05/21/2012 to 05/28/2012 Idaho and Wyoming
Monday morning we packed up and headed east. We
took a quick detour off the main highway to see Twin Falls.
It was lovely and there was lots to see, but we just took a
quick look and continued on.
We ended up at Massacre Rocks State Park for the night.
We got to our campsite overlooking the Snake River, and
for once, in longer than I can remember, it was warm. The
pelicans were hanging out on the river, the bunnies were
hopping around, birds were chirping. Could this be
paradise? We scoped it all out, planned to stay a few
more nights so we could blow up one of the boats the next
day and hang out in the river, and then we sat in the sun
until it set over the river.
As usual, the weather had other plans for us. As soon as we got up Tuesday and paid
for two more nights, the wind started blowing. It blew in the cold air, and it stayed. No
way we could go out in the boat. Instead we went out for a bike ride. That was an
interesting idea. We were only going about three miles, to a place called Register Rock
where pioneers on the Oregon Trail wrote their names. The wind was blowing so hard
that we really had to work to get there. Once we did finally get there, the rock wasn't
that cool, but we did see a cool tree growing out of a different rock. We also saw Idaho's version of the "bridge to nowhere." Then we had to ride
back in the wind, and we huddled the RV the rest of the day.
One of the things we did while huddled in the RV was plan our next stop. I was
worried because we hadn't reserved any park for the holiday weekend. I called
ahead to the Grand Tetons and sure enough, their high-dollar RV park was
booked. But I wasn't interested in that one anyway, way too expensive. And I
got good news: the dry camping park was first-come, first-serve. The fact that
the campground didn't even open until Thursday should have worried me, but
somehow it didn't... hey, perfect timing right?
Wednesday was just as cold and windy. We went to the grocery store and sat
around pouting about the weather.
Thursday we were up early, pumped to get back to the Grand Tetons and see
what had changed since we were there in 2005.
We were on our way to the Tetons, and stopped to take a picture along the Snake river. We jumped out of the truck, and suddenly the last two days
at Massacre Rock seemed warm. How can it be getting colder?? Burr! Shortly after this picture, it started snowing. Snow? Great.
Lovely right? Blue sky, magnificent mountains. We found the same spot, (going
in the opposite direction) but this is what we got this time. Can you see the
mountains in the background? Yeah, neither could we...
We rushed on to the campground. Since it was first-come,
first-serve, and it was a holiday weekend, I wanted to make sure
we got a spot. Ha! I think there were 3 other rigs parked when we
arrived... out of 100+ sites. Everyone else had received the
message about the snow. Well since we were saving money, we
were in a campsite with no hook-ups. This meant that if we wanted
to not freeze, we had to run our furnace. Unfortunately, it takes
battery, which doesn't seem to last long in this new rig. We got the
weather forecast from the rangers, and we were told there was so
much snow that they had closed down the road to Yellowstone.
Okay, fine. When we had come last time, we had found a few
places up in Yellowstone that had natural hot springs you could
soak in. That's what we really needed. We asked around and
found out that there was one you could hike to just before the
entrance to Yellowstone, and the road was open to there. Okay,
we put the down comforter on the bed, and planned to hike
through the snow the next day in search of a hot spring to warm
our frozen bones.
With no electricity and trying to conserve our battery, we had
nothing to do, and it was too early for bed, so we headed out to
see if we could see any wildlife. Oh sure. Now the sky clears up a
bit. We had fun running around seeing old sites. Dang, we
looked so young in 2005... or maybe it was just the healthy glow of
the sun! 2012 ain't looking so good!
We took some pretty pictures of the sun setting behind the clouds and
mountains, then climbed under the comforter and hoped for warmth.
When we woke up on Friday, there was no blanket
of snow, just a cold drizzle coming down. I grabbed
the umbrella and some towels, packed a lunch, and
off we went. The parks don't advertise the hot
springs because they don't want a ton of tourists
going there, so we had received vague directions
from the gal working the counter at the gift shop.
She also advised us that they had just opened the
trails back up, they had been closed due to 'bear
activity'. As we crossed the road to the trail head, a
maintenance worker stopped and asked if we were
heading to the hot springs (good, that means we're
on the right track). When we said that was our plan,
he asked if we had our bear spray. I assured him
that my plan was to just flap my red and white
umbrella open at any bears, and surely that would
scare them off. He told us we better make lots of
noise, and kinda shook his head as he drove off.
Hum... should we be worried?
We were told the hot springs were a mile in. We
had only gone about 1/2 mile before the snow came.
Thick white snow. We trudged on, in snow boots I've owned for the last 6 years, and wore daily to the barn for goat chores. I quickly figured out they
are a bit cracked. They kinda let water in. Dang it. Who needs new snow boots in May? The snow didn't seem to bother Richard though. Is this the
same man who wanted to leave Kansas City because the winters are too bad?? Once we got to the hot springs, it actually started snowing harder.
Even though the snow was coming down like crazy and the "hot
springs" were scary looking little pools, with water so thick with
'minerals' that you couldn't see the bottom, I stripped down to my
swimsuit anyway. Oh, the adventures I have with this man...
