Friday, October 30, 2009

Three Weeks

It's been almost three weeks since we got back from the Tetons.  A lot has been going on and the time has been flying.  Shortly after returning from the trip, we booked a place for next year.  We'll be going with friends and we reserved a nice house in West Yellowstone.  Well, at least it looks nice in the photos.  The owner was a pleasure to talk to so we're expecting a good experience.  Since we'll be in West Yellowstone, the focus of the trip will be Yellowstone NP instead of the Grand Tetons.  I only hope that we enjoy the trip as much.

A week after returning, Norine had her first knee replacement surgery.  She's doing great and I'm actually enjoying doing things around the house.  I'm getting a lot of little projects done, some of which have been haunting me for years.  I've even made some progress on the basement.  Not a lot, but some.  I really want to get the basement in order since basically half our house is down there.

What I'm enjoying most is cooking.  I'm trying to get more adventurous and have actually produced a few decent meals.  I am not letting Norine's incapacity lead to more carry out.  In fact, we've had very little (maybe none) from carryout since she got out of the hospital.  I'm progressing from the easy dishes to the more complex.  Today I started pork posole.  It's two day recipe, but it was smelling so good today, that it was very difficult to resist.  Stage one is refrigerating overnight and I will finish it tomorrow.  While at the grocery store getting the ingredients, I had to fight two women over the remaining pork roasts.  They were on sale for $.99 a pound and going fast.  Fortunately I was able to wrestle away the required 6 lbs of roast.

I look forward to the day when Norine is back on her feet.  This is a very difficult time for her, but I know she will be glad she did it.  I expect 2010 to be a lot more active for both of us.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Home Again

The 1 - 2 inches of snow that was predicted for North Platte turned into about 13 inches by the time we got up.  After clearing off the car, we got out on the snow covered interstate.  The first two hours were quite treacherous.  There were a number of cars off the road and one 18 wheeler overturned in a ditch.  The only problem we had was a windshield wiper that broke from the ice.  Fortunately it was on the passenger side and not the drivers.  After a couple hours, the roads improved and the rest of the drive was trouble free.  We even had a brief period of sunshine.

We're home, had dinner, and we're unpacked.  Now it's time for a drink and some rest!  Oh, and tomorrow I need to look into reservations for next year!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Snowy Drive

We dropped off our condo keys at 8 am this morning.  We were planning on taking the route through Dubois since our Nuvi told us it was faster.  We headed north toward Moran Junction and the snow started falling heavier and heavier.  The roads were covered long before we got to the junction and visibility was very low.  I knew it would be really bad going over the pass to Dubois, so we turned around and took the southern route.  An hour and half later we were back where we started.

It was a good choice since the roads were clear all the way to I-80 at Rock Springs.  Things were going well until about 12 miles west of Cheyenne.  Then the snow started.  The roads were a bit treacherous in stretches and our windshield and wipers were freezing.  We had to stop at a rest area to clean them off, but it was a short term fix.

We monitored the storm and decided we had to try to get to North Platte, Nebraska so we would get past the worst of the storm that was coming during the night.  We made it here, but it is snowing hard.  Hopefully it will be better in the morning and we can continue home.

Such a stressful day compared to the great times of the past week!!!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Goodbye to the Tetons

Tomorrow morning we must leave this beautiful place.  We are already talking about making reservations for next year.  This morning we set out down our favorite road and stopped to see our moose and her baby.

We then took a walk on the Taggart Lake trail and through the yellow wood we took the road less traveled.

And we saw the reflection of the mountain we have grown to love.

We will pass through the beautiful place called Jackson Hole one more time in the morning.  We will be sad, but we will leave knowing we will be back.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Grand Tetons - Day Seven, Wildlife

This morning we headed off to the Oxbow Bend, Willow Flats, and Two Ocean Lake areas of Grand Teton National Park. Just a few miles into our journey, we came across the sure sign that wildlife are in the area - a lot of cars along the road and people all looking off in one direction. This time it was one of the mother bears and her two cubs. They were very close to the road and put on quite a show going after berries. We watched the show for about 45 minutes. I put a condensed 5 minute video on YouTube.

We headed on and tried to eat some packaged chicken breast we brought along for lunch. It was not very good so we decided to try the lodge at Signal Mountain. Like the lodge in Yellowstone, great atmosphere but mediocre food (you were right Kevin).

