Irma’s and Old Friends . . .

A little while after we got up this morning, Jan saw this guy in the next field over, where along with his friends, were leaping over the fences like they weren’t even there.

Yellowstone RV Park Horny Visitor

About 10:45 Jan and I headed into Cody to meet our friends Al and Adrienne at the Irma Hotel & Restaurant. Built in 1902 by Buffalo Bill Cody as a destination for tourists on their way to Yellowstone National Park.

Irma Hotel 1

And it still serves that same purpose today, although it’s grown a little bit over the years.

Irma Hotel 2

We were meeting Al & Adrienne there at 11:30 for what turned out to be a delicious Sunday lunch buffet. Grilled Chicken, Grilled Cod, BBQ Pork Ribs, and some really good Prime Rib. And for dessert, their famous Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce.

HMMM! GOOOD!

And of course we sat around for another hour and a half just catching up. Finally we followed them back to their rig so we could see Banjo, Cassie, and Abby. We’ve known Banjo the dog, and Cassie the cat, since we met Al & Adrienne in Fairbanks, AK in 2008

Leaving their rig we all drove about 15 miles out toward Powell, WY to visit the Heart Mountain Internment Camp. Built in the summer of 1942, the first internees arrived by train in August.

Heart Mountain Old

Heart Mountain was one of 10 camps built around the country in 1942, and at its peak held almost 11,000 people.

Heart Mountain 1

The Heart Mountain Center has a number of rooms filled with exhibits about the place and the people, many of them done by people who were in the camp.

Heart Mountain 3

Heart Mountain 5

All four of us were moved by our visit to the Heart Mountain Center, and it’s well recommended to our readers.

Coming home we passed the Wal-Mart and noticed it looked like an RV sales lot. It’s hard to tell by this photo, but there must have been 40-50 RV’s lined up all the way back and more were coming  as we watched.

Either that or Wal-Mart’s started holding RV Rallies now.

Cody WalMart RV Parking

As I was getting the truck packed up for tomorrow’s trip to Billings, I said ‘Hi’ to a couple walking by. Then the lady looked over at me and said “I know you. You’re Greg”. It turned out to be LeRoy and Anne Willis, who we’ve meet at Nick’s Gypsy Rallies. They’re here in the Cody area until the middle of July. It was good to catch up again.

Tomorrow we’re meeting Al & Adrienne at the Wild Horse Café for breakfast on our way through Cody and up to Billings.

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Thought for the Day:

"You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them." – Mahatma Gandhi

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Yellowstone & Supermoon, Almost . . .

We left the rig at Yellowstone Valley Inn & RV Park about 9am, heading for the Old Faithful area of Yellowstone National Park, but this time I got to sightsee a little more since I wasn’t driving the rig this time.

And it was a lot of really spectacular views.

Yellowstone Trip 2

Our road paralleled the Shoshone River for a good while, with a lot of whitewater and kayakers enjoying the water.

Yellowstone Trip 3

And as we got closer to the park, we started our climb up the highest point on our trip, Sylvan Pass at 8530 feet.

Yellowstone Trip 4

We were surprised to see how much snow was still around up there.

Yellowstone Trip 5

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We knew we were getting close when we took the curve and looked out on Yellowstone Lake. When we left the rig it was bright and sunny, but as we got deeper into the park the overcast rolled in and stay with us most of the rest of the day.

Yellowstone Trip 6

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A few miles before the Fishing Bridge we had our first animal sighting, this female elk out in a field. There was a small herd of more off in the trees.

Yellowstone Trip 7

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Getting to the Old Faithful area about 11:30, we got parked and headed over to the Old Faithful Inn for lunch. I remember eating here with my family in 1964 when we did a two month trip out west.

Old Faithful Inn 2

We both had the lunch buffet with such items as Sautéed Trout, Wild Rice, Chipotle BBQ Chicken, and our favorite, the Bison Chili.

BTW When did buffalo become bison. We don’t sing “where the bison roam”. We don’t read about “Bison Bill Cody, and Nick Russell’s contribution, we don’t sing “Bison gals won’t you come out tonight”

So who decided we needed a new name for buffalo, and why wasn’t I consulted?

Old Faithful Inn

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Finishing up lunch, we walked over to the Old Faithful Geyser to wait for the next eruption.

