Saturday, September 8, 2018

Part Deux, and a schedule change

I'll start with the schedule change.  It was actually caused by several things, a deep desire to go back to Moose Creek where we camped right on the Gallatin River, and a reason to not go to Denver as we had planned.  There were several issues that came up to cause us to bypass Denver, and not to sound secretive, but I'm not going to get into it right now, suffice it to say our frustration and attitude of the campground there made us decide to forgo our deposit.

Let me pick up where we left off at Moose Creek where we are happy to report we will be going back to for 2 nights starting tomorrow.  After we left Moose Creek, Jan and I separated again, she went into Bozeman to grocery shop and run a couple errands and I went to get some diesel fuel and we met up at a rest area along the interstate, decided it wasn't worth hooking up again for 20 miles and drove separately to a nice campground, Yellowstone Edge in Emigrant where we had stayed last year.  It's about 38 miles to the north entrance of YNP, and I should mention 65 miles to Slough Creek in Lamar Valley where we wanted to fish.  Out here you have to get used to the distances.  

So off we went to fish and sightsee in an area of the park that was too far away from West Yellowstone.
This is a section of Slough Creek

It's a place like this where you look around and say
catching fish would be nice, but oh so unnecessary

Jan giving it a whirl
Lamar Valley is one of our favorite areas of the park.  It is a wide, wide open valley across amber meadows with the Lamar River running through it, usually with hundreds of bison grazing.  It is where we have seen antelope, coyotes, grizzlies, and even wolves.  It is best early in the morning.  Now just so you don't think it's not pretty where we are camping, it is, right on the Yellowstone River in Paradise Valley.
View at our campground

Hard to take, right?
There are an abundance of fly shops in the area, so we went and visited several looking out for more fly tying materials, and to get some local info.  But the park keeps calling, so up early, real early and stop to have our breakfast just after sunrise just west of Lamar Valley.
Breakfast with a view!
Yeah, we ate inside the truck, 39 degrees outside

Just a quick photo as we drove through the park
Some more fishing, and sightseeing, and we were joined by some ducks that performed in formation for us:)
Line up close

Spread out

We had wanted to go into the park itself to camp if possible, and there is only one campground that has sites big enough to fit us, and that's Mammoth Campground just inside the north entrance of the park.  On one of our trips in, we stopped by to find out the latest info on how to get a spot.  It is a first come, first serve campground, and when they are full, it's all done until the next day.  You have until 11am to either leave or renew if you already have a site, in season you can only stay 14 days, but right now, you can opt to stay 30, and yes, it is open year round!  We were told the office opens at 8am, and we should be there shortly after and be prepared to wait until 11am when the occupied sites get to renew or leave.  We crossed our fingers and drove the 40 miles to the campground and arrived at 830am, we were 5 in line at that moment.  We are further restricted as there are only a handful of sites that can accommodate us.  They also have strict rules to stay in your vehicle until you get to the front of the line, and do not approach the window unless you are first in line, they are actually quite snotty about it:-)  The volunteer came out to talk to us when we pulled in and said he thought they might have 1, maybe 2 sites to fit us, but we had to wait and see.  We sat there creeping up closer and closer keeping our fingers crossed as we had nowhere else to go at that point.  

As we became number 1 in the queue, the volunteer asked me to ride with him on his golf cart to see if this particular site I felt was big enough for us.  Well when I got there, I almost jumped for joy!  It was plenty big, up on a hill, awesome view, open enough for the satellite, and well, just perfect.  So Jan and I shoehorned our way in after paying a very reasonable $10/night.  Now this is boon docking, no hook ups at all, but we were ready.  Let me tell you we had an awesome 3 nights.  This would put our fishing and sightseeing in the north end of the park 40 miles shorter, fantastic!
Our site!
After settling in we took a ride, saw mountain goats.  

Then we came back, got the generator started and met our delightful neighbors, Greg and Jean who live just south of Missoula.  He is an avid fisherman and both were so friendly and interesting, we spent a very enjoyable happy hour with them.

The next day we took off again to sightsee and went for a change all the way out to the northeast entrance, and found a quiet pretty place to have coffee.
Coffee time
Then around and through Lamar Valley and had a picnic lunch and decided to hike to Wraith Falls, a nice little mile in and out trail on a gorgeous day.
Man, we love Yellowstone!!

Wraith Falls
So with only one more morning available we knew we had to do one more thing.  We had to go to our "spot" with coffee and breakfast to see the sunrise, and hopefully hear the elk bugle.  This meant 5am up and at it, in the truck by 550am, to drive to our overlook.  We have been doing this for many years, it is very special to us.  And we even got to hear the elk!  If you have never heard an elk bugle it is an eerie, warbling wail, amazing.
It's hard to get a good picture as you are looking right at the rising sun

Good Morning
After we decided to take the whole big loop around the park to get back, 150 miles.  Yellowstone is kind of a figure 8, each circle about 100 miles, or 150 around the outside.  It would take us down by Yellowstone Lake, by Old Faithful, Norris, and back to Mammoth.  It was wonderful, and a fantastic last day in the park.
The fog just burning off in Hayden Valley

Beautiful Yellowstone Lake

Look at that reflection
Then for a coupe de grace, we encountered a magnificent Bull Elk standing on a spit in the lake.

Now as we continue around our loop, we come upon a very common occurrence in the park.  A bison road block.  There are thousands of these animals in the park and sometimes they decide to just wander, or just stand, or step on and off the road right in front of the cars.  Now, we thought everyone knew how to deal with them, you have to push ever so gently towards them and most of the time they will ease out of your way.  We had noticed this year, there was a lot more people stopping completely on the road, holding up tons of cars behind to take pictures upon pictures of every living thing.  Human nature I guess, but there are signs all over the place to please not stop, park, or even walk on the road, use the pullouts provided, and there are many of them.  This, at least to us, common sense courtesy does not seem to be followed very often, at least this year. You can see the locals, just pull out and pass the offending vehicles, and "push" the bison out of the way.  Well, we thought we had seen everything, people are astonishing.  Posing your little kids only feet from an elk or a bison, walking closer to a bear to get the photo, etc, you get the idea.  It is no wonder people are hurt here every year by the animals, go animals, oops, did I just say that? :-)  I'm almost off my soap box.  So we come across a road block and we are about 5 back from the bison, we inch up a little, then no one wants to move so they just sit there.  I can see the traffic coming towards us is backed up as far as we can see, maybe 1/4 mile.  The cars in front of us move, but not the 2 immediately in front.  We sit there politely for a bit figuring they are just taking their 6,000th picture of a bison, and we look over and see a bison is just as bored with this as we are:)
I think I'll just rest my head on this rock while you people decide what to do
Well, patient I'm not, really it's true.  So I pull out around the 2 cars, push the bison a little, no problem and we continue.  I look in the rear view mirror and no-one else is coming.  Oh well.  It gets interesting, amazing, then unbelievable, then funny, then pathetic, then...........  But the traffic is backed up over 5 miles!!!!!  And no-one in the line has any idea what is happening, and not a ranger in sight.  For a line like this the folks in the front, near the bison have had to be sitting there motionless for an hour!  Unreal.  Okay, now I'm done.

So we woke up this morning to get ready to leave Yellowstone and we are welcomed with a little rain and a visitor.

Mmmmm, yummy
I'll leave you with one last view at our campground at Mammoth.

Now on towards Colorado, good bye Montana, and good bye Yellowstone! :-(

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