8/14/2014 Chadron State Park, Nebraska
For the conclusion of last night’s thunderstorm…it missed us at the park! There were some light rain sprinkles but I was able to sleep comfortably in my tent! Actually I had to do some yoga before I could sleep comfortably because my back was twerked. Just some crocodile twists and plow position and my back was much better. Unfortunately the person camping next to me was an exceptionally loud snorer. Still, I got some sleep. Proper spread out sleep. I woke up early due to it being REALLY HOT in my tent. Packed up, had some bagel and shmear, showered, and now I’m at the Trading Post using their wifi. Haven’t organized my travel photos since Iowa, so I’m getting on that.
I’ll probably go find an oil change before I head out to Wyoming and Tibby.
8/15/2014 Riverton, Wyoming
I made it into and halfwayish across Wyoming! It was a good long drive, but wow was it ever scenic! Mountains in the distance rose and fell, the clouds were jagged and soft, and in the distance I could see the little spots where it was raining. I drove through those spots of rain and into sunshine. I saw lightning in the distance, then lightning up close, and then lightning in my rear view mirror. I drove past Douglas and Casper. I filled up my tank in Chadron before going west on 20, then north on 25, then onto 20 and then 26. Today I am much in need of an oil change. It will be the first thing that I do in Riverton. Oil change. Then find a post office and drop off letters. Tibby is letting me crash here an extra night, so I’m going to pop up to Thermopolis and check it out and come back down here in the evening.
Tibby and I took an animation class together. She was a semester behind me and I went to her Thesis proposal whilst I was defending that focus week. She works for the local newspaper as a photographer, and freelances, and is generally a badass. She treated me to dinner, which was awesome. I ordered the pear and gorgonzola salad, because helloooo vegetables! She took me on a little driving tour of Riverton. Reminding me of Bremerton in scale and entertainment provisions. I drove through some towns that had single digit populations listed on their sign. Riverton is around 10k.
I’m wondering if I will be able to camp at the Tetons and Yellowstone, so I’m going to plan to arrive at both in morning times. i.e. drive all day, get close, sleep, get up early and go into the park then. That worked out well for Badlands. And I need to remember to keep an eye on the weather, because Chadron was a close call and driving through minor storms reminded me that hey, the weather is different out here.
8/16/2014 Riverton, Wyoming 8am
I’m leaving Riverton today for Tetons National Park! It’s the weekend and it’s a popular park so I’m planning on not being able to camp. I’ve had a few good nights of rest, so I should be good for a few nights in my car.
Yesterday I went to Walmart and got my oil changed, and my tires rotated, and new windshield wipers. I’ve been needing new wipers for a few states now (well more than a few states). No Jiffy Lube presented itself nearby, and I get free rotation on half my tires because I got them at Walmart. Anyway, that was more morning/midafternoon (took longer than I expected). Then I drove up to Thermopolis, where you can have a free 20 minute soak in this hot sulfur bath. So I did that. Very warm, very eggy smelling. I wandered around the two blocks of downtown and drove on back to Riverton. There is a nice section of the drive that goes through Wind River Canyon (Wind Canyon?). It is a winding road that goes down and through a canyon, which is true to its name: windy. The drivers were nuts! Passing dangerously, and going over the white line to peek ahead to see if it is passable. Thankfully there were many pull outs, so I was able to pull off the road and park for a bit to let people pass.
I mellowed out at Tibby’s (who was gone working) for the rest of the day. Washed a few things. Watched a movie. Generally relaxed. Nice to just kick back on a couch for a day with no requirements for further activities or driving or anything. But now it is the morning and I must hit the road once again! A pitstop is needed to replenish my cooler of ice and food, and then it is off to the National Parks of Wyoming! Then Montana! Then across Idaho and to Portland and then Washington and then I am done…
That came rather suddenly, but then again it is the 16th of August. I have probably two more weeks of travel to do? Week and a half? But I’ll be back in Washington by the end of the month, so that is good on the timing front of things.
8/16/2014 8pm Signal Mountain, Grand Tetons National Park, Wyoming
Up at the overlook watching the sun set behind the Tetons. So beautiful. I am in the company of Sherry(Sherri?) and Scott up here. The sky is fading from blue to orange behind the peaks, which are soft grays with mottling of white. The mountains are very jagged and looming. A bit unreal considering how flat the rest of the landscape is. They just pop up in the horizon, and come more into focus. I wish I had a better camera so that I could capture the details. The little trees, the jagged rocks, just the beautiful faces of the range. Can’t wait to come back! Had a good full day today! I got into the park at around noonish. Got my visitors center stamps and postcards, then I drove down to Jenny Lake, ate, filled my water bottle, and hit the path! I did the half way around Jenny Lake walk to Inspiration Point. The walk was pretty flat with a few ups and downs. Inspiration Point was up some fairly steep switchbacks. You can take a shuttle boat across the lake if you want to skip the walk, but I didn’t want to fork over the cash so I just walked the wak. About 6 miles of hiking? At least 5. Took me four hours, though I spent some time sitting atop Inspiration Point hydrating and catching my breath and reading. A good solid hike. I passed a hiker who told me a moose was on the side of the trail, and there it was! Just sitting and munching. I told the next few hikers I passed to keep an eye out for the moose. I did a drive down to the bottom entrance, and then worked my way back up as the sun was going down. I took plenty of pictures, and went up to Signal Mountain The summit faced away from the Tetons, but a point down a ways faces toward it. I struck up a conversation with the others up here, all waiting for the sunset.
