Monday, June 27, 2011

Smaaaaaarter than the average American

Just FYI, I added a whole extra photo to the last post, so go take a look before you read on. If you want to of course.

Yah. It rained in Glacier Park. Or at least, it rained all night, and in the morning it looked like it was going to rain again, the reports were
that many of the trails were still snow-blocked, and to get to the hiking trails I was going to have to drive further north, when I needed to be going south, so I decided to flag Glacier National Park. No big loss. I had been hearing good things since I got over here, but I’d never heard of it before arriving, so I didn’t exactly have it on my wish list. Or even have a wish list at all for that matter. But still.

So, south I went, all the way to Yellowstone National Park, home of Yogi and Boo Boo of course, and anther hefty day of driving. I stopped in a roadside camp ground on arrival, just outside the national park, then headed in the next day. This worked ou

t perfectly, as it was mid-summer’s day and President Obama had declared that all National Parks would be free entry. And of course, once you’re in, you’re in, and don’t have to pay the entry fee however long you stay! So, at least 2 nights then. Just the camp site fees to cover, and frankly they are far better than the Canadian Parks fees – only $14 for a night.

Yellowstone is like a big amusement park without any proper rides, and you have to drive everywhere to get to the next interesting thing. They have a road network inside that is pretty much like a digital figure 8, with info buildings at each junction, and each 'segment' of the eight is about 25miles long. Basically, you decide which of the attractions you’d like to visit (waterfalls, geothermal bits and bobs, Old Faithful, of course) and where you’d like to walk etc. As long as you are early enough to the camp sites to get a spot, you are on ea

sy street. I got the last spot in my campground at about 11.30am, so that was lucky. I spent the rest of the day driving and pulling in to see things, much like everyone else. There’s a speed limit of 45mph everywhere, and signs to watch for wildlife, so people displayed mammoth amounts of patience, waiting while folks just stopped in the middle of the road to take photos or watch bison. Or were they buffalo. I think they are the same thing actually…no, hang on…a bison is what you wash your fice in (I heard this on a Saturday morning kids show about 25 years ago and have been just waiting for the perfect time to steal it!)….anyway, they were everywhere.

Of course, you don’t know that when you start out, so the first tiny bison specks in the distance are photographed to the max, in case you don’t see another.

Not long after you’ll find yourself in a walking pace traffic queue because the ranger is escorting one up the road; later you pop in to a parking lot to see a view of a water meadow and get surrounded by them as they wander about the car park getting from grazing area A to grazing area B. Before long you are sick of bison and swear you will never take another photo of one again…unless it does something interesting…like move about….or was that just me?

There were also Elk, many ground squirrels, a mangy old coyote, a few bears (I ticked off yet more Black bears and my first Grizzly on my second day), and views that are really quite spectacular – though not of the grizzly. That was quite a distance away, and even the zoom lens on my camera failed to make more of it than a brown

lump slightly different to the other brown lumps it was mooching about in. That’s how you can tell it’s a bear. Trust me. Heaps of mountains, forests, rivers and thermal stuff too, with geysers and blowholes and colourful springs everywhere. If I were a stirrer, I’d say it’s so much better than New Zealand, as it’s all in one place…but without a coastline….so much more convenient…but I’m no stirrer. To be fair, what Rotorua squeezes into one smallish town, Yellowstone multiplies it and spreads it out to spread out the tourists. The driving could be considered a bit of a nuisance, but it is so picturesque, it’s not a problem. As for the tourists, there are so many of them everywhere, but you only really notice it in the car parks. Of course, if I’d been into some major multi-day hikes, I’d have left everyone behind and got into the back country. I was a total tourist though and stuck to the mainstream bits. Sorry, Rich, I let you down, played the sheep, followed the crowds…elbowed them out the way to get the best photos mind you…

I have one more night here tonight, then I’m off east at full speed. I think I should get to Mount Rushmore tomorrow, but not sure where I’ll stay the night. Not far from there I imagine. Then it’ll be another big day towards Chicago. If I can roll in there on Saturday, I’d be happy. Til then, mind your backs.

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