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Cross-Country Journal -- August 2002


Thursday, August 1 -- Since Canyonlands is pretty much a one-day park and since we were tired of 100 degree heat, we headed northwest by mid-morning.  We went 30 miles north to I-70 and headed west until we were south of Salt Lake City.  Then we went north on I-15 to Provo.  There we headed northeast on two-lane road 189 to Park City.  We found a very nice State Park and began enjoying the 80 degree mountain air.  

Friday, August 2 -- Today we went into Park City and had breakfast at a place on old Main St.  just a few doors from where we stayed on our honeymoon 28 years ago.  We think the place we stayed has been torn down.  It was a single house that we rented and it was probably a century old when we rented it.  We took some pictures of the area to compare to those from long ago and walked around.  We ended up getting roped into a time-share presentation for which we received $75 and two tickets for a gondola ride up the mountain.  The time-shares were at The Canyons which is 3 miles from PArk City and used to be called Park West.  We skied there along with Park City on our honeymoon.  Anyway, we finally made the salesman understand that we did not want to buy and got our $75.  The gondola ride was great.  We relaxed the rest of the day.

Saturday, August 3 -- We left Park City in late morning and drove straight east for about 3 hours to Vernal, Utah.  Vernal is the western gateway to Dinosaur National Monument.  Although all two lane roads, it was a nice ride through some scenic areas and over an 8000 foot pass.  We camped at Steinaker State Park for $11.00 and went without electric connection for the first time.  We can generate our own 120V AC by running the generator or by running the inverter which converts 12V DC from the batteries to 120V AC.  We did some of both.  The inverter can supply AC for the TV and a couple lights for about 12 hours before we would have to recharge the batteries.  We ran this way for about 2 hours and recharged the batteries in 20 minutes the next morning using the generator.

Sunday, August 4 -- We got up early and arrived at the Dinosaur National Monument at 8:00 AM as the visitor's center was opening.  We saw the quarry where dinosaur bones have been dug for 100 years and learned about dinosaurs.  We went back to the State Park around noon and packed up to leave.  We left there around 1:30 and headed north on route 191 toward Wyoming.  This was a spectacular (two lanes again) drive through a pass at 10000 feet and then down to the Flaming Gorge Reservoir which spans across the state line well up into Wyoming.  The drive up to Wyoming from Vernal was only 100 miles.  We continued another 100 miles north on 191 to Pinedale, Wy. where we found a so-so campground for the night. 

Monday, August 5 -- After leaving Pinedale at around 9:00 AM we drove another 150 miles north on 191 through some spectacular Wyoming countryside.  We arrived in Jackson and Jackson Hole and finally the Grand Tetons National Park in the early afternoon.  We checked in to the Colter Bay Campground where we plan to camp for two weeks.  This campground is park of the park and has no hook-ups what-so-ever.  We'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, August 6 -- This campground is just wonderful because there are so many (350) huge sites in a pine tree forest.  All the sites have their own trees to look at and no people!  Pepper and especially Louie love it.  We cleaned house this morning and did all the laundry. 

Wednesday, August 7 -- We relaxed part of the day and explored a portion of the Tetons National Park. 

Thursday, August 8 -- Today we spent all day in the park viewing the Tetons.  We had lunch at the Signal Mountain Lodge and finished up with cocktails at the Jackson Lake Lodge.  There was lots of sightseeing and picture taking inbetween.

Friday, August 9 -- After watching the Woman's British Open held at Turnberry, Scotland (Tommy and I played there in May) this morning on ESPN we decided to spend a day up in Yellowstone for a change of pace.  Yellowstone is 20 miles north of our campsite.  We really only had time to visit the Old Faithful geyser basin.  We spent about 5 hours walking all over and seeing every geyser.  Got back around 7 PM.

Saturday, August 10 -- This morning dawned without a cloud in the sky so we headed out to take a few more pictures of the Tetons.  When we returned we had some lunch and then I drove 100 yards to the dump station to empty holding tanks and fill up with fresh water.  Camping without hook-ups is fine but we can only last about 5 or 6 days.  We relaxed outside the rest of the afternoon and then grilled pork chops for dinner.

Sunday, August 11 -- We woke up up to both the carbon monoxide and the LP gas detectors going off.  Also the refrigerator was off.  We found out that Alfa's 24/7 customer support and emergency assistance is excellent.  To make a long story short, there was no LP gas or carbon monoxide problem.  The detectors and refrigerator had detected a low voltage condition caused by two dead batteries (out of 4).  We drove to a service station, confirmed the situation and ordered two new batteries to be installed the next day.  Alfa will pay for these batteries.  Later that day we drove into Jackson to look around and shop for a few things.

Monday, August 12 -- The new batteries were installed and the voltage got back to normal.  Including driving the motorhome to the service station, this pretty much shot the day!  We have found that living fulltime in a motorhome you can count on a new problem about every few days.

