Monday, July 19, 2010

Day 30 - Last Day at Yellowstone

We took our time getting up in the morning. Yesterday, I had cracked the glass on the French Press coffee maker so we went ahead and splurged for a new enamel old-fashioned coffee percolator. It's been a while since I've used one so I ended up with fairly good, although, crunchy coffee. It's a good rugged coffee pot and as my dad used to say, "that's ok, it'll last a lifetime". I miss my dad. He would have really enjoyed these stories.

We decided to do the Grand Loop today. 142 miles all the way around Yellowstone. We knew it was going to take a while but we had all day and so what. So....we're driving along and, as we pass a "thermal area" that we want to check out, traffic comes to a halt. I was going to pull off and park anyway so I do just that. I still didn't know why traffic stopped but I figured because it was a fairly large "thermal area" that traffic was just backed up there. As I stop the car, I see why everyone was stopped. Walking towards my truck was a ginormous bison!!! He was about as large as the truck so Dylan and I just kinda sat there with our jaws dropped. Just as he passes by us...mind you, he was only about 8 feet away, we notice another one right behind him. Right then, some dumb-ass, stupid shit, douchebag on a Harley decides he's going to pass the buffalo!!! Obviously, the buffalo got spooked and I thought we were going to have to call our insurance agent. "I'd like to report some damage to my truck" "what happened?" "well, we were minding our own business when a buffalo decided to ram us" "ummmm....sir, we don't appreciate prank phone calls" Yeah, that would go over well!!! Anyways, the buffalo continued to walk down the middle of the hwy for about a 1/4 mile, stopping traffic completely, until they found a nice patch of grass off to the side. Fantastic!!

The thermal areas were all pretty cool...not as amazing as we had seen around Old Faithful and the West Thumb Basin but interesting nonetheless. There were actually a lot more bubbling mud holes than beautiful iridescent blue pools. We made a lot of stops and did a lot of power walking around these areas. About every half hour or so, we would come upon a traffic jam while people would get out of their cars and take pics of the wildlife. It's amazing how blase it becomes after a while. "yeah, dad keep going, it's just another huge bull elk that you would never see anywhere else except for a biggie" We saw lots of elk, an entire herd of buffalo, a pelican surfing down a raging river, osprey, mooseseseses, black bear, grizzly bear and lots of fat humans!!!

So, I forgot to tell you, when we stopped at the area where the buffalo were walking down the road, we were meandering on the boardwalk around the bubbling pools and we came around a corner into a stand of small trees and here, not 6 feet off the path was a HUGE bison just lying in the shade minding his own business. Weird. Even being that close to semi-tame cattle is unnerving and here was this VW bus-sized behemoth just lying there ignoring us.

We continued on our drive and when we were at Mammoth Hot Springs, (which was a bust, by the way, nothing like the pictures on the brochure showed) Dylan mentioned that Montana was only 5 miles away. We had to take the opportunity to add Montana to our list of states visited. We drove into Gardiner and got gas. An official stop in Montana!!!

Made it back to camp by about 7ish, cracked a glorious, ice-cold Alaskan Amber, made a huge pot of spaghetti and chilled by the fire.

Today, we are off to our last campsite of our trip. We're going to drive a little out of our way to go to Bruneau Dunes State Park in western Idaho. (who da ho? You da ho! No, I da ho!) We decided that driving a little further to get to a place with showers and full rest room facilities is a little more palatable than our other choice of a forest camp at about the 11,000' elevation. I'm done with being cold and we need showers!!!!

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