Monday, August 17, 2015

Yellowstone 2015 -- 2 whole weeks!

In August 2015 we were able to spend 2 whole weeks in Yellowstone! Usually we go for 5 days, but this year we wanted to have each of our children and their families come for a few days. Though it would have been a blast to have everyone come at once, our RV just doesn't have that kind of space. We had a great time with everyone. Here are my journal entries, pictures, and videos from that trip. It's long, but hey, it was 15 days!

Day 1
Our daughter Valerie, her husband Blake, and their two children (Bronx - 5 1/2 & Lyla - 2 1/2) met us at our house that morning and we caravanned to the KOA in West Yellowstone. Once we got set up, we got a campfire going and cooked foil dinners. They were good. Lyla began calling Dave “Paka”. I think it’s because Blake’s dad wanted her to call him “Papa” and that’s how she said it. It was super-cute and made all of us laugh, including Bronx.

When it was dark, we took out Lyla's new Frozen sleeping bag in preparation for putting the kids to bed. She wore it on her back--evidently she'd been wanting a backpack, and since it had straps, she wore it.

Lyla with her new Frozen sleeping bag, and Bronx

After we put Bronx and Lyla down, the adults sat outside for a while longer. Bronx and Lyla didn’t go to sleep though, peeking through the screen door to see what we were up to.

Day 2
The next morning we headed into Yellowstone. There was a long line of cars waiting to get in and it took about 15 minutes to get through the entrance. Once Dave and I entered the park, we stopped at a pull-out/picnic area to wait for Val and Blake, who had stopped at a store in West Yellowstone and were about 15-20 minutes behind us.

Christine and Dave
When they got there, we saw an eagle fly overhead, which excited Bronx. Both kids loved seeing every animal, and were so much fun to have on this trip.

We drove to Fishing Bridge, got set up, then had an early dinner before driving to Hayden Valley to see what we could see. First we stopped at the mud pots and showed Bronx and Lyla the bubbling mud and water. Bronx was very interested, and Lyla enjoyed seeing the sites too. Next we headed into Hayden Valley. We saw lots of bison of course, but we also saw a bear. We had a smaller pair of binoculars that fit Bronx’s face perfectly and he used those binoculars the entire time they were with us. He was perfectly content sitting on the dirt watching the bear, which was about 400 yards away. You can see it in the top center-left of this picture.

Bronx watching a bear
Val and I watched the bear as well.

Val and Christine watching the bear

Lyla was happy as could be playing in the rocks and dirt at our feet as we watched the bear. She said that she wanted a pink rock, and Blake told her he'd get her one.

We also saw an eagle as we were watching the bear. 

Day 3
Before we headed out with a plan to visit Old Faithful, Val and I put together a yummy crockpot recipe that she had. She provided the ingredients, which were chicken breasts, a can of black beans, a can of corn, and a large jar of medium salsa. We dumped them all together and set the crockpot on low.

Before going to Old Faithful, we stopped at West Thumb to show the kids the sites there, such as hot springs, which they enjoyed. Bronx kept the binoculars close.

Bronx at West Thumb

When we arrived at Old Faithful it was lunchtime. We found a shady spot to eat while we waited for Old Faithful to erupt. Fifteen minutes later it did. The kids thought it was cool. We walked around for a little while, which was a little hard as it was warm, and Bronx got tired of walking. Lyla wanted to walk, so Bronx got in her stroller. She helped him. (She wore those cowboy boots every day.)

Lyla helping Bronx sit in her stroller at Old Faithful
After a little while we decided to head back to the RV via Hayden Valley. It took a while to cross Hayden Valley because of the bison jam (like, over half an hour), but Lyla slept most of the way, and Bronx fell asleep toward the end. We were tired and decided not to go back to Hayden Valley that night, and instead hung out and relaxed (as well as ate the delicious crockpot meal!).

Val and Blake took off for an hour or so to have some time alone while Bronx and Lyla stayed with Dave and me. We walked around the campground to keep the kids busy.

Bronx and Lyla with Dave

Earlier, on the way back to the RV, we stopped at the general store where Lyla got her pink rock and Bronx got an arrowhead. 

Bronx with his arrowhead

Lyla with her pink rock

Day 4
We decided to go the the Fishing Bridge Visitors Center as well as the Canyon Village Visitors Center. After a brief visit at the Fishing Bridge visitors center (it’s small there) we drove to Hayden Valley with a plan to stop at the south rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. However, after a long bison jam, we could see at the far end of the valley that something else was happening. We pulled over and discovered that there were a pair of white wolves stalking a small elk. Well, the elk was in the water of the river and the wolves were on the other side of the river trying to figure out how to get to it. We watched for a while, and when one of the wolves wandered off and the other lay down in the grass (the elk hadn’t moved from the water), we decided to go on. Unfortunately, the wolves were too far for me to get a picture.

Lyla watching the wolves
We showed the kids the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

Lyla at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
Next we went to the Canyon Village Visitors Center where we checked out the displays, then we had ice cream.

Bronx, Dave, Lyla, Val
As we were getting ready to leave, we came upon a ranger program where the ranger had skulls and was talking about them. Bronx was quite interested. That night we headed to Hayden Valley to see what we could see. After only a few minutes of driving Lyla fell asleep, and since it was chilly, we transferred her to the truck while she was in her car seat (rather than leaving her in the open Jeep). She didn’t notice.

