Great American Road Trip

In April-May of 2011, we took an awesome RV trip from Orlando all the way out to Yosemite and then back. We visited the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Devils Tower and more on this once in a life time trip. Here are the blog entries from that trip in chronological order.

Our GART – Leg 1 – Orlando to Pensacola

Ok, big trip for the CurbCrusher gang. It is our Great American Road Trip (GART), and we got started today. Actually Lady and Little CurbCrusher started on Wednesday by taking the Saturn (our toad) and heading to Tallahassee for 4-H day at the Capitol. I brought the motor home up and met them at a rest area on I-10, and we continued on over to Pensacola. Since this is the parts from which I originate, we’ve got a family reunion to attend. We’re staying at the Pensacola RV Park which is located just off I-10 until Sunday morning when we head further west.

The folks here at the Pensacola RV Park seem friendly. We are in a good sized pull-thru site with plenty of room for the car and the motorhome, and we are in one of the smaller ones. It appears that there are 51 sites here that are full hook up with water, electric (30 and 50 amp) and sewer. Twenty of the sites are back ins with the rest being full hook up.

So about 450 miles of the trip down, and about 6150 to go.


GART – Second Leg – Pensacola to Vicksburg

Well after a day of family, fun and rain in Pensacola, we headed out on the second leg of the trip: Pensacola to Vicksburg. We went to sleep Saturday night to rain, thunder and thinking Sunday might be a bad day to travel. Woke up early (being in the Central Time Zone helps) and got on the road under clear skies.

We drove from Pensacola to Jackson, Miss via Mobile and US-98. I once again passed by the USS Alabama in Mobile. One day I want to stop. I’ve wanted to visit the USS Alabama since I was about five years old and we used to go to Loxley, AL to visit my aunt. At that time I-10 was plastered with “See the USS Alabama” signs. I never could convince my Mom to go, and I’ve never gotten off my lazy butt as an adult to go. One day.

We stopped in Jackson to visit Millisaps College. This is the place that Lady CurbCrusher headed after high school and spent some time. Since I’ve made Little CurbCrusher visit the University of West Florida on more than one occasion, Lady CurbCrusher only thought it was proper to make a stop at her favorite college. There was really no place to park the motorhome, but the nice folks at the Cabot Lodge which is located adjacent to the campus were kind enough to let us park out back for a couple of hours.

After that stop, it was short trip over to Vicksburg. We put in to the Ameristar RV Park, which is associated with the Ameristar Casino right across the street. The park seems nice enough, all the sites are pull thrus and have water, electric and sewer. You get a picnic table and there is a small pool by the office. The only drawback seems to be the railroad tracks that run behind the park. It’s only eight-thirty and I hear the third big train of the night coming through. This might be a long night.

We got here early enough to head over to the Vicksburg National Military Park this afternoon. We had planned this for tomorrow morning, but our early start this morning let us go ahead on over today. We visited both the main Visitor’s Center and the USS Cairo, along with driving the road tour. While I’d heard of the Battle of Vicksburg, and was familiar with the park being here, I was unaware of the USS Cairo. This is an ironclad river boat that was sunk during the Battle of Vicksburg. It was recovered in the 60’s and restored. The exhibit of the boat itself is impressive, but even better is the collection of artifacts that were recovered from the boat.

Tomorrow starts the third leg of our trip, which will take the next three days: Vicksburg to the Grand Canyon.

GART – Leg 3a – Vicksburg to Holbrook, AZ

Well, no entry for a day or two from me, too much driving. It turned out the trains near the campground in Vicksburg did not bother me, so I awoke refreshed and we headed out of Vicksburg on Monday morning with a goal of making it to the Grand Canyon by Wednesday. That’s over 1400 miles and we seem to have been averaging about 50 mph on the road, so that’s 28 hours of driving. Yay!

