Yellowstone Live to Ride-Ride to Live
Thursday June 17th, 2010
Tony and I arose early for a 6:00am flight to Montana via Denver. We arrived in Denver then boarded a prop plane for Montana. Unfortunately about 15 minutes into our flight we encountered a problem with the plane. The pilot apologized and said we were turning around because there would be no maintenance person available at the Bozeman, Montana airport! We de-boarded the plane (actually we boarded and de-boarded the planes on the tarmacs and up a ramp to the door; I haven’t done this in a long time.) Once we got started again it was about an hour and a half to Bozeman airport. We picked up our rental car, a sporty little white Toyota Corolla 2010 model, nice and comfy too. The mountains were a backdrop to our quick ride west to our motel Super 8 in Belgrade, Montana. After check-in we traveled back to Bozeman and enjoyed a beautiful drive up into the Bridger Mountains what a lovely introduction to the mountain views yet to come on our adventure.
Friday June 18th, 2010
Up early and ready to pick-up the Harley Davidson Ultra Classic/Ultra Glide 2010 bike…Tony and I jumped on the beautiful new red bike with all the comforts for our ride into the first national park in America…Yellowstone…waiting 87 miles away.
A short drive and we were in the Big Sky Ski Resort area. Beautiful vistas and it looked like a fun place to stay and enjoy the recreational fun, especially during the ski season.
We drove through the town of West Yellowstone and found our Comfort Inn waiting for us and we were ready to get rollin’ on the bike into the park. We “geared up” with our helmets, jackets, gloves, sunglasses, rain clothes and sheer anticipation to discover the sights and sounds of Yellowstone Park.
Our first view was delightful, no lines entering the park! Woohoo we could just cruise on in after we shelled out our 25 bucks for a cover charge of 7 days in the park. The Harley was humming, the birds were chirping and the wind was nippy. The crisp morning air and clean roads and pristine waters begin to welcome us as we cruised along at 35mph. Then suddenly, up ahead cars were stopping and the doors were flying open and people emerged onto the road to gawk at the eagles nest perched on top of a branchless tree. Gasp was what I did as I saw the bald headed eagle majestically poised in the enormous nest, our first wildlife experience in the park, to see that brilliant white head gleaming in the early morning sunrise, we felt honored.
We were planning on visiting Old Faithful Geyser as our first highlight of the park. The feeling of primitive time overwhelmed me as I sat perched on the back of that Harley. Untouched, virgin wilderness appeared on each side of the road, soaring mountains and lush green grasses filled expanses cut by gentle streams and then gushing waters! Then my spot appeared before my eyes, it became my spot in Yellowstone…the river flowed along with enormous black and grey rocks arranged as if God was landscaping that day thousands of years ago, carefully placing the rocks midstream and at the edges, with a touch of Asian gardening techniques all along the rolling, glistening river stream. I felt an immediate connection to that spot. It will be with me from now on…
Twisting and turning through the drive to Old Faithful we soaked up the emerging sunshine and entered the geyser area where time really did seem to rivet back to ancient formations of our earth. The Old Faithful Lodge struck a pose as if to say this is my domain but please enter and seek the experience of thermal waters and exploding steam. To our delight the bee hive geyser was jetting water into the brilliant blue June sky! Wow nature can really show off and how! We parked the bike at the Lodge and walked up a stairway to the double red doors open wide to the crowd of people wanting to enter and gaze…unbeliveable is how to describe what Tony and I saw…a mammoth rise of architectural timber constructed to a 7 story peak. The fireplace of natural stone soared with the timbers. Snap, flash, snap was all I wanted to do with my camera as I revolved around a 360 degree view of peaceful, solid charm in a park lodge. ???? crafted furniture welcomed a rest and repose. Even writing desks were scattered on each level for the visitors and guests to write about nature and man’s design harmony.
The small clock on the wall said Old Faithful would erupt within a minus or plus 10 minute time frame about 1 and one half hour. We were in the window of time so we proceeded to the walkway and seated ourselves ready for the experience…it came and we were not disappointed. After teasing us for a few moments Old Faithful faithfully delivered a hissy spew of water and steam sky high. Snap, snap snap…
The walkways continued all around the area, it was like an amusement ride for the senses and eyes. On one side you could watch the deep pools of springs of hot, bubbly waters flow into crystal clear river streams and then tall, tall pines would loom next to you as you walked. The area is left to nature mostly, downed trees are bleached white by sun and hot steamy waters. Rust and oxides stain the earth and dribble down the sides of hills. The bacteria and cellular life inside the pools colorize the waters to brilliant turquoise and golden browns and greens. The earth looks parched and crusty, some looks like marshmallows melted on the bumps of crust. If trees are close to a geyser that will be bleached white from the blast of steam. Tony and I walked most of the pathway around the incredible site and then rested our “dogs” on the expansive porch deck of the lodge and slurped down some delicious ice cream. Life was good for a vacation couple and our senses were just enamored by the nature shows.
