My birthday-June 3- dawned incredibly beautiful and cold on Loop "O" in Colter Bay Campground in Grand Teton NP! Buried under my down comforter, I was immediately shocked awake by the blast of subfreezing air on my face. I chattered "Sssself--TTttoday is your bbbbirthday and you are not waiting until 8am to sssstart the generator for heat and coffee!" So, off I drove in my deep pile robe and, yesterday's socks and fuzzy slippers to search for an appropriate place to run the genny and fire up the furnace.
I found it nearby--a deserted boat marina that would not open until 8am. Perfect! Here is morning scene out my door.
After heating up the RV to take a shower/shampoo, I set the camera's self-timer for this photo. I wanted to remember the feeling of "clean and serene". By this time, it had warmed up to ...maybe 40 degrees.
After B & B (breakfast and blow-dry) and 15 more degrees, I emerged to fully appreciate the view. I ran into a family who was out doing some early morning sightseeing. I offered to take some "family portraits" and they took some photos of me in return.
The ride out of Grand Teton was awesome, of course. Nature doesn't do eye candy much better than the Tetons. The valley had not yet "greened up".
I planned to mark my birthday by getting my own America the Beautiful Parks Pass. (Now you know how old I am... haha.) I had been using Frank's Access pass and was challenged (and not very nicely) at Bryce. The rule is the Passholder must be in the vehicle. I tried to make the Wicked Witch Ranger feel guilty-and succeeded-but did not really want to have repeated challenges/lies just to save $25 bucks everytime I entered a park. Bad JooJoo.
Well, here it is; I asked thePark Ranger to take my official pic and he seemed genuinely pleased at my enthusiasm at having my very own pass.
Next, I decided to buy myself a birthday treat--a special Yellowstone coffee mug--not a plain $9 tourista piece 'o junque--we're talking an Object d'Art here! As I stopped in the Visitor Centers and looked, I became discouraged. My vision far exceeded the quality of the China imports on display...
And then I saw it! Way up high on a shelf where I couldn't reach! A beautifully-simple mug with the main wildlife of Yellowstone carved in raised relief! It was created by a local artist and I was informed that this was the only Gift Shop that carried it. I loved it immediately and spent a ridiculous amount of money, but it was a gift from Me to...Me!
At each Visitor Center, Cassie lobbied to get out of the RV even though her plumbing parts were bone dry. On one stop, I got fed up with walking her around while she sniffed God Knows What on every blade of emerging grass, so I picked her up and placed her on top of a high snow drift created when the plows cleared the parking lot. (No grass up there!)
She then proceeded to run back and forth across the length of the 8' high drift with me below on the leash, much to the amusement of folks gathering to watch.
Cassie has also discovered that snow feels great to squiggle in--and she did plenty of squiggling whenever she got the chance (which was often).
The drive into Yellowstone was partly cloudy and there was a LOT of snow on the ground. So, I was not surprised to see almost no wildlife around, because there was nothing for them to eat! But, the landscape was beautiful and I had never seen "winter" in Yellowstone.
I stopped to look for some folks who live nearby me in Saddlebag and who were reportedly "camp hosting"; however, a search of their park was fruitless and neither the ranger nor the office staff knew them. So, I parked at the campground long enough to fix myself a Birthday Brunch and coffee for my new mug.
As I was leaving the Lakes area of the park, I spotted a massive hulk in the road--solitary and huge. Thought it must be bison-- Big Deal. However, it was a Bear! And he beat feet as soon as I approached! So, all I bagged was a Bear Butt!
The new Visitor Center at Old Faithful is a beauty. While there, I inquired about a Yellowstone Foundation listing of people who had donated "In Memory Of..." someone. A woman pointed out the high-tech video marquee in an adjacent section that displayed this info. A few minutes later, she walked over to me and brought an archived Foundation booklet that had been published a year ago and asked me for the last name so we could look it up. We chatted for a few and I was touched by her kindness and caring. Sometimes, low tech is best.
Next day, I walked to the place where I had scattered Frank's ashes almost 2 years ago (red arrow). It felt peaceful there. I had a few word thoughts with Frank and told him that I didn't think I would be coming back here anytime soon. He told me to "quit my blubberin' and get my butt in gear"! That Frank could always turn a phrase...
Though I had planned to spend one more night in the northern part of the Park near Mammoth Springs, I felt it was time to leave--especially after Frank's comment about "getting my butt in gear". So, I drove all the way to Missoula, Mt --almost 300 miles--which is a LOT when you are driving in the mountains.
I remembered from a previous trip that Missoula had the prettiest Cracker Barrel setting with the softest, most fragrant grass (for Cassie to squiggle in and sniff) in the entire US and that is where we spent the night!
I made contact with my friends in Quincy WA as I realized that I was only two days drive time from them.
Unfortunately, that estimate was threatened by an unexpected event on Lookout Mountain Pass on the borders of MT and ID. It was a vehicle accident involving a tractor trailer; contents were strewn all over the narrow road. The concrete dividing barriers needed to be repositioned for a makeshift detour road. We were ALL STOP for two hours.
During that time, most cell phones were getting no signals, so strangers talked to each other..offered drinks..one guy took his bike off its hitch and rode down to the accident site to get everyone a progress report. A pregnant lady used my RV bathroom. It was quite warm so I decided it was a great time to give Cassie her bath. Here she is getting her comb-out on the front seat.
On the way, I discovered some geologic history that was fascinating about the area I was in--which is the Columbia River Basin. It was created during an Ice Age and the subsquent meltoff resulted in a falls formation that was several times bigger than Niagra Falls. This formation is called Dry Falls.
Finally, I arrive in Quincy, WA and pulled my RV's nose a couple feet into the tiny car wash. No clearance for the RV but I got 99% of the smashed road bug debris off. It is really repulsive stuff.
This is the approach to my friends Rick & Carol's home in Crescent Bar, WA (yellow arrow is their home).
I just took this a few minutes ago out on the patio. The weather is Perfect--and I am finally thawing out!