In breaking this up, I decided that I wanted to try and get to Amarillo, Tx on Monday night, that would get about 700 miles out of the way. So we headed across I-20 through Louisiana and into Texas. Lady CurbCrusher was adamant about wanting to skip the stacked freeways in Dallas, so we headed up US-69 around Tyler to Greenville, then across US-380 to Decatur where we caught US-287 and headed up to Amarillo. The worst part of this drive was from Greenville to Decatur. It was a lot of stop lights, and some of the worst drivers I’ve had to drive amongst in a long time. I wish we weren’t on such a tight schedule though. There was a jet-way graveyard along US-69 that I would have liked to stop and photograph, and along US-380 there was a WWII POW Camp sign that I would have liked to follow. Once we turned onto US-287 the ride was nice. There is little traffic and it is a four lane road. There are also a number of picnic areas, some are just that but two or three are really nice rest stops that rival any state welcome station. The only thing is that there are signs “Beware of rattlesnakes.”

We arrived at the Amarillo West RV Park around 11 pm. This is mostly an overnight kind of place. The roads are dirt and the sites are gravel with water, electric and sewer. There appeared to be cable, but we didn’t hook it up. If you show up after closing you look for an empty spot and park, which is what we did.

We woke up and visited the Cadillac Ranch, which is only a mile down the road. Came back, hooked up and went on our way.

Day two of the push was to try and get to Holbrook, Az. This puts us in a spot to go visit the Petrified Forest National Park in the morning before heading over to the Grand Canyon. We made it in about 9 hours and covered approximately 500 miles from Amarillo. The drive across New Mexico is fairly desolate, but it the hills and mountains are beautiful to look at while driving.

We’ve ended up at the Holbrook KOA. A large gravel parking lot with campsites marked out. Some trees, and full hookup, so no complaints there. Wireless is a bonus. There is a pool and playground although it is a bit cold for the pool right now. Little CurbCrusher had a good half hour or so on the playground, which was probably a relief for her after being cooped up in the RV the past two days.

That sums up the trip to date. We’ve done about 2000 of the 6600 miles we plan for the trip.

GART – Leg 3(b) Holbrook to Grand Canyon

We woke early and headed to the Petrified Forest National Park. A great park that you drive through with lots of stops. It wanders through part of the Painted Desert, which has some beautiful views. The park is about 20 miles east of the Holbrook KOA.

After visiting the park we headed to Holbrook to hook up and head west, to the Grand Canyon, about 180 miles away. We got back to Holbrook, hooked up the car, unhoooked the utilities and headed out. We hit the road about 10:30am on Wednesday. We planned a shopping stop in Winslow, Az which has a Walmart that is easily accessible from I-40.

We arrived in Winslow about 11:30am and hit the Walmart. We got an ice-cream cake for Little CurbCrusher’s birthday which was the following day, and she was planning on waking up on her birthday in the Grand Canyon. We headed back out on the frontage road and found that I-40 was closed due to high-winds and limited visibility. There are apparently no alternate routes from Winslow to Flagstaff, so we headed to a nearby Texaco and filled up with petrol, the parked in the northwest corner of the Walmart parking lot. And there we would stay
until 6:40 am the next morning. The winds blew all night long and the dust was thick. The parking lot filled up with 18 wheelers, other RV’s and cars just looking for a place to park. By nightfall, just about all the flat areas around the exit were packed with semis.

After a night of being buffeted by winds that were reported at 35 – 50 mph, with gust to 70, we woke to the sound of trucks pulling out of the parking lot. We ate breakfast, had Little CurbCrusher open her gifts, and then hit the road. After making about 15 miles west on I-40 traffic came to a complete standstill. We sat still for about an hour to an hour and a half until the traffic started moving again. It is times like these that it is nice to be travelling in a motorhome. At least we had all our facilities with us. The winds were still blowing at around 30 mph, so the 50 some odd miles that we had to drive on I-40 were tiring.

We exited I-40 at MM 201 and headed up US-89. We did this for two reasons, one was to approach the Grand Canyon from the east entrance, and the other was to stop and visit the Wupatki National Monument. If we had been smart, and not following the GPS we would have driven by the Sunset Crater NP also. As you head up US-89 (a very nice road to drive by the way), you get to a sign that says turn right to go to Sunset Crater NP and Waptuki. If you look at a map, it shows that this road is a loop (approx 35 miles) and it appears that Wupatki is
right next to the north end of the loop. Actually, Wupatki is 13 miles in from the North end of the loop, which means that if you follow the sign (and not the GPS) you get two parks for the price of one.

