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Published: October 13th 2005
Yogi's cousin perhaps?
This is kobuk, a 6 year old bear rescued as a cub. They live in fabulous natural surroundings with as little human intervention as possible.
Well, we're back in the USA. It is obviously growing on us because as we crossed the border we almost experienced a “back home” feeling.
Once again we had a very pleasant customs officer and it all went very smoothly.
Having crossed the border into Montana we headed to Glacier national park. It is illegal to take a vehicle longer than 28ft through the park so we took a tour on the “going to the sun” road in a very individual vehicle during which you cross the “continental divide”. It is at this point the rivers run either east or west into the oceans. We also saw the wonderful valleys and peaks carved out by glaciers
We then headed of to Missoula. They call this “big sky country” and you can see why. After mountains, trees and glaciers suddenly we are surrounded by open plains or “flats” It looks like real Cowboy country. The sunsets were great and there was a fabulous light, a bit like the “gloaming” in Scotland. Apparently land is really cheap here but there is sooooo much of it and soooooo far from anywhere.
Missoula is the town our rig is registered
Graeme was very taken with this vehicle, it may be our new motorhome.
in so we decided to drop in and pick up any post and meet the people looking after our interests. They planted a new idea in Graeme’s head when they told him, for a small fee we could have personalised licence plate. Guess what our new dinner table conversation is!
Currently “En route” or “Travel 4 2” are favourites. However it depends if anyone in Montana already has it. Clean suggestions accepted, it must have 7 characters
Missoula is a really nice university town, full of bars, restaurants and trendy shops.
However we are now definitely “full timers” as we headed straight for Wal- mart to stock up on RV essentials and spend a night in their car park. (Antidote to an overdose of nature perhaps?) There is a sub culture of RV’ers parking overnight in Wal- marts. It is an accepted site and always a good place to meet people ( how sad is that!) however this was the first one we had seen where there were signs saying “no overnight parking” as it was against a local bylaw. We saw a couple unhitching their car and asked them if it was OK to stay , they said
Perfect Glacial valley
Althought this is not a brilliant picture, it does show a perfect glacial U valley.
yep, they had overnighted there for 4 years and no problem, they had spoken to the manager who said the signs had been there for 4 years but they had no problem with rigs parking there. So we thought OK give it a go. Well …… we went shopping and returned later to find about 17 campers of varying size settled in for the night. More than in some small RV Parks
As I was saying, we really liked the town and you could almost imagine living there. However we very quickly dropped that idea as when chatting with a local he told us it was - 40f last winter!
It was also our last chance to do anymore tax free shopping (Montana has no purchase tax) so Graeme bought a Fender Amp and the bedroom now doubles up as a music room..
We had always said that Montana would be the perfect place for me to practice driving. It has long, almost straight and quite empty roads. We were heading to Yellowstone and it was time for me to take the wheel……….
Actually, it was great. Graeme remained calm at all times and even left the
My first drive
front on one occasion and I really enjoyed it. I executed left & right turns and overtaking manoeuvres as well as forward drive. Obviously it will take some practise to perfect the clever bits but it is an “easy” vehicle to drive and going forwards was not too difficult. It really helps that the “pilot” seat is all electric and moves in all direction so I am able to reach the pedals. In fact it drives so well it is difficult to keep to the speed limit, thank goodness for cruise control.
So, we arrive safely at Grizzly RV Park in Yellowstone. We had great expectations for this national park having read and seen a lot about it before arriving. Well………… It is great, one of the best places we have been, anywhere. We loved it and stayed for a week.
Firstly Grizzly RV Park was a really nice base. The staff were really helpful and knowledgeable (although I must say that normally is the case wherever we have been) and it was only 5 minutes from the little town, West Yellowstone. It is like a small Wild West town and has all the amenities you need, you
Approaching City Limits
And look at how difficult the road was!. I was just about to tackle my first City, pop 71
know, bank, post office, bars, the best diner we have seen so far, IMAX, wolf & bear sanctuary, gun shops, taxidermists, all the average small town things.
On the way home the other night we could hear the wolves howling.
The park is one of the most amazing places we have been .The scenery is completely unique and changes whilst you look at it. The geysers come in all shapes, colours and sizes. They bubble, hiss, steam, blob, spit & splutter. They are conical, flat, deep, stepped or high. The colours cover the spectrum from greys to the brightest orange, from the deepest blue to pink and everything in between. It looks at times like a lunar landscape or something from Dr Zeus. They lay ominously silent waiting for the next eruption in? 1 year, 1 decade or 1 millennium or perform on a regular basis, like Old Faithful
And each day in a different light it all changes.
One useless fact I must share with you is that the acidity of the water from some geysers (plus heat I should think) will cook a human limb in seconds. Yet the animals will go right to the edge
to forage. I think they must be getting salts & minerals or a steam facial. If you watch them they shuffle from foot to foot, it must be hot to the hoof.
Yellowstone is very proud to be the USA’s & the world’s first national park. It was created in 1872 when 2.1 million acres of land were set aside for the park. It contains 10,000 geysers which change all the time. The park has approx 3 earthquakes a day which help change the flow to the geysers and create new ones whilst old ones go dormant. The huge caldera explosion which created the environment occurred 600,000 yrs ago and one day will occur again. Believe me it will be spectacular but you will not want to be there! The earth’s crust which is normally 45 miles deep is only between 3 - 8 miles here and you get a real sense of what we are standing on!!
As well as this entire geological marvel there is lots of scenery & wildlife to see.