As we drove on we saw lots of cars pulled over and discovered that the two white wolves we'd seen earlier were eating something a ways off the road. There were also 6 elk not far from them, but the elk didn’t seem too bothered by the wolves, probably because the wolves already had their kill.

There were a number of people who had walked away from the road to get a closer look, although the wolves were still far away. We wanted to walk out there too, but with Lyla asleep, we didn’t want to leave her in the car. Val took her out and she woke up, but after only a moment of fussing she was fine. We hiked out to the people and could see better, although we still needed our binoculars. Some people had some nice spotting scopes (which allowed them to attach their phones, which gave a great picture), and we could see the wolves really well with those. We watched for a while, until a bison started approaching the group, then everyone headed back to their cars.

Day 5
Tuesday morning Val, Blake, and their family headed home. I was sad to see them go. Bronx and Lyla were a pleasure to have here.

After they left, Dave and I finished getting ready for the day, then packed a few snacks, put some water bottles in our small cooler, and headed to Hayden Valley to see what we could see. It was about 9:20 am by then. Ten minutes later I received a text from Val and Blake saying they’d seen a mama bear and cub about 100 yards off the road in Hayden Valley. Of course that was a little while before (I’m sure they didn’t have cell service until 9:30 or so, which is when I received the text.)

Dave and I were on the lookout, and when we saw a number of people pulled over, we asked them what was going on. They said we’d just missed seeing the bear and cub. On our way into the valley we'd seen a small group of people on a rise, so we decided to go back and see what they were looking at. We drove back to where they were and hiked up to them, which was farther than we’d realized! However, it was worth it. There was a mama bear and 2 cubs in the distance that couldn’t be seen from the road, although we could see them with binoculars. The people on the rise also said a second set of mama and 2 cubs were in a ravine.

We chatted with the people and watched the first bear family, and eventually the other family came into view, and it was closer than the other and easier to see through the binoculars. The hike was worth it!

We watched for a while, talking to the people, then decided to move on. Once again, the bears were too far for me to take pictures.

As Dave and I were expecting our two younger children, Laura (21) and Mike (25) to arrive the next day, we decided to drive the hour and fifteen minutes to West Yellowstone and get some groceries. We didn't get back to the Rv until about 2:30 that afternoon.

Day 6
Dave and I relaxed, reading and hanging out. It rained all morning (as well as last night), which was fine as we were between guests. I baked chocolate cupcakes to have with Mike and Laura as today is Mike’s birthday and Laura’s birthday was the other day. They arrived about 3:00 pm. The four of us chatted and then had bbq chicken for dinner and the cupcakes for dessert. We played a couple of games, including HeadBanz, which was fun.

At 7:00 pm or so we headed to Hayden Valley. It had been raining off and on so we weren’t sure if we’d see anything. We stopped and watched a couple of bison cross the river, and then as we drove on, Dave spotted a bear off to the left. We pulled off and discovered a mother grizzly bear with two cubs about 100 yards (maybe less) off the road. No one else seemed to know they were there. There were fewer cars out, probably because of the weather. And we finally got video of bears!

We watched the bears for about 20 to 25 minutes until they went up the hill and crossed over. There were bison nearby, so most people who drove past us didn’t seem to realize there was a bear to see too. Laura was eager to share the info and shouted to many passing cars that there were 3 bears, but most people had their windows up (it was cold) and didn’t listen.

On the way back to the RV we ran into a bison jam--something we ran into many times on this trip. Here's a video...

Day 7
Today we wanted to go on a hike to Ribbon Lake. The trailhead is near the South Rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Originally we went to the trailhead that is the first right off of South Rim Drive, but immediately after we started we saw a number of bison in our path.

We knew there was another trailhead right by the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone so we headed there instead. This turned out to be one of my favorite hikes. The weather was a bit overcast, and a bit chilly to start, but the hike was beautiful. All together it was a 9 mile hike. We saw deer two different times as we hiked.

A deer on the Ribbon Lake hike

It was breezy and the trees creaked all along the way. As we were watching the second deer we heard a very loud crack and the distinctive sound of a tree breaking. It was quite dramatic.

Here we are at the beginning of the hike.

Christine, Laura, Mike, Dave

There was a place on this hike where there were mosquitoes and I got 4 or 5 bites on my neck, and 3 on my legs. We didn’t bring bug spray, so we definitely need to be prepared for that next time.

We saw very few people on the hike. 

We stopped and had lunch near a hot spot. We sat on a log and enjoyed the area. There were trees behind us, and a large muddy area in front of us that had a spot of steam coming out. That was one thing I really loved about this hike--there were several places where there were bubbling water holes and mud pots. Normally when you see those things you’re on a boardwalk among other tourists and can’t get too close and feel like you’re viewing something with a large group of people. On this hike, with no one around, and no barriers, it felt as if we were discovering these interesting geological places for ourselves, and it was really cool.

One exciting thing that happened was when we found a bison lying right beside the trail at one point and had to skirt him by walking through the brush and among trees. Other bison were nearby, but fortunately not too close.

We reached Clear Lake (there were a couple of lakes on this hike).

At Clear Lake

Still on the Ribbon Lake/Clear Lake hike...