We toured and photographed Wupatki and finally departed and headed up US-89 to AZ-64 and turned west. As soon as we did this, we encountered snow. I checked the outside temperature and it was 30 degrees F. We had not expected this. The snow was intermittent, and after a while we came to the NP entrance station. We continued the drive along the south rim until we reached the Grand Canyon Village and it’s full hook up RV park, Trailer Village. We checked in and pulled into our site around 12:30. Our 180 mile trip from Holbrook had taken approximately 14 hours. If we keep this rate of speed up we may never finish this trip.

GART Stop 2 – Grand Canyon

We spent our first afternoon in the Grand Canyon getting snowed on. It would snow a bit, then stop. As the afternoon wore on, it got more consistent, it snowed more. Around 3:30pm we headed to the Grand Canyon Village and walked around. We finally had an early dinner to celebrate Little Curb Crusher’s birthday at the Bright Angle Lodge’s restaurant.

The views of the Canyon, even in the snow are spectacular. With the heavy clouds, there were times that it appeared that the clouds were filling in the Canyon. This is the first time that I remember ever seeing the Grand Canyon, even though Lady CurbCrusher has been a bunch of times, and even Little CurbCrusher has been before. It is certainly easy to tell how people are charmed by the place. Every time you look out over the rim, you seem to see something different. Pictures from this first day are here and here.

We spent our full day in the Canyon visiting most all of the view points on the South rim. We got up early to a cold morning. In fact is was so cold that the water had frozen in the hose between the faucet and the motorhome. We started by driving to the furthest east spot, Desert View. We then worked our way back to the Visitor’s Center, stopping and taking in a ranger program along the way. The ranger program covered the ruins early civilizations that had occupied the rim of the Canyon. We stopped at the RV for lunch, and then headed out to the western viewpoints of the rim. The western view points are only accessible by shuttle bus, so we left the car at the site and headed for the red shuttle. We rode to a couple of viewpoints, and walked between a couple. Each is different, but beautiful. As the day wore on, it got warmer, and by the end of the day it was quite pleasant.

We got up the next morning and hiked the Bright Angel Trail. Not all of it, but just the first mile and a half. There is a rest stop at a mile and a half. It took about 45 minutes to hike down to that point, we rested for about 15 minutes, and then took about an hour and fifteen minutes to hike back up. This is a great hike, it gets you below the Canyon rim without taking all day. The views from halfway down the Canyon looking up are fantastic. You also share the trail with mule trains. For us this wasn’t a bad thing as only one mule train made its way down while we were making our way back up. I had heard of this trail and was expecting a narrow steep trail. The trail was wider than I expected, and going up was much steeper than I expected. :-). Actually it wasn’t bad, but on the way up you did feel that you were exerting yourself.

Following the hike, we had done pretty much everything on our Grand Canyon bucket list. It was before noon and we decided to hit the road. The next stop is Fresno, Ca so that we can visit Sequoia National Park, and it is about 650 miles away. I had planned to drive this in one day, but with the early departure from the Grand Canyon we can break it up into two days.

May 9, 2010 Day 19 We Make It to Salt Lake City on Mother’s Day

We get up late for us-7:30 am. Today is Mother’s day, the first LCC has ever spent on the road and not at home. We would normally have a quick breakfast and then go to church, but today LCC watches a portion of the Mormon Tabernacle Service on TV before we leave the Double Dice in Elko, NV. CC has given me a card and a t-shirt that I liked when I saw it back at Myakka SP in Sarasota. But he couldn’t buy it when we were there because we were always together so he had to order it online. I thought it was cool it says “May the forest be with you” with large pine trees on it. It will actually remind me of Yosemite because of the trees in the campground. PTCC made me a homemade box of tape and put the shot glass in it from the box she bought the other day in Yosemite. She is so creative, definitely not something she got from me.

After that I go inside to get my continental breakfast of coffee and a muffin and we get ready to hit the road. Only 4 hours of driving today and we also change time so we will only be 2 hours behind now. I was just getting used to Pacific time and now it changes.

