The last time I was at 11,000 feet, I was on a plane . . .

We picked up Al and Adrienne about 9 am and then headed down the street to Peter’s Coffee for traveling food, coffee and muffins.

Hitting the road again, our trip took us back up into Montana on SR72 to Belfry (Yes, they have two belfries in town and the football team is called ‘The Bats’) about 50 miles north of Cody.

This was the route we came into Cody on a week or so ago, but luckily today we didn’t have to go far enough north to hit the 11 miles of one lane, gravel road construction we had to go through then.

At Belfry we took a left onto SR308 heading to Red Lodge, MT about 12 miles away. On the way we passed through the small town of Bearcreek, home of the worst coal mine disaster in Montana history.

On February 27, 1943, seventy-seven miners went down into the Smith Coal Mine. After an explosion later that morning, only three came out alive. And beside ending these seventy-four lives, the explosion also ended the local coal mining industry in Bearcreek.

Getting into Red Lodge, we took a bathroom break at the Visitors Center, and then did some shopping along the nice Main St. area.

Red Lodge 1

On one corner was this old bank that’s now a ladies boutique. Waiting for Jan I took a moment to read the plaque on the wall in front.

Red Lodge Bank 1

And, lo and behold, this was a famous bank. On September 18, 1897, the Sundance Kid, Kid Curry, and others of the Wild Bunch attempted “to make an unauthorized withdrawal from the Carbon County Bank.” The “withdrawal” went bad, and after an 80 mile chase, they were captured  and returned to Deadwood, SD, where they later escaped again.

Red Lodge Bank 2

Leaving town and heading south on the Beartooth Highway we came across this store selling furniture and art made from juniper trees,

Rocky Fork Juniper 1

including this neat elk, and even a moose.

Rocky Fork Juniper 2

Really very nice work.

Rocky Fork Juniper 3

It didn’t take long for us start encountering the fantastic scenery and multiple switchbacks that the Beartooth is famous for.

BearTooth 2

BearTooth 3

This map picture shows just one of many switchback sections that takes you from about 5000 feet to just over 11,000 feet.

WOW!

Beartooth Switchbacks

BearTooth 5

The higher we got the more snow we saw. And looking at one of the snow fields I thought I saw movement, so zooming in with my camera I saw

BearTooth 4

this herd of Big Horn Sheep crossing the snow. This was above 9000 feet.

BearTooth 6

And we just kept getting higher and higher.

BearTooth 7

BearTooth 8

When we would think we couldn’t go any higher, we’d look up and see more switchbacks above us.

BearTooth 9

At one of the pullouts where we stopped to take in the view, we did see this marmot sunning himself on a rock.

BearTooth Marmot 1

Although they kind of look like a beaver or a big guinea pig, they’re actually a type of large ground squirrel.

Cute, though I hear they can be mean.

BearTooth Marmot 2

The views just kept getting better and better.

BearTooth 10

BearTooth 11

Finally we reached the namesake of the Beartooth Highway, the beartooth.

See it, it’s right at the tip of the red arrow.

BearTooth Bear Tooth 1a

Maybe this closeup will help.

BearTooth Bear Tooth 2

We came across a lot of pretty flowers along the way, some of which only grow at high altitudes,

BearTooth Flowers 2

BearTooth Flowers 3

like this Sky Pilot Flower, that only grows above 10,000 feet, and also has a slightly ‘skunky’ smell.

BearTooth Flowers 4

BearTooth Flowers 1

Reaching our 11,000 foot peak, we started back down, with of course, more switchbacks and hairpin turns.

BearTooth 12

BearTooth 13

After our 50 mile journey on the Beartooth, we reached SR296 and took a left onto the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway.

BearTooth 14

BearTooth 15

BearTooth 16

BearTooth 17

This 45 mile section had its own set of switchbacks, although we didn’t get near as high as on the Beartooth.

BearTooth 18

BearTooth 19

BearTooth 20

BearTooth 21

BearTooth 22

Finally we merged back into SR120, about 17 miles north of Cody, and headed home, getting back about 4:30.

