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50/over 50 Yellowstone/Grand Tetons trip report

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Jul 1st, 2011, 10:05 AM
  #1
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50/over 50 Yellowstone/Grand Tetons trip report

When my wife and I go on trips we always seem to end up being' windshield tourists'. I was determined for that not to happen again so we decided to visit Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons National Parks for our 2011 trip. I spent months researching the parks, bought 3 guide books, ear marked many waterfalls and trails, but was prepared to be flexable. We left home at 12:12 pm on Thursday, May 26, the odometer reading 134,665 miles on the car(its an Oldsmobile, they run forever) traveling I-94 destination Glendive Montana for reservations at the Charley Montana Bed and Breakfast. www.charleymontana.com . It was our first time ever staying at a BnB and the house was lovely and our host,Sonya, was very nice to work with, very accomidating for our expected late arrival. We got on the road early the next morning after one of the other guests checked out the flood conditions on our route for us on her I-Phone. After a brief stop at Cabellas for some water resistant shoes and rainwear for the wife we arrived in Cody, WY anound 3:00 pm. We toured the Buffalo Bill Historical Center for a couple of hours and checked into the Beartooth Inn. A suitable hotel right next to the airport, nothing fancy but they have internet and breakfast, always a plus. The east entrance of Yellowstone was only open from 8:00 pm to 10:00 am so I wanted to get an early start through the entrance. I was up at 5:30 checking the forums on Yellowstone.net and found out that the east entrance as well as the south entrance and the road from West Thumb was closed due to icey road conditions. Bummer...However it 'offered 'us the opportunity to drive on the Cheif Joseph senic highway. I called the park service telephone number at 6:30 for the latest updates, checked out that the Cheif Joseph was open and we were off on a 3 hour detour....I was dissapointed that my well laid out plans went awry but actor Will Geers voice kept saying in my head "you can't cheat the mountain Pilgrim, the mountain's got its own way" from the movie Jeremiah Johnson. We get to the N.E. entrance around 9:30 only to be met by a very nice Park Ranger who kindly explained to us that there was a rock slide about 15 miles into the park so between that and the deep snow we would be unable to get to the Old Faithful Inn from this entrance. We had to backtrack over the Cheif Joseph, back to I 90 and go all the way over to Gardiner, an all day detour. I got out of the car, stomped around a while, heard Will Geers voice again, and started driving. And driving. And driving.
We made it to the Inn around 6:00, all I can say about the Inn is WOW, it was everything I had hoped it would be. We even made it in time for our pre-made reservations for Dinner. The goal for the next day...no driving. Saturday morning, cold, windy, rain and snow mixed and poor visibility. We ain't driving anywhere. Our Oldsmobile might run forever, but it is terrible on snowy roads. We took a guided tour of the Inn and I'm glad we did, so much history and personal stories. Because of the forums, I knew to ask the location of the claw foot bath tub rooms, very elegant and we used them all three days we were at the Inn. They are located by rooms 150-154 in a little hallway on the second floor. More later...
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Jul 1st, 2011, 10:37 AM
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Keep it coming, Ziggypop--I'm on my way to Yellowstone a week from today! Looking forward to reading about your experiences!
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Jul 1st, 2011, 11:56 AM
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Keep it coming........ but break it up into readable paragraphs! Hard to focus eith these old eyes!

-john
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Jul 2nd, 2011, 05:13 PM
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50/over 50 part 2.
Sunday the 29th was our first day to enjoy the Old Faithful Inn and the area. Since it was snowing and blowing we stayed put and walked all over the geyser basin. There was a very low ceiling in the sky and combined with the steam from all of the geysers I took very fews photos as I was sure they would be bad photos. The hiking was 99% on decking, some of it plastic decking which was very slippery to walk upon. Even though we were stranded the OF Inn area is a great place to be stranded. If you can time it, see the riverside geyser erupt, it last for about 20 minutes, or 10 times as long as old faithful.