So we get on the road and in an hour we stop for gas, just like yesterday there is nothing to see. I think we have found a road to rival the most boring one in FL. I-10 in the panhandle. Only I-10 has trees-there are none in Nevada. Someone could get big bucks if they’d sell a few here and there. PTCC and LCC are having a girl’s day planned by PTCC to celebrate Mom’s day. We have makeovers, hairstyling, hide and seek of WebKinz, songs, and dancing to songs on her I touch. After that LCC is worn out so she takes a nap on the sofa and PTCC watches a movie.

Finally we cross to Utah. There is also not a welcome station here. This is the 3rd or 4th state that doesn’t have one. We see salt on the sides of the road and the Wasatch Mountains with snow on them in the distance. We come to a rest stop and have lunch and see a para-sailer on wheels going across the Great Salt Desert.After getting back on the road we see something in the median, we think it is a cell tower disguised like a cactus, a very strange sight. We finally come to SLC and see the lake. It looks huge! Which it is.This is our 4th state capitol on the trip (Tallahassee, Jackson, Sacramento, and now Salt Lake City). We find the interchange of I-215 and see the RV park just ahead. It looks nice. There is a playground, clubhouse, laundry, pool, and nature trail that’s 14 miles long. We get FHU, cable and wi-fi that we can’t live without. Sites are tight but that’s ok since we will still be sightseeing while here. We get set up and then check out the wi-fi and PTCC does a Spanish assignment then we go to Walmart to get some pics made and fill the larder up.

Before shopping we stopped at Chili’s for dinner. It was kind of funny when we got there another family was waiting to be seated and the mom said she thought it was only guys working because there was no hostess and she saw no female servers there. Maybe they gave them all the day off. We hoped it would not take too long because PTCC and CC are big fans of Amazing Race and wanted to see the finale. PTCC had already arranged with a friend to IM her to tell her who won since we are in a different time zone and she would see it first. We finished dinner with time to spare to shop so we hit the Walmart and got everything we thought we would need then stopped to gas the car and run it through a car wash. It looks like it lost 5 lbs. of dirt but it’s finally clean again.They we went home and made it back in time to see the show. Afterwards CC and LCC took a walk around the park and saw the same couple CC talked to this morning in Elko, NV. They said they were on their way to Yellowstone as well. Maybe we will stop and say hi tomorrow before CC leaves. Then we walk to the clubhouse and the manager couple see us and come out to talk. We ask questions about the area and just chat for awhile. PTCC comes out to the playground and hangs out. It’s getting cold so we go in and catch up on internet stuff and help CC pack for his flight.

May 21, 2010 Day 31 CurbCrusher Comes Back

Today is the day that CC comes back to SLC. I check his flight data when I get up and see that his plane left on time to Denver. He said he would call when he gets in there. PTCC sleeps until 9:15 am and then gets up to have breakfast. We finish up some last minute clean up stuff and around 10:45 am CC calls to tell us that he made it to Denver. His plane will land in SLC around 1 pm. We make plans on where to meet and then hang up. PTCC starts working on finishing up her 1st semester module in Spanish. She takes her mid term and now has only a collaboration to do. She posts that and needs to wait for someone to answer her and then she will be finished. I do some more research on Yellowstone but the wi-fi is acting up again. This has been a nice RV park except for 2 things: how close the RV’s are parked to each other and the crazy wi-fi. It seems to work fine either real late or real early but is very iffy in between.

CC has called to tell us to pick him up and we head to the airport. They only have 2 terminals in SLC so it is very easy to navigate. We get him and make him drive us back to the park. PTCC is already jumping up and down and wanting to swim. So after a quick lunch we all head out to the pool. CC and PTCC jump right in and CC finds out he needs to stay in the deep end because if you pop your head up it is cold outside. The pool temperature is about 90 degrees but the outside air is only in the low 60’s. They play for awhile and then I leave to go back and take a nap. I’m glad PTCC finally has her dad to play with her in the pool. I know it was getting boring being in it by herself.

