carocali (carocali) wrote,

Escape from Yellowstone....

Well, we finally made it to Zion canyon last night after MUCH stopping along the way.  I'm trying to upload the pictures, but I'm having a hard time.  there is VERY spotty internet here and NO cell reception.  

We're doing fine, just anxious to see what the canyon has to offer.  Will try and do more later!

Caroline and Kathy



October 7, 2007


Yellowstone loves us – I mean really loves us.  So much so that it won’t let us leave.  It almost feels like a conspiracy. 


We got up early this morning, got showered and were ready to hit the road early.  No breakfast for us; we just grabbed some bars and were ready to go…until they said that Craig’s Pass was still closed.


Frustration began to set in.  What do we do?  If we leave and head back to West Yellowstone (where they’ve made us honorary citizens) we miss Route 89.  Plus, Hwy 20 – the route out of town – was closed yesterday because the snow caused a major accident for several hours.  It seems that, this happens quite often and there’s no guarantee that we can make it out there either? 


We tried patience.


The woman at the front desk of Old Faithful Inn gave us a number to call to learn of the road conditions in the park.  At 9 a.m., the pass was still closed; the same at 10 a.m.  There was a club of us who were trying to get out of Yellowstone, but to no avail.  By 11 a.m. we’d had it and decided to head out back to West Yellowstone, take Hwy 20 down and get ourselves to Jackson Hole for the night.


We waved goodbye to our Bison friends as they scattered around the roads again, and the tourists snapped away as they beasts went about their business.  We made good time back out of the park – again – but this time with purpose.  A quick call from Elizabeth (who ran the Chicago Marathon on Sunday and actually finished with a time of about 4 ½ hours – woohoo!!) assured that she was alright was our only stop, and then we headed out of Yellowstone for the last time.  Kathy did find out later that the pass did open, but they were requiring snow tires to get through.  All in all, we made the right decision.


The GPS didn’t take us the way we wanted to go, so we actually followed a map into Idaho!  It was amazing to really be out of Montana.  It’d been six whole days and every day, we found ourselves in the state, one way or another.  


I was the navigator on this leg of the trip and we’d decided our route to Jackson.  Then I saw this little byway called 47 that had Upper and Lower Mesa Falls on it.  Well, I’m a waterfall nut, so I suggested this pass.  It looked at little scary at first, but turned out to be a beautiful reward for the snow upon snow in Yellowstone.


First off, you have to realize the transmutation into Fall here is absolutely fabulous.  We picked this time specifically because of this.  The Aspen and other trees vary their peak time, so it’s a stroke of genius to roam the roads now.  I think Kathy did some major research to get the correct week because it was like a Geiger counter to color. 


As we got further down the trail, we noticed some of the Aspens started to disappear and the other deeper reds and greens begining to emerge.  This creates a rainbow of dye that you can’t imagine.  Everywhere you look it’s a feast for the eyes.  And it never ends!  Several miles into the trip of “ooohs” and “aahhs,” we saw the turnoff for Lower Mesa Falls.  We really had no idea what to expect. 


The dirt road wound down to the honor system pay box asking for $3 for entry.  I used my National Parks Pass (which has been an absolute godsend on this trip!  Totally worth the $80!) and we strolled through the parking lot, following the sound of the water like the Pied Piper. 


This park is really well maintained, and the wooden planks led us to varying levels to gain the best views of the falls.  The steep drop is deceiving as you get closer to the water.  Cliffs with bright red bushes and trees, and erect pines are everywhere.  Yellowish moss infiltrates the dark rock and we even spotted a lone fern high above the water.  This isn’t even the falls!


Millions of gallons of water a day wash over the waterfalls.  This powerful force pulls the rock and shapes the area as it bullies along.  The cascade is graceful and swift; pure and true.  There is no pollution here that the eye can see and the ear is serenaded with the roar of its will.  All the senses participate on one level or another, and we stood and watched it all unfold before us.


