Tag Archives: Yellowstone

Monument Valley to Home

Well, our last post will just describe how we got home from Monument Valley.

We drove as long as we could each day and stayed where ever we could until we got to the KOA in Little Rock Arkansas.?? If it had not been for the Firemen stopping us just before we got to the KOA at Little Rock, we would have ripped off everything on top of our RV.?? Someone had just hit a communications line and it was hanging about 10 feet off the ground and I was looking for the KOA sign and didn’t even see the line hanging there.? They saved the motor home, and I was able to drive around it by detouring through someones front yard.

That was all great, until we got to the KOA and they couldn’t sell us anything or check us in because their computers couldn’t connect to the internet and run credit cards.?? They wouldn’t take cash either and we had prepaid when we registered, but they didn’t know that because their internet was down.?? We have forgotten how to use pencil and paper as a society.

Thanks to my wonderful wife and best friend for planning and budgeting for this trip for over a year.? We had no real issues to deal with.? Everything worked out pretty much as planned.?? We also made sure the RV was freshly serviced, along with the Honda Civic tow vehicle.? We bought new batteries, and new tires for both vehicles, and updated some of the equipment in the RV for safety.

The only minor things that I can think of was:
The RV overheating in Yosemite ( but it cooled down quickly ),
No internet at Yosemite and Mt Rushmore,
The sewer water cut-off valve apparently didn’t get closed somewhere, and the dumping process got messy,
The car A/C completely went out, but only after our last tour through Monument Valley – so perfect timing,
Some NICE gentleman flagged us down at Corn Palace SD, our car was in park and was dragging the tires !!!
( this would have been catastrophic had he not caught us just as we were starting to leave the parking lot )


See below for a map indicating our stops and what they were.? Read previous posts to find out details about each stop.

Thanks for going on our trip with us.?? Until next time……


Day 14 Yosemite

After a good nights rest from a long day of driving winding roads but mostly flat until we got near Yosemite.? We woke up at the crack of 9:30 and got ready for a day of sight seeing and adventures.?? We were not disappointed.? It is 99 degrees and all that stuff about “dry heat” has nothing to do with it !?? ITS HOT !

We saw a black bear crossing the road in front of us as we returned from Glacier Point, but it was too fast to get the camera ready for a photo so you will just have to trust us.? We also saw a crowd gathered in the road which usually means a wildlife sighting.?? It was a large grizzly and 3 smaller bears but too big to be cubs.? The larger bear was avoiding the crowd and staying in the woods.?? The smaller bears weren’t intimidated at all but we didn’t want to get too close and therefore didn’t get a great shot.?? It was breath taking to see them in the wild and eating their natural foliage.?? Soon after, the ranger showed up and told everyone to get their pictures and leave the bear alone.

The drive from West Mariposa KOA in MidPines CA (population 432) is a sleep? little village town with a few good places to eat, sleep, and buy groceries.?? The KOA was 7 miles outside of town in the direction of Yosemite. (see photos in the slide show)

The drive to any of the 3 points of interest for us was definitely not RV friendly drives.? Our 3 points of interest were Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point, and Mariposa Grove for the big trees.?? It was good that we brought the toad (Honda Civic) for the touring. ? It was either major uphill or downhill to every point.

*Stop 1
Yosemite158In Yosemite Valley we paid to get into the park and entry fee of $30 that was good for the week.?? We shortly came upon an unattended gas station with a sign that said “NO GAS IN YOSEMITE VALLEY”? so if you wanted gas you had to pay $4.36 for the cheap stuff.? We had fortunately filled up earlier so we were good and we only paid $3.86 per gallon outside the park at this cute little country general store that had a cooler like back in the 30’s for eggs and milk.?? Very nice lady running the store too.

*Stop 2
Yosemite091At Glacier Point we reached a point of 7214 feet at the top of Glacier Point. ? There was a view of 1/2 dome and using a telescope we could see multiple people on top of that dome. ? They had to have climbed it, or been dropped by helicopter because there was no elevator going up.