Tuesday, August 13 -- We drove to Moose (30 miles to the south end of the park) and arrived at 9 AM.  We rented a canoe at Dornan's and after strapping it on the top of the jeep we drove back up north to the Jackson River Dam where we launched it.  From there we paddled and floated down the Snake River for 5 miles.  Along the way we passed a Bald Eagle nest and say several youngsters and heard the adults.  We also dawdled in the midst of a bend in the river and ran across 4 moose.  A mother and child and two other females.  We were sitting in our canoe for nearly two hours watching these moose no more than 100 yards away.  It was fantastic.  After a total of 5 hours we exited the river at the 5 mile point, left our canoe and hitch hiked back to the dam to get our jeep.  The Snake River flows very fast in this area and made for quite a day.   Photos can be found in the Teton River Canoe Trip album.

Wednesday, August 14 -- We drove to String Lake and launched the canoe by 9 AM.  String Lake is nestled close to the base of the mountains and just north of Jenny Lake.  It is a small, narrow, "string" of a lake that is only about 2-4 feet deep and crystal clear.  It was just gorgeous and there were only two other canoes out there.  At the end of String Lake we portaged a quarter of a mile to Leigh Lake.  The canoe got a little heavy for Jackie and me but we made it.  Leigh is a fairly large lake that is right at the base of Mount Moran.  It too was as calm as glass when we paddled the length of it and came ashore on a beautiful sandy beach.  Because of the portage and lack of road access Leigh Lake was pretty much desolate.  We had lunch on the beach and then started reading and looking up every 2 minutes at the mountains.  At around 12:30 we began to hear wind up in the mountains.  It sounded like a train or an airplane.  Thirty minutes later that wind hit the lake.  It turned the glass calm into a steady set of waves hitting the shore.  The entire lake was full of white caps.  So much for the calm lake.  We read for another 2 hours until 2:30 and then we decided that we had to do something.  It was either walk out or paddle the canoe.  Our only option for paddling was to head straight across the fat part of the lake and straight into the wind.  By keeping 90 degrees to the waves we might be able to control the boat.  We headed out and found, to our surprise that we could make headway.  It took us a good 45 minutes to make it straight across and near the end we lost control and ended up sideways to the wind.  Although the waves were pretty big for a canoe, we were able to ride them and paddled the rest of the way sideways to the far shore.  Once we lost our heading into that wind we could not turn he canoe to get it back into it again.  Luckily we made to to the shore where there was little wind so we could follow the shore around to the portage again.  What a day.  Photos can be found in the Teton Lakes Canoe Trip album.

Thursday, August 15 -- Today was a rest day and a PGA Championship viewing day.  We puttered around all morning and then at noon the PGA came on television.  I spent 3 hours watching Tiger Woods and then we went back to puttering around.  It was a great day.  The weather was beautiful too.

Friday, August 16 -- I finished preparing a web site update and then we spent 3 hours at Jackson Lake Lodge using their computer room.  It took that long to update the web site because we were so far behind with pictures.  Each picture takes 1 minute to upload and we had 166 of them.  After that we visited some of our favorite spots in the park and also found a new lake called Two Oceans Lake.

Saturday, August 17 -- We left early to get to the Taggert Lake trailhead by 10 AM and headed out on the 5.5 mile hike that took us to Taggert Lake and Bradley Lake.  Both of these lakes are tucked up against the mountains just south of Grand Teton Peak.  Needless to say they were beautiful and the hike gave us a good workout.  We spent 4 hours.  After that we drove the remaining 30 miles into Jackson to go to the Albertson's and food shop.  We were desperately low on dog and cat food and ended up stocking up on a lot of other stuff.  We had not seriously shopped for groceries since somewhere in Utah.

Sunday, August 18 -- We left Colter Bay in Teton National Park around 8 AM and drove to West Yellowstone which is a nice town just outside the west gate of Yellowstone.  It was a 100 mile drive and very beautiful and scenic coming up through Yellowstone south gate and over to the west gate.  This route take you by Old Faithful.  We had spent a day there last week but we did stop today a Midway Geyser Basin for an hour or so.  We arrived at our camp site in West Yellowstone around 11 AM, just in time to tune in to the fourth round of the PGA Championship.  This evening we went to a Yellowstone movie at an IMAX theater.

Monday, August 19 -- Well, today a glass company from Bozeman, MN arrived around noon with a new passenger side windshield.  Ours was apparently hit by a rock on Sunday two weeks ago as we were driving from Dinosaur, NM to the Tetons.  When we first noticed the crack it was 8 inches long.  It did not grow while we were driving the remaining 100 miles into the Tetons but during our two week stay, it grew up to 18 inches long.  After about three hours work, two technicians had replaced that half of the windshield.  It is new again.  Since we had the day slotted for the glass, we also washed most of the outside of the motorhome.  We made arrangements for the glass replacement over a week ago.  Alfa shipped the Bozeman glass shop a new windshield during that time.  Our insurance company is paying for it.  We hear now from truckers and other motorhomers that windshield breakage is very common in Utah, Wyoming and Montana.  By the way, we extended our stay here in West Yellowstone by a day because we realized that the glass install would take us into at least mid afternoon.  So, now we are headed to Fishing Bridge in Yellowstone tomorrow morning instead of today.