The weather is going to get worse soon so when they come back we start racking the bikes and picking up the inside so we can go early in the morning. PTCC helps CC make dinner and then we watch some TV and CC goes to bed. He is still on East coast time.I’m so glad we’re going to move tomorrow. SLC is nice but too cold for me, but I know Yellowstone will be colder.

May 22, 2010 Day 32 We’re On Our Way Again

CC and I get up early and have breakfast and finish up the preparation for leaving. We are going to stop at the Flying J for more propane and then drive to the Walmart in Layton for an oil change. It is 39 degrees outside. It rained all night and snowed in the mountains. You can’t see the tops of them because the fog/cloud cover is so thick. It will not be a sunny day for a drive, that’s for sure.

We have no problem at the Flying J getting the propane so we mosey on to I-15 to go to Walmart. We get there and park and then go in to tell them we called about an oil change. They had to roll the doors all the way up to get us inside. We go to do our shopping and return to find out that they couldn’t do the oil change after all. They did not have the filter necessary for our RV. So all we can do is hookup and leave after loading our groceries. CC also bought a pool noodle hoping that it will help insulate our water line in Yellowstone at Fishing Bridge.

We get on our way and it does look ugly ahead of us. There are very dark clouds hanging over the mountains and the road is still wet from the rain, but at least it is not raining right now. We make it into Idaho and they actually do have a visitor center in this state. But we pass it up because we have just started on journey. About 20 miles into Idaho we hit sleet. Not what we want to see right now. It is piling up on the front window. PTCC wants to sit in the front so she can see it. It piles up so much from the wipers pushing it and then it falls off the windshield. CC told me it is 36 degrees outside. Yuck.

We go for another hour and then stop at a rest stop to have lunch.

All through Idaho we encounter snow showers and they continue into Montana. Even with them we are making good time so we should be in West Yellowstone around 3 pm.

We are in West Yellowstone now. We gassed up before finding the RV Park. CC had a surveyor ask him a lot of questions while he was gassing up the RV. All about what we planned to do while in town and how long we will be staying. After he is through we head to Yellowstone Grizzly RV and check in. It looks like a nice park with lots of green space. Our site is directly across from the playground like we asked for so PTCC could play if she wants. It is still snowing though so I think it is a little too cold to hang around outside. We set up and then head into town to get gas for the car. It is hard to fuel both the car and RV at the same time because the car has the gas fill on the passengers side which makes it hard to reach with the gas hose. So we check out the town while driving around. We stop at the Bear and Wolf Discovery Center and look through a few gift shops. We then decide we are hungry and eat at a Mexican restaurant. Then we find the Visitors Center that also has a National Park desk for info. The gentleman there said we could pick up PTCC’s Jr Ranger book in the morning before heading into the park. We asked about road closures since it’s been snowing and he gave us a number to call in the morning for the latest closures. We then went to get our gas and come back to the RV park. On the way we saw a bison grazing in town. That makes 2 animal sightings today. I saw a moose eating a tree in the Targhee Forest on the way in but could not get a good picture because of our speed and the snow. Hopefully tomorrow we will see many animals and lots of geysers on our way to our campsite. We finally got our Mi-Fi working so as long as we have Verizon hopefully I will be able to post.

Leg 6 – Part II – West Yellowstone to Fishing Bridge

Snow on picnic table
Up early, and there is snow everywhere. I really don’t want to drive the RV in snow. I call the Yellowstone road conditions number and they say that the roads that we want are open, but the road from Old Faithful to West Thumb, which crosses the Continental Divide twice, is “snow tires recommended” and “snow packed.” Oh boy. I start the day off by trying to talk Lady CurbCrusher into staying in West Yellowstone and driving into the park for a couple of days. That just puts a damper on the start of the day for everyone, because, as you all know “if Momma ain’t happy, no one’s happy.”

So we drive the short distance to the entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Except for the cold, the driving is not bad. We’ve decided that we’re going take the southern route from Madison to Old Faithful to West Thumb, then up to Fishing Bridge, and that we’re going to stop and see the stuff along the way in the RV as we make the trip. The total distance is about 60 miles, but we take about six hours to make the trip, stopping at most of the sights along the way. This is a bit of a pain, because the motorhome/car combo does not fit in a lot of the “RV” parking spots that are in the various pull outs in Yellowstone.