Yellowstone Trip 8

Luckily for us we only had to wait about 20 minutes, since the sun had disappeared in the clouds and the wind had picked, making it pretty chilly.

Yellowstone Trip 9

After watching the Big Blow, we made the obligatory visits to a couple of gift shops before getting back on the road and heading north on the Grand Loop Road.

Yellowstone Trip 10

Passing Madison Junction, the west entrance to the park, we headed over to Norris, and then Canyon Junction. Along the way, we came across this gray wolf running across the field.

Yellowstone Trip 11

And this pair of swans.

Yellowstone Trip 12

Next was this group of adult buffalos and a couple of calves.

Yellowstone Trip 13

Yellowstone Trip 14

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And a little later, this big guy was just glaring at the traffic going by.

Yellowstone Trip 15

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Coming on around the Grand Loop we came back to our turn at the Fishing Bridge, and after making a pit stop at the General Store there, we headed home.

Just as we were leaving the Yellowstone Lake area, we once again came across this one-lane stoplight system.

Yellowstone Trip 16

It’s there because of this washed-out section of roadway. The only problem is that this same section was washed out two years ago, and protected by the same automated stoplight system.

So either this section of pavement washes out regularly, or they just haven’t gotten around to fixing it yet.

Yellowstone Trip 17

Personally I think it’s the second reason.

We finally got back to the rig about 5:45pm and settled in. Since we had a big lunch, I made coffee and then we popped some Orville Redenbacher’s Kettle Corn.

All in all, a very nice day.

I thought tomorrow night was supposed to be the SuperMoon, but this one will do in a pinch.

SuperMoon 1

SuperMoon 2

SuperMoon 3

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Thought for the Day:

"You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new." – Steve Jobs

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No Moose . . .

We left Teton Valley Campground about 9:15 and headed up and over the mountain at Teton Pass and then down into Jackson, WY on our way to Cody, WY via Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.

Jan was worried about taking the rig up and down those 10% grades, but we really didn’t have any problems. Most of the time going up, I stayed at about 40 mph, except when someone pulled out in front of me from a turnout and I had to slow down and got behind the power curve. That dropped me down to about 30 for a short while until I caught back up. Coming down on the other side, I just downshifted into 3rd and put the PacBrake on, though in one really steep part, I dropped down into 2nd for a while. But finally, much to Jan’s relief, about 45 minutes later we were driving through Jackson and out the other side, heading toward Yellowstone.

Yellowstone Trip 1

Yellowstone Rig Trip 2

The trip through the National Park went very smoothly with a moderate amount of traffic. The road is two lane all the way with no passing lanes, but a lot of pull-outs, both as scenic viewpoints, picnic areas, or just plain parking areas.

And, unlike our previous Yellowstone trips, where we’ve seen moose, elk, buffalo, grizzlies, and wolves, this trip only yielded three buffalo, with two about a hundred yards off the road. But the third was kind of neat. There was a very large buffalo just walking down the narrow shoulder of the highway, on the opposite side coming toward us. He didn’t seem to be at all bothered by the cars and RV’s whizzing right by him.

About 2:30 we pulled into the Yellowstone Valley Inn & RV Park in Wapiti, WY, about 20 miles west of Cody.

Yellowstone Valley RV Park 1

While I was registering, I inquired about staying a 4th day as we had originally wanted, but was told that they were pretty much completely booked through July 4th. So as soon as we got parked and set up, I called the RV park in Billings and said we’ll be coming in on Monday instead of Tuesday. So it’s all good.

This park had some great views out the windshield, and in every direction, actually.

Yellowstone Valley RV Park 2

Yellowstone Valley RV Park 3

Yellowstone Valley RV Park 4

Tomorrow we’re going to drive back down to Yellowstone for the day and revisit some of our favorite spots. Then on Sunday we’ll get together with our friend Al & Adrienne who are workcamping here in Cody.

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Thought for the Day:

"Everyone has a purpose in life. Perhaps yours is watching television." — David Letterman

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Wax On, Wax Off . . .

My first chore after getting up this morning (well, after coffee, anyway) was to figure out where the heck we’re staying for the next 4 days. But after thinking about I decided to go ahead and lock down our park in Billings, MT where we’ll be staying after we leave Cody, and right before we head to Gillette for the Escapade on the 29th. And I’m glad I did.