The Drive back down was just as scenic and maybe easier to view because we weren’t on the drop off side.?? Going up, there is no guard rail, just caution signs.? So it was a little unnerving to see the drop off of several thousand feet with no rail.

*Stop 3
Yosemite140Mariposa Grove was our final stop and with the distance between all the points it was a good thing we started early.? It was quite a hike from the parking lot to the grove of HUGE trees.? Approximately 1.2 miles, but very steep uphill and hot. ? I would use a better word but HUGE is as large as I can think of.?? They were HUGE times HUGE.? See photos below.

While we were there we saw many grey squirrels running all over the place, and one large deer that didn’t seem to mind us intruding on his territory.? We say the “drive through” tree that you can no longer drive to it to drive through, but your car would have to be tiny to get through it anyway.?? We saw the tree named Grizzly Giant, and many others.?? However they seemed to only exist in this one spot.?? It wasn’t like the entire Yosemite area had these HUGE trees.

There were several people I would label “tree huggers” at the park that were quick to tell everyone what to touch and what not to touch, and don’t take any pine cones out of the park, and don’t step on the roots.?? OH! and one mother was educating her child that the sticky stuff on the tree was the tree’s blood.??? I poured tree blood on my pancakes this morning if that is the case. 😉

Tomorrow will be a day of nothing.? Just rest, and restock for the return journey through Barstow, and Monument Valley.

Day12 and 13 leaving Washington for Yosemite

We stayed about 35 miles from Mt St Helens in a KOA at Castle Rock Washington.?? A very nice town and extra nice host family at the KOA.?? I give them a 11+ for making us feel welcome like old friends.?? They provided donuts and coffee free each morning, then they prepared a meal for all the guests to celebrate fathers day.? Bar-B-Q, hot dogs, chips, beans, slaw, and fixings.

The only improvement they could make would be to add 50 amp service to their sites for large RVs and a little more room between sites.?? I had to wiggle between my neighbor’s lawn chairs to disconnect my sewer, water, cable, and electric. I was afraid my tail swing was going to take out their awning.

[slideshow_deploy id=’937′]

With all that said, we would definitely recommend this KOA.

Leaving here early due to our long 2 day trip down to Yosemite we are planning to spend the night at a Loves, or TA truck stop.? When we got to the T/A at Anderson CA which was about a 10 hour drive, Norma would not sleep there because we didn’t make reservations and ask permission.? She called, and they ask that we setup in front of the store leaving the larger spaces for the commercial trucks.? There were some beggers and dope heads in front singing and dancing and she was not having any part of sleeping there so – back to the interstate we went.

Just for anyone planning to dry dock in California, this is the only state we have been turned down to stay at the two Walmarts we tried.?? Other states we found to be very friendly and tolerant of RV over night-ers.?? California is also the only state that makes every vehicle stop to ask them if they are bringing in any plants, animals, or fresh fruits or vegetables.? If you say no, they let you right in.? 🙂

We did overheat coming over the mountains out of Oregon into California, and again climbing the long winding hills into Merced California to get to our West Mariposa KOA.? Both times we had to pull off and let the RV cool down.? We idled the engine up a bit, and turned on the dash heater to draw heat out of the engine coolant. ? A neighboring camper said they had the same problem getting to this KOA.

Here are some photos of our long drive from Mt St Helens, through Oregon, into California, and down to Yosemite.?? The mountain scene you will see is Mount Shasta just as you enter the state of California on I-5 from Oregon.

[slideshow_deploy id=’903′]



Day 9-10 travel to Mt. St. Helens

Campground at Yellowstone Grizzly West Yellowstone.
Campground at Yellowstone Grizzly West Yellowstone.