One thing that was going on that day (and the next) was some new developments with the Daring Hearts Boxed Set that I’m involved in. I’m in charge of formatting the book, which I’d completed before we left, but we decided to add 6 new authors to the book, and I had to add them to the file. To get online, I had to use my phone as a hotspot (and thank goodness there’s a cell tower here now—it’s new as of last year. And thank goodness I have Verizon as that’s the only carrier that gets service here.) But to download any files, they had to be quite small. I managed to download all the files I was sent (I had to have the file formatted and emailed to RaShelle Workman by Friday evening as the book was on pre-order and the final files had to be uploaded by then). I spent 4 or 5 hours on Thursday evening working on this, so we didn’t go out looking for wildlife that night. We were also a bit tired from our long hike. I was up until midnight working on the formatting, then the next morning, Friday, I spent an additional 2 hours working on the formatting. I still needed the file from one author, but we had plans to go on another hike.

Day 8
On Friday we decided to go on the Riddle Lake hike, which is near Grant Village. We drove out there but discovered that the Riddle Lake hike was closed for swan management, so instead we went to the Shoshone Lake via DeLacey Creek. It was a 6 mile round trip hike. It was a fairly level and pretty hike, although long. I think we were a little tired from the hike the day before because 6 miles seemed plenty long.

Christine and Dave at the beginning of the Shoshone Lake hike
When we reached the lake, which was really pretty, we had lunch. There were only a few other people there. Evidently this is the largest lake in the lower 48 states that can’t be reached by car. It can only be reached by hiking or by water. At the lakeside it was chilly as it was breezy, but also quite pretty. No mosquitoes on this hike, although we brought bug spray just in case.

We hiked back to the truck, wanting to see a moose, but no luck. We drove back to the RV and got back about 3:30 pm. We showered and I made dinner, then that final file for Daring Hearts finally arrived. I ate quickly, then added the new book into the file, did a final check on the file and sent it off to RaShelle. It felt good to have it done.

After we cleaned up from dinner we headed to Hayden Valley where we immediately saw a grizzly sow and two cubs. They were a distance off, but we watched them for a while, then drove on. We wanted to go to Canyon Village and look in the store and get an ice cream (I love their waffle cones), but as we approached Canyon Village we came across a large group of elk. Turned out to be 14 elk, with 6 of them babies. We watched them for a while, and were really entertained by two of the babies who were splashing and playing in the water.

By the time we got to Canyon Village and to the ice cream place, it was 8:07 and they had closed at 8:00. Darn. We looked around the store a bit, then drove back to Fishing Bridge. Because of a bison jam, we didn’t get to FB until after 9, so we stopped in the store for a few minutes so Laura could get a bandana for her boxer, Chuck. The store closed at 9:30, but Laura managed to get the bandana she wanted, and it was half the price of the one at Canyon Village (on clearance for some reason).

Back at the RV we played games until about 10:30. We played Telestrations (a new game we’d bought for the trip after being introduced to it at a party). We laughed SOOO hard. It was a blast.

Day 9
Saturday morning after breakfast Dave and I drove in Dave's truck while Mike and Laura drove in Laura's car. The plan was to drive to Canyon Village together (about 16 miles away), then they'd head home and we’d head back to the RV. When we got to Hayden Valley, some people were watching to see if the bears had come back. They’d seen them about 20 minutes earlier. We didn’t stay for that, but headed to the Canyon junction where we said our good-byes. I wish they could have stayed longer, but Mike was going to start a new job on Monday, and Laura had to get home to work on Sunday.

On the drive back to the RV, we saw a deer in a meadow. It rained in the morning, then became overcast.

Ryan (our oldest child), and his wife Debra arrived Saturday evening. Debra had never been to Yellowstone, so we were looking forward to showing her around. After dinner we went into Hayden Valley to see what we could see. For some reason, all the bison were gone. I think we saw 1 or 2, but it was strange how they had all vanished. We saw about a dozen elk across the river near the Mary Mountain trailhead. We could hear them bugling, which was really cool. It looked like they were all female and calves, as none had antlers. We watched them a while, then we drove closer to Canyon and saw two males with impressive antlers. I’m certain they were the same two Dave and I saw on our way to West Yellowstone the previous Tuesday.

Of note:  Right before Ryan and Debra arrived, we saw a news story that a man had been killed by a Grizzly while hiking the Elephant Back trail, which is quite near where we’re staying. The report said the man was a seasoned hiker, someone who’d worked in Yellowstone for several seasons, and when he didn’t report to work Friday morning, they reported him missing. Searchers found his body Saturday afternoon. So sad. The report said there were tracks indicating a sow and cub were involved, so evidently the sow was protecting her cub. Several days later we found an updated report that the man was 64, and that his body had been partially eaten. After the searchers found his body, they set a trap for the grizzly. They caught her and euthanized her as her getting a "food reward" for killing a human made her dangerous. Her cubs will be sent to a zoo.

The idea of meeting a bear on a hike has always worried me, so I’m glad we already went on those hikes with Mike and Laura. Dave and I will probably take some hikes—I can’t just not go on hikes because of this—but we’ll certainly be more aware than ever.