BearTooth 23

After dropping Al and Adrienne off at their rig, we all met back at Proud Cut Saloon and Steakhouse for dinner about 5:30.

The steaks were delicious, but more important Jan and I had our first chance to try Rocky Mountain Oysters when Al ordered them as an appetizer. If you don’t know what they are, don’t ask.

First off, they were good, nothing like real fried oysters, which Jan and I love (raw oysters, too). More like fried slices of roast beef.

Actually I think they just prove the old adage that pretty much anything battered and deep fried will taste good.

After a great meal, Al and Adrienne came back to the rig to check out Jan’s Amish rug, and then we talked a while.

Finally, after saying our goodbyes and getting in our last hugs, they headed back to their rig. Tomorrow we leave for Billings and we probably won’t see them again until next March at Nick Russell’s Gypsy Rally in Yuma.

After they left, I walked next door to visit with Jack Allen and Nell Dahl, who we had met before at Nick’s rally.

They wanted to say hi, and find out more about using South Dakota as a residency. I had a great time getting to know them better, and talking about our travels. They plan on being at Nick’s Gypsy Journal Rally  in Celina, OH in September so I’m sure we’ll see them then.

——————————————————————————————————————–

Thought for the Day:

The Tripolitan Wars (The Barbary Pirates) taught our young republic vital lessons, among them: tyrants cannot be appeased, peace cannot be purchased and there is no substitute for victory.

afdsdf

Custer and the Little Bighorn . . .

I’m still going through all the Beartooth Highway photos. I’ll try to have the story of our trip for you tomorrow.

We left Cody, WY about 9:30 this morning heading for Billings, MT about 117 miles away. But our first stop was at a Maverik Gas Station about 2 miles away to fill up on diesel.

With my Maverik discount card it was $3.80 a gallon, but the real problem was how slow the pumps were. And it wasn’t just diesel, it was gasoline too. The clerks said they had called a tech to take a look at the problem.

It actually took 40 minutes to take on 105 gallons. Talk about slow.

Jan had been waiting off to the side in the toad, and once I was finished we headed down the street a couple of blocks to a vacant parking area to hook up, and about 10 minutes later we were on our way.

After our really bad luck with construction on SR 72 in Montana on our way down to Cody, we decided to take a slightly longer way back to Billings.

So we took US-14A northeast to Garland where we got SR 114 to Deaver. Here we got on US-310 which took us all the way to I-90 about 10 miles west of Billings, and then to our RV Park. This time the roads were good, and the trip was uninterrupted by construction zones.

We got parked and hooked up, and then about 1:30 headed about 60 miles southeast to Little Bighorn National Monument, site of Custer’s Last Stand.

We had spend a good bit of time here in October 2008 on our way back from Alaska. It looked like this and it was in the low 30’s.

Custer 2008

Today it looked like this, and the thermometer at the Visitors Center said it was 100 degrees in the shade.

Big difference!

Custer 2011

The real reason we came down today was to get our National Park Passports stamped for here. But we couldn’t leave without walking to the top of the hill where the monument stands.

Custer Monument 

Custer Monument 2

The remains of about 220 soldiers are buried around the base of this pylon. The bodies of the officers, including General Custer, were removed in 1877, about a year after the battle, and reburied at various military cemeteries around the country. Custer is buried at West Point.

It’s hard to ignore the eerie feeling you get walking this battlefield. Even today when it was so hot, you could feel a cold shiver run through you as you walked around.

Leaving Little Bighorn, we got back to Billings about 4 pm, stopping off at Sam’s Club, before getting home about 4:30

Then we left about 45 minutes later to meet our friend Linda, and her friend Sandy, at Guadalajara Restaurant. The food was delicious, and since Linda and Sandy work at a hospital, and Jan used to, much of the conversation stayed over my head.

After dinner and saying goodbye to Sandy, Linda came over to the rig to ask my opinion of some software she was looking at, and then stayed awhile to talk.