As it turned out I got the last site at the Billings Trailer Village RV Park, where we’ve stayed 5 or 6 times since 2008. Then it was back to finding a spot for us in Cody starting tomorrow.

And as it turned out, I lucked out on the first call, well partially. I was able to reserve 3 nights at Yellowstone Valley Inn & RV Park about 20 miles out of Cody, back toward Yellowstone. Because of that it will cut 20 miles off our trip tomorrow. And the guy said he has some construction people that are supposed to leave tomorrow so he thinks he will be able to give us the 4th day. So we’re good to go tomorrow at least.

After lunch I tackled something I’ve never done myself, but have always had someone do it for me. I washed and waxed our rig. Oh, and the truck too.

I decided to try Turtle Wax Zip Liquid Car Wash and Wax since I’d read good things about it. I just put a couple of ounces in a bucket and added water. Then I would pick an area about 8 feet wide, hosed it down with water and then used an extension brush to swab the coach sides. Then after letting it soak for a few minutes, I rinsed it all off and used a soft cloth to dry and polish the area.

It only took me about two hours to do the coach, and only about 30 minutes to do the truck. And they both turned out pretty good.

RV Wash Wax 1

RV Wash Wax 2

RV Wash Wax 3

After finishing up and stowing all my cleaning stuff away, Jan and I headed into Victor to have our last meal here at Big Hole BBQ. We’d eaten here our first night, and because it was so good, we wanted to eat there again before we leave.

It doesn’t quite live up to the ‘Big’ name, however. It has 3 tables inside, as well as 7 chairs at the bar, two tables out front,

Big Hole BBQ

and three tables upstairs on the deck.

Big Hole BBQ 2

Big Hole BBQ 3

Jan had a couple of delicious Shrimp Tacos, and I had a really good Pulled Pork Sandwich. It must have had a pound of meat on it. And of course, some of their great beans, and all of it topped off with their spicy BBQ sauce.

A really good finish to our visit here.

Big Hole BBQ 4

After dinner we walked next door to a small grocery store to get some buns and a few other things to have for dinner in our rig tomorrow night. That way we won’t have to drive into Cody for dinner.

We’ll probably head out around 10am tomorrow for our 180 mile trip up to Cody, passing through both Grand Tetons National Park and Yellowstone National Park.

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Thought for the Day:

“Laws that forbid the carrying of arms…disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes…Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.” ~ Thomas Jefferson

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Another One Bites the Dust . . .

Well, got his nose pin-cushioned anyway.

I had let Mister out on his leash this morning and then went around to the other side of the rig to close our grey valve. While I was doing that, I got to talking with the guy in the Airstream trailer next door. They had just arrived this morning and were getting set up. Mister heard their kids and came underneath and out on that side of the rig to see what was going on.

The kids of course went over to pet him, and Mister was in hog heaven. About this time, Lewis, their 50# yellow lab came shooting out of the Airstream, barking and heading for Mister. Mister just sat up and yowled. Lewis runs right up to Mister, and as soon as the dog’s nose was in range, Mister went ‘slap’, ‘slap’, kind of a one, two punch.

Lewis sat back on his haunches, yelping and shaking his nose. Mister then started stalking Lewis, belly to the ground, and hissing. Lewis apparently realized this wasn’t working out quite like he’d planned, so he turned and ran back into the camper, whining all the way.

Mister immediately went back into his “I’m a happy kitty, pet me” mode and all was well. Lewis however never came back out of the RV the rest of the afternoon.

A little after noon Jan and I headed back over the Teton Scenic Route to do some shopping in Idaho Falls, 60 miles away. This time, since I didn’t have to concentrate on getting the rig safely up and down the step grades, I had a little more time to enjoy the view.

Idoho Falls Shopping 1

Idoho Falls Shopping 2

Our first stop was at a Fred Meyer’s, mainly for the Chase Bank located there. But of course Jan found a few things she needed.

Our next stop was a Sam’s Club, for our prescriptions, and a few other things. Then after a quick stop at the Home Depot next door, we drove over to a nearby Wal-Mart for some more stuff. Strange how we never seem to have enough stuff.

By now we were getting hungry so we headed over to the Snake Bite Restaurant, a place that Jan had found highly recommended on the Internet. Unfortunately it closes at 3pm. So after checking out a couple of other places, we ended up at Smitty’s Steaks & Pancakes, a traditional American food place. We both had the Fried Chicken Dinner and it was very good. And it came with a free Strawberry Shortcake dessert.