Day 10
On Sunday it was cool and overcast, but that was perfect for going to Old Faithful as it can be warm there. First we stopped at West Thumb and showed Debra around there.
Christine and Debra
Next we went to the Old Faithful geyser basin. After stopping by the visitor’s center, we ate lunch while watching Old Faithful erupt, then we walked around the geyser basin and saw lots of cool things.

Christine, Dave, Debra, Ryan

We went back to the RV via Hayden Valley, stopping at the Canyon Visitor’s Center. We wanted to have an ice cream, but they were closed from 5 to 5:30 and it was just after 5. We decided to head back to the RV and have dinner, then we went to Fishing Bridge to have an ice cream.
After dinner we hung out at the trailer.

Day 11
On Monday we first stopped by the mud volcanoes, then we went to the south rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Afterwards we went to the north rim where we saw those 2 male elk, then we went to Inspiration Point. Next, we drove out to Lamar Valley where we saw lots of bison (we also saw more in Hayden Valley on our way through), as well as a number of Pronghorn deer and a coyote. We stopped in a shady pull-out to have lunch. We also saw a marmot lying on a rock, as well as a deer in a nearby tree area.

Back at the RV we had dinner, then watched Jaws for a while before going back out to Hayden Valley. We saw an Eagle a distance off and many bison. There was a pretty sunset. Then we went back to the RV.

Day 12
This morning Ryan and Debra left. Dave and I relaxed, then we went to Canyon and had a late lunch/early dinner, then an ice cream. We also bought a package of maps that will be useful for hiking. We went back to the RV, and on the way through Hayden Valley we saw an eagle that was quite visible at the top of a tree just off the road. Enlarge the picture and look at the top of the tree in the foreground.

Eagle at the top of the tree
Day 13
Dave and I were going to go on a bike ride to Lone Star Geyser, but then it started to rain. Dave had already put the bikes on the back of his truck, so we brought them inside the RV and decided we’d go towards Mammoth and go on a hike there. We looked at the map we’d bought the day before that focuses on Mammoth and found a 4 mile round-trip hike to Hellroaring Creek. It sounded good, so we headed that way.

The night before I’d begun reading a book we bought in the past titled “Mark of the Grizzly”, which is about people being attacked by bears. Though it has scary stories, reading it has also been helpful in knowing what to do (or at least what others have done) when faced with a bear. Basically, when it’s a grizzly, don’t make any sudden moves as they see that as aggression. Also, don’t run away as that makes them want to chase you. So as hard as it is, if you meet a bear on a trail, show them your profile (you don’t want to make eye contact), and talk calmly, maybe move your arms a bit. You want them to know you’re human. If they charge you, hold your ground as they often stop short. Yikes! But bear spray can be very effective.

After reading some of this book, I told Dave we should test the bear spray (they suggest in the book to do a quick button press to make sure the spray is still good) before we went on our hike. So he did, and it was very brief, and he was near the rear of his truck on the driver’s side. I was by the passenger door. There was no breeze, but even that little bit made me cough and my throat burn. Dave was coughing too. I even felt nauseous as we drove, although it cleared out eventually. So that stuff’s powerful.

Anyway, we made the drive north, passing Tower Junction. As we neared the trailhead parking area, we saw a few cars stopped in the road. I couldn’t see what they were looking at—something on the driver’s side—so I got out of the car and went to look. There was a smallish bear on the hillside on the other side of the road. I took a picture and a short video, then got back in the car. Dave didn’t get to see it though, as by the time the car in the front moved forward so we could go, it had climbed out of sight.

Bear along the road
Only a quarter mile up the road was our turnoff, but it was on the right—the opposite side from where the bear had been—so I wasn’t too worried that the bear would show up on our hike. Plus there were several other cars in the parking lot, so I figured there were enough people around.

The sky was overcast and we weren’t sure if it would rain on us or not, so I hooked my jacket onto my Camelback, just in case. The hike started out going downhill right away, with a 600 foot drop in about a mile. It was a pretty hike, and at the 1 mile mark we crossed a suspension bridge over a beautiful clear green river that had rapids. 

Hellroaring Creek
Christine and Dave on Hellroaring Creek hike
We went on, passing a few people, plus there was a group of three people going our direction. Two men on horseback with several donkeys passed us. Evidently there are campgrounds that you get to by hiking this trail. The hike was pretty, and I liked how after a mile and a half or so we were in open backcountry. Even though we hadn’t hiked that far, I felt like we were far from everyone. 

It started sprinkling on us, but we kept going. When we reached the destination, it turned out to be a large, yucky-looking pond. We didn’t want to eat our lunch there, so we decided to head back. We briefly talked to the group of three that had been going our way and learned they were headed to a campsite.

Shortly after we began our return trip, it began to rain harder. I put on my jacket, which helped to keep me dry. The last mile back was difficult as it involved going up. The rain stopped and I took my jacket off as it was getting hot and muggy. We made it back to the truck without seeing any other people.

Back at the truck, I saw a deer come into the parking lot, so that was fun. We decided to drive on to Mammoth to have our lunch. There were lots of people there, but we found a shaded picnic table and ate. Then we got an ice cream. (Have I mentioned that I love the waffle cones?) A man mentioned to us that there was road construction and long waits going back between Mammoth and Norris, so we decided to go back the way we’d come, via Tower Junction.

