I had an amazing road trip.
I hadn’t done one in a very long time (2003) and was overdue.
I forgot how much I love the open road and the freedom and perspective that a solo road trip gives me.
After my mother’s death, getting so sick (first the flu then the sinus infection) work stress, and making the final decision that a certain relationship wasn’t going to work out, (oh, and I haven’t had a vacation since 2007) I needed to hit the road to find “me” again.
I also wanted to see my dear, dear friend Black George who is currently in Grand Teton National Park.
Stop by the White Grass ranger station, and he’ll make you a rootbeer float and tell you some stories.
Oh, and for my older lady friends… He’s available (discriminating, but available) He is well traveled, speaks several languages and always has fine Portuguese wine and good tequila available. He’s a “catch”, let me know if you’d like an introuduction.
George is a long time Park Service volunteer and is 86 years young this year.
I worked with him at Canyonlands National Park 15 (that’s FIFTEEN years ago)
Here’s a picture of the two of us then.
and a picture of us taken last Friday
We decided that we look pretty darn good after 15 years.
It must be clean living… HA!!!
It was an awesome trip that involved trips to visit other good friends.
First, my friend Jim (also a friend from Canyonlands National Park) and his lovely wife LT in Moscow Idaho on Wednesday night, we had a lovely walk, dinner at a local Mexican restaurant, and some visiting time at their lovely home.
After that, I headed out to Hardin Montana to visit my best friend from my senior year of high school Erin and her family.
It took a lot longer than I anticipated to get there due to my taking the Hwy 12 scenic byway and lots of road construction, but I finally made it and we did get some time to visit and catch up (our first time seeing each other in 30 years)
I drove out to Yellowstone on Friday morning and was in the park by 10:00 AM.
The high route into the Northeast entrance via Red Lodge and the Shosone National Forest was fabulous (despite the road construction)
I passed on opportunities to stop on the side (or in the cases of real idiot park visitors in the middle of the road) to take pictures of pronghorns (there are more of them than people in Wyoming as I discovered when I lived there) or herds of bison on the distance.
I was rewarded with awesome bison photographic opportunity when one almost lumbered in front of my truck just north of the Canyon Visitor Center (were the ranger on duty was kind enough to call Teton dispatch to let Black George know I was in the park and heading that direction)
and later near Yellowstone Lake
I look too close, but I made sure that my truck was between the bison and I and had a wonderful new 70-300mm lens thanks to my wonderful friend Gar (the biggest supporter of my photography habit/career) who gifted me with a lens that didn’t work for his needs.
I also enjoyed a visit to the “Super Caldera”
and the Dragons Mouth
I finished up my Yellowstone visit with a stop at Lewis Falls
The Rockerfeller parkway between Yellowstone and Grand Teton was under construction (oh and all the pavement had been torn up) so between the half hour delays and the 20mph traffic on the ripped up sections it took a good long time to get down there.
I pulled into the White Grass Ranger Station at the Death Canyon Trailhead (the oldest trail in the park) at around 4:30 PM.
Since I was a “special guest” I got to pitch my tent right outside the station, which is an old horse patrol cabin.
George cooked us a lovely dinner of garlic and ribeye steak with baked potatoes and a salad (OK, I made the salad) and some good Portuguese wine.
The next morning after coffee in front of the wood stove in my moose jammies, I was up with the sun to get some photos of my beloved Tetons (I spent a lot of time there when I lived in Wyoming) at sunrise. (there was a fire burning and it smoked up the view the day before, I was hoping that the fire would lay down overnight and it did)
I then hiked out to Taggart Lake for some more photo opportunities (where I lost the lens cap to my new lens, the Tetons demanded a sacrafice)
After that, I hike around Jenny Lake
I was hoping to bag a peak or two, but bagged lakes instead, due to the ankle injury I sustained in the Olympic distance triathlon I did last week. The ankle isn’t sprained, but I think the bone in injured because I can’t stand any pressure on it. (not rolling over onto that side when I sleep and certainly not a hiking boot being laced up)
After that, I made a trip out to Teton Village (haven’t skied Jackson Hole for 18 years) a grocery run to Wilson and a trip to the Laurance S. Rockerfeller Preserve which is an amazing place.
Wile heading out that direction, I had the moose encounter that I’d been hoping for (I kept the big lends on the camera just in case) Moose-Wilson Road was the place I saw my first moose over 20 years ago.
I look like I’m too close (good lens) but there were stupid people closer than I was and I was sure that even with a sore ankle I could outrun out tree climb them. (you don’t have to outrun the moose, just the stupid people)
After a full day of adventure I headed back to the ranger station for another lovely dinner and an early night tucked into my down sleeping bag (hoping not to be kept awake all night again by the “party elk” and other critters including wolves and how knows what else was crashing through the brush, snorting, pawing, etc…)
The rest of the pictures are available here:
Or here as a slide show.
The next morning (after coffee in front of the wood stove of course) I headed out at 6:00 AM (5:00 AM Pacific time) for the drive to Missoula where I was going to spend the night (halfway point)
Taking the Moose-Wilson Road (slowing down before sunrise for moose and elk of course) and out through Idaho Falls was an amazingly fast route and I got to Missoula at 1:00 PM where I was planning on camping. That wasn’t really worth an overnight stay in a place that I had nothing I wanted to do, so I kept driving West (until I got tired of driving)
I remembered the (three states worth) of road construction on I-90 and decided that it would be smarter to just push through on Sunday when the crews weren’t working than to spend twice the time to go half the distance on Monday. I used to be quite the “road warrior” on long trips and it was nice to see that I still “had it”.
I made it home by 8:00 PM. (15 hours on the road for 904 miles) and had today to sleep in, rest and get ready for the work week. (oh and write trip reports by fresh food/groceries/upload photos)
Here’s the route I took.
Yesterday was the longest drive I’ve done in one stretch; here’s how it compares to previous road trips…
Moose Wyoming to Tacoma WA 904 miles
St Louis MO to Boulder CO, 870 miles
Ventura CA to Castle Valley UT, 802 miles
Moab UT to Pendleton OR, 792 miles
Moab UT to Cheyenne WY, 451 miles
Now, I really should get back to resting; it is after all, the last day of my vacation.
Mood: Tired but Happy