Sunday, July 30, 2017

Day 23.

Pinedale, Wy is a no light cowboy town that strives to be as cool as Jackson. On Saturday night no one was out except tourists at the new Wind River Brewery. We slept in and savored this last day of vacation and a free breakfast. Besides the incredible, picturesque, and memorable section of Wyoming we came, the rest is fairly uneventful. Rolling hills of grass and sage, farms, and ranches. We drove through 7 states, visited 5. We went 5500 miles. We had an oil change in Idaho, day 2, and are due for another. Sadly, we only got 10 miles to the gallon with the trailer attached. But most exploration done detached gave us a break on gas millage. We visited 5 national parks, one national monument. Items left or lost: toothbrush, and Nook, both by Mason. Items should have packed: extra towels. Items overpacked:  clothes, "just in case" bathroom items. Things to change/improve: smaller grill, maybe upgrading to a Truck/SUV. Also a few finishing aesthetics with the Lovebird trailer including power and a cooling system. Much to our surprise we'll be returning to Oregon next year for a home tour, Step Dad and Debbie's new house, Auntie Jan's renovated house, Lance and family's new house, and hopefully Dad gives the little old cabin by the beach some love too.   This trip could not have been possible without all the hospitality from friends and family! We were invited in on hot nights, our loved ones made us meals and paid the bill when we went out to eat. We were given big bowls of ice cream! We did loads of laundry. We were made to feel welcome and treated with kindness. We are so thankful to have so many family and friends that care for us. Thank you does not even cut it, but without all of you this trip would not have been as meaningful or as easy. Thank you for sharing your homes, and time, but most importantly your hearts. You know who you are, and are welcome in Denver anytime! :-) This concludes Road Trip 2017!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Day 22.

Today we packed up and headed South. Yellowstone into Grand Teton National Park. Jackson Lake against the Teton Range is quite a sight. We stopped at C Bay on Jackson Lake to get National Park Stamps, collectable coins, and check out The view. Along the route we saw another bison and a large black bear. The next stop Jenny Lake first a quick snack and a promised swim. Obviously a popular spot, and being Saturday, we had to park a mile away and walk in. The lake was riddled with kayaks, paddleboarders, tubers, floating devices of all kinds. The water play was much needed. We got sucked into a Utah state college research project about visiting Teton park.  We carried a GPS device and participated in an interview. The Tetons are majestically jutting out of the land surrounded by lakes the snow melt creates setting up a fantastic photograph from anywhere in the park. We would have loved to explore more but it seems much of it can be reached by trailhead and we wanted time to see Jackson Hole, Wy. We had a delicious lunch and a brew at Snake River Brewing. The kids spotted a Gaslight alley shopping area with a peculiar book store they wanted to investigate. We also discovered that at 6pm everyday but Sunday at the Town Square across from the playhouse put on an Old West gun fight so we had to stay of course. What an excellent finale! We drove the last bit to the hotel, and in time for the kids to swim, again.

Day 21

Waking early, we made a big breakfast to fuel the long day to explore the park. Staying on the lake in Grant Village kept us centrally located and gave us a head start to venture before most could get in the park. We stopped at West Thumb Geyser Basin. Here we fell in love with the color of the Abyss Pool, views of the lake and the Fishing Cone where fisherman used to cook their fish in the boiling water. Here the lake bubbled and brewed along the edge, this gave a good view of the diverse and active caldera at the bottom of Yellowstone Lake. We proceeded to Fishing Bridge, Hayden Valley, stopping at LeHardys Rapids of the Yellowstone River. Wow. Breathtaking and full of crushing power. Mud Volcano, Dragon's mouth, Black Dragon Cauldron each whose names help us convince the kids into hiking further. Along this corridor we got stuck in a "bison jam" and watched a large male bison cross the road, and swim across the river (Chris and I's favorite part). We stopped at Artist's point to view lower falls of Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. This was awe inspiring. We hiked out to Upper falls, Tower Falls, Undine falls, and Petrified tree as well. Mammoth hot springs terraces were spectacular and constantly moving, growing, dying, changing. Lily's favorite part of Yellowstone was seeing all the wildlife, we saw bison, grizzly bear, coyote, badger, geese, ducks, and elk. Artist's paint pots and Midway Geyser Basin with features Excellsior And Grand Prismatic concluded a long but satisfying day. We decided to treat ourselves to a fancy dinner at the lodge, well deserved and full of yummy calories. We hiked 9.38 miles, and loved every minute of it.

Day 20.