We began the return drive and saw a deer near where we’d hiked. I suspect it was the same deer we’d seen earlier. The drive back was uneventful, but when we reached Hayden Valley, we saw a number of cars pulled over and people standing on a rise looking at something. Turned out there was a medium-sized bear. It was brown, but we’re not sure if it was grizzly or a black bear. In either case, we watched it for about 20 minutes. When we first saw it, it was about 150 yards away, so not that far. When it crossed a gully and became harder to see, we drove back to the RV.

Day 14
Today (Thursday), the weather was beautiful, so we decided to go to Lone Star Geyser. We’d put the bikes on the back of the truck the night before with the plan to use them today. We drove to Lone Star and rode our bikes the 2 1/2 miles to it, which was pretty fast on bikes. We checked the log that’s kept there and found the geyser had gone off an hour or so before, and someone said it goes off every 3 hours or so. We didn’t want to wait around—our main goal was to go on a bike ride—so we rode back to the truck.

Dave and Christine at Lone Star Geyser
We drove to the Midway Geyser Basin to see Grand Prismatic Spring. We walked on the boardwalk with the MANY other people, but it was cool to see the sites. Next we decided to go to Firehole road to have our lunch. We found a pull-out where we walked around a bit before sitting on a log to have our lunch. There were 5 or 6 chipmunks there, and they weren’t shy—obviously used to people leaving crumbs. After we ate, we drove further up the road to where people swim. We'd brought our swimsuits, but there was no parking left, so we decided to head back to the RV.

Stopping for lunch along Firehole River
We went out to Hayden Valley that night, but didn’t see anything besides bison.

Day 15
We woke up to rain. For our last day, we decided to take it easy as we'd have a long drive the next day. When we were about to leave to go to Canyon Village, new neighbors pulled in beside us. We ended up talking to Mike and Amy for nearly an hour, I think, before we headed off to Canyon Village.

At Canyon, we bought a pretty wind chime we’d been planning on getting since we saw it at the beginning of our trip. We also bought two Yellowstone key rings, one for each of us for the RV keys. I bought a grizzly bookmark to put in the book about Grizzly attacks that I’ve been reading :)

After shopping, we put the items in the truck, then had a late lunch/early dinner (it was 3:00 PM) at the deli. The burgers were good. We had ice cream—my last waffle cone—then drove back to the RV. 

I saw this bison on the hill and thought it would make a cool picture.

Bison on the hill

It was about 5:00 by the time we got back to the RV. We chatted with Mike and Amy for a couple of hours, touring each other’s RV’s and then sitting outside and shooting the breeze until Dave and I decided to head out to Hayden Valley for one last visit.

We saw an elk on the side of the road, and a number of bison, but the most interesting thing was the big storm rolling in. We parked in a pull-out and we kept taking pictures of the clouds where lightning was shooting down until I actually got a picture of a lightning strike. 

Lightning strike in Hayden Valley

We decided to head back as we’d left the windows open in the RV (rain hadn’t seemed imminent when we'd left a short time before). It rained on us on the drive back, and there were several VERY close lightning strikes where the thunder was incredibly loud. We got back to the RV and closed the windows, and luckily only the back of the couch was a little wet.

Day 16
Time to go home. It’s been a wonderful trip, but I’m ready to go home. We were on our way by 7:30 am. Parts of Hayden Valley were blanketed in fog.

During our stay we saw many people get too close to the bison, and as we passed through Hayden Valley, we captured a video of a man taking a dangerous chance to get a good photograph.

Here's my final photo--taken from the safety of my car!--which I thought was really cool looking.

Bison in the fog

We LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Yellowstone! Until next year ...

Monday, August 25, 2014

October 14, 2011 - October 17, 2011 (Friday - Monday)
Goblin Valley State Park
Dave and Christine

Dave and I went on this trip without the kids. We left at 1:20 and arrived about 5:30. Mom and Dad met us there.

We enjoyed star-gazing each night. On Saturday we explored the Valley of the Goblins where there are hoodoos and other interesting rock formations.

Dave, me, Dad
Mom and Dad

On Sunday we went to the Little Wild Horse slot canyon.
Dad at Little Wild Horse canyon

We left Monday morning.

May 18, 2012 - May 20, 2012 (Friday - Sunday)
Diamond Fork
Dave and Christine

We arrived about 7:00 PM on Friday. It was a little chilly when we arrived, but beautiful. On Saturday we wanted to hike to the hot springs. We drove to the trailhead and found there were two ways to go. We took the path through a gate because there was a sign telling where the path led and how far to get there. We knew the hot springs were 2.5 miles away and even though the sign said “Jock’s Canyon”, it was 2.5 miles away, so we went that way. 

We must have gone 3 miles or so before we ran into some mountain bikers. We talked to them and they told us we had taken the wrong trail. We decided to turn around and head back. We saw several groups of dirt-bike riders also. Even though we took the wrong trail, it was a pleasant hike.

For dinner we bbq’d steak on Dave’s new Camp Chef. They turned out great. Now we’re sitting around enjoying the pleasant weather. We’ll go home tomorrow.

