Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Fantastic trip out west. Probably did too much, which Todd and I are often guilty of, and didn't take enough time to relax enjoy each others company. But lots of fun and stories to tell. (The stories will have to come in person, this will just be a run-down of what we did.)
We (me, Todd, and our friend Gabriel) landed rockily into Bozeman, MT on Saturday Aug. 28. When we arrived at Todd's brother's house in Dillon, I could tell right away he had a cold and my heart sank. Sure enough, Todd came down with it in a couple of days, then Gabe, then finally me. That was probably the lowlight of our vacation.
We got to spend a few days with our 2.5 year old nephew, Sawyer. That was awesome but man is it a lot of work. The three of us kept him one day and it took all of us pitching in. We did a little fishing, some nice mountain drives, saw a ghost town, and of course thoroughly explored all the favorite bars along the way.
On Wednesday, we headed for Yellowstone - it was Gabe's first time seeing it, which is always fun to experience. (My third time.) We were very conscious of the elevation issue (last time I got altitude sickness b/c we went straight to a very high spot in the park for the night.) I had my pulseox with me and was checking my oxygen constantly. The lowest parts out there are like being in the mountains here, so going into the mountains there can require adjustment. I wasn't too worried, though, because my fev1 is much higher than last time I was out there so I figured I would do better overall - and I did!
We stayed the first night outside the park near the Mammoth Hot Spring entrance, about 5,000 feet. Took a short drive into the park that afternoon - saw elk in the middle of the village of Mammoth! and Mammoth itself is truly magnificent, one of my new favorite spots. We drove through some high mountain passes that first day which were kind of hairy for my oxygen - I was pretty uncomfortable a few times when it got down into the 80s - even the guys could feel the elevation, Todd with his then-inflamed sinuses. But back at the hotel it was fine again.
Next, we spend a day driving through Yellowstone's west side - we went to the Boiling River, where a hot spring comes out into a cold river and you can sit and enjoy the warmth intertwined with periods of cold, unmixed water. We saw some paint pots, which are like cauldrons of bubbling mud sitting in the ground. Then saw other geysers, hot springs, geologic wonders, finally making it to Old Faithful right before dark.
That night we drove to Jackson, WY (a little over 6,000 feet.) It was dark coming in so we couldn't see anything. The next day we set out for a hike which I thought would be doable at Jenny Lake. The Grand Tetons are striking; they rise sharply out of the ground to enormous heights; there are glaciers among the peaks. Jenny Lake was fun. We had a picnic lunch and then took a boat ride across the lake to where the trail started. An "easy to moderate" 1-mile climb was almost too much for me - but we made it both to some beautiful waterfalls and to a fantastic look-out. I was so proud of all I was able to do at that elevation!
We took it easy the rest of that day. (Which was good because I soon discovered I was coming down with the cold I had so far managed to avoid.) That night, we went to dinner in Jackson, a fairly bustling touristy town with lots of downtown charm. Then to the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. The bar lives up to the stature of its name: there are saddle seats at the bar, there was a country band playing and there were a fair number of authentic westerners. Unfortunately, I was fading fast, even though the people watching was first rate, so I took the car back to the hotel while the guys stayed out. (No telling the trouble they got into but I heard that Todd actually got out and danced to Sweet Home Alabama!)
Saturday, we headed back to Montana through endless fields of Idaho wheat. The rodeo was in town for the weekend and it was a BIG DEAL. We ended up going to the rodeo that night. That was very cool. The bucking broncos were my favorite b/c if the riders fell off, or even if they made it the full 8 seconds, they had these two guys on horseback who would ride beside them so they could jump onto them. Then, the rider would jump down and the two guys would have to chase down the horse, which would still be bucking for a while. Fiesty!
On Sunday, it had gotten a bit cooler (I forgot to say, the weather at the beginning of the trip had been cloudy and on/off rain. But once we got to the park - like magic - it cleared and warmed up nicely.) But we got in a float trip with Brad - the trip would not have felt complete without at least one. It ended up being a pretty nice day despite having to be bundled up and fighting the wind. I think I might have caught the biggest fish that day. Overall, did decent amount of fishing on the trip, without a whole lot of catching, which was fine with me. :)
By our last night, I was ready to be home. I was coming into the worst part of the cold, and was cough, cough, coughing the entire plane ride home (or so it felt.) I hate being that person! I usually clean my seat area on planes when I first board; this time I cleaned before and after. At least I am a considerate sick person, right?
There is MUCH more to tell, but I will save it for another blog.