Salt Lake City

See the Great Salt Lake (largest lake west of Mississippi River, but not freshwater).

Maybe see the Bonneville Salt Flats.  In downtown there is Temple Square.

Within walking distance is City Creek Mall which is a kind of refreshing environment, and has a food court to recharge.  Be mindful, Downtown Salt Lake is seems generally closed on Sundays.

Otherwise, I think Salt Lake City is comparable to Las Vegas in terms of sheer area and number of people (I think it’s 1.5M for Salt Lake and 2M for Las Vegas).  Salt Lake area is spawling, running along I-15, north and south.

 

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Bonneville Salt Flats

Go see them between May and September.  Or you’ll be visiting the Bonneville Salt Ponds.  2 hours west of Salt Lake City.DSC_0107

But it’s kinda of pretty too, even flooded.

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What do you think they are looking at?

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Probably the disappointment from not being able to get to the green light on the speedway.

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Just can’t get there, though.

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Other disappointed weekend drivers

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If you’re in Salt Lake City, it’s a quick jaunt.  Or if you have a modified car inspired from Fast and the Furious, and you need to try it. Or want to know what a car undercarriage looks like after a NYC winter.

 

Idaho Falls and Twin Falls

Idaho Falls reminds me of Spokane.  The middle of the town, is a small waterfall.  An Olive Garden, McDonald’s, Carl’s Jr, Walmart, and a Jack in the Box.

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But Sports Zone, a nice sports bar with mucho TV’s, with the best steak and eggs special since I left Queens on this trip.

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Twin Falls has the Shoshone Falls (left is how it looks in the fall when all the upstream snow has melted and right is from a display of how it can look),

Perrine Bridge

and… Taco Bell, Burger King, Outback, Golden Coral, Chipotle, Wendy’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Barnes and Noble, and Walmart, and … A small mall with movie theater.  So it’s a bigger town than Idaho Falls based on the “supply stations” here.  A very nice RV stop for a few days.

And did you know, why there is unpicked corn in the fields in September and October?

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And did you know that most of the potato crop in Idaho is grown in eastern Idaho?  I think I passed a night harvest (or sort or whatever the word is for that in farming) going south into Twin Falls.  Potatoes and you get to play in the dirt like a kid.  Hehe. They must be so proud.


But Twin Falls gave me a chance to rest up a bit, and here is what the computer recommends:

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My crack programmers are exhausted, and apprehensive that their latest enhancements are bug free.  Don’t mind their appearance, it’s a global outsourced company. They are looking for a nap and a biscuit.

Craters of the Moon in Idaho

$15 admission to the place otherwise known as (pause) the place vegetation forgot.  There is one campsite near the visitor center.  A quick food analogy is that Washington State, Western Oregon, Southern Idaho, and Northwest Wyoming was in prehistoric days, all one part of a giant chicken pot pie, and when you crack open the top of a chicken pot pie with a fork or there’s a hole at the top, all the gooey chicken gravy goodness oozes out, over the surface of the pie topping.  That’s what happened with magma over the entire region.  It was hot.  Just underneath the surface and a crack just allowed it to oozed out and covered everything.

Here’s the thing, you have to be interested in geology to appreciate Craters of the Moon, or a 7 year old boy who just learned of volcanoes.  Think if it this way, if you’ve never seen a forest fire, would you go see a blackened forest to see what it looks like? I would, but I can see how it’s not fascinating to everyone.  I would say, if you haven’t seen a volcano in Hawaii and you’re in the Idaho Falls vicinity, go take a look and hike. The entire location looks like scorched earth, which is what it basically was thousands of years ago. It’s the most recent fissure eruption in the continental USA. Which means lava flowed everywhere, burning everything, covering everything with black rock. But it’s different from anything else you’ve ever seen outside of Hawaii, so it’s definitely worth a look once. Everything is dormant and inactive and old. But it’s amazing Mother Nature hasn’t retaken this part of the world in thousands of years.

The interesting sights are the 2 cinder cones, which are small volcano cones. They have built walkways up to the opening that you can look in.

 

Inferno Cone is a black hill you can hike up to see a tree growing up top and red rocks, like an oasis.  The link mentions the fantastic view from on top this hill.  It’s true, so bring a camera.  So you won’t be like me, and too tired to go up a second time with a camera.

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There are the tree molds which is a longer hike where the lava flowed over trees and the trees left their impression in the lava. Didn’t take the hike bc I was too tired.

Everything else, you have to appreciate how black volcanic rock cools. And how it twists and flows in magma form. It’s kinda like watching poured maple syrup or kneaded dough harden. Or the film that forms on top of boiled milk. Or my mom’s burned chocolate cake.  There’s even a display that describes huge pieces of the cinder cones breaking off and carried off by the magma, to be cooled somewhere else as these tall pillars.