June 29, 2012 - July 1, 2012 (Friday - Sunday)
Marsh Lake
Dave and Christine

We had reserved a spot at Payson Lakes for this weekend, but they called us several days before and said they had to cancel all reservations due to fires in the area. We searched online for a place where we could make reservations and found Marsh Lake, which is next to the Wyoming border.
We left at 5:00 PM Friday and stopped by Kmart to get fire starters. We were on the road by 5:15. We didn’t arrive at our campground for another four hours, partly due to the fact that it was a long ways away and partly because we took a couple of wrong turns. The turn off wasn’t well marked, but we got there. We had enough light by which to park the 5th wheel, but we had to use the flashlight to complete the set-up.

We enjoyed the rest of the evening and slept in until about 8:00. We had a small problem with our water in that when we heated up the water with the water heater and turned on the hot water faucet, it smelled really bad. We filled the water tank at home before coming and the cold water didn’t stink, so we’re not sure what the problem is. Basically, we’re not going to use the hot water on this trip.

After breakfast Dave and I took our new bikes for a ride. We rode on the dirt road that we used to get here. It was a bumpy ride. We rode our bikes to a dam and rode across it. It was a pleasant ride although the ride back was strenuous in places as we had to go uphill several times.

Me with my new bike

Dave and his new bike

Now it is nearly 1:00 PM and we are enjoying the lovely day. It is in the 70’s. At home it has been hot and in the upper 90’s, so this is nice.

July 13, 2012 - July 15, 2012 (Friday - Sunday)
Wasatch Mountain State Park (Site 78)
Dave and Christine

This is a new place for us. It’s pretty and has full hook-ups. We arrived Friday evening about 6:30. It was a really tight fit to get the trailer in, but we did it.

It’s been humid all weekend and has rained off and on. The temperature has been in the 70’s. We went on a hike on Saturday and Sunday. We tried mountain biking, but it was too difficult for me, so we stuck to hiking.

We’ll come back to this campground again.

August 9, 2012 - August 14, 2012 (Thursday - Tuesday)
Yellowstone National Park
Dave, Christine, Mike, Laura

We left Thursday at 5:00 PM and drove to Rexburg, ID to the WalMart, where we were planning on spending the night in our RV in the parking lot. This is called boondocking and is a popular way for RVers to make a quick stop on their way to somewhere else. On the way to Rexburg we stopped for dinner at Sonic--the orange-cream drink was NOT good--and stayed for 45 minutes. We arrived at the WalMart at 10:00 PM. Of course we went into the store and bought a few things. There was one other RV there, and they ran their generator until late. Though the day had been warm, the night was pleasant and we slept with all the windows open in the RV.

We got away by 8:30 the next morning and arrived in West Yellowstone about 9:40 AM. We noticed the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center and decided to check it out. Though it was $10.50 each to get in, it was worth it as they had live exhibits—several wolves and bears. We spent about an hour there, then went to a pizza place to have lunch. Laura and I split a veggie pizza with white sauce. It was tasty. Laura didn’t like as much as I did. We finished about 12:30 and decided to forgo shopping and instead head into the park.

We saw some elk, and of course bison, as we drove toward Fishing Bridge. As we arrived at our site, it began raining. We got set up and relaxed for a bit. We ate an early dinner of chicken fajitas, then decided to go find some wildlife. We’d heard that a bear had been spotted at Le Hardy rapids, so we went there to see. Sure enough, on the opposite bank was a large bear. We couldn’t tell if it was a grizzly or not, but it was eating a carcass. We watched him for about half an hour before we left.

We drove further, toward Hayden Valley, and saw lots of bison. One did a bluff charge toward a car, which was entertaining. We didn’t see any other significant wildlife.

Here's a video of the bluff charge. It's a little blurry, but still kind of fun.

Saturday, August 11

On Saturday we decided to hike to Mount Washburn from the Dunhaven Pass parking lot. We packed our Cambelbacks (Laura had a new one) and headed out. First we stopped at Le Hardy rapids to see if the bear was there, but he wasn’t. The carcass was stripped clean. (The previous night it didn’t appear to have a lot of meat on it.) We set off on our hike at 12:30. It was 3.2 miles each way. The way there was mostly uphill. A the top was a fire lookout station. There is a small residence there where a ranger lives all season. The hike down was easier—we saw one bighorn sheep—and we reached the car around 4:00. 
Mike, me, Laura, Dave on the hike to Mt Washburn

We drove back to the trailer and took naps (Laura read), then went out “bear hunting”. We didn’t see any bears, but we saw a large herd of elk. Also, we went to the wolf overlook with our tripod and saw a couple of wolves. That was cool.

We’re going to go on some new hikes this trip. Mount Washburn was new to us. Tomorrow (Sunday) we’re going to Cascade Lake, then to Lamar Valley.
We bought a can of bear spray because Monday we’re hiking Mary Mountain and there are grizzlies in the area.

Monday morning, August 13
Yesterday we went on a 10 mile round trip hike to Grebe Lake. It was the Cascade Lake trailhead. It was a good hike—long, but not too hard. There were biting flies in the late morning.

In the afternoon a bison came through the campground. We had been thinking about going to Lamar Valley, but were tired from our hike. When the bison came through we felt energized. Also, we spoke to a worker who told us that in Lamar Valley there was a bison carcass and the wolves had been eating it in the evening. We decided to go.

