Category Archives: On The Road Again

Yellowstone National Park – Part 1

We ordered the alternator for the bus as soon as the parts store opened the morning after our adventure from Bozeman.  We didn’t want to sit in town waiting for the part to arrive, so we unloaded Boober and headed into the park to see what we could explore.  Our time here was limited by my need to be in North Dakota at the beet harvest as soon as possible, so we wanted to see as much of the park as we could.

I did not keep records of what the different features were, so you will have to go check it out for yourself if you want to know the names of the different features.

We headed in the West Yellowstone entrance and drove to the loop through the park.  Taking a right turn, this pool next to a river was the first geothermal feature we encountered.  It happened to work out that our first view of bison occurred here too.  There were no great herds to be seen, but seeing a few individuals got us all ready to see more.

The clouds rolling overhead made for some beautiful scenery as we drove around the park.  You can see steam rising from the bubbling vents in the background of the first image.  I tried to imagine what the first explorers thought when they came upon these crazy vents in the earth.  The variety of colors, smells, sounds, and textures found in the park is an amazing thing to experience.  The looks on the girls faces as they experienced each new thing was a great thing to witness first hand.

The drive around Yellowstone Lake was an awesome sight, the clouds reflecting off the water caused the view to constantly change.  I used the panoramic option on our camera to capture a few of these images, and I don’t think they turned out too bad for a point-and-shoot digital camera.  Driving through the park, you had to be on the lookout for wildlife all the time.  The easiest way by far to spot wildlife, look for other gawking visitors that are hurriedly pulled off the side of the road and standing around with cameras.  We just joined in the events along with everyone else when these spots occurred.  We were able to spot a coyote and an elk using this method on this particular drive through.

When the drive opens up into the Hayden Valley, following the Yellowstone River, it is hard to believe you are really there.  Everything you are taking in with your eyes seems like it should be on canvass in a museum somewhere.  To think views like this only occur once with the ever changing clouds, and we were the only people to have that exact view, it will never be duplicated.  We could see small herds of bison in the distance, and I tried to imagine what it would have been like to see the great herds that extended to the horizon.

Driving along on the curvy roads, you never knew when an obscure geothermal feature would be hiding.  This one is one of the most interesting looking things from our entire trip.  It was hidden on the other side of the river, I actually had to turn around to go check it out since we passed it.

Our first day in the park was a long one, but well worth the early start and lots of curvy road driving.  We made it back to the bus after dark and slept good with lots of new memories to add to our trip.

We did manage to go to Old Faithful on our first day, but I don’t have any pictures.  My next post will be mostly videos of our first day in the park as soon as I have time to edit and upload them.  Stay Tuned….

From Glacier to Yellowstone

Leaving Glacier National Park early in the morning, we had several hours to drive before we made it to our scheduled stopping point of Bozeman, MT.  When you are surrounded by steep, jagged mountains, and you are driving The Scholl Bus you can plan on it being a long drive that day.  The first picture shows the mountains closing in, and we knew we had to climb a pass to get over them.  The bus made the climb like a champ, it just did it slowly.  Thor enjoyed watching the scenery rolling by as we drove, which was his normal post while traveling.

Once we arrived in Bozeman, we pulled into our Walmart parking spot for the night, and were greeted by Mason Griffin, one of my classmates from Watauga High School in Boone, North Carolina.  Mason operates Alter Cycles, a bike shop in Bozeman, so I picked up some bike parts from him the next morning as we took a tour of his shop.  If you need to get bike work done, need parts, or are interested in a new bike, stop by and see Mason and tell him we sent you.

We make a quick stop at the Museum of the Rockies while in Bozeman, where the girls learned about dinosaurs and fossils.  This museum is home to one of the largest and most important dinosaur fossil collections in the world.  In the first picture, the girls are watching the paleontologists begin to remove the plaster case surrounding a new fossil.  The last image in this group shows the newly exposed fossil.

