S: Our Journey West, June 2012
BC: Until We Meet Again... | Happy Trails to You
FC: Our Journey West Yellowstone, Cody, and The Grand Tetons
1: We watched the landscape change from flat farmland to snow covered mountains. Six hours later, we were driving through small western towns on our way to Yellowstone. | Richmond, VA - Dallas, TX - Jackson Hole, WY
2: Our First Taste of The American West After crossing Teton Pass, we entered Idaho. We stopped in Victor for ice cream and then waited 30 minutes for asphalt to dry. The fame of the Idaho potato was evident in Driggs, where the Spud Drive-In Theater was the main landmark. Only two movies were showing at the Spud and most of the theaters we saw - "Brave" and "The Avengers." Miles of green potato fields and snow covered mountains ushered us into West Yellowstone, MT.
3: Yellowstone Our first view of Yellowstone was the pure, sparkling Madison River and distant mountains.
4: Grand Prismatic Spring A rainbow of color 370 feet across. Heat loving bacteria, called thermophiles, give the spring its vibrant hues.
5: Midway Geyser Basin The basin is home to the Grand Prismatic Spring, the Excelsior Geyser Crater, and the Firehole River. The contrast in the landscapes were very evident in this area, as well as the heat and sulfur odor from the steam.
6: West Thumb | West Thumb combines two beauties - sparkling pools and Yellowstone Lake. The thermal features extend from the land into the lake. Left: The Black Pool at West Thumb. This was the most beautiful and amazing pool that we saw. It was so clear, you could see into the crater. Right: The pools and sulfur covered land at West Thumb. Yellowstone Lake is just on the other side of the boardwalk. Kristy, Robin, and Melanie in front of the Black Pool. Fishing Cone - Fishermen used to catch fish from the lake and cook them in the heated cone. | Mud Volcano | Dragon's Mouth Spring (right) lives up to its name, with roars and smoke billowing from its mouth. Bison love this area too.
9: The Yellowstone Caldera Standing on the rim of an active volcano with geysers, hot springs, mud spots, and fumaroles. Sulfur deposits and bacteria mats create an other-worldly landscape.
10: Yellowstone's Infamous Geyser
11: Old Faithful Inn | Built in 1904, this is Yellowstone's most famous inn. It is a blend of rustic charm and elegance. We enjoyed huckleberry ice cream on the second story porch overlooking Old Faithful. Families gathered around the tables inside and outside to play board games. History is tangible in the inn, with old arts and crafts style writing desks, original logs, and a massive stone fireplace.
12: Yellowstone Vistas Top Row: LeHardy Rapids, where trout swim upstream every July. Sunset over Yellowstone, another beautiful sight. Bottom Row: Biscuit Basin at the Norris Geyser Basin. Robin finally gets some answers from a park ranger. Right: Majestic waterfalls at one of the scenic turn-offs and views from the road, including Hayden Valley.
15: The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone This 24 mile long canyon is a spectacular sight that cannot be captured in photos. The Yellowstone River rushes through the canyon walls far below the overlook. Shades of orange, tan, and brown paint the steep walls. A bank of snow even lingered close to one of the waterfalls. After taking in the scenery of the canyon, we drove to Tower Roosevelt for a trail ride. As our elevation increased, we saw snow close-up for the first time on the trip. It was also our first experience on switchbacks, but Kristy proved to be a competent driver. Meanwhile, Robin accurately guessed our elevation, and Melanie took pictures. We each had our important tasks.
17: Mammoth Hot Springs | Historic Fort Yellowstone | Hot Spring Terraces | Fort Yellowstone is the most developed settlement in Yellowstone. Once home to the U.S. Calvary, it now houses Yellowstone employees. The parade ground is the only lawn in the park, and a herd of resident elk keep it trimmed throughout the summer. Gardiner Montana, 5 miles north, is the nearest town, with 3 gas stations, 1 grocery store, and a drug store. | The limestone terraces of Mammoth Hot Springs rise an impressive 300 feet, with almost one million gallons of 170 degree water flowing down daily. Also called "frozen waterfalls," the range of color is breathtaking - the older terraces are a bright white, while newer terraces are brown, orange, green, or pink. About 8 inches of new travertine are deposited each year. | Liberty Cap: Extinct Hot Spring
18: Yellowstone Natives | "Live Wild & Free" | On our first day in Yellowstone, we saw our first herd of bison, and continued to encounter them along the way. Eventually the sightings became as routine as seeing squirrels at home. Bear and moose sightings were rare, but we did stand 50 feet from a grizzly! We made friends with a photogenic rabbit in Norris Geyser Basin after scaring ourselves into thinking it was a larger animal. And who can forget the fearless whistling pigs?
