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Trip Report - OUT WEST (In the end 'I Did It My Way')

Trip Report - OUT WEST (In the end 'I Did It My Way')

Old Nov 2nd, 2009, 10:32 AM
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Trip Report - OUT WEST (In the end 'I Did It My Way')

After several years of yearning to go 'out west', I finally made it. A couple of different times in the past several years I have tried to plan a trip to see some of the western states, each time some untimely accident or family death stopped my plans. Shortly after my mother passed away I began looking again at a trip. I was critized by a couple of fodorites for 'wasting their time' by posting when I had no intention of going.

I read and reread post, looked at maps, AAA information and a vast number of other resourses and I think I was about as confused as I've ever been in my life. Living on the east coast, it is really hard to imagine the vastness of our great nation.

I did not prebook any rooms as I wasn't sure which area I might like better than others and did not want to be tied to down to have to get from 'point A to point B' on any given day. My husband and I are in our 50-60's, so we are more strollers and short hikers, but we did want to see the National Parks, so here goes our story:

We flew into Denver, had a 4x4 vehicle waiting on us at Enterprise and headed out. Our first stop was to be at Estes Park. We took a route recommended by one of you guys, hoping to see some Aspens in all their golden splendor - heading thru Golden, via I-70, to Boulder, Boulder Canyon via 119, to Nederland, then south on Peak to Peak Hwy. to Estes Park. We saw a few aspens still at peak, but not many. On coming into Estes Park, we got our first glimpse of elk, as two hugh ones were right in town. At first I thought they were statues, but then I noticed cars stopping and cameras snapping. Got some good pics of our first, of many elk, A fodorite had told me about Boulder Brook so we checked it out and loved it there. Had a wonderful room with fireplace and sauna tub that overlooked Falls River (I think it was a river)

We found out the park had closed 8 miles in at 3:00 p.m., an hour before we got there. We unpacked quickly and headed into Rocky Mtn. National Park to see some of the park before dark. We could only go 8 miles in, but we got lots of lovely pics of elk (hundreds of elk and about as many pictures!). The further into the park we went the more snow we saw, It was beautiful. I loved the snow and the elk. I had to get out and throw a couple of snow balls! Finally we turned in for the night. The next morning we woke up to a winter wonderland. The trees were heavy laden with snow, made me think it was Christmas time! I alreadny knew I was going to love this trip. We came to see God's splendor and I just didn't know how much better it could get - but we found out!

We went back into the park again then explored some of the other roads around town, went into the park from another entrance, said mule deer that time. We had just bought a new camera and we had our Coolpix and both phone cameras snapping around every bend - what fun we had. Loved our visit here, and could have stayed much longer but knew there was more adventure awaiting us the next morning, so turned in for the night. We loved Boulder Brook, it was just perfect. Couldn't wait to see what tomorrow would bring. (to be continued)
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Old Nov 2nd, 2009, 10:45 AM
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Sounds like you are off to a great start....
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Old Nov 2nd, 2009, 11:10 AM
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This will be a fun report to read. Continue.......
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Old Nov 2nd, 2009, 11:36 AM
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...We headed out bright and early the next morning. It had quit snowing and I really hated to leave. We tood Hwy. 34 through Big Thompson Canyon - another wonderful drive. I had already found out one thing - I LOVED THE ROCKIES! Our plan was to drive halfway to Jackson, Wy., stop somewhere along the way for the night. The total trip to Jackson was around 500 miles (our longest in between travel). We got into the flat lands of Wyoming and I got sleepy so I layed back for a nap. When I woke up we were already through Rock Springs and were still going. The drive was so peacful my husband decided to drive on into Jackson (perhaps it was because I was sleeping and not wanting to stop to take pictures every mile or so!) It was snowing again and boy were we in for a ride. The further we drove the harder it snowed, the more it snowed, the less populated it was. We came through Dubois (sp) and I thought it was a good stopping place. Not so, hubby had it in his mind to get to Jackson - so be plowed on! We later hearned that Togwotee Pass that we had driven through sometimes gets at much as 25 feet of snow in the winter. I believe it was well on it's way. After we passed Dubois, there was no stopping. Had it not been for the car in front of us, you couldn't have seen anything. Oh well, we wanted adventure and had a 4x4. Again my camera came out and I clicked away (except for the few times I layed back and covered my head so I wouldn't see us go off down the mountain.

