Home Stretch

After six weeks on the road, we are very nearly home.

map.gif

We left the Yellowstone area and headed north following the Gallatin River. We stopped just north of Big Sky at Montana Whitewater to enjoy a rafting trip. Our family rafted here last summer, it was Sarah Michael's first-ever rafting trip, but it was earlier in the summer and there was more water flowing. Even though the flow was only 800 CFM we still had a good time.

Next we stopped for the night in Butte, Montana. We had dinner at a famous place that Jessie really likes: the Pekin. This Chinese restaurant was once a boarding house for Chinese workers. It didn't have rooms so much as it had stalls: Walls that didn't connect to the ceiling. These stalls remain and are now where you sit and eat.

As the sun set a storm was hitting nearby. The combination of sunset and clouds was beautiful. The KOA in Butte is crappy, but it is next door to a nature trail that bears my Grandpa Ulrich's name. That makes it special.

The next day we woke up to see the Berkeley Pit. It was mined from 1955 until 1982. I can remember going to see the pit as a child when it was still operating. It was exciting to see a rock blast at noon. Since 1985 it has been filling with water and the lake is now 1800 feet deep!

 If you have visited the Pit you know the tunnel to the viewing stand.

If you have visited the Pit you know the tunnel to the viewing stand.

Then we picked up lunch at Porkchop John's and we were on our way.

IMG_4182.jpg

One last adventure. I have heard for many years that the Silverton theme park north of Coeur D'Alene was fun, so we decided to spend a few hours enjoying the rides. It is totally fun. Especially on an evening where the lines are short, the temperature perfect and the sunset gorgeous.

Coaster-Gif-640.gif

At 10:30pm we reentered Washington State and by 11:00 we were parked at a Walmart just west of Spokane for a little sleep before the final push home.

Yellowstone and Out

Monday, June 28 we left Dubois and headed for Yellowstone. Along the way we stopped at the Jackson Lake Dam for pictures with the Tetons.

P1110259.jpg
P1110267.jpg

As we entered Yellowstone National Park we picked up three hitch hikers. They were students from Georgia who had dropped off their car at the south end of the park and needed a ride north so they could do a 70 mile hike back down to their car. It was fun to talk to them and help them out. Tessa thought two of them were cute.

This was Tessa's first visit to Yellowstone, and since we were driving past Old Faithful we stopped to see it blow.

 You should have seen the parking lot for this joint. Like Disneyland!

You should have seen the parking lot for this joint. Like Disneyland!

We were still in transit to our campground, however, the RV pulling the Jeep, and that's no way to visit Yellowstone. So we plowed on to the RV park and hung out there for evening.

The next day, Tuesday July 29, was the day we set aside to see more of the park. Yellowstone is way too big to appreciate in a day, we know that, so we focused on the northern loop that we have not done on previous trips. Even that is too much to see in a day, but as this trip winds down we are anxious to get home.

We tried to get an early start to see some wildlife.

Then we found ourselves driving up a dirt road towards the north end of the Mt. Washburn trail. We continued on foot for a while, but Sarah Michael took some convincing.

P1110294.jpg

Jessie and Tessa were much more game for the activity. We weren't even trying to make it all the way up to the fire lookout, we were just aiming for some snow.

P1110301.jpg

I was a nice Dad and carried Sarah Michael the last few yards to the snow field. It was a small gesture but it made her smile and stop complaining.

P1110309.jpg
P1110319_edit.jpg

After our hike we continued driving around exploring the northern loop. In addition to deer and elk we saw a buffalo...

P1110369.jpg

...and a bear! Actually we saw two Black Bears. The first was pretty near the main road but bush-obscured and tough to get a decent view of. This second one we encountered along the Blacktail Plateau Drive.

We visited Mammoth Hot Springs. It is beautiful. It has a lot of dried-up-ness though. It isn't as watery-flowy as what we saw in Thermopolis. But it has some stunning features.

As we prepared to leave I saw this older gentleman holding up his iPad like he was taking pictures, but the WiPry antenna hanging off the side got me curious. I looked closer and saw not an image of the hot springs like from a camera, but rather something like a graph. I had to know more so I asked him what he was doing. He told me about the electronic radiation emanating from smart power meters that transmit data back and forth. He can pick up these signals way up here.