20: Beartooth Highway | Three travelers with varying degrees of acrophobia driving on the infamous Beartooth Highway to an elevation of almost 11,000 feet and miles of switchbacks...An ill-advised adventure? Not at all. The scenery was breathtaking and inspiring. Kristy drove, Melanie "hung" out of the window for photos, and Robin enjoyed the snow and views (except on the descent). Most importantly, WE CONQUERED THE BEARTOOTH PASS!
22: The Road to Cody , Wyoming Cowboy Capital ...Yee-Haw! | The Steep Descent
23: The Wild West at Last After descending from the Beartooth Pass, we entered the true wild west of rural Montana and Wyoming. The site of the Smith Mine Disaster looked like it was straight from a movie set. Old buildings serve as a reminder of the worst coal mine disaster in Montana. The miles and miles of brown hills and endless fields was unlike any landscape in Virginia. The hot and dry air was a bit unwelcome after standing in snow and 58 degree weather just a few hours earlier.
24: Old Trail Town
26: The Town of Cody | Cody is a true western town, where you can drive from one end to the other in about ten minutes. It was the biggest town we had seen since leaving home, with a Wal-Mart, not to mention a completely upscale Best Western. We spent our two days soaking in the western culture and sun, visiting the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Old Trail Town, the Dan Miller Music Revue, the famous (and filling) Irma Hotel and Restaurant, the Boot Barn for some western wear, Tecumseh's Trading Post, the Buffalo Bill Dam, and The Cody Nite Rodeo!
27: World Famous Cody Nite Rodeo
28: Grand Teton National Park
29: Breathtaking Signal Mountain and Oxbow Bend
30: The Snake River We took a scenic float trip down the river with amazing views of the teenage Teton range and its glaciers. We also spotted a few bald eagles and a well-hidden moose. Our guide made rowing look easy, but we soon discovered steering any type of boat requires skill and practice!
31: "Eat your heart out, Melissa!" Our canoe trip on Jackson Lake at the Signal Mountain Lodge was a true adventure. We spent our hour dodging boats, trying to avoid the shore, and fishing Robin's hat out of the water. Meanwhile, we provided entertainment for the marina staff and other boaters. But, the scenery could not be surpassed!
33: Menor's Ferry & Chapel of the Transfiguration
35: Mormon Row Full of rustic charm, Mormon Row is an abandoned settlement that began in the 1890s. The community was called Grovont and included 27 homesteads. The Moulton barns are among the most photographed structures in Grand Teton National Park. Mormon Row and Antelope Flats are also home to plentiful wildlife, including bison and gophers. The soaring Teton range provides a majestic backdrop to the flat fields of sagebrush and green grass. Antelope Flats
36: Cunningham Cabin Built in 1888 by J. Pierce Cunningham. This is an Appalachian style cabin, called a "dog-trot" or "double pen." It is hard to imagine living in such a crude, small structure. The space between the logs would provide little protection from the elements. After 1895, the cabin became a barn and smithy and the Cunninghams moved into a new residence.
37: Cowgirls! | Horseback riding at the A-Ok Corral was a highlight of our time in Jackson Hole. The Childs were just as they appeared in their video - welcoming and friendly. Ashley, a Jackson Hole native, was a wonderful tour guide and gave us a local perspective. We spotted a few deer, a fox, and a wild hen. The view of the Jackson Hole valley was stunning!
38: Jenny Lake, Hidden Falls, & Inspiration Point We ventured across Jenny Lake, with chilly water spraying on our faces. When we disembarked, we were standing on the Grand Tetons! The hike was tiring and steep, but well worth the view!
39: Inspiration Point - 7,000 feet
41: Jackson Hole | WYOMING
42: Lasting Impressions