We reach Craig’s pass (the Continental Divide) area in the afternoon after lunch. It is fine. The weather forecasters have been wrong, and instead of overcast skies, there has been sun for most of the morning. So the road is dry, there is snow on either side of the road above about 7500 feet, but the driving is safe. The worse part is the climbing, but our trusty Workhorse and Allison combo keep up with the speed limit on the climbs with no problem.

West Thumb Geyser Basin Trail
This is the deepest into the park that we’ve ever been, as Lady CurbCrusher and I had made a winter visit to the park about 13 years ago and been as far as Old Faithful. At West Thumb, there is another geyser basin, and I think it is more impressive than the ones around Old Faithful. This geyser basin sits on the shore of Lake Yellowstone, which is still frozen, except for the area along the shore where the hot water from the geyser basin empties into the lake. Very cool, and very picturesque with the mountains across the lake.

The final part of the trip is from West Thumb to Fishing Bridge. This is about a 21 mile road that runs along Lake Yellowstone. The road is an easy drive, and you get great views of the lake and mountains all along the road.

Fishing Bridge has the only “full” hook-up RV park in Yellowstone National Park. However, there is not electricity. A lady up a the store told us it was because Xanterra, the company that operates the shopping and campground concession, only has two years left on their contract, and does not want to spend the money upgrading the electric capabilities in the park unless their contract is renewed. Regardless, it means that you get water and sewer and and electric box that you can not plug into. The sites are tight, with enough room for your rig, and a place to park your car next to it. While the place was probably designed and built when a big RV was 25 foot, there are a number of “big” rigs (35ft + ) in area we are camped in. However, since there are not a lot of folks there, they are only using one side of each loop. That makes it feel a bit more roomy, and they are trying leave every other site empty to give the feeling of a larger site. As there is no electricity, and generators are permitted from 8 to 8 each day.

May 23, 2010 Day 33 Yellowstone Here We Come

We get up to find out it snowed about ½ an inch last night. The RV is covered in snow as well as the car and campsite. It is 32 degrees outside. CC goes out to hook up the water so we can get breakfast and brush our teeth. Then we pull in the slides, hook up the car and away we go to the Yellowstone Visitor Center. Before we left we did check with Grizzly RV to find out if they had openings in case the roads closed down on us and they did so we have a backup plan if needed. At the Visitor Center we get PTCC her Jr Ranger book and recheck the conditions. The last update was at 1235 am and the only thing closed is Dunraven Pass because of the high elevation. So we get back in the RV and head out. We show my pass at the entrance station and we’re now in Yellowstone. The roads look clear with no snow on them, which is good. We are riding alongside the Madison River and not too far down the road we see a bison family. 2 adults and a calf are walking alongside the road. We of course take pictures and move on since they weren’t blocking the road. Still following the river we see some Trumpeter Swans floating along. Then we take the turnoff for Firehole Canyon Drive which runs next to the Firehole River and has a waterfall. We take lots of pictures and videos and get someone to take our picture by the sign here. We are going in the direction of the Midway Geyser Basin when PTCC yells bison! There is a large bison walking down the center line of the road so we give him room to walk and wait for him to go by. In one of the pull outs I snap a picture of a Bald Eagle high in a tree next to the road. Our next stop is at Nez Perce Creek where we stop and read the information sign about Chief Joseph trying to keep his tribe off the reservation. Then we come to the Fountain Paint Pot area and stop there to walk around the mud pots. The ground is all white from the minerals spewing up and it smells like sulfur. We see a lone bison right next to the boardwalk grazing. They look so bad this time of year since they are molting their thick coats. They should probably keep them a little longer since it is still snowing this week. We walk around and see the Clepsydra Geyser and Spasm Geyser which have lots of steam around them. All the tree branches are bleached white from the minerals in the water.