IMG_4894.JPG

This guy and I talked for a good long time. Part of me wished I had my camera and microphone to capture the knowledge he was dropping, but the other part of me wasn't that interested. At his urging I did write down a couple notes. First, look up LESSEMF. Also learn about dirty electricity. This guy was great. I'm so glad Jessie thought to take the picture of me with him.

Then we hiked a couple of easy loops to see geyers and springs and paint pots. As the hour latered, the weather worsened. 

 The geyser areas are way-cooler in person. There are sounds and smells and you can feel the heat and the weight of the steam pass you. It is neat.

The geyser areas are way-cooler in person. There are sounds and smells and you can feel the heat and the weight of the steam pass you. It is neat.

 This was right near the  Constant Geyser , which was not constantly geysering, or erupting or whatever. We caught it on a break.

This was right near the Constant Geyser, which was not constantly geysering, or erupting or whatever. We caught it on a break.

 At the Artists Paintpots. 

At the Artists Paintpots. 

 Weather.

Weather.

It rained some while we hiked but it really let loose when we were in the car. We even got into some light hail. So we got out to dance in it.

Here's a tip: You may think about leaving the park at the end the day, at dinner time. You may be one of thousands of people thinking the very same thing. And many of you will be leaving out on the same single-lane exit road for 14 miles.

We are nearly done. We will leave in the morning for a few days of driving to get us home by the end of the week!

Our last day in Dubois

Today, our last day in the town of Dubois.  We decided to spend this day entirely at the RV at The Longhorn.  The Longhorn sits on the Wind River with beautiful red-colored hills beyond. It is stunning.   

image.jpg

The girls spent a lazy morning watching shows on iOS devices.  After lunch we took a blanket, the dogs, a cooler, books and some floaties to the river. We spent a wonderful afternoon playing in the river. Wes and I floated the length of The Longhorn property 3 times.  

image.jpg

While the girls built a rock fortress.  

image.jpg

They then took a turn floating the river. SM had to be rescued by her Dad. She was not coming ashore. She was going to float right on by.  

IMG_4845.jpg
IMG_4849.jpg
IMG_4858.jpg

A nice way to spend the day in a special little town towards the end of a LONG trip

New Old Friends

Sit down and get comfortable, I will start off with a bit of backstory.

Somewhere around 2000 or 2001 a friend introduced me via phone and email to some of his friends who wanted an animated logo for their company's demo reel. A reel is a video that demonstrates the work a company has done. It is a visual resume of sorts for those of us that make video and film.

My client on this project was Turtle Ranch. I never met them in person, just talked on the phone and via email.

Turn the page. Last summer we discovered the town of Dubois, WY and here's how it happened:

A year ago we had planned to stay in Jackson, WY but we weren't very excited about it. All the RV site reviews were terrible so we were pretty much looking at a couple days at a crappy park. A first-world problem to be sure. Anyway, we were about 85 miles east to Jackson when we passed what looked like a really nice park snuggled against the river. Then we drove through the tiny town of Dubois, which had an old west feel and felt like a nice place to be. Then, on the way out of town, we drove past a sign for Turtle Ranch.

The universe seemed to be saying, "Stop here!" So we canceled the Jackson RV park and instead stayed in Dubois.

We weren't able to connect with Kate and Robin from Turtle Ranch last summer, but we did rekindle the communication and this year we made arrangements to finally meet in person. It was an incredible visit.

Do you remember the Budweiser "Puppy Love" Superbowl commercial? It features a very cute puppy whose real name is Charlie Francis. She's a bit bigger now!

We also saw a bull that when younger was featured in another Budweiser ad.

We drove around their property some, a beautiful expanse that has been used as a location in a number of films, commercials and more. They also introduced us to a number of their animals which was a real treat for the girls.

P1100646.jpg
 This is Marty. He is retired now, but he used to appear in Budweiser commercials.

This is Marty. He is retired now, but he used to appear in Budweiser commercials.

 Robin gave us a really special treat, getting 25 horses to line up and stay at attention until released with a whistle.

Robin gave us a really special treat, getting 25 horses to line up and stay at attention until released with a whistle.

 Here we are with Robin.

Here we are with Robin.

 Kate and Robin, our new friends with whom we go way back.

Kate and Robin, our new friends with whom we go way back.

It was such a wonderful afternoon. We can't return soon enough!