Monday, May 25, 2015

On The Road Again Chapter 3

Picking up where we left off, we drove away from Devil's Tower and continued on toward Gillette, WY.  If you're wondering why we picked some of these places to stop, it was because DH had dialysis appointments set up before we left CA and the availability and location of appropriate facilities somewhat decided our stopping points.  Anyway, we ended up going through some more mountains to get there and this time it was snowing quite heavily for awhile.  Of course, it was my turn to drive again and windy mountain roads with slush on the pavement makes for nervous driving.  We made it, of course, and then continued through spectacular mountain scenery with switchback roads cut right out of the rock in some cases.  Getting behind the slowpokes who think speeding up to 25MPH is what the road signs mean made it a little more interesting(!)  We arrived safely in Gillette, and stayed in a sort of industrial area that was nothing to speak of.  With dialysis out of the way the next morning, we headed out to Cody, NE.

It was quite cool and windy as we headed toward Yellowstone the next morning.  I didn't realize that the elevation at the park is so high and we climbed again through mountains.  Snowy mountains, stone mountains, tree-covered mountains, we saw them all.  We spent two days exploring the magnificence of Yellowstone National Park and enjoyed every minute of it (except some of the people there, who were annoyingly rude and stupid drivers.)    We entered the park through the east gate from Cody and from there went to the upper area to explore.  We saw wildlife, raging rivers, snow covered fields, massive areas burned out in the last forest fire, and newly growing areas regrowing from past fires.  We saw geysers, hot springs, travertine terraces, unspoiled forest, and much more.  I'll just post some photos and try to caption them briefly.  Seeing so much in such a short time makes it hard to remember what was what but it all was wonderful.  Again, click the photos to enlarge.

View from the hotel window in Cody.  Threatening skies and mountains.

Tunnel right through the rock.  Wasn't long enough to get really creepy.

All sorts of terrain come together here; mountains, carved cliffs, trees, and rivers.

Acres and acres of burned trees from the last big wildfire.  So sad to see.

Snow capped mountains peeking out in the distance.

Our first close encounters with wildlife.  It was great to see herds of bison quite frequently throughout the park.

Sometimes the photos taken when you're not quite ready are interesting....

There was quite a lot of snow alongside the road in some areas.  It actually hailed and snowed a bit the second day we visited; of course I was driving again.

These three bears caused quite a traffic jam along the road as people stopped and tried to get photos.

The travertine terraces were spectacular to see.  The hot water bubbles up and leaves mineral deposits on the rock, causing beautiful colors to appear.

The second day we began at Old Faithful, arriving right before a scheduled eruption and before the rain started.  The clock in the lodge said the geyser was supposed to erupt at 9:20.  It started about 9:22.  How do they know that?

The steam plume got large and the hot water rose high into the sky, eventually falling as sprinkles on the spectators.  Very cool.

We toured lots more geysers in the area.  Some were covered with so much steam that our glasses fogged up and we couldn't really take photos.  Amazing.   Some were small and steaming, some were bubbling.  All were beautiful.  You could feel the warmth and smell the sulphur.  There were animal tracks and droppings around the geyser areas indicating that the wildlife probably sleep there where it's warmer.

We went up a trail that led to an overlook where you could see the whole Old Faithful geyser area.  It eventually led to a beautiful solitary geyser where the colors were striking and the woodsy setting was lovely.  As we neared the Old Faithful lodge on our way down, the hail started falling and it got cold.  A lucky break for us to have been able to see so much in the morning sunshine.

After a tour of the geyser areas we drove to Lake Yellowstone and had lunch at the Lake Hotel.  I don't have a photo of it; it's a huge old yellow building, opened in 1893.  It's very elegant and the dining room was great.  The lake is huge, formed during one of the massive volcanic eruptions millions of years ago.

Tomorrow we head for Butte, MT.  After that it's Coeur d'Alene, ID and then home.  We're looking forward to seeing our own little lake.  I don't know how much more sightseeing we'll do, but I'll wrap up the report on Thursday or Friday.

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