We always enjoy seeing Linda, and hopefully it was won’t be too long until we’re through Billings again.

——————————————————————————————————————-

Thought for the Day:

The nice thing about being dumb, is that everything is helpful.

sfdg

Check Back Tomorrow . . .

We did the Beartooth Highway and Chief Joesph Highway this morning along with our friends, Al and Adrienne.

I got over 200 photos of some great scenery, but don’t have time tonight to go through them since we’re leaving early tomorrow for Billings.

So I’ll have a full blog post tomorrow.

——————————————————————————————————————-

Thought for the Day:

If you pet a tiny goose, you will feel a little down.

zdsfga

Hair Cuts and Bear Spray . . .

After coffee about 9:30 and a lunch of leftover BBQ and Nachos around 12, we goofed off until about 2 pm when we headed out for the afternoon.

Our first stop was the Cody Mural, a panoramic painting covering a dome 18 feet high and 36 feet in diameter. The mural depicts the Mormon pioneers settling the West, and especially the Big Horn Basin here in Wyoming.

Cody Murals Sign

It was interesting to discover that states and territories encouraged Mormon settlers to come to their areas because they were hard-working and industrious. Buffalo Bill even tried to get them to come to Cody, but they ultimately ended up further to the northeast in the Lovell, WY area.

Mural Slideshow

Leaving the Mural, we drove by the local Walgreen’s and I got this shot of their sign.

If Walgreen’s is selling Bear Spray, maybe bears are a bigger problem then I thought.

Walgreen's Bear Spray

Right down the street we came across this very unusual RV parked in a liquor store parking lot.

I might have to be drunk to drive this too. Note the chimney for a wood stove.

Wooden RV 1

I like the AC unit right above the steer horns.

Wooden RV 2

And the back porch is a nice touch, too.

Wooden RV 3

I’d been thinking about getting my hair cut (no snide remarks, please) and saw the Cowboy Cuts Barber Shop and decided to give it a try.

The owner/barber, Coral, was really good, but she was not too complementary of my old haircut. The first thing she said was, “Where’d you get this cut, Wal-Mart”?  I had to sheepishly say “Yes, a while back in Las Vegas”

She said, “Well, I hope you did better at the slots than you did with this haircut.”  Ouch!

She then proceeded to give me a layered cut, and also trimmed my beard. When she finished and I ask, “How much?” She said, “Eight dollars” “Why so cheap”, I ask. She just smiled and said, “You didn’t give me a lot to do.”

Ouch, again. But I did give her a $5 tip.

Cowboy Cuts

Our next stop was Wal-Mart for a few things before we met our friends Al and Adrienne at Bubba’s BBQ. And if you’re counting, that does make it 6 meals in a row at a Bubba’s.

After another great meal of BBQ, Al and Adrienne headed home, while Jan drove down the road a ways to Tecumseh’s Trading Post to check out their 7000 square foot Western diorama.

Highly detailed it shows many scenes from the settling of the West, Custer’s Last Stand, the coming of the railroads, and more, along with voice narration.

Really nice, very well done, and even better, it was free.

Tecumseh Museum 1

Tecumseh Museum 2

Tecumseh Museum 3

Tecumseh Museum 4

Tecumseh Museum 5

Tomorrow, at the suggestion of several of our blog readers, including our friend, Dave Cross, we’re going to drive the Beartooth Highway up north from here. It’s a loop of about 180 miles and is supposed to be really spectacular.

——————————————————————————————————————-

Thought for the Day:

You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you.

zdsgf

Five in a Row . . .

We left our very nice Motel 6 room about 9:15 and headed right down the street for breakfast, and yes, once again at Bubba’s BBQ.

And that officially makes it four in a row.

After another great breakfast we were back on the road to Cody about 177 miles away by 10:30.

Unlike the last last few days, our trip today was pretty much wildlife-free, except for one pronghorn antelope and a lone bison. We did check out our moose-sighting sites from yesterday but found nothing.

I don’t know where everyone was going today, but the traffic through both parks was much heavier than our other trips through here over the last week.