I could have camped here, but I opted not. A bit too expensive. Easier to drive to the nearest Walmart. Then I’ll get an early start on Yellowstone!
I wish I had more to say about Tetons. Looking forward to visiting it again!
7/17/2014 6pm Mammoth Springs Visitors Center, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
A wonderful thing happened! As we were saying our goodbyes, Sherri offered up the spare twin bed at their Tetons rental cabin for me to sleep in! I accepted their offer and I had a nice rest in cozy National Park comfort, instead of hours of driving out and sleeping in my car discomfort. What wonderful people Sherri and Scott are! Thank you so much, if you are reading this! I hope you have fun in the San Juan Islands.
And thus I was enabled to roll into Yellowstone early in the day. I came up the south entrance and found out Old Faithful was going to blow next at 10:30 and it was 9:50 when I was in the Grant Village VC. So I drove on to Old Faithful, and I don’t know if it was exactly 10:30 but it was blowing as I was walking up to it. The next scheduled eruption was noon. I hung around the VC, filled my water bottle, got my WPA postcards, and got a chocolate milkshake. By this point time had went by pretty fast, so I grabbed a spot for the noon eruption, which after many false starts blew at 12:13. Pretty great to have the reaction of the many MANY visitors when the little burps of water come up, but not the whole shebang, and finally the satisfaction of the whole thing. Pretty snazzy!
I did the shorter geyser loop, and returned to my car. Onwards towards Madison. I went to the Grand Prismatic Spring, which was indeed grand and colorful. I parked outside of the parking lot and walked in. I do not like the crowds, not one bit! I like to hike and see nature, not crawl through lots looking for the first spot available and then deal with the throngs at the scenic vistas. It’s well visited for a reason, but dang did I enjoy my time at Theodore Roosevelt more largely due to the lack of crowds. This National Park really needs a proper shuttle system.
Anyway, I drove on up to Norris, where there was no parking so I continued east to Canyon Village, where I loitered at Artist Point and checked out the canyon and falls. It continued to be lovely but the hustle and bustle blocked me from really being able to relax. I’ve been feeling antsy all day, like I can’t wait to be done with the park instead of sitting back and enjoying it. Tetons, despite crowds, somehow thinned them out in a more palatable way. Same for Zion.
From Canyon I went north and then west and here I am at Mammoth Springs. It was a glorious drive, and some of my fuel economy has recovered on the way down. I’m going to do some late afternoon hiking around the springs, and then I’ll be heading North into Montana towards some sort of something. I’m seeing more and more Washington license plates every day.
Shout out once again to Sherri and Scott.
8/17/2014 9:24pm an overlook in Yellowstone
After wandering around the many boardwalks around the springs, I found my way to an overlook to watch the sun go down, now I’m waiting for the stars to fully come out. The L key on my keyboard is taking more effort to use than it should. There is a line of cars. The road between Norris and Mammoth is under construction, so I’m guessing these cars were behind a slow/stop person, and they were allowed to proceed.
I made a wish on the first star I saw. The first star that wasn’t actually a satellite.
8/18/2014 8:30am a McDonalds in Bozeman, Montana
The Walmart I slept in was the most populated one yet. There were several clusters of the now very obvious to me campers and over night sleepers. I pulled in across from a truck and near a medium sized motorhome and a truck towing a trailer. Safety in numbers! My phone is having issues charging from my a/c adapter in my car. Really annoying when one is relying so much on their phone, but I knew how to get to Bozeman (really easy, just north on 89 out of Yellowstone then west on 90 when one gets to Livingstone). And I just kept an eye out for the Walmart sign and there it is. So now it is charging and I’m starting the day with 3$ of junk food. I need ice for my cooler. So after I do the internet rounds, I’ll fill up my tank and get some ice and then Butte to see BT’s show, and then upwards towards Glacier National Park. I’m planning on today being a driving day, so that I can pop into Glacier early instead of late. So I’ll be going scenic and slow. Bummer I won’t be hanging with BT himself in Butte, but plans change and one must change with them. I’ll see him when I get to Portand.