We spent several days in the park and spent ages looking for and watching wildlife. We saw many Elk, Bison, Moose, Wolves, Fox, Deer
Graeme exhausted after studying the menu. Too scared to ask if they did veggie burgers.
and one Bald Eagle. We loved the Moose; they are particularly grumpy and noisy, crashing through the shrubs and undergrowth. and being generally unpleasant to each other.
It was a delight to see all these creatures alive as there were so many dead, stuffed ones everywhere else you go.
It is very Hunting, Shooting, Fishing in this area. Personally we don’t understand how you can look at such beautiful creatures and then shoot it and stick it's head on the wall. But it is part of everyday life.
The shops are very interesting. You go into the most ordinary gift shop to find yourself surrounded by stuffed Bear,Elk or anything else that once walked. You pop in to buy a small gift or daily item and can drop a rifle and ammunition, or hunting knife into your basket!
We met a woman in Jackson (very nice place) who expressed surprise that as we were English why weren’t we interested in visiting the gun show? She then proudly told us she had got an Oozi for Christmas (really in the spirit of God, that) her husband was very keen to point out that it had not been used.
Not the musician! However he did "sing" for a good while. We could hear the pack at night from our Rig. These particular wolves were also rescued but Yellowstone have succesfully re introduced wolves back into the wild and we were lucky enough to see some from a distance
It is also a vegetarian’s nightmare here. They can sneak meat into anything. It’s a bit like Spain, if it’s cut into small pieces it doesn’t count.
We met a couple (Michael & Wendy) He said if you ask for a salad they will put a blood dressing on the side. I think he may not have been joking!
When we arrived in Jackson Town (bigger than most & very expensive property) we found an excellent Thai restaurant, and had to return the next night. We hadn’t realised how much we had been missing spicy food. I asked where they got their ingredients from and they replied Salt lake city, only a 10 hour round trip to drive (well it is America)
Oops just got distracted as a Coyote just ran across the road. We are on a 150 mile long straight stretch of road into Nevada so anything is exciting. We also just gained an hour as passed back into Pacific Time so I haven’t actually written this yet.
From Yellowstone we went to the Grand Tetons. We were going to just drive through but when we arrived it was 70f & sunshine so thought
This particular geyser was so colourful, cascading down through several layers.
as it was so nice we would stay and do some walking. The next day was 40f, the following day we woke to snow and to hear the road to Yellowstone was closed. Time to leave.
We have our first deadline as we have to be in Grass Valley California by 17 Oct so decided to head off via “the Craters of the Moon, across the Nevada desert to California.
I drove through my first city on the way to the Craters of the Moon and encountered no great problems. Well, truth is it was a place called Butte city, population 71, buildings about 10. Still you have to start somewhere.
Craters of the moon is a fascinating place which we really enjoyed It is 75 square miles of volcanic landscape which last erupted about 2,000 years ago and will erupt again within the next 2,000 years.
We have come to the conclusion this is not a very stable country.
You are able to do the drive through the park in a couple of hours but we spent all day there. The park is miles from anywhere and was almost empty; as it was
getting late we stayed the night in the park. The sunset & sunrise were great but it was the night sky that was so beautiful. There was absolutely no light pollution and a completely clear night. We haven’t seen a sky like that since being on top of Macchu Pichu and it was much easier and warmer than being there.
Also, I now understand the expression “the silence was almost deafening”
It was so quite I could hear my ears humming, or perhaps it was my brain!
We often get side tracked and don’t make it to our agreed destination but the next day we really excelled ourselves.
We met a woman in the park who lived in Sun Valley and suggested we go there. It was in the opposite direction from where we were heading, but not too far, so we did. Whilst Graeme was in the guitar shop chatting, the guy suggested we should do the Sawtooth mountain & Ponderosa scenic drive. Looking at the map we saw it would take us back to Boise after about a 2 hundred mile detour but looked worthwhile. What we didn’t notice was that the road twisted and turned
I thought this scene was amazing.
in an Alpine manner for most of the journey. To begin with we could not understand why the Satellite navigation kept insisting we turn around and return on the longer route, by the time we caught on we were committed. In the end it took all day to get about 50 miles from where we started. Was it worth it? Yes, it was a beautiful journey and why not, after all we have all year.
Having said that, we suddenly realised that we have been “on the road” for 3 months. A quarter of our time here. By sheer coincidence we had returned to Boomtown the place where our rig was handed over to us, rather a neat end to this part of the trip. We celebrated with dinner at the casino where Graeme made friends with a Lobster woman!
We took time to reflect on the last 12 weeks, the places we have been and people we have met
These weeks have been very busy. We have travelled about 4,000 miles and although we have never rushed our aim was to visit these places before winter set in. We will now probably slow down a bit and
“sit a spell”
It has been a great learning curve,made much easier by the help and advice we have been given along the way. People are very generous with their help. For example Michael & Wendy gave up a couple of days of their holiday so Michael could show Graeme how to “Lube” the engine. Dan is always good for advice. Thank god for
E mail, our very own advice centre.
We are on our way for the rig to get a 3 month check up and then on to meet Tony & Sally in San Francisco. Sue & Terry will visit in November so we are really looking forward to that, then probably on to Mexico.
Daily life continues. Our newest project is to learn Spanish. We have purchased Spanish lesson CDs so we can practice our linguistic skills as we drive along. Annabel where are you? We need you. Not too sure we will be fluent in time for Mexico but will be able to order beer, gas, propane and other life essentials.
Graeme thinks the satellite navigation is in cahoots with me as it often says left instead of right so now
he can get cross with that instead of me!
So its a tough life but someone has to do it. to be continued............
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