Tuesday, August 20 -- We pulled out of West Yellowstone a little after 8 AM and headed back into Yellowstone NP.  We need to travel to the East entrance area to the Fishing Bridge campground, a distance of 68 miles.  We stopped at the various sights in the bottom portion of the park except for Old Faithful which we had seen a week ago.  We saw all of the rest of the geysers.  Also we bicycled 6 miles on a bike path.  We arrived at the campground at 3 PM and relaxed the rest of the day.  There is a new forest fire in the southwest corner of the park, just south of Yellowstone Lake.  We can see the smoke but the normal wind directions move it and the fire out of the park to the southeast.  Here at Fishing Bridge we have no cell phone service.

Wednesday, August 21 -- One thing about Yellowstone is that it is huge and you end up driving a lot to see all of it.  Today we headed north towards Canyon Village.  Along the way we stopped to watch some bison and visit the geothermal sites that are only a few miles north.  Due to heavy storm clouds in the Canyon area we headed west towards Norris.  We stopped at all the sites and then spent about 3 hours at the Norris Geyser Basin.  This basin is very nice and presented in a very natural way.  Also it does not get the crowds of Old Faithful.  From there we should of headed home but, instead, went north to Mammoth Hot Springs area.  On the way we saw a bear along the road and also several unique sights.  The Mammoth area was disappointing to us because it looked old, both the hot spring features and the buildings and area itself.  We came back across the top of Yellowstone towards Roosevelt.  We saw a lot of beautiful valleys and hillsides.  Also got up close to a bull moose.  By the time we got home it was after 8 PM.  Later than we wanted but we saw a lot.

Thursday, August 22 -- We went straight to Canyon area but got stopped by Bison along the way.  These bison seemed to be toying with the tourists driving on the road.  I swear they must amuse themselves by stopping cars and going back and forth across the road.  The tourists love it too.  We spent our day at the eastern side of the canyon and got home a little earlier at 3 PM.

Friday, August 23 -- Today we saw the western rim of the canyon, including two difficult trails to view points in the canyon.   

Saturday, August 24 -- We drove up to Tower Falls to hike to the bottom and then we went to the Lamar Valley.  This valley is the northeast entrance-way to the park.

Sunday, August 25 -- We drove to the base of Mt. Washburn and then hiked 1400 feet up (3 miles) to the fire look-out at the top.  This was a tough hike because we parked the car at 8800 foot elevation and the top is at 10,200 feet.  The views were worth every step.  The 3 mile walk down was joyful.

Monday, August 26 -- Today we spent some time around Yellowstone Lake.  We bicycled to natural bridge and then bicycled to Gull Point in Bridge Bay area.  We also visited the marina and Mary Bay.  This was our last day in Yellowstone.

Tuesday, August 27 --We left our campsite at around 8 AM and headed towards the north exit of Yellowstone.  We had to drive up past the canyon, past Norris and past Mammoth Hot Springs to get to the exit, so we were able to re-visit many of the sights as we passed and we got to see the Buffalo one last time.  The drive from the Mammoth exit to Livingston was beautiful as we followed the Yellowstone River along.  We traveled on I-90 from Livingston to Missoula, where we headed north on route 93.  We stopped at Finley Point State Park on Flathead Lake and got a campsite just a few feet from the water.  Flathead lake is the largest fresh water lake west of the Mississippi.

Wednesday, August 28 -- We had intended to continue on up to Glacier NP today but we loved the Flathead Lake campsite so much that we stayed another day.  We enjoyed the lakeside all day and sat by a camp fire until 11 PM.

Thursday, August 29 -- We left Flathead Lake around 9 AM and had a leisurely drive up through Kalispell to West Glacier, the west entrance to Glacier National Park.  Kalispell is more of a flat city instead of the mountain town that I was expecting.  Since I was celebrating my 54th birthday today, we relaxed through the afternoon and then had ribs, corn-on-the-cob, french fries and apple pie for dinner.  Wonderful.

Friday, August 30 -- We sort of took the day off from sightseeing today.  We found a hair salon in Kalispell and both got haircuts.  Then we went to a recommended sporting goods store and ended up purchasing an inflatable kayak.  We have wished that we had a canoe with us ever since we left the Tetons.  Now we will have one and, no doubt, will be seeking out lake and rivers to put it on.

Saturday, August 31 -- Today was a 10 hour day in Glacier National Park.  This park really has two sides and only one 50 mile mountain road connecting the sides.  We started out by putting our kayak into Lake MacDonald for a tryout.  The lake was like glass and it was great.  Then we started driving the Going-To-The-Sun Road and spent at least 4 or 5 hours getting to St. Mary on the other side.  The road and the views are fantastic.  Glacier Park is a lot like the Tetons only there are many more mountains and they are arranged in a cluster rather than in a row.  The Going-To-The-Sun Road takes you right through the middle of the cluster.  We had a late lunch or early dinner on the east side and then drove to Many Glacier.  After that we headed back and got home at 8:30 PM.