We spent the rest of the day driving around the areas mentioned above. Supposedly the areas we visited were prime habitat for moose and grizzlies. All we saw were two mule deer.

We headed home as the sun was going down. Back on the road between Moose and Teton Village, we once again came across the parked cars. This time it was for the moose pictured above. All this time we spent in the Grand Tetons, most of our wildlife sightings were on that 9 mile stretch of road between our condo and Moose Junction.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Grand Tetons - Day Six, Yellowstone

Today we took the road to Yellowstone. Yellowstone is so big that we are going to plan a separate trip there. We were only able to see such a small portion of it today, yet it seemed like we saw so much. We started at Old Faithful and had lunch at the lodge. From there we went towards Madison and visited the lower, midway, and upper geyser basins.

The only wildlife we saw in Yellowstone was buffalo, and there were plenty of them. One walked right down the main road and right past our car.

We'll spend our last two days in the Grand Teton area. There is still a lot we want to see here.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Grand Tetons - Day Five, Part II

We went out this evening during prime wildlife sighting hours. The road between our condo and Moose Junction is a great area for seeing wildlife. On the way into the park, we came across the sure sign of a wildlife sighting - cars stopped along the road. This time it was a black bear and at least one cub. Although the view of the momma bear was obstructed by trees, you could definitely see her size when she stood up.

We continued our wildlife search when we were greeted by a masterpiece. The fog starting to lift from the mountain with some sunshine down low. It let us know that we are in for a great day tomorrow!

Heading back down the road towards our room, once again we saw the cars parked along side the road. This time was a little different. No one was outside their car. The reason was one very large bear and one big bear just off the road. There were also three bear cubs. When they moved a little further in the woods, people got brave and started getting out of their cars. We all stood there for a long time watching the cubs climb a tree. I'm sure momma bear was keeping a watchful eye on us!

Grand Tetons - Day Five

As expected, we woke up to a blanket of snow. There was about 6 inches of snow on our car when we were ready to go. It continued to snow the entire time we were out and it looked like a good 8 - 10 inches by the time we got back to our room.

We stopped in Jackson and walked around the town square. It was pretty with all the snow. Then we headed out to Gros Ventre Slide area. The road to the slide was covered in snow and beautiful beyond words. The Grand Tetons were no where to be seen today, but the views were still breathtaking. We stopped for coffee at Dornan's and enjoyed the mountain-less view of the snow covered landscape. From there we drove into the Lupine Meadows area.

Coming back on the road between Moose Junction and Teton Village, we took note of the tracks in the snow. We will go out soon and do an evening animal watch.

Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny. If the snow is still on the ground and the mountains visible, we should have some awesome sights. We are getting up early and heading to Yellowstone in the morning.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Grand Tetons - Day Four

Hmmm, that looks like Jenny Lake again. Well it is. This time from the south shore. I love that lake! The weather forecast was right. We woke up to cold temperatures and snowy weather. Actually, the snow didn't start until a little later, but it was quite cold.

We left a little later this morning because of the weather, but we weren't going to let it keep us inside. We thought about looking for indoor attractions, but neither of us are museum type people. We'd rather be in the outdoors. We bundled up and off we went. Not long after we started, the snow began to fall. Our first stop was an old church and settlement near a ferry that used to cross the Snake River. It was fun walking around and looking at the old ferry and buildings.

From there we headed north and went up to the summit of Signal Mountain. Fantastic views of Jackson Hole as well as some obstructed views of Jackson Lake and the Tetons. It was definitely chilly at the top!

We continued north to Colter Bay. On our way back, we stopped at the south shore of Jenny Lake. We intended to hike to hidden falls. About a third of the way, the snow started falling hard so we turned around and headed back.

When we returned, our condo smelled wonderful from the roast we had in the crock pot. Dinner was great and we're settled in for the night. Although we had quite a bit of snow, it wasn't enough to cover the ground. We may get that tonight.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Grand Tetons - Day Three

The south entrance to Grand Teton National Park is about a mile from our condo. Shortly after entering the park this morning, we approached a lot of cars pulled off to the side of the road. We knew that meant one thing - wildlife. Sure enough, there was a bull moose grazing on the side of the road. After taking some photos of the moose, we headed further into the park. We made a stop to get photos of these horses.