 

Another thing, the volcanic cinder is actually more fragile than I thought.  I actually went off trail once to get a closer look at lichens growing and wanted to see if it was the volcanic rock that was malformed (it was the rock) or a mutant lichen growing into a tree.  But then I saw the signs warning to stay on trail.  You should try to avoid stepping on the cinders, though it’s really tempting.

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Also Idaho Falls is closer, but Twin Falls has more national retail outlets.

 

Walmart (Patonizing the Great Satan)

With all the talk in the media about Walmart’s anti-labor stance and it’s destructiveness on competitive small businesses bc of it’s low prices, I find that Walmart is invaluable on a road-trip.

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I don’t work for Walmart.  So you might wonder why I mention them, so often in these posts.  Here are the reasons.

  1. Certain Walmarts allow overnight parking.  If you don’t want to splurge on a motel, just need some shut eye in transit, this a great resource.  Just spend a few bucks on a few supplies like water that you’d be spending anyway.
  2. A lot of Walmarts are 24 hours.  That means a 24 hour restroom.
  3. Walmart sells food now.  And not just the canned and non-perishable stuff that is truly important on a road trip, but also steaks and bbq briquets if you want to do some grilling in a national park.  What trip to a nature park would be complete, without the smell of meat charing over a flame?  Fresh clementines to peel on the road.  Bananas to recharge on potassium lost on your last hike.  How about granola bars stored just in case or Gatorade?
  4. It has the essentials at a discount price.  And you need to save money, so you can travel.  Paper towels.  Camping propane.  Camping supplies such as tents and stakes.  Cooking ware for things like bacon, eggs, soup and pasta.  And what to eat it on.  Thermoses for keeping your 44oz Big Gulp cold for the rest for the trip.  USB keys for storing data from that laptop you lug around everywhere.  Cables for charging your smartphone.  Bug spray.  Flashlights and lanterns.  Clothes specific to your purpose like hats for hikes.  Long sleeve shirts if sunburn is a concern.  Or rain gear, for that unexpected turn of the weather.  Or socks, if you have used up all the pairs you brought with you.
  5. Ice is $2 for anywhere to 7 to 10lbs of it.  If you store perishable food like steaks, you need ice every 2 to 4 days.
  6. Auto supplies.  On a road trip, you consume supplies.  Motor oil may be necessary.  Antifreeze when you travel in cold weather locations and you can’t make do with water until you get home.  Windshield wiper fluid.  Fuel injector cleaner.  Fix-a flat for that just in case moment when you need it.

So it’s purely a practical thing.  It’s not that I don’t want to try every savory smoked BBQ joint that I run into.  Or enjoy prime rib in every sports bar on a Sun.  I just can’t.  I have to conserve budget in some places, so I can enjoy others.  And Walmart helps me conserve my budget in places to make everyday life more enjoyable, so that I can enjoy the finer things once and a while.

This site has also been useful letting me know which Walmarts allow overnight parking in their lots.

So, to give credit for making my trip just a little more possible:

9/14/2016 Walmart Supercenter, 1470 S Washington St, North Attleboro, MA, 02760
9/21/2016 Walmart, 780 Lynnway, Lynn, MA, 01905
9/25/2016 Walmart Supercenter, 15 Tibbetts Dr, Brunswick, ME, 04011
1/18/2017 Walmart, 209 E Ridgeville Blvd, Mount Airy, MD, 21771
1/20/2017 Walmart Supercenter, 200 Wal St, Summersville, WV, 26651
2/18/2017 Walmart Supercenter, 2301 W Kenosha St, Broken Arrow, OK, 74012
4/5/2017 Walmart Supercenter, 5017 W Highway 290, Austin, TX, 78735
4/18/2017 Walmart Supercenter, 8000 Academy Rd Ne, Albuquerque, NM, 87111
4/19/2017 Walmart, 3251 Cerrillos Rd, Santa Fe, NM, 87507
4/24/2017 Walmart Supercenter, 1610 No. Riverside Drive, Espanola, NM, 87532
4/28/2017 Walmart Supercenter, 1725 W Hunt Hwy, San Tan Valley, AZ, 85143
4/29/2017 Walmart Supercenter, 1710 S Greenfield Rd, Mesa, AZ, 85206
4/30/2017 Walmart Supercenter, 4915 N Pima Rd, Scottsdale, AZ, 85251
5/1/2017 Walmart Supercenter, 3721 E Thomas Rd, Phoenix, AZ, 85018
5/6/2017 Walmart Supercenter, 857 N Dobson Rd, Mesa, AZ, 85201
5/7/2017 Walmart Supercenter, 800 E Southern Ave, Tempe, AZ, 85282
5/7/2017 Walmart Supercenter, 1607 W Bethany Home Rd, Phoenix, AZ, 85015
6/19/2017 Walmart Supercenter, 440 N Euclid St, Anaheim, CA, 92801
6/20/2017 Walmart, 8450 La Palma Ave, Buena Park, CA, 90620
6/23/2017 Walmart, 951 Avenida Pico, San Clemente, CA, 92673
6/25/2017 Walmart, 8230 Talbert Ave, Huntington Beach, CA, 92646
6/27/2017 Walmart, 22015 Hawthorne Blvd, Torrance, CA, 90503
6/29/2017 Walmart Supercenter, 1827 Walnut Grove Ave, Rosemead, CA, 91770
7/22/2017 Walmart Supercenter, 23500 Ne Sandy Blvd, Wood Village, OR, 97060
7/27/2017 Walmart Supercenter, 1123 Hayden Meadows Drive, Portland, OR, 97217
8/12/2017 Walmart, 11400 Highway 99, Everett, WA, 98204

