Yellowstone Part Two
Laura & Alan Grayson
Sat 14 Jun 2008 16:54
We awoke to a glorious day in the Park, clear skies which made a nice change. We started off heading south and very shortly dropped below the snow line. A couple of miles down the road we spotted a coyote on the side of the road so pulled over and watched it approach a fella sitting on a log having a bite to eat. He was completely oblivious of the coyote so we watched with baited breath to see whether he was about to be Coyote lunch or not. Not was the answer. The coyote basically got right up to the guy before he noticed, neither of them seemed too worried. The guy stood up and casually walked away and the Coyote checked out the spot for any food then moved on. We drove on towards Old Faithful ( the geyser) which was the next stop. As we were driving up we saw a bunch of steam hitting the cold air and figured we had just missed the latest eruption, naturally, but seeing as how it was such a nice day we decided to have a little kip on the viewing benches till the next one came around. We both woke up to pushy tourists trying to get the perfect seats which just happened to be right where we were spread out snoring, Oh yeh and we both had sunburnt faces!!!. 30 mins later Old faithful did her thing and everyone was happy. The place emptied out all ready for the next load of pushy tourists, and as for us, we took a walk as there were 5 other geysers to see as well as numerous bubbling hot pools which were pretty great and none of the pushy obese tourists bothered to walk too. Which made it twice as special. We listened to a ranger talk about old faithful. Part of the spiel was how New Zealand and Norway were the other places famous for Geysers but none had as many as the good ol US of A. She said there was one geyser in NZ and asked if any one had been there and when no one put up their hands went on to say that the one in NZ was the most predictable one BUT they dumped a load of stuff into it to make it do it on time, this then meant that Old Faithful was the most predictable Geyser in the whole wide world. Well I had to do the old hold your hand over the mouth and cough while saying BULLSHIT thingy which surprisingly enough got me some real funny looks from the obese pushy tourists.
Yellowstone Park is enormous. It is well worth a week or more tripping around especially some of the tracks. I would love to do some of them, I'm not to sure about all the wild beasties running around tho. Old Faithful sits on the southern road so from there we headed back north up the western side of the park. This side is where all the thermal activity takes place. Imagine Rotorua on a real bad day and 50 times as large. We stopped at a few more hot pools but basically had to move on. There was still plenty to look at with plenty of Elk and Bison along the way. All pretty spectacular, I use that word a lot don't I. We finished off that day by driving thru the Lewis and Clark National Forest Which was also pretty cool. At the top of the hill was the Showdown Ski area and just at the bottom of the hill was a great little camping area where we decided to spend the night. It was operated on the honesty system and since we are both basically honest and it was in the middle of nowhere we did a runner. About 5 minutes down the road the next day was a huge ranger station, got a shot of the guilt's on that one.
Next day was long drive to Canada and we stopped just short of Calgary for our next nights rest. Up early as the next stop was Banff National park, Unfortunately the weather sucked and the clouds were down really low. We pulled into Banff around 11.00am and took off for a walk around town which then ended up at a viewpoint to a waterfall then a small track into the bush. 10 mins after turning around it started to rain and wouldn't you know it we had no raincoats just our fleece jackets, our 1/2 hr walk back to town was not the most fun I have ever had but luckily just in town there was a Irish pub serving Irish coffees and Bangers and Mash so all was forgiven. We checked out the weather at the information center and since it was supposed to clear up the next day we stayed in Banff and had a few drinks and got pleasantly mellow. Our pass for the National Parks was only valid till 4.00pm so we had to move on the next day and that was just fine as it was a perfect day. We went up the Gondola and Lake Louise to get the best view of the Rockies then went to Lake Louise and Morriane lake for a spot of water views. It was awesome with the snow capped mountains in the background. Then it was time to hit the road again. We spotted a small herd of mountain sheep which was cool. They had the mottliest coats as they were shedding their winter coats but their curved horns were fantastic. There are a lot of Glaciers between Banff and Jasper which had huge amounts of snow on them. A lot of them ended at a cliff so you could see the depth of snow. It must be impressive to see a chunk fall off! We didn't bother checking out Jasper just hit the fuel pumps and moved on. We both decided that Banff and Jasper National Parks were worth spending more time in at a later date. In fact we preferred these to Yellowstone.
Skagway Alaska is our next stop, just a casual 1300 miles. Dawson Creek is mile zero on the Alaska Canada highway. The first couple of hundred miles were fairly flat lands with a lot of forest trees. Kinda boring after a while but still pretty. After that things started picking up the hills got steeper the trees bigger and the wildlife started showing itself. We left early in the morning 6.00am and Laura made the statement that we should keep going till dark. I think she had forgotten that it was still light at 11.00pm the night before. It was funny we had to put the sunglasses back on at 10.00pm as the sun came out below the clouds. During the day we saw 7 Black Bears, Buffalo, a Beaver dam with 2 Beaver condos, Cariboo, Big Horn Sheep, Female Moose and a Bull Moose with an average size rack on him, All of these were just off the side of the road. I missed the prime photo of a Buffalo as i had left the window up when i took the photo,( I decided to leave it up as i could have touched him if i wanted) and the damn flash went off. We pulled of in a little lakeside campground for a shower and a quick bite as well as a small walk to try and get our butts back in shape after a long day squashing them into the shape of the seats, then it was back on the road for a couple more hrs. We didn't quite make it to dark but it was only an hour or so away and besides the wines were calling more than the miles.