 

The girls spent a couple hours in the museum, then we jumped back in the bus and headed toward our destination in West Yellowstone.  The drive from Bozeman to West Yellowstone isn’t that far, but the curvy roads that run along the river add to the time it takes to get there.  We also ran into some stops due to road construction along the way.  It was getting dark as we pulled into West Yellowstone.  We were stopped at a traffic light getting ready to make a turn and drive the last few miles to our campground destination, when it happened.  The loudest squealing noise I have ever heard pierced the evening air and I knew we had to pull over to see what had happened to the bus.  I got stopped in a gravel lot and opened the hood to discover our alternator had locked up and the squealing was the sound of the belts slipping on the pulley.  I didn’t want to move the bus again so we went to the business that was adjacent to the gravel lot we were in.  The very rude owner said we could not park there overnight and had to move, so we found a spot up the road where the owners were much more friendly.  They even allowed us to use their restroom and showers (it was a cabin rental business).  I got up early the next morning, removed the alternator in just a few minutes (it is the easiest one to access I have ever worked on) and took it to the local NAPA.  They had a rebuilt one for us the next day, so we were back up and running with minimal effort, just a little over $400 for the alternator and belts.

 

We decided to drive into the park while we waited on the new alternator, so the next post will begin our adventures in the park.  Stay Tuned…

Glacier National Park

After our stop at the gold mine in Idaho, we were just a few hours away from our next campground a few miles from the entrance to Glacier National Park.  We arrived late that night at Glacier Pines Campground, in Kalispell, and situated ourselves after dark.  We were happy to get up early the next morning since we had new adventures waiting for us.  We loaded into Boober and drove to the park, with Going To The Sun Road on our agenda for the day.  It started out cloudy so our view heading up to Logan Pass was limited.  The climb up the road is impressive, building this road is definitely an engineering marvel.

We arrived at Logan Pass, the highest point on the Going To The Sun Road, at an elevation of 6646 feet.  We didn’t expect to be able to see much since the clouds were so thick.  We walked up to the visitors center and looked around, but when we came out we got an unexpected surprise.  The clouds parted and we were amazed by the vista that lie before us.  The girls were not impressed by the glaciers at all since we had spent all summer on a mountain with a glacier in Oregon.  I had honestly expected them to be much larger than they actually were.  The best part was by far the views of the mountains and the pristine landscape in front of us.

 

After spending a while at Logan Pass, we continued on down toward the East entrance to the park.  The drive down the curvy road was beautiful, the clouds were nice and fluffy rolling over the mountain peaks and over the lakes.

 

We grabbed lunch consisting of Bison Burgers at a little restaurant in Babb, Montana on our way to the Many Glacier area.  We stopped and hiked to a waterfall, I didn’t tell the girls about the Bear Country sign until we got back to Boober.  They had a great time on the hike, it was steep but they all said they were glad they made it to such a beautiful waterfall.  We had to say goodbye to the waterfall after resting for just a few minutes because we had to go all the way back across the Going to the Sun Road to get back to the bus.  The next to the last image in this group is the view out over the valley from the waterfall.  After hiking back to the van, we drove to the end of the road and found the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn.  The view of the mountain above the inn were great, and we even saw a momma big horn sheep with her baby on the hillside as we were driving back toward Babb.  I took a picture, but they were too far away to see clearly.

 

The drive back across Logan Pass gave us a different view of the glaciers.  Since the sun was setting, the pictures are a little grainy, but you can see the glaciers a little better.  There are more glaciers in the park, we just didn’t have enough time to hike to the best viewing spots.  Our time in glacier only lasted one day, but we enjoyed it very much.  It only gave us added drive to see other amazing places on our journey, even if for just a short time.  Heading to glacier added a couple hundred miles to our journey, but it was well worth the extra slow driving in the bus.  Some day I hope to be able to bring the girls back to see these vistas again, and spend a few weeks taking it all in.

 

After a whirlwind tour of the park, we decided to take a day to relax a little before we headed toward Bozeman.  We were glad we went to Lone Pine State Park and hiked some of the trails.  The views over the town of Kalispell were very nice, it was a relaxing break before driving again.

 

We packed up the next morning and headed toward Bozeman early, the Walmart parking lot was our destination.  I looked forward to running into a high school classmate and checking out his bike shop in Bozeman.