In the Hayden Valley Dave spotted a coyote on a river bank. We pulled over and watched him for a while. He was trying to get some critter but was having trouble. We went on. In Lamar Valley there were many cars. 
All these people were hoping to see the wolves.
We found the bison carcass (with the binoculars) and waited for over an hour and a half (until the sun was fading) and the wolves didn’t come. We did see a pair of pronghorn deer, and a herd of bison worked their way closer to us. On the drive back we saw a deer in a meadow and an elk in a different clearing.

Today we’re hiking the Mary Mountain trail. If we see any bears, I hope it is only from a safe distance!

Monday evening
We hiked the Mary Mountain trail for about 1 mile, until we came to a group of bison. They seemed to ignore us, but as we got within 100 feet they became agitated. They had a baby with them them and it was sleeping. There wasn’t a good way around, so we decided to turn back.

Because we had to cut the Mary Mountain hike short, we decided to hike the Natural Bridge trail instead.

Afterwards we drove to Canyon Village to do a little shopping, then we came back and bbq’d pork chops. It was nice out so we ate outside. That evening we were tired so we didn't go out "bear hunting." Tomorrow we go home. We will miss Yellowstone.

August 24, 2012 - August 26, 2012 (Friday - Sunday)
Spruces (Site #10)
Dave and Christine

We arrived Friday at 5:30. It was beautiful—in the low 70’s.
On Saturday Val, Blake, and Bronx came up for a few hours. Bronx spent the night with us. He wanted to “camp in the mountains”. He was fascinated by the squirrels.
We had a good time.

August 31, 2012 - September 3, 2012 (Friday - Monday) (Labor Day weekend)
Kodachrome Basin State Park
Dave and Christine

We arrived Friday night about 7:30 PM. We got set up and it began getting dark. Thunderclouds were present and we could see lightning in the distance. We set up our chairs and enjoyed the show. Eventually it began to rain so we went inside. Here's a picture as we drove toward Kodachrome.

Saturday morning we went on a hike—Panoramic Trail. We went to Panorama Point then “cool cave”. The entire hike lasted nearly 3 hours. It was a good hike, though a little warm.
Right now it is 2:00 PM and 80 degrees. It feels pleasant though. There is a chance of thunderstorms.

On the hike at Panorama Point.

It is so quiet and peaceful here. Also beautiful with the red rocks, lots of green trees, blue sky, fluffy white clouds, and some gray clouds as well. I love it here!

Monday, 9:00 AM
We’re getting ready to go. We had a nice time. We were going to hike in the slot canyons yesterday, but there was too much water flowing through it. We went on the “Grand Parade” hike instead.
Yesterday afternoon we had thunderstorms, which was fun. We’ll come back again.

October 5 - 8, 2012 (Friday through Monday)
Escalante State Park
Dave and Christine

We left home about 3:00 PM Friday afternoon and arrived about 8:30 PM. We set up in the dark. It was pleasantly cool (lower 60’s). Saturday we had breakfast and walked around the campground. We discovered that near the campground there are four nice sites with electric and water hookups. The best one is “B”, if no groups are using the group site. “A” is a great option too. “C” and “D” would also be good. These are also pull-through sites and can be reserved. 

We went on a drive earlier to check out the calf creek campground. It is beautiful but they were full and the host told us that they fill up very fast. 

November 2 - 5, 2012 (Friday - Monday)
Goblin Valley State Park (Site 15)
Dave and Christine
Mom and Dad were in site 14

We left home about 2:20 on Friday afternoon. We stopped by Annette’s to pick up a craft project that mom had left up North. We stopped in Green River for dinner and arrived at Goblin Valley about 6:45. Mom and Dad were already here. Dad says we’re at 5000 feet. It’s been chilly — 30’s or 40’s at night, 60’s during the day. Clear skies.

Valerie’s baby girl is due November 20th, but she could have her any time. Today is Saturday. We drove to a spot about 7 miles from camp where there is cell service. My T-Mobile didn’t work, but Mom’s Verizon did. Blake said Val isn’t in labor yet but to check back tonight or in the am. We will. Right now it is 5:45 on Saturday night. Dave built a fire and we are enjoying its warmth.

Monday 8:00 AM
Sat around yesterday and read. We drove  to the “calling point” and called Val (yesterday morning). No labor yet. She was having contractions on Saturday afternoon, but they stopped. We’ll check with her when we get on the road this morning.

Here are a few pictures:

FIRST TRIP of 2013

April 12 - 15 (Friday - Monday)
Kodachrome Basin State Park
Dave and Christine

Left home at 3:30. Had to stop at Les Schwab’s tire place to replace the stem on one of the trailer’s tires. They did it quickly and at no charge. We remembered that we’d let mom and dad keep our step stool and we needed to get one, so we stopped by camping world and bought one. It was about 4:15 when we got away. Along the way we saw a herd of 20+ deer on the side of the road.

We had a bit of a hard time parking at our site as it was a tight turn to get in. It was a U-turn type site, very private and nice, but hard to get in with our trailer. We needed to use the pillows to level the trailer and had to fill them pretty full. Good thing we bought the step stool — we needed it!!
The weekend before, we bought a new mattress — a full-size queen — and enjoyed sleeping on it.
We brought our bikes—Dave bought a hitch so that we could more easily carry them. We went on a bike ride on Saturday morning and enjoyed it.