Except for a couple of rest area stops, we drove straight through to Cody. arriving home about 2:30 pm.

But coming into Cody, we saw something we hadn’t noticed before.

There’s a Bubba’s BBQ here in Cody. We instantly made the decision to have dinner here tonight.

Getting back to the RV park, Jan was happy to find the cats and the rig doing OK. After getting the truck unloaded and things put away, a nap was in order.

About 5:30 we headed out to Bubba’s BBQ to make it Five in a Row. Yes, when we find something good, we just run it into the ground.

Leaving the park I saw this Royal Classic Class C RV with a rear slide, something I’d never seen before. Don’t know what year this one is, but Google tells me that models as early as 1993 had them.

Neat!

Rear Slide

The Bubba’s here in Cody was almost, but not quite identical, to the one in Jackson. The biggest difference is that they don’t have breakfast at this one. Our waitress said they dropped it a couple of years ago because they weren’t making money on it.

Apparently, although they use mostly the same recipes, they have two different owners, but are not a franchise, either. I did think the BBQ Beans are better here in Cody, and they have bigger iced tea glasses, too.

Coming home, we took a detour to check out a Maverik gas station where we can fuel up the rig on our way out of town on Sunday. If I can I always like to plot out how to get in and out of the station, and where we can hook up when we’re done.

And of course, as usually happens, when I’m about ready to buy diesel, the price starts going up.

Tomorrow we’ve got some errands, and then dinner with Al and Adrienne. And supposedly there is a balloon festival here this weekend, but other places says it’s next weekend.

We’ll see.

——————————————————————————————————————-

Thought for the Day:

“The closest thing to eternal life on earth is a government program.” – Ronald Reagan

afdsfds

Three in One Day . . .

This morning, our last full day here in Jackson, started at Bubba’s BBQ for breakfast. When Jan saw Blueberry Pancakes on the menu last night, it was a given that we’d be here again.

Then we headed about 25 miles north to Moose Junction. First we wanted to get our National Park Passports stamped at the Park Visitors Center and we also asked a Ranger about the best places to find more moose.

He told us that there had been one by the bridge we just crossed up the road, and also along Moose-Wilson Rd. So it looks like our idea of driving the Teton Park Road and the Moose-Wilson Road might work out.

We first turned north on the Teton Park Rd. that runs for 20 miles before it connects back with US-89 right before Moran Junction. We had some great views along the way, including these shots along Jenny Lake,

Teton Park Rd 1 

Teton Park Rd 2

and this photo at our closest point to Grand Teton.

Grand Teton

Along here we also did the 4 mile Jenny Lake Rd. loop, another good spot for wildlife, as evidenced by this sign. Since we’ve seen all three, I guess we’ve really been lucky.

GTNP Wildlife Sign

Reaching the main highway we decided to drive the 4 miles back to Pilgrim Creek where we saw the moose yesterday. And we hit the jackpot again.

What were probably the same two moose were back, and much more visible than yesterday.

GTNP Moose 6

One of them was down in the water along the bank, munching on all the green goodies. Moose like willows and aspens, and both were in abundance here.

GTNP Moose 7

Because he wasn’t in the trees like yesterday we got some great shots.

GTNP Moose 8

Here you can see the 2nd moose further up in the trees.

GTNP Moose 9 

GTNP Moose 10

After a few minutes, the moose moved on to where we couldn’t really see them anymore. Jan had noticed some people only about 30 feet from the moose and said “Those people are much too close.” And then she said “I bet they’re getting some great pictures. I want to go over there.”

But luckily, the Ranger showed up a few minutes later and started yelling at people to get away.

We did move further along the creek where we could see the moose again. And in another episode of “Where’s Bullwinkle?”, this is what my camera showed at 1X.

GTNP Moose 11

And this is at 72X. Quite a difference.

GTNP Moose 12 

After the moose finally disappeared into the brush, we headed back down US-89 and turned into Moose Junction again to this time take the Moose-Wilson Rd south back down to Jackson.