Mason was awoken by The Wilson's dog Emerald crawling into his sleeping bag, her favorite place. Lol. We were convinced that we needed the local breakfast fare at The Inn at Gallatin Gateway where everything was fresh and homemade including the complimentary donut holes. Yum! After farewells we headed to the West Gate at Yellowstone. We have a day and half here, so we get started. We explored the Fountain Paint Pots(Mason's favorite feature), a few springs and Old Faithful before setting up camp. Old Faithful was 20 min past schedule but more impressive than expected. The kids got their National Park Stamps and we picked out Yellowstone t-shirts. At camp we were able to walk down to the beach of Yellowstone Lake. Spaghetti dinner and a small fire to cook Apple pie crescent rolls for dessert. Chris and I enjoyed Huckleberry beer while we played Gubs, our new favorite card game with the kids. We looked over our literature and maps creating a plan of attack for the next days adventures.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Day 19.

Leaving Glacier was bittersweet, we really wanted more time to explore. Even though we had food to cook, we got sucked into the breakfast aroma wafting from The Lazy Bear Cafe. We packed up and said Bon Voyage to some new friends. We often get people stopping to ask about the trailer. This cute little couple stopped last night to inquire and share that they were also vintage trailer owners. After burgers at camp, kids went swimming (again!) While Chris and I strolled over to see their trailer. A 1948 LaCabana (I think!) All red and white and shiny with AC, heat, microwave, and potty. So this morning, after putting away sleeping quarters we showed Verna and Jerry our Lovebird, and attracted a couple neighbors over as well. I love this community of vintage campers! We hope to see them at one of the rallies for Tin Can Tourists. On the road again, we grabbed a quite lunch bite lakeside of Seeley Lake. Destination: Big Sky, Mt to see Beth, Chad, Levon and TJ. Excited to see them and share our homemade beer! We had an amazing dinner and chatted long into the evening while kids got some time in the hot tub and Levon even got his hair wet! (he's 3, this is a big deal). Although, we miss them this place is perfect in every way, no wonder celebrities are moving in and spending millions to be in the area. As to be expected, they are right near a river and we made plans to return soon.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Day 18.

Wow. Glacier KOA is incredible, colorful flower beds and native trees everywhere, pool, hot tubs, restaurant, ice cream shop, store, showers, laundry, cabins and more. Some of the monster RVs that people drive around are insanely large and decked out, similar to pulling our actual house around. The camp also offered different site upgrades that provides an actual yard, patio tables, umbrellas, full size grills, and of course all hook ups including, you guessed it, Wi-Fi and cable. Kinda defeats the camping aspect but I don't think that is what they are out for with this set up. Going into Glacier national park was slow going as there was construction. Parking anywhere at features was challenging.  I recommend the shuttle. But the further we went in to the park the more awe struck we were. The first amazing sight was a bear cub crossing the road in front of us! We drove the entire length of Going to the Sun Rd from West to East entrance. From Logan Pass, we hiked up to Hidden Lake and had our lunch. Along the way we saw Big Horn Sheep at a distance, Mountain Goats up close, Marmots, Ground squirrel, and Chipmunk. This place seemed unreal, fields of wildflowers bathed the hills, amongst ice fields melting and crafting streams feeding this wilderness. I kept thinking how lucky these animals are to have this as their home. Nature = art. Really difficult to put this beauty into words, you must see this. Feel it. Experience using all your senses. We stopped at Rising Sun access to Saint Mary Lake to put our feet in. The water was cold but satisfying, we felt refreshed and connected. One really needs to spend about a week to get the whole park in. We pulled off along the road and enjoyed Jackson Glacier, Weeping Wall, a snow bridge, and stood under a waterfall. These are the things your soul needs. Entering at 8 and leaving at 4 we did our best with the time we have
and every intention of returning. The pool and ice cream call us back to camp. Later, with clear star filled skies, we got a bonus of seeing the International Space Station crossing overhead right before bed.

Day 17.

We woke early. Even before the alarm, the 6am the trash truck came by. Rough. But we had to get up anyway for breakfast and a head start on a long day of driving. Old Town breakfast in town with Aunt Kathy and Uncle Mark helped ease the pain of getting back in the car. It's so hard leaving Joseph. We wish we could stay for a week. Onward, a 10 hour drive, from Eastern Oregon to Upper Montana. The first leg was the Rattlesnake through Hell's Canyon alongside the impressive Grande Ronde River. We were instructed to stop for milkshakes at Boggan's at the bottom. Imagine a long winding road, going up and down and it is worse than that. Joseph elevation is 4190 and Grande Ronde at the bottom is 344. Now add towing and switch backs. Blah. But it is a gorgeous landscape and the milkshakes were the best, even at 940am. :-) Crossing the High Plateau and rolling hills of western Idaho, was a little like being in a painting. We stopped in Coeur d'Alene for groceries and lunch. We found a genius business concept, The Growler Guys, where we were able to try local beers on tap and fill our growler to take back to camp. We lost an hour crossing the time line, coming into West Glacier at 8 but really 9pm. The pizza at Glacier Grill was delicious. Camp set up at 10 was challenging as we were exhausted but excited to see the park.