Since I was leery of the bottom of the ponds, I was sitting on the edge
with my feet hanging in. Richard checked the depth with his walking
stick, then jumped right in. I tried to take his picture, but my 'good'
camera had started acting up again, and wouldn't focus. (Started right
after Richard took my picture, but surely that was a coincidence,
right?) That water looks murky doesn't it?
Richard offered me the use of our other camera, which fortunately he had
been carrying in his pants pocket. He dug it out of his pants, and handed it
to me. I grabbed it, and as he pulled his hand away, his finger caught the
stupid wrist strap and pulled it out of my hands, and PLOP, right into the
water. Hot mineral water - that's good for cameras right? Richard grabbed
it out quickly, and I toweled it off good, should be fine. Nope. So after
soaking a bit, with a shaky non-focusing big camera, and a dead small
camera, we set off to hike back through bear and moose territory to the
truck. If anything would get us an animal sighting, the lack of functional camera should do it. Nope. Even without cameras, we saw no bears and no
moose. We got back to the truck and took off wet socks and boots and decided since we were so close, we ought to drive on up to Yellowstone and
see if they had the road open yet. As we were driving, Richard was making assumptions that they just didn't have enough employees to open the
south entrance, it wasn't weather at all. Then we drove into the snow. In some areas it was plowed up to four feet high on the sides of the roads,
but it was all plowed and clear so we got into Yellowstone. However, the road up to Old Faithful was still closed. We went towards Yellowstone Lake
instead, and checked out the buffalo. They were right where we left them in 2005. Richard really enjoyed reminiscing about our 2005 trip.
When we got back to the RV, the battery was dead, so we hooked it up to the truck to try to charge it a bit, and Richard built a fire. We had a fire
ring after all, how could he not build a fire? It took a lot of persistence and perseverance, but about an hour later, he finally had a good fire going, in
the rain/sleet/snow. I sat there under my umbrella and humored him. We even cooked dinner on the fire, and roasted marshmallows. Might as well
sit outside in the rain by the fire, it is warmer than inside the RV.
We were up by 6am on Saturday, and on the road by 7. Gotta get out of this cold weather. Richard had picked out a place between the Tetons and
Casper that has the "worlds largest hot springs". Thermopolis, WY. I had been calling the parks there, and since it was a holiday weekend, we had
to squeeze into the RV park on the outskirts of town, but we had finally gotten a reservation. It was only a 4 hour drive, but shortly after we were out
of the Tetons we ran into some slow downs. First there was road construction. They had completely removed the road, and we were driving on
packed dirt. It was frozen, so it was okay, but every now and then it would be thawed and slick, so we had to take it really slow. Then as soon as we
got back onto pavement, we got hit with weather. Now, I'm not exaggerating, it was sleet and snow, and although Richard was acting like it was no
big deal, I was a bit worried. Curvy, hilly roads, pulling the trailer. Ack! We even met a snow plow!
How did this happen? We left KC to get out of the winter, and here we are, at
the end of MAY, and we're in winter weather. Sheesh!
It was beautiful though, once the road was a bit more clear. The scenery was
like a Christmas card. Why am I thinking about Christmas cards in May?
A few hours later than expected, we finally
rolled out of the snow and into Thermopolis,
WY. We crammed ourselves into the RV
park with all the other Memorial Day travelers
and headed directly to the hot springs.
Because of an indian treaty, the State Bath
House has to allow free hot springs soaks.
They limit your soak to 20 minutes, but the
bath house is flanked on either side by
private hot spring parks with slides and
kiddie pools and stuff, so all the kids were at
those parks, and the bath house wasn't
crowded at all. They also didn't time the 20
minutes very well, so I'm pretty sure we were
in there for about 40 warm relaxing minutes.
Sunday we had to get a run in. Richard's
knee hadn't hurt for a while, so off we went.
We planned our run along the Big Horn River.
The scenery was beautiful. The weather was the perfect running weather.
Cool and sunny. Problem was, I don't want the perfect running weather. I
need crappy hot weather so I can get acclimated to it. All my upcoming
marathons are going to seriously kick my ass if all my training runs are done
in perfect conditions. I was bundled up, but it just isn't the same.
Richard's knee was hurting again, dang it! So, after our run, off we went for some miracle
cure in the hot springs.
Monday Richard planned our day. He wanted to go to a ghost town and the Gooseberry
Badlands. This was our road. Is anyone surprised that Richard planned this route? Once
we got to the ghost town, we saw lots of real estate. I think this would be called a
Before heading to
the badlands, I
to stop at
I was afraid it
would be closed
for the holiday, but
waits for no man. They were mashin' and distillin' and showed us around. It was a very interesting process.
They are the only legal distillery in Wyoming, and have only been making whisky since 2009, so none was
ready for sampling. Bummer! On we went to check out the badlands. They were lovely. But Richard was
gimping around on a sore knee, and it was starting to rain, so we didn't stay long.
We had been looking forward to getting to the Tetons so we
could take a similar picture to the one we took in 2005 with our
old rig on our old adventure. Here is the old pic.