A really good meal.

While we were eating, I realized that we are supposed to leave here on Friday to head up to Cody, WY, and thought I would call the Absaroka Bay RV Park where we stayed two years ago and get a site for four nights. But they only had an opening for Friday and Saturday nights. So I guess I need to get on the phone tomorrow.

Coming home about 6pm, we stopped off at a convenience store for cappuccinos before heading back over the mountain, getting home a little after 7pm.

Tomorrow is a ‘work around the rig and get ready to travel’ day. And maybe a last night’s meal at Big Hole BBQ.

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Thought for the Day:

"When you look at yourself from a universal standpoint, something inside always reminds or informs you that there are bigger and better things to worry about." — Albert Einstein

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Going Back To Jackson, Jackson, Jackson . . .

Jan and I left for Jackson, WY about 12 noon, heading over Teton Pass’ 8500 foot summit and 10% grades. But the scenery was great.

Teton Pass 1

Teton Pass 2

The 24 mile trip over the mountain saves you about 60 miles from the long way around, taking US26. But it can be a long, slow climb with a lot of hairpin turns and switchbacks. But cresting out at the summit makes up for it.

Teton Pass Summit 1

From up here you can look out over the entire valley.

Teton Pass Summit 2

Finally coming down off the mountain, we turned north on Moose-Wilson Rd. for the drive up to Moose Junction. And almost immediately Jan let out a squeal, “MOOOSSSEE”.

At first all we could see were two females in a pond only about 20 feet off the road. It looked like one of them was trying to chase the other one off. They both took out running along the far edge of the pond bank and then disappeared into the trees.

Jackson Momma Moose

Jackson Momma Moose 2

Then from the other direction this baby appeared and seemed to be trying to figure out what happened to momma moose. The baby kept going back and forth getting more and more anxious.

Jackson Baby Moose

But finally momma showed back up and the baby ran back into the trees.

Jackson Momma Moose 3

Momma then crossed the pond and followed the baby out of sight.

After waiting a few more minutes with no more moose, we resumed our 15 mile drive up to the Visitor’s Center at Moose Junction. Jan wanted some more moosey things from the gift shop, and more importantly, we had seen moose in the river there when we were here two years ago.

Jackson Jan Moose Statue

Jan did get up close and personal with this big guy, but said he didn’t have a lot of personality. and as it turned out, he was the last moose we saw today.

The river by the Visitor’s Center bridge was too high and running too fast at this time for moose, so we moved on to our next surefire moose place about 25 miles up US89 heading toward Yellowstone.

Along the way we passed the Teton Village Ski area,

Jackson Hole Skiing

and a lot of beautiful mountain scenery.

Grand Tetons 1

Grand Tetons 2

Grand Tetons 3

For a while some dark clouds moved into the area, threatening rain, but it never showed up.

Grand Tetons 4

And our ‘surefire’ moose place didn’t pan out either. They were doing road construction right in that area and our access road to the pond was closed off. So we headed back to Jackson for dinner.

We did however get to see the large herds of buffalo grazing along side the road.

Jackson Buffalo Herd 1

Even got to the see some calves.

Jackson Buffalo Herd 2

Getting back into town we found more road construction that made it hard to even get to our dinner destination, Bubba’s BBQ. But we finally made it about 4:15.

We ate at Bubba’s several times when we were here two years ago and really liked it. And this visit didn’t disappoint either.

Before heading home, Jan bought some postcards and I stopped off at a Maverik’s for a cappuccino before we headed back over the mountain, getting home a little after 6pm.

Getting back in the rig, we discovered the power had gone off and back on while we were out. The only problem it caused was screwing up our DirecTV HD DVR. Everything was working fine and it had signals from the dome, but it said it couldn’t find any channels.

I tried both a Reset Button reset and an unplug the power reset with no luck. So I finally called DirecTV for help. We tried a bunch of different things, before the tech suggested unplugging both the power AND the satellite cables and then reboot. And that fixed it.

Tomorrow we’re driving back over to Idaho Falls for some shopping.

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Thought for the Day:

"Trying to save someone from their own stupidity is like trying to teach a pig how to dance: it wastes your time, and annoys the pig." – Robert Heinlein

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Now we’re Three for Three . . .

or maybe Four for Four.