Then we make our way to the Midway Geyser basin where we walk over a bridge on the Firehole River. We could see streams of water running into the river from the geysers and wherever they fell in the river plumes of steam came up since the river is so cold right now. The streams were amazing colors of orange, rust , red, and browns. The steam was so thick we couldn’t see where we were going sometimes. The pools were the most beautiful aquamarine blue I’ve ever seen. It was hard to get good pictures because of the amount of steam coming from them. We walked the boardwalk until we got to the Grand Prismatic Spring. This is the one that has the most colorful pictures taken of it. It’s hard to see unless you are above it. There are these really bright orange bacteria mats that we walked over. At the end of the boardwalk was this little conifer tree that had icicles all over it so we snapped a shot of it. As we drive on towards Old Faithful we see several herds of bison with the calves and mothers near the river. There was also a lone bison across the river-I guess he didn’t want to be crowded.

We make it to the Old Faithful visitor center and park the RV and go inside. PTCC has already finished her Jr Ranger worksheet and can be awarded her patch. CC gets his pin and I get my NP stamp. Then we head outside to look around since Old Faithful will blow sometime near 1217 pm. We get our picture taken at the Old Faithful sign and then walk over to the Old Faithful Lodge and walk around inside and check out the shop. They have a cafeteria inside as well. We head back to the viewing area and take seats in the front row to wait for the show. We work on the pages of PTCC’s Jr Ranger book that she didn’t have to do before. We wait around and at 1219 pm Old Faithful starts to blow.(PTCC here- It started with 2 false alarms, and when it actually went off at first it was like “This is worse than the ones at Disney” but after it got a good start I was actually like “WHOA THIS IS AWESOME” and that was an awesome experience totally epic). After the show we walked around the geyser basin. The bridge to the upper area was closed because an elk had been killed near the upper side of the river and the rangers didn’t want people near where a bear or wolf might show up. We were able to see Castle Geyser and the Beehive Geyser before moving on to the Old Faithful Inn. We purchased our Yellowstone picture frame here and took pictures inside the building and then headed back to the RV for lunch.

After leaving the Old Faithful area we cross the Continental Divide (elev 8262 ft) at Craig Pass and again a few minutes later (elev 8391 ft). Then we see the West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake. It is huge and covered with ice. We see elk on the left side of the road but can’t stop because there is no room left in the pull out. We then drive on to the West Thumb Geyser Basin and stop to walk around the boardwalk here. It flanks Lake Yellowstone and the geysers are all pure topaz blue in color. There were ducks out swimming in a little patch of water in the frozen lake. The Grand Tetons could been seen in the background. The pools looked just like some of the springs we have in FL such a deep blue in color. One of the signs I saw said the water was 167 degrees. Not a good idea to jump in.

We continue driving and see the Arnica Creek Sandbar that was the original road that stagecoaches used to get around Yellowstone. We pass Bridge Bay and the fishing traps that Indians added to the lake to catch fish. We then pass Lake Hotel and the next stop is Fishing Bridge. We roll over this old wooden bridge with pedestrian walkways on each side and come to a small village that has a gas station, shop, visitor center, mechanic area, and a warming hut for cross country skiers. And then we finally see the sign to check in for Fishing Bridge camping. Yeah we are here. We check in and go to our site. We are in the last section because we want to use our generator. We have sewer and water but no power. A lady in a shop later told us that Xanterra is 2 years away from the end of their contract and they don’t want to make expensive changes unless the NP renew the contract so they are waiting to see what happens. The power fluctuates so much because of the larger coaches taking 50 amps when the park was only built for 20/20 amps years ago. It caused so many meltdowns and brownouts that they are not offering power anymore.

PTCC sees snow piled up in the woods so the first thing she wants to do is play in it. So she grabs her bibs and snow boots and away she goes. She works on building a petite snow woman that is really cute. After we get set up we head back up to the village to check it out in the car. The shop has a grocery, a dining counter and a huge array of goods for us tourists. CC talked to a saleswoman that was from AZ and got the low down on stuff in the area and I met a woman that lives around the corner from us in FL. Literally ¼ mile from our house. She and her husband came out last year and liked it so much they decided to work here this summer. They will stay until mid September and then head back to FL. After checking everything out we came back to run the generator to charge all our electronics and make dinner since we won’t have power after 8 pm. It’s been a busy day so I’m sure we will all sleep well tonight.