Thursday, July 28, 2011

Day 34: Yellowstone Part Deux

Another place all the folks in Silver Gate were telling us to go was back in Yellowstone....Trout Lake, named, appropriately, for all the trout that live in said lake.  So we took a little day hike into the park to check it out.  And we weren't disappointed. 

 It was a VERY steep climb up to the mountain lake, but this was our reward.

 You know how salmon swim upstream to spawn?  Well, trout do too!  These particular fish have to swim from the lake up this little rapid.

 Do you see that reddish splotch there in the middle of the picture?  That's a cutthroat trout.  There had to be about 100 of them, all HUGE, all struggling to get upstream.  They would go in spurts, a little at a time, and then rest, and then go a little more.  It looked exhausting.

 Meanwhile, the scenery is serene and calming.

 I couldn't take enough pictures!!!

 This is Soda Butte, a dormant geyser.  It gives the stream in Silver Gate (the one we camped by) its name.

 These are Yellowstone Tour buses.  They were retired and sold to other parks and private individuals in the 1970's.  The current vendor that handles tours tracked down as many as they could and bought them back, then updated them mechanically and restored the bodies and interiors to like new.  There's about 15 of them in the park.

 Those yellow flowers carpet the mountainside, so much so that it looks like a giant had thrown yellow paint everywhere!!

 Mammoth Hot Spring Terraces from a distance.  We had no idea they were so big!!!  (Although the name might've given it away.....)

 Up close

 Up closer.  Crazy shapes!  They look like....terraces!!

 Obligatory self photo

 So, The Terraces are actually in a town (yes, there's a town in the park!) called Mammoth Hot Springs.  Back before the National Parks Service was founded, Yellowstone Park was managed by the US Army.  The barracks and Officer's Quarters, as well as all the support staff, etc, lived here.  Now those buildings are being used as a hotel for tourists and housing for park staff.

 And a bunch of elk live here too.  Actually, they sort of run the place.

 And, finally, we see a bear!!!!! And it's a grizzly!!  It's hard to tell, but the "grizz" (as the locals call him) is on the left.  As we watched, he took a bath in a little stream nearby, then grazed a bit.  The bison approached from the right.  As soon as the bear saw the buffalo, he scampered away.  But the bison didn't care.  He stopped at the same stream to cool off, then calmly sauntered past the bear.  The bear kept an eye on him, but they peacefully went about their business.  I thought grizzlies were big, but the bison was nearly double his size!

 Later down the road, we missed the hunt, but saw this wolf with his prize.  He disappeared over a rise shortly after this picture was taken.  Probably taking dinner back to the fam.

 Good-bye Yellowstone!!

"For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People."

Now.......on to Glacier!!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Days 32-33 Bear Tooth Pass, Cody, and Chief Joseph Scenic Byway

While staying in Silver Gate we heard about Bear Tooth Pass and Chief Joseph Scenic Byway from several locals and tourists who were adamant that we'd regret it if we didn't take a drive on these two roads.  We had no intention of going back towards the east but we needed some provisions anyway so we decided to drive Bear Tooth and then onto Cody, Wyoming then we could return to Silver Gate via Chief Joseph.  Glad we did because the scenery was spectacular.  Have a look.

Kipper giving us his "let's go!" look.

On the way up Bear Tooth Pass.  Still quite a bit of snow to melt off!

The top is 10,947 feet in elevation.  We are freezing our butts off in this photo because it's cold and the wind is howling!

Nevermind, this cyclist is probably colder than us.  He is awesome.
We stopped to give him our email so we could send him this photo.

Ahhh, it's freezing up here!

Additional proof that Texans are unprepared for snow.

Ok, on the way down the other side.
Occasionally we'd encounter these landslide fences, comforting.

Spent the night in Cody at a little RV park.
The clouds only look ominous, there wasn't any rain.

LeTigre's ancestor...

 Following morning we took off for Silver Gate via the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway.
The landscape variety in Wyoming is pretty amazing.  There's been a lot of geological upheavel in this area. 

Neat metal sculpture at the top of Chief Joseph.

Hopefully you can zoom in and read this.  Nez Perce tribal leaders Lean Elk and Chief Joseph were quite the military strategists.

Overlook of the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway.

Shoshone River gorge.

Angie takes in the scenic beauty...

...while Kipper and LeTigre hang with the bikers!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Days 30-31, 33-34: "You're on a Righteous Journey, Man..."

The title is a direct quote from a gentleman (named Greg!) that we met in an amazing little corner of the world that goes by the name of Silver Gate, located just outside the northeast entrance of Yellowstone.  We arrived here purely by accident after not being able to find camping within Yellowstone, as all the campsites were full.  Bad planning on our part but then fate or luck or perhaps something spiritual guided us into Silver Gate.

This modest sign welcomes you into town.

We spent a lot of time on this porch.  Angie and Kipper with our host, Henry...

...who took pity on two homeless travelers and let us park Le Tigre on a corner of his property near his rental cabins.

This was our view from Le Tigre.  Gorgeous.

Our home for four nights.

Henry owns a bunch of guest cabins that he rents out, and they're beautiful....all updated and comfy looking.  However, he took this one and turned it into a....... 

....sauna!!!   We did one with him that first day we were in Silver Gate.  You sweat until you can't stand it, and then sweat a bit more, then you go jump into the stream....which is melted snow.  It's heavenly.  We did one the next day too, but the one with Henry was better.  He's got the magic touch with that fire!!

This prayer is posted on the main street of Silver Gate and really sums up the attitude of the town.  Everyone there is so friendly and hospitable and helpful.

One morning we decided to blow our budget on breakfast at the cafe across the street from Henry's store.  It was delicious!!!  Steak and eggs.  The chef, Jason, turned out to be just as helpful as everyone else in Silver Gate and a wealth of information for our future destinations.

A pretty waterfall just a mile or so from town.

Obligatory self-photo in front of the waterfall.

We left Silver Gate for one night to drive Beartooth Pass and stock up on supplies in Cody (more on that later) and we returned to this!  The University of Montana does a summer Shakespeare in the Park tour and Silver Gate is on their schedule.  The actors set up the stage, do the performance, and tear down.....all in one day.   They performed "The Merchant of Venice."

After the play (and every evening we were there), we hung out on Henry's porch, drinking beer and chatting with guests and locals around the fire.  We talked a lot with Greg, Henry's old friend, who has been ALL over the West on his motorcycle.  He gave us a lot of pointers and suggestions for routes and camping.   His memory is remarkable.  He rattled off roads, towns, and campsites while we made notes in our Atlas.  Alas, we don't have a photo of Greg, but he's a cool dude.

View from the porch.  The "Amphitheatre" in Yellowstone. 
They say the snow never completely melts.  Beautiful.

Then we ran across the street to talk some more to Jason about the Florida Keys (he used to live there).  We hung with him and his girlfriend for a few hours, and they were kind enough to buy us a couple of local beers.  Yum.  Again, we have no picture of a picture of the beer will have to suffice!!!

As Henry says, "The first night you're friends, now you're family."  So here's a family photo...with Henry and his niece, Mattie (who's from Austin!).  Henry does have a right arm, by the way.  He was mid-wave when the timer went off on the camera.  Weird!

Simply Henry

Thank you Henry and Silver Gate!!!  We'll never forget you and hope to see you again soon!

BTW, Henry's cabins are called Silver Gate Lodging.  They're gorgeous.  Check 'em out if you're ever in the area!