Food, food, food, …
Propane Stove
BBQ gear
Thermos
Storage Cases for phone
Propane Heater

 

Grand Teton and Jackson, WY

Jackson Lake is bordered on the west side by the Grand Teton. It’s a beautiful sight like a wall of mountains w a moat in front protecting the entrance to Idaho.

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That’s the scenery of Grand Teton National Park which is directly south of Yellowstone. You come here to camp or picnic in nature.  Or see the ducks moon you.

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There is the Colter bay campsite. Jenny lake campsite. The are log cabins to rent at Colter.  It is also the largest campground.  There is laundry even.  But the fee is steeper than other NP campgrounds I’ve been to, $30/night.

Jackson is a larger resort town, on the southern entrance of Teton NP.  Stay to shop and dine at the many gift and art shops there for tourists there.  Million dollar cowboy steakhouse looks like it can give you your beef fix.  Make your own pizza.  BBq joints.  Mexican.  Anything a urbanite might need.  Kinda of a place, to escape from whoever dragged you to see nature.

Starbucks and Cowboy Coffee downtown can give you your caffeine fix. Coffee and WiFi…

 

Or take your picture downtown park with the arches made of antlers

If your more into the national brands, the fast food chains are mostly on the outskirts of town.

Granite hot springs has an exfoliating, hot spring heated pool, $8, 90 to 110 F. Hour and half south from Jackson. On packed dirt road for an hour, in national forest.

Jackson has Teton library. It has a fireplace. A very nice place to get some quiet reading done. Don’t let the preceding descriptions fool you.  It’s a modern well kept library. And sometimes, you just need some time away from seeing the sights, where they won’t rush you. Sort of, parking in lot is limited to 3 hours. but lightly enforced and nearby untimed street parking. Pizza hut nearby has a lunch buffet that ends at 1:30p on weekdays, to get your carbs in for the day.

No Walmart nearby Jackson. I didn’t remember any auto parts stores, so it’s probably not a working class community.

I still don’t know why the news reports that government officials goto retreats in Kennebunkport ME, or Jackson Hole, WY.  But at least I know where they are, now.  A face to the name, so to speak.

https://car2graphy.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/did-you-know-kennebunkport-is-in-maine/

 

 

 

Yellowstone, the First National Park

“I have become death, destroyer of worlds, muh-ha-ha-ha-ha”
– Stranger I used as a prop for funny quote

Yellowstone is on the northwest corner of Wyoming, with 3 entrances in Montana on the North and West sides.  $30/7 days pass.

If you want to see the Beartooth Highway and it’s view of the Beartooth Mountains, goto Red Lodge.  Red Lodge is a small town with resort shops near NE entrance of Yellowstone. It is 2 hours east, southeast from Bozeman, MT.  Bozeman, though, is actually closer to the NW entrance at Gardiner, MT.  The NE entrance is where the Beartooth highway leads to. It could be considered the shortest road path between Red Lodge and the NE entrance of Yellowstone or Cooke City / Silver Gate.  This road will take you to a breathtaking sight of the Beartooth mountain range, then through them along the mountains to see a gorgeous view of the valley below, up to Vista Point (which has a rest stop). Due to snow fall, the highway was closed past this point to the Wyoming border, but I went around to Chief Joesph Byway which connects to Beartooth highway, past the Wyoming border. Keep going on the Beartooth Highway toward Yellowstone Park and you will see the mountain formation called the Beartooth. When you reach the small resort towns of Cooke City and Silver Gate, you’re almost at the entrance of Yellowstone.