We pulled out of Village of Trees RV Resort near Declo, ID a little after 9 am heading back west for a few miles to Heyburn, ID to get diesel and breakfast.

The reason we were heading back the way we had come yesterday was I had my choice of buying diesel from the Shell station near the park for $4.399, or going back down the Interstate a few miles to get diesel from a Sinclair station for $3.959. Saving 44 cents a gallon on 70+ gallons was worth a short drive. And even better, the stop came with breakfast.

When we scouted out the station yesterday after dinner, we saw the Wayside Café right next door and commented how busy it was, so we decided to have breakfast there after fueling up.

It quickly became obvious why it was so crowded. Everything was great, with some of best coffee I’ve had in a long time, certainly better than Starbuck’s. Great thick-cut bacon too.

Wayside Cafe Breakfast

Although we’d had the great coffee at the café, we wanted to get cappuccinos for the road from the gas station because they had Jan’s favorite Pumpkin Pie cappuccino. Then walking back to the rig, we got the truck hitched up and were back on the Interstate heading east.

About 10 miles down the road we split off from I-84 onto I-86. A little bit later construction on the westbound side took the roadway down to two lanes for about 20 miles, but it didn’t really slow us down.Pretty much all day our route snaked back and forth across the aptly-named Snake River

Teton Valley Trip 1

It seemed like there were great views around every curve.

Teton Valley Trip 2

Teton Valley Trip 3

Later, going through Pocatello, we got on I-5N that took us up on to Idaho Falls. There we got on to US26 S for about 40 miles before turning off onto SR31, also known as the Teton Scenic Route. And scenic it was.

Teton Valley Trip 5

Getting up into the mountains, the road started to remind me of the Alaskan Highway, with narrow lanes, no shoulders, and sharp drop-offs with no guardrails. Our route took us up to almost 8000 feet before we came down into the Teton Valley at a little over 6000 feet.

Along the way I almost smushed a car into the side of the mountain. Going up the 5% grade I ended up with about 5-6 cars behind me, with no passing lanes or pull-outs for me to let them get by. Then coming down it didn’t get any better.

There was a cyclist in front of me, zipping down the hill and pedaling fast. He was doing about 40, but I was still trying to get around him. But to do that I needed to move to the center of the road for a few seconds because with no shoulder, the cyclist was on the roadway.

I had my left turn signal on and then finally reached an area where I could move over. I was already across the center line when the car directly behind me decided he’d had enough and zipped out and started to pass. By this time I was beside the cyclist and couldn’t move back. The guy in the car got about to my rear wheels before he finally realized that his lane was getting narrower fast. As I watched him brake quickly I was afraid that he would forget about our toad and try to swing in right behind us. But he avoided doing that, and both he and the cyclist made it through without a scratch.

We got into Teton Village Campground and were quickly led to our pull-thru site. While I was outside getting us hooked up, I put Mister on his leash to roll in the grass.

After getting power, water, and sewer hooked up, I heard Mister making friends with our next door neighbors. Checking things out, our neighbor said, “Hi, I’m Gretchen and we know you. We read your blog”.

In fact Bob and Gretchen Madison ended up here after reading about this park on our blog. Jan came to the door and we all talked for a while, finally agreeing to get together for dinner in a couple of hours.

Teton Valley is a beautiful park, with a lot of trees, but not so many to interfere with satellite access. This is the view out our windshield.

Teton Valley Campground 3

Teton Valley Campground 4

Teton Valley Campground 5

A little before 5 we headed out for have dinner at Big Hole BBQ, a place we found well-recommended on Yelp. Gretchen and Bob had ribs, I had a pulled pork and ribs combo, while Jan had a pulled pork sandwich.

Big Hole BBQ Platter

Everything was delicious, They have a real different take on their BBQ sauce, with an unusual spice complement. Different, but delicious.

We said our good nights at the restaurant, and then Jan and I drove around Victor for a while, checking out some of the area, finally getting back home a little before 7pm.

Tomorrow we’re going to make the 25 mile trip over the mountains to Jackson, WY so Jan can hopefully see moose.

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Thought for the Day:

"I find it rather easy to portray a businessman. Being bland, rather cruel and incompetent comes naturally to me." — John Cleese

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