mountains that surround them. She says everyone who sees it thinks she should always wash her dishes in the kitchen sink rather than using the dishwasher just to see the view, and we certainly agree. We enjoyed a delicious grilled dinner and had such fun visiting with them. We sat on their back patio enjoying a glass of wine and Greg especially enjoyed “Moose Drool” beer as well as an Alaskan beer. As we sat on their patio with the sun setting over those glorious mountains, we fully understand why they live here. There are some natural fires occuring on those mountains, and after the sun set, we could see trees light up in flames. The fires originated from lightening strikes. These fires are not controlled, but monitored, as a process of nature.

Our evening ended with them driving us back to our RV. Tomorrow we will spend the day with them. They will take us up to their cabin which is 5 miles from the entrance of Yellowstone. Pam said they have recently seen grizzly bears up there near their cabin, but not to worry—Werner and Pam carry their bear spray at all times!! (YIKES) They are taking us to a buffet breakfast in Cody to start the day.

Once again, the day has been totally wonderful. Excellent weather, clear skies (except for a little smoke from the fires).   Stay tuned.

Crazy Horse and Mt. Rushmore 8/22/08

August 22, 2008 - 5:53 pm 5 Comments

Model of Crazy Horse MemorialWe slept well last night at the Rafters Bar J Campground in the Black Hills of South Dakota.   Our campsite was at the edge of a meadow which was a beautiful site.   During the night, we heard the wind howling and almost screaming, and then all of a sudden it would stop dead still, only to resume the same howling and screaming a little while later.   It was really spooky, but we figured it was because of the wind racing through the meadow surrounded by the Black Hills.  At any rate, it was 53 degrees outside when we awoke.   Need to warm up?  No problem!   Just plug in the little ceramic heater and our little house heats right up. We decided to use our ceramic heat in lieu of starting our heat  a/c heat pump since it wasn’t that cold inside.  Need a warm breakfast?   No problem!    I cooked a great breakfast of bacon, eggs, toast, orange juice, coffee, etc.   What a great way to start the day.

And what a glorious day it has been!   I know I keep going on about how beautiful the country is, and how much we are enjoying the trip, and how awesome the weather is.   I promise if we have a bad day, I will tell you.  Honestly!   We started the day by going to the Crazy Horse Memorial.   What an awesome sight.   An added bonus was the museum at the sight.   It has the largest array of memorabilia related to the battle of Big Horn anywhere in the US.  Lots of clothing and artifacts.   It was quite interesting and the story of the man who did this is just unbelieveable.  You really should read about this on the internet.   Next we drove over to Mt. Rushmore.   These two monuments are only about 15 miles apart.   Mt. Rushmore is just overwhelming; there were many, many foreign visitors there.

After our visit to Mt. Rushmore, we drove over to Deadwood, SD.   This is a very quaint little town with lots of history of the wild west.   Today a custom car rally had taken over the town; lots of tourists milling about.   And guess what custom car caught my eye?    A green 1969 chevelle malibu.   All of my college friends will remember this as my car while I was in college.   What memories the car brings to me!!!  We stopped for a few groceries at Blondie’s IGA.

We also ran into our first glimpse of snow covered mountains, and real life cowboys.   We stopped for gas at a station and several cowboys were there.   I mean, these guys are serious cowboys.   Cowboy hats, jeans, and boots with spurs on them!    They must be “wranglers”.   Lots of ranches out here.   The rolling hills of South Dakota have given way to more desolate landscape with low brush covering the landscape. 

We are staying tonight at the Buffalo KOA in Buffalo, Wyoming.   This campground has all the amenities we need, as well as cable TV.  We did our laundry and tonight’s dinner was vegetable ravioli with marinara meat sauce, tossed salad, and strawberry shortcake.   And this will be fun–this campground has a pancake breakfast every morning in the “social room”.   So we’ll join everyone in the morning for a nice breakfast and fellowship.  We’ll be in Cody, Wyoming, Saturday evening for 2 nights.   Greg’s sister, Pam, and her husband live  there and we are looking forward to visiting them.  

Stay tuned.


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