  1. Past the warning that highway was closed past Vista Point.  There are actually numerous campsites in the National Forest on the way to the Beartooth Mountains.
  2. Road to the Beartooth mountains

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You drive along the mountain range, up to the Vista Point rest stop.

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Chief Joesph Byway is a detour from Red Lodge, instead of going directly to Beartooth Mountains and over them, you set your GPS to waypoint to Dead Indian Summit Overlook, then to Cooke City / Silver Gate.

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Past the entrance, though there are campsites in the northeast quadrant of the park, most of what to see, is in other parts of the park. From NE entrance to Mammoth Hot Springs is less than 50mi, so that is a viable day trip, if you choose to camp at one of the campsites there like Pebble Creek.

You can also enter Yellowstone from the NW.  Bozeman, MT is about hour and half away from NW entrance to Yellowstone. In Bozeman is the closest Walmart, however, if you’re re-stocking for discount supplies. In the resort town of Gardiner, MT is the Roosevelt Arch, leading to the entrance of Yellowstone.

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And is the closest entrance to the Mammoth Hot Springs, a hot spring whose limestone has been deposited in the shape of travertine terraces. You can walk up to an overlook position where you can see the pools of heated limestone saturated water in the top of the terraces or view the water from the springs flowing over the edges and down the steps reminiscent of a natural infiniti pool. Easily an hour hiking the boardwalk loop. All the geothermal sights have a boardwalk trail. There is a visitor center, shopping village and hotel nearby.

There is wildlife all over Yellowstone, the most prominent being the buffalo, whose slow grazing make them as photogenic as the landscape. But they are large wild animals, so keep your distance and don’t aggravate them. The largest herd I saw on the north side was grazing near the Lamar river. But I heard from the park rangers the bulls like to travel alone away from the herd. And you see them all over the park. I don’t know what they eat but they are fat for wild animals. They say most of the wild life can be viewed at the Tower-Roosevelt area, roughly midway between Mammoth and NE entrance. You can spot foxes at dusk. Mooses hiding in brushes.  An action shot of deer leaping over fences.  Or another panhandler.

Cars are frequently stopped at roadside by photographers of wildlife. And you should expect deer, or bison to block your way on the road at least once a day.

Tower Roosevelt has Roosevelt lodge, and gas station (I think the location’s significance is mostly that roads intersect there).  Fly fishing is something you can do in Yellowstone Park.  There are fly fisherman on the Lamar, and Gibbons rivers, mostly on north side of park.

Just a few miles south is the overlook for Calcite Springs.  The link will describe the site’s volcanic features.  Further south is Tower Fall, which has a campsite across the street from the parking lot of the sight. Yellowstone is full of small water falls but this one has a great roar to it.

That’s probably a half day on north side.

Road closures are common in Yellowstone. When I was there in the fall, the north side was completely isolated from rest of park due to road construction and snowfall at night for consecutive days.

If you go south from Tower Fall-Roosevelt (or Tower-Roosevelt, which is what the NPS maps say), you will practically be in center of Yellowstone park at Canyon Vilage which has a visitor center describing Yellowstone’s volcanic history. There is a campsite nearby, if you choose to set up shop from here to see the rest of the park.  I could not reach Canyon Village from Tower-Roosevelt bc of the road closures.  Rather than risk being in the park during a snowfall, I had to travel back to Bozeman and from there travel south to set up shop in West Yellowstone to see the other parts of the park, until the rest of the roads re-opened and re-connected.  It’s actually a good place to stay, to see Yellowstone, if bus tours are more your thing, rather than roughing it.

Canyon Village is in the center of Yellowstone Park, and on the long loop of road (Grand Loop Road, but Norris Canyon Rd is shortcut to other side of Grand Loop to Norris Geyser Basin) that covers much of the geothermal sights inside the supervolcano caldera. Oh, I didn’t tell you that Yellowstone was a giant volcano in prehistoric days?  But I’m going to assume you are too tired and wish to restart in the morning.  And I will restart this tour from where I set up for the night in West Yellowstone, rather than the Canyon Campgrounds.  And you can see the visitor center at Canyon Village later, before you see Yellowstone Falls.

Leaving West Yellowstone into the park (presumably the next morning), go north from Madison Junction, and one of the first cutouts on the road is for Gibbons Falls.

Continue north to see the Artist Paint Pots.  Video is a better media for the dynamic nature of the hotsprings in Yellowstone (hint, hint, free WordPress.com people).

Then moving north to the see Norris Geyser Basin where you can feel the warmth from the Steamboat Geyser as you pass by the mist of it’s spray, and smell the sulfur in the air, and get hit by some solid particulates you hope is hail from above, and hope you aren’t getting a year’s worth of acid rain in 5 minutes. There is a museum there about the geyser basin, but it is entirely skippable.