Saturday June 19th, 2010
Out and riding early we took the Harley to Canyon Valley and up to Artist’s Point to the overlook of the magnificent lower falls.
Ok…this is heaven, really...as you walk a pathway to Artist’s Point you hear the falling water and see it peak from around the deep cliff’s that surround the ancient canyon. Then you step up and turn left to the sight of heaven, really, falling water and beauty all around. Tony invites me to pull out my paints, brushes and paper and then I know I am in heaven. I lost all sense of time as I sketched the serenity of the canyon interrupted by the volume of water gushing down, down, down into the river below as I sat on a naturally carved bench of wood and rock. It was glorious day for me as an artist to paint at the place of the brush strokes of the famous wilderness painter, Thomas Moran.
I stopped to have lunch with Tony at the point and rain sprinkled upon us as we sat under a giant pine tree and refreshed ourselves with food and drink and peaceful views of the canyon.
Back on the Harley all decked out in rain gear we traveled through the light rain to the view of the falls from another vantage point and overlooks. Tony the adventurer decided to trek down the 600 steps to view the falls close up…really close up! I stayed on the trails above to catch different glimpses of the falls and canyon. As I viewed the overlook below I saw Tony! I zoomed in full force and caught a couple of shots of him looking at the falls. So cool. It took him awhile to return to top all sweaty and puffing barely…such a jock…what a man!
Off to Mammoth Springs for lunch amid the view of the mountains, crusty springs and brilliant blue summer skies. The temps never got into the 70s!
Sunday June 20th, 2010
We ditched the bike and opted for the car on our longer journey to The Grand Tetons and Jackson Hole. As we entered Yellowstone on our familiar pathway into the morning sunshine, the eagle was soaring over the river bend directly up to my left peripheral view and began to turn toward the nest! What a thrilling moment for Tony and me to see the bird land in the nest as we passed by the scenic view!
Again we were enthralled by the wonder of the mountains, clear streams and towering evergreens as we traveled onward to The Grand Teton National Park. We saw elk by the road, deer in the pasture land and bison trying to forge up a steep mountain road toward us on our way down. The snow was still nesting by the roadside in several places as we climbed higher and then swooped down. The bison was encouraged upward by a park ranger in his truck with flashing lights and a horn. Poor animal was exhausted but tirelessly trudged on.
The grandeur of the Tetons is imposing to one as you approach them. Strong silent and snowcapped they line up in pointed spikes left by the upheaval of glacial times. The French explorers had it right…Le Grand Breasts…is what the mountains seemed to look like to those frenchies! We stopped to peer at the majesty of them and then it was just staring at them that took over. Grand and imperial.
We drove on to Jackson Hole also referred to as Jackson. The town is nestled around the bend of the Tetons, I was so surprised that you could not see the Tetons because of some other mountains looming in the way!!! But, of course many houses were perched upon the top to see the view of the Tetons. The town of Jackson greets you with a charming town square anchored on each corner by arches of antlers sculpted together. The center of the square is a lovely quiet lush green park. An artist was painting as we strolled by. We stopped for lunch at a restaurant bar across from the square and the stagecoach ride stop. It is a charming town and filled with art galleries, gift shops and the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. We moseyed on up to the bar and straddled the saddle seats for a drink. The bar is large and filled with murals of western life and lore. Cases are filled with western items like spurs and even stuffed cougars. It is a very colorful bar with everything you need…pool tables, buffalo burgers, booze, live music and even two shoe shine chairs. After the fun in Jackson sightseeing by foot and then by car we arrived back to our motel ready for the night.
Monday June 21st, 2010
The Upper Loop was on our agenda for our last day in Yellowstone. It was a long and exceedingly beautiful trip. We saw a hold herd of bison on the road venturing across the road for the greener grass. Baby bison were getting breakfast from their moms and dads were grazing nearby. We saw hot springs misting air all through the park as we saw the wonder of tall trees and the tragedy of the remains of the forest fire in the 80s. New growth was plentiful among the those remains of charred trunks that spiked up vertical from the bright green growth. Many of the mountains had felled trunks that looked like “pick-up-sticks”. Again we approached Mammoth Hot Springs. We stopped at the top of the springs this time and enjoyed the incredible vista from a living hot geyser. We could then drive our car all around the top area of the springs and see the work of nature as it bubbled and flowed it marshmallow goo. We lunched here again and enjoyed the lovely mountain and spring view.
We left Yellowstone by way of the North Gate Entrance and will be forever changed by the awe and wonder of the park.
Tuesday June 22nd, 2010
We visited The Museum of the Rockies
this morning and saw the largest T-REX dinosaur head in the world! I
loved the dinosaur bones display and the museum was lovely. The museum
had a planetarium show on the Lewis and Clarke Expedition. Also an
incredible interactive exhibit on Leonardo
We arrived in OKC by way of Denver at 10:00pm. Ready for slumber and to dream of blue skies, tall trees, wildlife grazing and flying, magnificent mountains and the wind in our faces as we lived to ride in Yellowstone!