We came across a dirt road that looked interesting. There was a sign that said "Four Wheel Drive Recommended" so we couldn't resist. The road wasn't that bad, but it definitely required some vehicle clearance. The views were fantastic.

After 4 bumpy miles, we came to a pathway that lead to the Snake River. It was the end of the road. I was walking along the river and looked down and saw some bear tracks. We decided it was time to move on!

We left the park, had some lunch, and stopped at the grocery store. We rested for awhile at the condo and then headed back into the park and ended up at Jenny Lake. The eyes of Jenny Lake were staring at us. It was a great day and we look forward to tomorrow, even though we may be in for a couple of bad weather days.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Grand Tetons - Day Two

Today we drove from Rawlins to Jackson and Grand Teton National Park. The drive up here was beautiful! We took our time and made a lot of stops. We had lunch in Jackson and then headed up to the visitor center at the entrance to Grand Teton National Park (after Kevin let us know we were at the wrong visitor center initially). The views were gorgeous! There were a lot of photographers setting up their spots where they wait for the sweet light. One even had a view camera. We needed to get to our condo and check in so we couldn't set up tonight. We have plenty of time to do that this coming week.

Our condo is really nice. Actually, it's much nicer than I was expecting. Very cozy and well equipped. We're in Teton Village which is a ski resort area. We're at the base of the ski slopes. There was a very narrow and windy road from the visitors center down to here. Several miles of the road were dirt. It was a much more pleasant drive than going back through the crowds of Jackson.

The weather today was gorgeous. We're in for two or three days of questionable weather and then it should be nice again. This is a great time of year to be here! I am surprised at how many people are here though.

We found out at the visitor center that there are a lot of closed roads in Yellowstone. That could change if we get some rain/snow that puts out the fire. We may just go up there one day and use this time to fully explore Grand Teton Ntl Park and the area around here. There is so much to see! We can always come back and spend more time in Yellowstone.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Day One - Part III

We made it to our hotel in Rawlins around 9:30 pm, almost exactly 13 hours after we left home. We stopped in Cheyenne for dinner. We ate at Casa De Trujillo. It was in a Hispanic part of town and appeared to be owned and run by Hispanics. There was a decent crowd. Should be good, right? The chips tasted like the frito looking things that you get with soup at a Chinese restaurant. The salsa wasn't bad.

The food arrived and I could see one enchilada on the plate swimming in red sauce. The other two were laying on the bottom of the plate totally covered with sauce. The beans and rice were on dry land. I tried the beans first. No flavor. Then I tried the rice. No flavor. Certainly the ocean of sauce would have flavor. Nope. Neither did the enchiladas. I had to drown them in salsa to get any flavor at all. Do NOT go to Casa De Trujillo if you are ever in Cheyenne!

Heading on to Rawlins we passed through some snow covered hills. It was 32 degrees when we checked in and windy, although not as windy as earlier in the day. We drove into a gorgeous sunset with some fantastic cloud formations. Time for bed. I'm anxious for tomorrow's beautiful drive!

Day One - continued

We've been on the road since 9:30 this morning. It's now 6:45 (5:45 local) and we're nearing the Wyoming border. I just used Priceline to get a room for tonight in Rawlins which is about 3 hours away, driving time. The day started out drizzly and turned into a torrential downpour when we got to Iowa. It's been a variety of weather today. The sun is bright right now. The only constant is the wind. It's been extremely windy ever since we got on I-80. Every time I have been on I-80 through Nebraska/Wyoming it's been very windy. It's costing us 5 - 7 mpg in our gas mileage.

It will be a relatively short drive tomorrow to the Grand Tetons. Looking forward to getting off this interstate!

Right now the sun is getting low in the sky. The light on the golden plains is beautiful. The sun is producing a lot of sunbeams through the clouds. Signing off now so I can enjoy the scenery. More tomorrow.

Grand Tetons - Day One

It's 12:05 am so it is officially the first day of our trip. I do need to go to bed soon since we wanted to get an early start. I just can't seem to get to bed before midnight anymore. Do I care? No! My internal clock almost always wakes me up 8 hours after falling asleep.

As I sit here, I'm listening to a downpour outside. How fitting that we will probably be leaving in the rain. If you've followed this blog, then you know that just about every trip we've made has started in the rain.

Anyway, since this is now day one, I wanted to get this trip blog officially started. Now I really need to go to bed! More later.