Go east from there (Norris Canyon Rd), and you return to Canyon Village.  Going south from Canyon Village (Grand Loop Rd), you will see turnouts for the north and south rim of Yellowstone Canyon. Take them both. They have different views of the lower falls on the Yellowstone river, with multiple places to stop to view or start a hike. The canyon itself is worth the stop to look with it’s different colored rocks at different striations. It’s not as big as the Grand Canyon, but with a little snow, very pretty.  North Rim will take to Look Out Point and Grand View and multiple stops to see and stop to hike to Lower Falls.

Taking the South Rim road will take you to Artist Point, which has a another view of Lower Falls, the picture-worthy view of the Lower Falls (5th photo).

Sulfur Cauldron is a road cutout opposite the Mud volcano. It really smells of sulfur and the display reads it’s acidity as between battery acid and lemon juice. You can see the boiling churning like it had serious indigestion.

Mud volcano has a parking lot, and a boardwalk loop. Boiling springs in clear ponds, birds flying and picking at the coexisting vegetation. Multiple mud pots of steam bubbles popping at surface of mud. And a great steam vent inside a cave that creates a great bass roar has water rushing in and out of it, rhythmically pulsating with the steam venting called the Dragon’s Mouth Spring.

Keep going south from there and you see the huge Yellowstone Lake. Even on the lake, in the fall, you can see steam venting from geothermal features on the shoreline across the lake (perhaps west thumb geyser basin).

I can’t say much about the Fishing Bridge or Bridge Bay sites along the lake.  It was cold.  Water isn’t so appealling at 40F.

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At West Thumb is the south side of the loop road and if you continue west, to Old Faithful. If you head south from here, you go toward Yellowstone’s SW exit and into practically adjacent Grand Teton National Park.

A great deal of the park’s geothermal sights are on the west side of this loop road. Heading back to West Yellowstone, you get to pass Old Faithful traveling west from West Thumb.  Before you reach Old Faithful, you go up mountains and cross 2 signs that say you’re at the Continental Divide (rain water goes one way or the other). Same thing as taking your picture at the Yellowstone sign. Not much else to see.

That is probably a full day of sights.  You may choose to postpone Old Faithful until the next day.  The entire Upper Geyser Basin hike starts from Old Faithful.  Or you can do what I did, and go there twice, and see it first up close.  Then from the lodge the next day and do the hike.

West of Madison Junction is the west entrance  of Yellowstone, which is 14mi away from the aforementioned loop road. Immediately outside is the town of West Yellowstone. This is where I returned to, rather than camp in Yellowstone Park.  The town is a great setting up location, to leave and to see the sights in Yellowstone.  It has gas at retail rate.  A McDonald’s. A supermarket. Coffee shops with WiFi and power outlets. Hotels. Restaurants and diners. And mostly oddly, 4 Chinese restaurants (Red Lotus’s House Fried Rice is so good, if you get the cook who makes it w/o soy sauce) and a coffee shop w a Chinese menu. They must get a lot of Chinese tourists.

Also in town is a Yellowstone Visitor Center w a park ranger there. And the Wolf and Grizzly center which hold several birds of prey, at least 2 grizzlies, and wolves in captivity, relocated from other places in USA.  I assumed they would have been euthenized if not for this facility, so I don’t feel bad when I see the tour guides hiding food, for the Grizzlies to come out and find it, for the pleasure of the tourists snapping pictures.  It says it’s a non-profit organization.

Returning to Yellowstone, from the town of West Yellowstone, going south when you reach Madison Junction, there is Firehole Canyon Drive which you make a turn west into. A short one way road passing Firehole Falls, the walls of the small Firehole canyon, and a small swimming area.

Returning to the main road and heading south, the next sight is the Fountain Paint Pots parking lot. Mud pots and Paint pots kinda look the same to me.  In this section of Yellowstone reminds me of what the park ranger said at the Old Faithful facility “In Yellowstone Park, is the highest concentration of geothermal sights in the world”.

Keep going south for the Midway Geyser Basin, or where the Prismatic Spring is. It is a small and very busy parking lot. After you park, you cross the Firehole River on a foot bridge to see multiple springs there. And the run off from the Prismatic Spring going into the river.

The Prismatic Spring, in the fall, is actually difficult to see the colors of the pool bc of the large cloud of steam above it.  So I leave you with the professional overhead photograph of it, on the display for the sight.

Travelling south again from there, you can stop at the Biscuit Basin which has a parking lot. And walk around the boardwalk to see more geysers.

