Saturday, August 9, 2014

Rollin' On!

I've seen a lot of dust in my rear view mirror but none like July 23rd, the day that I closed the sale of my condo.  Dallas in my rear view and Eagle Nest, NM on the horizon....Lillie and I were once again on the road! 

Driving to Cooke City, MT thru Wyoming
Eagle Nest, New Mexico is over 8,300 feet elevation and is a beautiful mountain community.  We stayed in the mountain lodge of a lovely couple who are long time friends of a friend of mine.  I volunteered at the annual  arts festival, hot tubbed at neighbors, and other than a couple of days adjusting to the altitude had a wonderful four days there.  The road and Montana were calling my name so Lillie and I rolled through NM, CO, WY, and arrived in Cooke City, MT where we pitched our tent for a week.  The views along our route (back road highways, of course) were gorgeous as were the vistas in the
mountains of Montana.  The locals in Cooke City were exceptionally nice and remembered my name. 

I solo hiked (completely not recommended) in Gallatin National Forest.  I carried bear spray and a bear bell and sang all of the wrong words to songs I couldn't remember as loud as my breath would allow.  Mosquitoes were horrible but, luckily, no bears appeared.  Great cardio, no doubt!!

I recommend that everyone in that area drive Beartooth Highway!  It takes you on twisting turning roads with pink tinted snow (yes, even in August!), lakes, and mountain vistas to die for!  You obviously have to
drive slowly so, depending on if you stop a lot for photographs (as I did), it can take 2 to 3 hours to cross.  It is very much worth your time!

A friend of mine was there as well so I was able to leave Lillie in  his camper while I went hiking and exploring.  After 2 or 3 days, I ventured in Yellowstone National Park. Wow!  Incredible landscapes, wildlife, geysers, and lakes!  I can see why it became the world's first national park! My favorite part of this place were the bison!!  They roam the place knowing they are home and in charge!  The females were in heat so
technically, THEY were in charge!  Other than bufflalo, I saw elk, black bear, and antelope.  Old Faithful was indeed faithful after an hour's wait and the little boy sitting next to me inhanced the experience with all of his delighted comments!  I roamed Yellowstone for 2 days and also drove through from the northeast entrance on my way up the state.  Lillie and I rolled our way north, camping in Flathead National Forest, at Emery Bay Campgrounds before driving on into Glacier National Park.

Glacier National Park has breathtaking vistas but the only wildlife I saw were some mountain goats.  The mountain roads were narrow switchbacks and the traffic moved much too slowly.  Going-To-The-Sun Road was definitely breathtaking and, once you got near Sun Point, you had plenty of time to catch your breath due to road construction delays.  With the massive amount of tourists, I enjoyed this park less than Yellowstone.  At least there you had options for your route through the park!  At Glacier, everyone has only one road in and out!  Leaving Glacier on the east side, I had to drive a few miles north then west to re-enter it to see the Many Glacier.  The roads were horrible!  The lake was an incredible turquoise and the wind was high.  Honestly, not worth the gas.  So back through the east entrance (St. Mary) and all of the way through the park again we went.  I had wanted to hike Highline Trail which is a ledge on the side of a mountain on the Continental Divide but at 10AM I couldn't find parking and it was getting a bit too warm for Lillie to be left in the Jeep.  Planning to get up the next morning at 5AM to make the hike, I finally slept so well that I couldn't be bothered to get up.

The jewels of Glacier National Park to me were the vistas (obviously) and McDonald Lake.  Lillie and I
headed towards Fish Creek Campground and turned into the picnic area before reaching it.  The multicolored rocky beach and clear blue lake were magical!

As for the two campgrounds we stayed in so far, the campground hosts were very friendly and accommodating.  Both campgrounds lacked showers but I knew that going in.  The first campground had a beautiful doe that I saw a few times, including face to face at a distance of about 5 feet.  The second campground was situated on a beautiful body of water, Hungry Horse Reservoir.  I met a very nice couple from Edmonton, Canada who I shared great conversation and appetizers with as well as contact information.  Both campgrounds were situated in grizzly country.

I've been informed that grizzly scat (poop) was found a quarter of a mile from my campsite.  Looks like it's time to move on!  Next, Lillie and I will make our way to Wyoming to the Grand Tetons then to South Dakota to Mount Rushmore.  Rollin' on!

Lower or upper (can't recall which) Falls in Yellowstone

Hot pools in Yellowstone

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
I surprised a couple of deer on a back road
Old Faithful

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