Further up the road is the Lower Falls that we didn’t even know truly existed.  They can only be viewed from afar and they are even more powerful than its predecessor.  Nestled far back in the woods and cliffs, the falls can be heard from the perch of the road.  The water is bookended by the amazing forested area, painted against the gray sky. 


And our last stop on this little excursion down Hwy 47 was Bear Gulch; Idaho’s second ski resort - now defunct.  The area is dotted with the reds and greens, and the straight drop down makes known the reason for the failed resort in the first place.  The smell of pine permeates the air here through the light breeze.


We’d already made too many side trips and we knew we’d have to be on our way.  Our pleasant surprise brought a smile to our faces as more of this country’s beauty made itself known; in Idaho of all places!


I’ve already mentioned the craziness of the open range cattle, where people allow their cows to just roam free into the roads and wherever else they may go, but this was a new concept.  Open range sheep!  Keep in mind, we’re not in Ireland; these things shouldn’t happen. This isn’t the Pioneer days when the herders had no control.  But, in fact, this is the lay of the land in these parts. And what was even weirder about this particular Ripley’s moment was that there was a watch-horse looking out for them. 


We drove by and I noticed the sheep hanging out in the grassy area of a power station (a power station??) off a beaten path.  A creepy trailer was next to the property – apparently where the owner of the sheep lived – and next to it was his pick up truck.  The combination of these two vehicles provided a line for this laundry to hang and freeze (since it was about 40ish) while his horse was tied to a chain watching over the sheep.  We cautiously pulled onto the road and the horse went ballistic!  He charged up and down the road, watching every move we made.  The sheep seemed to sense the agitation of the horse and quickly moved away from us (all the pictures are butt shots in case you hadn’t noticed).  It didn’t make sense to continue to upset the animals, so we left them to their bizarre little world.


The journey continued as we tried to make up time along the way, but something always kept us from going on. This time, it was a sea of color right out of a Monet painting.  The day was getting on, and we didn’t have much light as it was, but the countryside was remarkable.  The mountain held the remnants of the snow in its peak, along with the pines that were part of the snowball fight as well.  Further down, the yellows and reds filled in the open spaces between trees to combine for a lush hue of definition.  Finally, a small stream made its way through the area with a soft flow, just for added good measure.  My camera couldn’t get the crispness of the scene, but it looks like a painting that an inspired artist created of the landscape.  What a sight to behold!


Our side trip ended, and we were able to get back onto route 89 after our detour.  We missed the Tetons, but our fear was that we’d get stuck on one of the high peaks and never get out of the mountains.  These peaks are no joke – 8-10,000 feet!!  It just wasn’t worth the risk, and the scenery we saw due to the detour was worth it.  We skittered along the outskirts of the Tetons and understand their majesty now.  It’s a shame we didn’t get to see more of them, but we know we’d like to come back again to explore this area more.


Darkness was settling in, and after a crazy detour just outside of Montpelier, Idaho, we decided to stop for the night.  They are actually blasting rock through the area, and we were held up by a five minute stop light (in the middle of nowhere) to assure that the cars can come across the way.  Certainly a necessary thing, but it’s very odd indeed.


The Super 8 called our name and we pulled in.  The clerk said that Casey’s would have the Bears/Packers game on, so we went over there to see how we’d fit into the crowd. We barely made it in the door when we sniffed the overwhelming smoke.  We looked at each other and high tailed it back to the front of the store where they were serving food.  A quick bite, and we went back to our room to see the end of the game.


My beloved Bears were losing, but I continued to cheer them on.  While doing that, I started to look through some papers in my suitcase.  I came across my Weight Watchers journal and wondered why it was so thick.  I peered inside and my mouth dropped open; there was my money!  Kathy immediately knew what had happened and I started to cry.  It’s a relief to know that I won’t have to wash dishes along the way, but I knew I’d do what I needed to do to make this trip what it was meant to be.  The pictures and experience have been worth a thousand dollars, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world!  Then, on top of that, the Bears beat the Packers at home!  Can’t get much better than that!


  • Happy birthday!

    Hi, stranger!! I hope all is well in your world and that you have a great birthday!! :) Caroline

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