Further south, finally we get to Old Faithful.  Old faithful has a huge facility, multiple lodges, a beautiful visitor center (that doesn’t allow food or drink) overlooking Old Faithful. An eruption approximately every hour and 20 min. They post the times of the next expected eruption of multiple geysers there, but Old Faithful is the most regular. There is semi circle outdoor seating around the geyser. If relaxing is your thing, you can see the old faithful eruptions from further away at an adjacent lodge cafeteria.  And buffalo like it here.

And the trail to the Upper Geyser Basin is a right turn from Old Faithful. Which is a trail to see multiple geysers.

Possibly another day of sights.  Or headed out south to Grand Teton, if you’re “geothermal’ed” out.  Grand Teton National Park is on the southern exit of Yellowstone.

Heading out of Yellowstone toward Grand Teton, you pass by Lewis Lake and campground.  And if you have a boat, I’ve seen boat pullouts on Lewis lake.

I now understand why 4×4’s and trucks are such popular sellers in the USA.  A rock on US-191 going to West Yellowstone did that.  This might be the 3rd or 4th tire lost on this trip (they were on their last legs anyway).

Western Montana going back south, Helena, Butte, etc.

Mr Rex comes to life among Montana’s hay stacks.  And runs from home to home in Montana.  From that huge smile on his face, I assume he thinks he’s getting away with something.


Helena has a nice library if you need a day of respite back in civilization, returning from Hiking in Glacier National Park.

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Best thing, is that you’re back in a city with full services. And that means for me coffee shops with reliable WiFi and internet.

Interestingly, small casinos like convenience store sized, are all over Montana.  I wonder if this is what de-regulated gambling looks like.

The thing about Helena… Everyone acts nice and courteous, but the locals seem more possessive about their property here, with strangers nearby, than other places I’ve stayed in.  I would actually say that I imagine a undercurrent of suspicion here toward me, and perceive through minor actions, that I am actually unwelcome here.  Mostly, there are people here that saddle up right next to where you are seated, and start talking real loud to each other, almost as if they intended you to hear and the words they enunciate above ambient levels are directed at you and not toward each other.  They also do this by themselves, and talk on the cell phone that way.  For instance, read the normal passage below I copied, and modified slightly and see if you detect anything odd:

(CNN)The right time to talk climate change is now.

It might seem premature when people in the Caribbean, Florida and Texas are still mucking out their flooded homes.

And no, changes in our planet’s atmosphere did not cause Hurricanes Harvey or Irma. But the consensus among scientists is that the effects of climate change, such as rising sea levels and warmer oceans, made those storms far more destructive than they would have been in previous decades.

“The short version is, climate change makes these very bad storms worse,” said Sean Sublette, a meteorologist with Climate Central, a nonprofit group that studies climate change. “It’s not the approximate cause of the storm, but it makes these bad storms worse. And in the case of a really bad storm, climate change can make it totally disastrous or catastrophic.”

The data on how our warming planet specifically impacted Harvey and Irma won’t be known for quite some time. It can take months and even years to collect and analyze that information.

If you notice that threatening words seems slightly emphasized, then that is what some of the people in Montana sound like.  I would say half the fellow patrons that moozy on in after me, in an establishment, do that.

Plus I’ve actually had people ask to me to move away from their property.  I’m not technically on their property, but I respectably adhere to their wishes bc I don’t need to be causing trouble for myself or anyone else just because I’m loitering.  But it doesn’t happen like that in most places.  I don’t think I’m perceived as a threat (mostly I perceive that they like to get practice making demands on a strange outsider, that they couldn’t on a fellow local), but…