Suffice it to say that 1-12 hour day driving followed by a 6 hour drive makes an old man tired. See previous posts for details up through Leaving Yellowstone.? However, when all is said and done we are blessed and thankful to not have had made it without incident.? After arriving at the KOA in Castle Rock Washington, we have driven the RV 2910 miles, and the “toad” almost an additional 2000 miles.

We left West Yellowstone at 8:45am with a different route out of town so we could see more local sites, and less interstate traffic.? It turned out to be a great plan as the back roads traffic was very light and the scenery was magnificent.

Danger-narrow-road-downhillAfter some hair raising construction in Idaho going into Washington with 2 way single narrow lane traffic on a 6% grade, we made it 12 hours to the Walmart in Moses Lake Washington.? We bedded down as far as we could from anyone in the far away corner of the parking lot only to wake up to be surrounded by other over nighters.

We left the Walmart at 6:00 am Pacific time and made very good time to reach Castle Rock Washington at around 1:00 pm.? By 2:30 we were checked in, setup, ate a sandwich, and were on our way to SEASIDE, Oregon.

Seaside OR, was a very nice public beach area and a quaint little town.? ( NOTE: In the state of Oregon, apparently you are not allowed to pump your own gas ).? The temperature at mid-day was 63 degrees and windy so it was too cold to swim, but not too cold to enjoy the view and absorb the beach atmosphere for a while.? We stayed there for about an hour and took a few family photos and got Norma’s feet wet in the Pacific ( checked off the bucket list ) and headed back to Red Lobster.?? You can’t visit the beach and not eat seafood.? That would be un-American.

Ship Named after me !
Ship Named after me !

Before we got to Seaside Beach, there were huge cargo ships out in the bay area and a fantastic older steel bridge that was extremely high to allow for ships to go under.? We pulled off and walked out into the bay on a pier and saw some wild sea life that were barking or singing a song out of tune :-)?? Looked like sea lions and there were several of them at the end of the boat docks, but one was swimming up close to the pier and seemed to be expecting to be fed.

[slideshow_deploy id=’848′]







Day 8 – Yellowstone to Tetons and back

Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park

This is our 4th and final day at the wonderful West Yellowstone Grizzly campground which we grade a 5-star class resort campground.? On our 8th day of vacation but 4th day at Yellowstone we left the campground and drove down to the Tetons via Yellowstone and came out the South entrance.? We had paid $30 for a weeks entrance fee to Yellowstone which covered our fee to the Tetons NP as well.

Welcome to Tetons National Park
Welcome to Tetons National Park

This was supposed to be a 2.5 hour trip, but due to road construction and wildlife sitings it took closer to 3 hours to get to the entry of the Tetons NP.?? There was a very nice young couple that asked us to take their photo together at the sign, and they reciprocated. with the photo here.? The park had been highly recommended, and it was obvious why once we got to the point where we could see the sharp snowy mountains the the clear calm lakes below.? It really was breathtaking.

[dfads params=’groups=-1&limit=1&orderby=random&container_html=center&return_javascript=0‘]

We arrived in the Tetons National Park around 1:00 pm local time and had lunch at a first class diner in the Signal Mountain Lodge.? The service was good and food was even better.?? They had a few things that Steven could eat as well.? We had a blackberry pie for dessert which was AWESOME.?? The waiter didn’t understand what blackberry cobbler was, so he wanted to clarify that this would be pie, not cobbler :-)??? I was happy with either.

We consumed about a 1/2 tank of gas making the round trip which consisted of an outer Yellowstone return to West Yellowstone Grizzly campground. ? It took about 3 hours to get there, and we visited for about 3 hours, and the return trip was a bit longer since we took the long way back to see different scenery. ? We saw more real life scenery coming back through Idaho back into Montana.?? There were ranches, farms, and fields of “mint” that smelled wonderful.? We didn’t know what it was at first, but the aroma and a little google searching confirmed it was mint.