Finally we saw a light at the end of the tunnel and came out at Moran Pass. Whew - what a drive. I did a lot of praying on Hwy. 26, but it was so beautiful and the Lord saw us through it. Headed into Jackson. Can't wait for tomorrow!
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Old Nov 2nd, 2009, 12:07 PM
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Love your title!
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Old Nov 2nd, 2009, 03:01 PM
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I've driven that road though in slightly better weather (snowing lightly). Please tell you husband for me 'You're freakin' nutZ!'

Great trip report too...thanks!
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Old Nov 2nd, 2009, 07:24 PM
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Ok, i'm ready to hear about Tetons and Yellowstone!!!
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Old Nov 2nd, 2009, 08:34 PM
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Great start! I'm in too...
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Old Nov 3rd, 2009, 02:12 AM
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Wow! You've got me hooked, even though I usually hate snow...
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Old Nov 3rd, 2009, 07:11 AM
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Sounds like a great adventure so far.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2009, 08:56 AM
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OK, so we made it to Jackson after dark, after our GPS tried to take us in thru Antelope Flats and Morman Row! After turning on Morman Row my husband said "NO WAY", so we turned around and continued on main road. We were exhausted (well anyhow hubby was - I'd had a good nap). We checked out a remodeled Motel 6 and it was great. No sauna and rippling brook out the back door. But it did have a big screen tv, very clean and the basics we needed (Trying to recoup a little on our fab. place at Estes Park!) Went next door for some hot chili from Wendy's and settled in for the night, after checking out weather report - OH MY! Temp. was expected to dip to 8 degs. and top the record from 1940 something with more snow on the way. I wanted to start singing Christmas carols!! Tetons - here we come!
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Old Nov 3rd, 2009, 09:44 AM
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Up and out early ready for our next adventure - headed into the Tetons via Teton Village and up into Moose. Our main goal for the day was to see a moose (hopefully more than one). At Moose we needed to drop something in the mail and the postman told my husband some good spots to spot the moose. It was so beautiful in the park, in spite of a lot of the roads being closed, I loved it. The postman told us to head over to Antelope Flats and we should see some moose. They weren't there, but we saw a hugh herd of buffalo, probably several hundred. We watched them for a while and of course took many pics, then tried out the Morman Row Road only to find it closed also. Headed back towards town for a bite to eat and then went down Hwy. 22 toward Targhee (sp)National Forest. Ended up driving into Idaho on Hwy 33. Got some beautiful pics of the Snake River and finally we got out of the snow and into some absolutely stunning Aspen, drove thru Driggs to Palisades Lake - another beautiful sight. It was so strange to be in 40 deg. weather and now snow!! Late afternoon we headed back to Antelope Flats when we saw our first moose on Hwy 89. I got so excited I exited the car in my socks (in the snow), then couldn't get my camera to focus (the camera I've had for several years!) Thank goodness, once again my husband had me covered, as he was out snapping lots of shots of the moose with the new camera! I was so excited. Went on to the end (I think) of Antelope Flats, saw another moose and the buffalo. Forgot where we ate that night, but it was very good.

Another wonderful day. God is so great-seeing His creations is just absolutely breathtaking.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2009, 11:49 AM
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Consider yourself very fortunate to see a moose on your first try. It took us 10 years of visiting many different places to see our first moose. Since then we have seen lots -- but depends lots of time on the time of year and right place, right time. Still enjoying your trip report BTW.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2009, 12:03 PM
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I am glad you mention God in your thoughts of wonderful places, as I always feel much the same way.
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Old Nov 4th, 2009, 03:08 PM
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After 2 nights in Jackson and seeing some of the sights of the surrounding area, it was time to move on. After all, I had waited a lifetime to go 'out west' so I may not get to travel this way again - so we headed out, this time going to Yellowstone - another big adventure awaited us!! We traveled thru the Tetons (on whatever road takes you directly to the south entrance of Yellowstone. Had a lovely drive, but it was snowing the whole way. Several inches had fallen by the time we got to the entrance to Yellowstone. I had made reservations at the cabins at Old Faithful, but they only had one night available. Started into the park, ranger advised snow tires or 4x4 or chains. Since we had a 4x4 thought we would be fine, so we headed on. I don't know how long this road was but to my dear husband, I am sure it seemed like eternity. The road was getting worse and worse. There was very little traffic, so that was a plus!! Felt pretty good about the situation until an ambulance passed us. We went a few more miles and saw the car off the side of the mtn. and found out the road behind us had been closed. The ranger was stopping people trying to come out the way we were going in, and was turning them around. NOthing to do but to do it - so we continued! I think this road was more harier for hubby than the other pass. Maybe it was because we met three more ambulances other than the one that had passed us! I don't know where in the world they came from to get there. Yellowstone must have an ambulance station in the woods is all I could figure.