  1. Two women in Helena actually got out of their homes in morning, to skee-daddle me from the location.  One, I was parked next to a edge of a hillside overlooking railroad crossing and the woman came out of her home that was across the edge of this hill and asked if i knew her, bc I was parked near her home.  I said no and I’ll be on my way shortly and she gave me ok.
  2. Another instance was where I was parked alongside airport maintenance facility, adjacent to motorhome lot. A woman came out of her motorhome and asked what I was doing there. I said just need a place to rest (next to a fence for a empty airport maintenance facility) and I’ll be leaving shortly.  She actually came back again when I thought I could sneak in a few extra minutes to rest my eyes.  And a third time after I realized she was focusing on me, and I was in process of GPS’ing my next destination to just get away from her.
  3. A third man in Red Lodge, I believe bc of the coincidental timing, actually called the police.  I was clipping my nails, when he returned to his home.  I wanted to make sure that this wasn’t some stranger looking for trouble, but once I was sure it was his home, I went back to trimming my nails.  Shortly after, a very courteous police officer showed up and asked me to move to a nice picnic area nearby that no one goes to.  Which I did so.
  4. I get the impression, in most places in Montana, I’ve had a kind of a “good old boys network” following me around at night. In Bozeman, I had commonly screaming youth outside my van, yelling “Yeah, ya hoo, yeah”
  5. In Helena, I had elderly people driving past my van when I woke up, w the silliest grin on their face (like if they were in a funny commercial). If I wasn’t upset they were buzzing my van like buzzing the tower in movie “Top Gun”, it was bc that funny grin on their face made me laugh.  It was like a old person going “wheeeee” like a child.  I looked at them bc I thought they had past by my vehicle at a close enough range where I can feel the effect on my vehicle and wondered what the deal was.
  6. A fat white woman in Bozeman library had a creepy grin in library, when she sat in front of me.  Then a whole bunch of creepy people starting sitting around me (caucasian but dark hair).  Not rude. They just seemed to be like “hairs responding to static charge” and analogously the static charge was whatever motion I was making. When I did something, they kinda did something.  And the something involved opening and closing legs, raising their arms, yawning, or getting up and walking by you.  It’s not dangerous per say, but weird that people are paying enough attention to you, to do that.
  7. And a lot of talking under their breathe when you’re not looking. But just loud enough for you to hear, like they intended for you to hear.  (Note Oct 2017: This happened later in Idaho Falls library and Starbucks, too)

It’s not often that the employees do this kind of activity.  Fellow patrons do it much more than employees, so it may be ugly American tourists just being normal.  And the local employees just have to tolerate what the patrons do. Though the Bozeman Starbucks employees seem to also do the talking with emphasizing certain words. Chipotle in Bozeman, didn’t have those problems. Perkins in Bozeman also had patrons that talked loudly, seemingly emphasizing certain words, too.

In Helena, this seemed to happen in library, but not in the Hardee’s or Panda Express. Local coffee was mostly fine though. I thought a few patrons there pretended to talk on phone to do the same thing with the emphasizing certain words while being louder than the crowd.

You just kinda feel unwelcome in public places in Montana, even though no one directly confronts you.


Butte seems to have a thriving copper mining industry, and trying to make the best of a Superfund site, the Berkeley Pit. It actually has a gift shop selling copper coins (cool to look at bc of it’s shiny color, encased in plastic probably to prevent oxidation into a green or brown patina).


Bozeman, MT feels like it’s the “newest” town in Montana. It has a newer looking library with a sculpture garden outside in the adjacent park. It seems to have a lively downtown area. This might be bc of its vincinity to Yellowstone National Park, 1 hr south of the city, brings in the tourist economy.  Or perhaps that Montana State University has a large campus there, subsidizing the area with a educated workforce.  It is the last Walmart to Yellowstone from the North.  I believe from the east Cody has one (Pretty close to the park, but far away from most of the sights).  From the south west, you have to goto Idaho Falls for a Walmart.


I passed by Missoula on the way to Glacier National Park.  It is south of Kalispell and west of Helena.  Like most of the towns, it doesn’t have much trendiness.  Not a lot to see in town. Most of the largest towns in Montana feel like Missoula and Helena.  Not a huge town, but significant services and brands you’re used to, such as fast food, auto service, national retailers.  A little more choice, if you want that midnight coffee, or a bar with dozens of TV with a different football game on each.

Their library is in a well worn building reminding me of community libraries in NYC in the 90’s.  But is it well patronized.

 

Glacier National Park

Missoula is one of the towns you will go thru, when approaching Glacier National Park from the west.  But in terms of discount supplies, Kalispell is last Walmart from west side.  It may also be the closest Walmart to the park, if you want to stock up before heading in.

The cost is $30 / 7 days.  You can cut thru the middle of the park through Going to Sun Road.  Before you enter the park entrance, you go thru the small resort town of West Glacier.  After the park entrance, on the west side of this road is Apgar Campground.  As a reference, the park is on the Canadian border, and is adjacent to Canada’s Waterton Park on the border. Southern border of the park is traced by US-2 and route 89.  The route shown above does not show cutting thought Going to the Sun Road, because I have elected to show Going to the Sun road all by itself.  So you can park at Apgar Village or Visitor center and take the shuttle across the park on Going to the Sun Road.  Going around the park, allows you to see some of the other well-known sites reachable by car.