After a short rest we decided to visit Grosvenor Arch and then go to the Cottonwood Narrows. As we drove on Road #400 (which was a dirt road), the car in front of us pulled over. Their tire was flat. We stopped behind them and Dave helped them figure out how to get the spare off of their rental car. We stayed until they’d changed the tire. They were visiting from Maine. Another couple stopped by—they were from North Carolina—but they weren’t needed and they went on.

We stopped by the Arch then drove a few more miles to the trailhead for the Cottonwood Narrows. It was a 1.5 mile hike through a slot canyon. It was an easy hike. Then we had to hike 1 mile back along the road. A lot of uphill.

We came back and showered, then noticed that the vent cover over the bed had blown off—it was windy—so we went to the ranger station to see if they knew of a place where we could get duct tape. The ranger had some at his residence and he met us back at camp with it. Dave climbed o the roof and taped down the snapped-off vent cover.
Dave fixing the vent cover

Sunday morning we decided to move to a site with hook-ups. We moved to #24. Though site 12 is pretty, it’s tight to get in and out of. Number 2 looks good as it’s more private and has full hook-ups (although they’re on the wrong side of the site)
It’s a bit windy again today, but quite pretty.

Monday, April 15, 2013
Windy today. Yesterday after lunch we did the hike to Shakespeare Arch. It took about an hour. It was a good hike.

We’ll be leaving soon. It would be nice if we could stay longer.

May 3 - 5, 2013 (Friday - Sunday)
Wasatch Mountain State Park (Site 48)
Dave and Christine

Dave and I arrived Friday evening and as we were backing  in to our site (#77), the ranger came by and said we could use the camp host site, which is a pull-through, because the host would be there for another week. We moved to that site. We decided any of the pull-through sites on the perimeter would be fine.

It’s 10:20 AM on Saturday and it’s a nice day. Sunny and a slight breeze and in the 60’s. It’s peaceful here. 

May 17 - 19, 2013 (Friday - Sunday)
Diamond Fork
Dave and Christine

Arrived at 5:00 PM Friday. It rained off and on. It was a relaxing weekend. I wrote a lot on “Imprisoned”. Next time we’ll try another site. Most have long driveways. Loop B would be fine too.

May 31 - June 3, 2013 (Friday - Monday)
Escalante State Park (Site A)
Dave and Christine

Arrived Friday about 9:00 PM. It was still a little light out. It was breezy and cool.

On Saturday we drove out to the slot canyons. 

We went in the first one (Dry Fork), but came across a raven lying under a large boulder. To get over the boulder we’d have to step where the raven lay, so instead we turned back. We went to the next slot canyon, which required us to climb up a wall before we could get started. This canyon was called peek-a-boo.

We followed it to the end then traversed the surface until we came to the head of the next canyon (Spooky). We hadn’t approached this one from this direction before, or come this far before. So we weren’t sure what to expect. There were a couple of difficult spots, but the most difficult was one where we had to climb down a hole about 10 feet deep, then slide down another rock for another 10 foot descent. I was really nervous about how we’d get down there and if we even could, but I didn’t want to have to go back the way we’d come as we’d come quite a ways. Plus a man and woman had just gone through and had made it, so I knew it was possible.

Dave went first and easily reached his foot to the rock where he needed to step. My legs are shorter and there was NO WAY I could do the same. Then Dave suggested I use his shoulder for a step — a stroke of brilliance! He was far enough down that I still had to use my arms to hold myself in the air for a moment before stepping on his right shoulder with my left foot, then I think he squatted down some so I could reach the rock with my right foot. 
First part — done!
Next, he slid down a rock, then had to jump down about five feet. Being smaller, I actually fit through the hole that surrounded the slide easier than Dave, and he helped me with the 5-foot drop. My hero!!
Here's a video showing where we had to climb down.

There were a couple of other tricky spots, in fact we came at one from a different direction than we had before. The last time we’d had to turn back because we couldn’t scramble up (although our son Mike did). This trip we came at it from above so we were able to climb down. All in all it was a fun hike. We also saw a dead baby rattler on a rock. We saw a number of lizards, including a couple of quite large ones.

As we drove back along Hole-in-the-Rock road, a motorcyclist flagged us down. One of his companions had crashed quite a ways away and had broken his leg in multiple places. He gave us the GPS coordinates and said though he’d asked others to report it, he wanted us to report it as well. A few miles on we had cell service and I called 911 and reported it. They’d already gotten the info.

Sunday we hiked to Lower Calf Creek. It was kind of hot, though the scenery was beautiful —red rock and green trees and bushes. When we got to the falls, we took off our shoes and waded in the ice-cold water. The sand was extremely soft. There was a pretty hummingbird that hovered over the water. On the hike back there was a group going to the falls carrying a large cooler. That must have been heavy to carry for the 6-mile round-trip hike.

In the evening Dave was outside reading and I was inside when he called out that he saw a deer. I had the camera in my hand and I wanted to hurry but be quiet, so, graceful as ever, I fell down the trailer stairs — well, really I fell to the side into the dirt. That gave Dave a scare, but besides a little scraped elbow, I was fine. We saw the three deer up the ridge by our campsite.
Now it’s Monday morning. We’ll eat soon, then leave.

Another fun trip.