Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Yellowstone Lake, Yellowstone National Park

(We have posted another post just prior to this at the same time; just scroll down and you can catch it.)

Well!!  We finally got some cell phone/wifi coverage!!

We left Cody at about 2:00 pm, after returning to the Buffalo Bill Museum (Jeff did, I went on an hour-long walk with Casey Noodle--we accuse Jeff of going through a museum reading every single sign, including the exit signs!).  We thought we had plenty of time, since we would enter the east entrance for Yellowstone (20 miles) and then head into our RV Park at Yellowstone Lake, which would be another hour at most. I was on my walk, I passed a newspaper stand that had a paper still in it with the main headline "East Entrance Open Now on Limited Basis"......that's not what you want to see as you are headed in that direction!   When I got back from my walk, I went online and checked the status...because of rock slides and avalanches, they road is closed during the warmer hours of the day.  They only open from 8 pm to 10 am...and that's just as of today!  We did not want to wait around until 8 pm, so we decided to go to the NE entrance, which is open year-round. 

We drove 54 miles to the NE entrance, with beautiful scenery along the way.  We felt ok about the time since we had about 30ish miles to go to our RV Park at the Lake.  We get to the park entrance and we had to stop at the gate to show our pass, and the ranger told us that the  main road was closed and we had to go the "longer way" around to the campsite...a mere 3 extra hours!!! It was now 5:00 pm...and about 37 degrees.

We thought...really?  How could it take that long when it was only 90 miles the long way?!    We soon found out why.  The road immediately narrowed to two very narrow lanes with NO shoulder and the white line missing on most of the right side due to failing roads.  There had obviously been lots of weather issues for this road over the winter, and we were well aware!  To add to the mix, this was the major animal-viewing area in the park.  Every car in the park must have been stopped along the side, in the middle, and broadside on the road.  You have to understand that  they probably thought about getting off the road, but with all the rain/snow the park has had, the pull-offs (okay, there were maybe two!) were super soft.  So we are pushed over in our lane by cars gawking at the animals, shuttle buses rushing to their next stop, etc.  It was a harrowing, winding, NARROW, scary trip.  I tried to help Jeff as much as possible with turn warnings, car stopping warnings, etc.  and he appreciated it!!!

We got to the Norris intersection and found the roads much better.  We couldn't believe the difference!  By now we had already spent 2 hours on the narrow, crumbling road and were SO glad to continue on in a normal fashion, particularly with nightfall coming. 

Arriving at the RV Park just before they closed at 9:00 pm, (a mere 7 hours after we started!), they directed us to our site and said   "don't connect your water hose,  it will freeze."  We set up camp and pretty much went to bed shortly thereafter.

Next morning, we drove out south to Old Faithful, of course seeing much wildlife along way, including bison (buffalo),  antelope, more bison, elk, deer, more bison....we got to Old Faithful and since we had been there before (several years ago) we decided to sit on the upper deck of the old, beautiful lodge decking and have a glass of wine as we watched Old Faithful erupt!!  It was a fun relaxing time, and the lodge is so funky and great.  We got the 2:33 pm eruption and headed out again.  We had already logged our 10,000 steps earlier, so we increased our mileage and had some beautiful scenery. 

The next morning found us enveloped in snow and cold, and we discovered after picking up a USA Today that Yellowstone Lake, Yellowstone NP was the lowest temperature in the US:  26 seems cold weather/rain/snow follows us, but we are so thankful not to have gone on our planned route that followed much worse weather through the flooding, tornadoes and snow that enveloped the midwest, north and south.  It seems we are doomed to cold/snow/wind until we get home!  Our hearts go out to the people of the plains states that have experienced so much loss and destruction as the tornadoes and floods ravage their homelands. 

We feel lucky, even though we have had many a harrowing experience along our way.  We haven't had wifi, cable or cell phone coverage for 3 days (you would think it was boring, but we really filled the days!).  We have been humbled by roads and snow and temperatures below freezing for days on end; fabulously beautiful scenery, so many animals that we don't see except in our national parks, and how vulnerable we are to weather.   Especially in a moho where the travel, sleep, and really, every waking hour is about the weather--today, tonight (do we pull the water hose or not?) and tomorrow (do we leave tomorrow morning early, late, how far do we go, is it below freezing where we're going, are there strong winds?   where do we stay?).  

Our last night in Yellowstone included an evening at the Yellowstone Lake Hotel Dining Room.  What a lovely time!  My sweet husband requested my favorite song from the pianist and we heard it just before we entered the dining room.  We were seated at a window table and had a waiter from West Virginia...there are about 1300 college kids that work here at the park, and what a great opportunity for them!  We got such a kick out of  "JR"  our waiter from West Virginia and had I had lake trout and Jeff had bison tenderloin...we both enjoyed our meal, heading back to a snowy, cold moho.

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