And as we came to the bridge the Ranger had mentioned before, we encountered a moose-jam.

He was back!

Moose Junction Moose 1 

Moose Junction Moose 2

And this time only about 50 yards away, so we got some great photos.

Moose Junction Moose 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally dragging Jan away from the moose, we drove back into Jackson and out the other side to Snow King Mountain Resort so we could take the Scenic Chairlift.

In the winter it’s a ski-lift to the top of Snow King Mountain so you can take one of the several runs down the mountain, but in the summer it’s just a great sight-seeing trip.

It’s a 1500 foot climb to the 7800 foot top, and so steep you would be hard-pressed to walk straight up. However there are an number of zigzag trails leading to the top for hikers and horseback rides from the nearby stables.

Snow King Mountain Ski-Lift 1

And the route up is lined with snow-making machines just waiting for the temperature to fall.

Snow King Mountain Snow Machine

Looking down at the ground under our feet, we saw a lot of shoes. Apparently losing them is almost a given.

Snow King Mountain Ski-Lift Shoe

For most of the trip we were about 50 to 70 feet off the ground. What’s kind of funny is that Jan has a fear of heights. It is very difficult for her to stand at a railing and look down. She had problems at both Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon.

But she has absolutely no problem dangling from a ski-lift chair. Go figure!

Snow King Mountain Ski-Lift 2

Getting to the top we had great views of the mountains and out across the Park.

Snow King Mountain Top 1

Well worth the trip up.

Snow King Mountain Top 2

And the trip down was even better, with great views of Jackson and the Elk Refuge beyond. I was hoping to see one of the elk herds from up here, but no luck.

Snow King Mountain Ski-Lift 4 

Snow King Mountain Ski-Lift 5

And we even have a memento of our trip to the top. Someone needs to show them something about color correction on their photos. Mine look better.

Snow King Mountain Ski-Lift

Leaving Snow King, we drove back into town to get gas for the trip home. One thing I’ve noticed here in Wyoming that I haven’t seen anywhere else is that the gas grades are different.

The price for unleaded was only $3.48, but instead of 87, 89, and 91 octane like everywhere else, the gas here in Wyoming all seems to be 85, 87, and 89 octane.

Anyone know why? My truck really doesn’t like 85 octane, especially at these high altitudes.

Next Jan wanted to shop one of the gift shops on the main street.

And which one did she pick?  Well, the Moose on the Loose, of course.

Jan found a moose tee-shirt she really liked, but when she went to pay for it, something strange happen. Both our Wells Fargo and Chase VISA debit cards were declined.  So I paid with cash.

I knew both accounts had plenty of money, and I had just used the Chase card to get gas a few minutes before, so after we left the store, I called Chase.

I got a nice young lady from India, not named Peggy luckily, who was very helpful. She said they log every transaction, even if they’re declined, and she showed the last one was the gas I had purchased. She didn’t show anything even coming thru, much less declined after that.

She said the store was probably having trouble with their merchant account, which would explain why both cards were declined.

Leaving the Loose Moose, we drove back to Bubba’s for supper.

Yeah, we ate there last night, and this morning, so let’s make it three in a row.

And here’s a little secret. We’ll probably eat breakfast there tomorrow on our way out of town. So there.

This is the sign of a good BBQ place, cords of oak wood stacked up next to the separate building housing their smoker.

Bubba's Wood

And when I peeked in the door, they were unloading the beef briskets and taking them into the restaurant.

Bubba's Brisket

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
And you wonder why we keep eating here.

After dinner we stopped off at a nearby Maverik for Nick Russell Memorial Cappuccinos before heading back to the room for the night.

Tomorrow we’ll probably leave here about 9 am for the 177 mile trip back to Cody.

And if Jan has her way, we’ll probably be making a quick stop at Pilgrim Creek for another moose sighting.

Hopefully this will get it out of her system for a while.

————————————————————————————————-

Thought for the Day:

Everyone spreads a little joy. Some when they come, others when they go away.

kjhkjh

What do you see in this picture ?