Monday, May 30th. I wanted to see the Lower Falls. So we made a trip that direction but first stopped at Mystic Falls, one of the hikes I had marked out that was not closed. An easy 4 mile hike round trip plus many other thermal areas to see in the basin. You can't get the ideal photo shot from the trail but just to hear the roar of the water and to stretch out my legs makes this a trail well worth the effort. There were several other hikers on the trail at the same time as us even though we were there before June. The Lower Falls were crowded, and spectatular. The close proximity to parking is one reason why the area is so crowded, plus the Osprey nest, and the ease of the tour busses to pass through. Red Rock trail was closed(one that I had earmarked)due to the snow, but it is in the top 10 things to see in Yellowstone for a reason. I'm glad I did not skip seeing the Falls.

Tuesday the 31st. We leave the Old Faithful Inn and head to the Grand Tetons. First a trip to Jackson. I had been eating badly so I needed something healthy to eat. We stopped at a bakery/deli called The Bunnery. Just what the doctor ordered. Fresh spinach salad with smoked salmon and a coconut cream pie and I feel all better. We check out the town museum and head to The Signal Mountain Lodge to check in. A wonderful view from our window and a quiet evening star gazing. The next morning we went on the scenic float ride down the Snake River with the Signal Mountain company. It was great, lots of wildlife, great views of the Tetons, and something I would do again in a heartbeat.

After the float trip I wanted to check something else off of my bucket list. Climb to the top of a mountain. So we head to the Teton Village and take the tram up to the warming shack, almost to the top soooooo I hike the rest of the way to the top and we take pictures. I'm 50 pounds overweight and over 50 years old so if I'm going to hike to the top of a mountain, I'll need a little handicap, like a tram. I'm counting it! The best day of our trip, by far.
Bad news, the rock slide still has the road closed. The Beartooth Path is still closed. We were going to go back to Mammoth for a night and take the Beartooth home buuuuttttt
with the road closings I cancel our reservation and decide to cut our trip short. I just can't face another 400 mile detour. The phone is ringging(I'm self employed)and work is getting behind.

We take the scenic route home from the Tetons (two days) and when we get home I check the odometer and we have driven 2,850 miles in 8 days of driving. Once again we end up seeing more from behind our windshield that on foot but this time it was because of the weather, and not because I am 50/ over 50.

I skipped a lot of stuff that was ordinary, or average. I mentioned where we stayed, of which I would stay at each of them again. I must mention that I did not ask a single question when planning our trip. I found all of the answers in the forums, both current and in the search forums box. So a big thankyou to everyone that submits to this forum as well as Yellowstone.net. There were many trails closed due to bear activity and snow/mud but I would go bact the Yellowstone in a heartbeat, maybe a little later in the year though.
I gotta change the oil now.
attitude is everything, ziggypop
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Jul 2nd, 2011, 07:47 PM
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Thanks for posting. A lot of fun reading.

Boy am I glad I went the beginning of August last year.

Shorts everyday.
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Jul 3rd, 2011, 07:56 AM
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maj
 
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Great descriptions. Thanks for posting. We went to Yellowstone the first time thinking it would be a place to "cross off our list". We keep returning. Every season is a brand new adventure.
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Jul 4th, 2011, 07:54 PM
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maj, I know what you mean. We had not even left the area and I was planning our next trip to Yellowstone. I'm leaning towards shorts everyday like Myer. Myer, your trip report was the reason for many of my ear marks.(like Mystic Falls and the Red Rock trail) It just did not work out for us to see many of the things I wanted to see. The Devils Mouth was unforgettable, and pewuuue does it ever stink. I am in envy of everyone that can post a detailed report. My brain just doesn't remember things that well anymore.
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Jul 5th, 2011, 04:21 AM
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That coconut pie did indeed sound "healthy". lol

We managed to see 6 geysers go. Our favorites were Castle and Riverside. We were there about 4 years ago June 15-20. The road that we wanted opened up the day we arrived. We had flown into Billings in order to drive the Beartooth, but it hadn't opened by June 20 when we left. We certainly want to go back. Not sure if I want to see it later in the summer, in the fall, or in the winter for my 2nd trip though.
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