Finally we got the ranger station at Old Faithful just in time to see Old Faithful do her thing, which was awesome. We were prepared for the cold but I could hardly stand up it was so slick.

We had a decision to make - we only had reservations for one night (thats all I could get). Most roads in the park were closed and they were calling for more snow. It was not exactly what we had wanted to do, because we had planned on staying in the area for 3 nights, but finally my poor humble husband HAD HAD ENOUGH! He wanted out of the snow and wanted to head SOUTH! We spent the day in Yellowstone and saw what we could see. Saw some of the hot springs, mud pots, etc and lots of animals. My husband checked at the ranger station once again, all exits were closed except for the West and they were calling for lots more snow. What a day it had been. I spent some more time praying as we drove along that road into the park, sometimes not wanting to look at where we were going, but had to because it was so beautiful. Reluctantly we cancelled our reservation for the night and headed out the west exit, saw buffalo, coyotes and elk on the way out.

Drove to West Yellowston, stayed at a lovely hotel with bears climbing on the post, had a wonderful meal at "The Outpost", finished it off with rubarb and strawberry pie and ice cream and turned in for the night. We had actually only driven 140 miles that day, but to my dear husband, I'm sure it seemed like 500!! This vacation was all I could have wanted for and dreamed of, and got the snow to boot. I wish we could have spent more time in Yellowstone, but hey, we had more adventure awaiting us any direction we went! God is so awesome, he protected us, and at the same time allowed us to see more of His great beauty. to be cont.
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Old Nov 4th, 2009, 03:42 PM
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Wow, what an adventure! I didn't notice when you made your trip, but we were in Durango the first week of October and they already had snow in the highter elevations (Silverton, Ouray). It was my understanding that it was early, even for the Rockies.

Looking forward to more!
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Old Nov 4th, 2009, 06:37 PM
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Many years ago I use to live in Wyoming and always enjoy reading trip reports from people visiting the area. Your report is fun to read; glad you enjoyed it
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Old Nov 4th, 2009, 06:45 PM
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As you will notice my title "I did it my way". We had two options. We had a route to take to the north and if the weather got to bad we'd head south, so we'll have to save Glacier NP, Mt. Rushmore and Badlands for another time, We knew what we wanted to see in both areas. The northern route would have been less driving, but as I said earlier, my husband loves to drive, so he didn't mind.

We left out of West Yellowstone and headed south. This was our second longest day of driving - we drove all the way to Salt Lake City. We were out of the snow, my husband was SO HAPPY, I had mixed emotions - I loved it!! We stayed at a Best Western that was new and very, very nice. Ate dinner at Candlelight Dinner & Pancakes - great food. This was the least favorite place we visited. I did not care for this city at all, was glad to get out of there. After SLC we headed to the Great Salt Lake and Bonneville Salt Flats. I've been to a lot of places and seen a lot, but this was really interesting to me. As far as the eye could see nothing but salt. You could see where people had been driving on it and I tried to get hubby to try it. He said probably not only was it illegal, it looked to much like snow. We did walk around on it - I wrote our names with stones. We visited the speedway area. Wasn't much to see or do at Wendover, since we're not gamblers, but hubby had always wanted to see the Speedway, so it was well worth the trip. The next morning we checked out the World War II museum where the Enola Gay was stationed. We spent a couple of hours there. We both really liked it. Some of the original buildings from when it was an air force base. We saw two salt piles, one of them Morton's that looked like mountains. God has indeed blessed us with a great country and we were enjoying see more of His great handiwork.
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Old Nov 4th, 2009, 06:47 PM
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I'll try to finish this trip report up with another post or two. Sorry it is so long!!!! It was just so much fun, I had to share it!!
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Old Nov 4th, 2009, 07:18 PM
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Don't be sorry, jfawp. We are all truly enjoying your trip report. Sounds like quite an adventure. Can't wait to hear about your time in southern Utah.
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