We headed out on our overnight trip this morning, leaving a little after 8 am. Our first stop was Peter’s Coffee in downtown Cody for coffee and a breakfast roll, then a quick stop on the way out of town for gas.

Very quickly we were back in the same beautiful vistas we saw last Friday when we did Yellowstone with our friends Al and Adrienne. But it’s hard to get too much of these views.

GTNP 1 GTNP 2

Although we were heading for Jackson, WY and Grand Teton National Park, we decided to backtrack up past Old Faithful to see the Paint Pots and some of the other geysers.

As we came back by the same place we saw the grizzly last week we slowed down to check things out. Unfortunately, no grizzly, but right down the road we did see this female elk out in the brush.

GTNP Elk 1

Our first stop in Yellowstone was the Fountain Paint Pot area. There is a boardwalk that makes a 1/2 loop out and back so it’s an easy walk.

Paint Pot 5

It’s really hard to describe the Paint Pots. Some of it looks like the surface of the moon.

Paint Pot 1

Paint Pot 4

Some of it looks like the bowels of Hades.

Paint Pot 9

Some of it is very beautiful.

Paint Pot 2 

And some of it looks like all three.

Paint Pot 6 

Paint Pot 7 

But however you want to describe it, it’s not to be missed.

Paint Pot 8

Our next stop was right down the road at the Midway Geyser Basin. A bridge from the parking lot takes you across the Firehole River ( apt name, don’t you think.) and out into the Basin.

Midway Geyser 1

The runoff from the geysers flows into the river and keeps it warm. In fact warm enough to be comfortable for swimming when there’s snow on the ground in the dead of winter.

Midway Geyser 2

I’ll let the rest of the photos tell the story.

Midway Geyser 3 

Midway Geyser 4 

Midway Geyser 5

Midway Geyser 6

By this time it was about 1 pm and we were getting hungry. So heading back to Old Faithful Village we decided to have lunch at the Old Faithful Inn where we ate last Friday. We didn’t have the buffet this time, but we definitely wanted some more of the bison chili. In fact we split a BLT (Well, Jan had a BT because she doesn’t like lettuce on sandwiches. Salads yes, sandwiches, no.) so we would have room for the chili.

Leaving Old Faithful and heading south once again we came across another female elk. So we’re two for two on elk today.

GTNP Elk 2

Down the road a ways we stopped to check out Lewis Falls, a very pretty sight.

Lewis Falls 1 

Lewis Falls 2

As we finally got into Grand Teton National Park we started paralleling Jackson Lake that runs for about 20 miles along the roadway.

Jackson Lake 1

What do you see in the middle of this picture?  I’ll bet you don’t see two large bull moose.

GTNP Moose 4

But they’re there.

Jan’s Holy Grail!

What she’s been looking for since we hit the road for this year this past February.

What we made a special trip down to Grand Teton National Park for when she heard there might be some down here.

GTNP Moose 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were able to get as close as about 50 feet since they were in heavy brush. There was a Ranger there keeping everyone from getting too close. Otherwise SOME people would have been trying to pet them.

GTNP Moose 2 

GTNP Moose 5

We watched them for about 20 minutes before they disappeared deeper into the brush and we lost sight of them.

Jan said this made the whole trip worthwhile.

Hey, if she’s happy, I’m happy.

GTNP Moose 3

Getting closer to Jackson we came across this group of bison who had knocked down the fence and were almost out into the highway.

There was a Ranger there too, keeping people back.

Man, these Rangers are real party-poopers.

GTNP Buffalo

Arriving in Jackson a little after 6 pm and getting safely ensconced in our Motel 6 room, (very nice, by the way) we heading out to get some dinner.

We had noticed a place called Bubba’a BBQ on the way in and decided to give a try.

It was easy to see why we had to wait 20 minutes for a table. Boy, was it good.

So good, in fact, we’re going back for breakfast.

——————————————————————————————————————–

Thought for the Day:

Actually, I was pretty thoughtless today. So there.

 

awe