I was unable to see bears, beavers , rams or goats while I was there, but the fire was probably driving them away. Bug spray is important.  Wildlife is supposed to be visible in the park, but I only saw the ones at the visitor centers.  😦

Starting on going to sun road from west, it 30mi from Kalispell.  Apgar Visitor Center is the first. The largest campground is at Apgar, nearby.  The camp has no RV hookups but is very shaded under huge trees. It is a easy walk to Lake McDonald.  Easy walk and convenient to Apgar Village which has a hotel, gift shop, restaurant and a small food store. The campground host was well equipped with a battery jumper to help me out along my way. They say you can see the aurora borealis on the foot of Lake McDonald where the Apgar Village was located but there were large brush fires in the park while I was there. Afterward, the entirety of Montanas sky down to Helena, is covered in haze. So the smoke, plus the aurora intensity maxed out at pk of 5 while I was there, meant I couldn’t see it. There are sites that can forecast the aurora, and they say if you want to see one in USA, it’ll be this year, for the next decade. Apparently we are on the down cycle of solar activity.  But I was able to take a night photo of the fire.

Apgar campground at the foot of McDonald Lake is an excellent place to camp, to head to other places in the park.  Apgar village, you can rent kayaks and paddle boats to go on the lake McDonald.  If you do a little hiking around the village, you can even see what I think is a beaver lodge on McDonald creek.

While camping in the Apgar campground, this is VERY IMPORTANT.  Half of the loop A campsites have cell service.  The half closer to the registration kiosk.  Your AT&T smart phone will be able to access the internet if you camp at one of those sites, albeit at 3G or 4G speed, not LTE.

Take shuttles down going to the sun road, if you want to avoid driving. It’s a 4 hour round trip, if you don’t get off the bus except to transfer. But the bus is also convenient to reach Jackson glacier overlook, numerous trail heads, Logan pass, and St Mary Lake. The last 2 stops mentioned has visitor centers.

I was able to take the shuttle one day round trip, but the fire closed half of going to the sun road. On the shuttle going east you get to see the south side of Lake McDonald. Then the trailhead at Avalanche.  Then see the majestic mountains around you, as you drive up to Logan Pass. See the visitor center (closed for the fire for me).

If you drive, you can stop at any of the cutouts, east of Logan pass, to view the mountains, valley below, and trickling waterfalls formed by melting glaciers. Actually most of the glaciers are viewed from far away, and are mountain top glaciers. I personally think if you want to see mountain-top glacier, goto Mount Rainier in Washington state. The glaciers here have been steadily receding. And you don’t get to see them as closely, at the view points. But I hear, you can hike directly to Grinnell Glacier starting from Many Glacier (it is not on Going to the Sun road, but closer to the Canadian border).  Jackson Glacier viewpoint is one of the cutouts on going to the sun road.  All the stops (not the cutouts for views) mentioned have picnic areas, with BBQ grills.

East, the shuttle will drive around the mountains, and the valley below.

You drive past st Mary lake, which is worth the photo opportunity, if you’re driving. And stops at at Mary visitor center which also has a campground.

North of St Mary lake, you drive to town called Babb, then west from there to Many Glacier, which also has a campground, store, hotel, and restaurant.  Around Many Glacier, north of St Mary lake, cell service turns to roaming, Canada’s Rogers service.  So watch your roaming charges.

South of St Mary on Route 89, is Two Medicine Lake. Campground is available there. Like all the lakes, except St Mary, the water is remarkably clear. St Mary lake, from the distance seems a very deep green.  Even fake bears can’t help but want to put their feet in.

 

Many of the lakes have docks to unload boats, so you can bring them if you want.

Campsites are $20/night. Most first come first serve. Larger sites have reservable sites.

East of glacier is browning Montana. No Walmart observed. The next one may be much further south in Helena.  So get your supplies while in Kalispell, or from limited selections in the park villages

The Great American Eclipse

Weiser, ID

If this is what you think Idaho looks like, you’d be mostly right.DSC_0054.applied.JPG

But, you occaisionally see something like, passing Cottonwood, ID, the Dog Bark Park Inn

 

But you see mostly

 

The rolling hills on the west edge of Idaho (2nd to last above), looks like waves on land.

Went to small town called Weiser, ID.  Strange, I had a high school math teacher named that (and I past through a town in Texas named Rosenthal, a physics teacher).  The center of the total eclipse was going to pass thru this town.  Thank you, NASA!

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I stopped at the only familiar thing in town, a McDonald’s.  And found a nice little coffee shop downtown, to plan eclipse spotting the next day.  They opened late on Sun for the out of towners who might show up for the eclipse.  And there was Eclipse festival in local football field had trucks.

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The eclipse was fantastic


Boise, ID

  • Sequoia tree transplanted to Boise.
  • Try Boise fry company and ask what variety of fries to get. BLT was pretty good too.
  • Try all the different fry sauces.  I was never partial to ketchup, but these sauces were pretty good.
  • Library here was pretty good too.
  • Downtown was surprisingly eclectic.
  • Capital building was pretty nice.

 

I think downtown Boise would surprise you just a little, if you think of Idaho as the pictures at the start of the post.