Please enjoy a few of the photos we took from today below.
[slideshow_deploy id=’793′]

[dfads params=’groups=-1&limit=1&orderby=random&container_html=center&return_javascript=0‘]

Day 7 Yellowstone – zip line and white water rafting

[dfads params=’groups=-1&limit=1&orderby=random&container_html=center&return_javascript=0‘]
Today was the day to do what our son had selected as his adventure for the trip.? When we were planning and budgeting, I told him that if he was going to some of the RV driving and all the toad driving at each destination on our “tour-de-America” trip, then I would join him on his selection.
He selected zip lining and white water rafting.? He signed up for both of us to do the zip lining first while the morning was still cool in the mountains.? The plan was for us to do the white water rafting adventure in the afternoon when the sun had heated the day up (but the water was still ice-cold).?? I am not a high adventure kind of guy.? My idea of high adventure is to try to beat the crowd to the buffet.
all-on-the-platform-smallWe selected Montana WhiteWater in Gardiner Montana because they offer both adventures from the same location. ? They are located just outside the North entrance at Yellowstone in a small little town of 600 population. ? This was about 2 hours from our west side campground but is still a breathtaking view of scenery and wildlife.
Our zip line guides were Chris and Libby and they couldn’t have been better.? They made it seem like there was nothing to it and inspired confidence in even this old fat man.? One guide would go first to make sure to catch us as we get to each stop platform.? The other guide then would stay with us and make sure we were each properly connected to the line and send us off and join the group last at each landing.
The one detail that the didn’t tell us is that when we arrived at the last platform which was 60 feet off the ground, there are no steps to get down.?? We had to free jump with nothing but a rope inside a self breaking pulley mechanism.? This old fat man did not like that part as it was a free fall for the first 1/2 the way down, then it worked by slowing you down before you hit the ground.? Clearly since I am writing this article, I lived to tell about it.
The white water adventure was later in the day after the sun had heated the day up.? The water was still around 50 degrees, but the company provided wet suites, and vinyl pull over coats that provided adequate insulation from the water.?? That made the trip much more enjoyable.
use-this-one-3There were 4 rafts that took the tour at the same time with each raft having its own guide.? I found this to be fun once we were headed down the Yellowstone river.? This adventure to me was much more like work as we had to carry the raft to the river from the bus.? Then we had to do a lot of paddling forward and back during most of the trip.?? I was quite tired and am now sore as a result of this activity.? However, All-in-all, it was fun.

[slideshow_deploy id=’773′]

Days 5-6 at Yellowstone

[dfads params=’groups=-1&limit=1&orderby=random&container_html=center&return_javascript=0‘]

Well, we arrived after a long day of driving from Mt. Rushmore via Rapid City to I-90 since there were width and height restrictions on hwy 385.? This cost us a few more miles, and time, but not worth the risk of having to back out of a tunnel that you don’t fit through.? We took I-90 from Rapid City to hwy 191 and drove down the mostly easy 2-way traffic but had wide lanes and very few hills to worry about.

We arrived at our reserved campsite at Yellowstone Grizzly RV Park. ? The greeters were EXCELLENT, friendly and helpful.? We were concerned that we were arriving too late to check in at around 7:30 pm. but they stay open until 9:00 pm for late arrivals. ? We had reserved a pull through site, and it was convenient to everything and only about 3 blocks from the West Entrance to Yellowstone NP.

Mike, Venita, Hanna, Hope, and Luke.
Mike, Venita, Hanna, Hope, and Luke.

Our good friends from our home town in Alabama had planned a very similar tour of the U.S. without our knowledge until they saw our post on facebook and they called to tell us they would be at Yellowstone for part of the same time we are here.?? They gave us great tips on what to do and see and where to eat.?? We met them for a meal the night we arrived and they seemed to have an abundance of good times to share with us.? I only wish we had more time to absorb some of their great stories.


We began our first real day of adventures by entering the park at around 6:30 a.m. on the West entrance and headed directly for the lower geyser basin which is the south loop through the NP.?? We saw osprey perched in the top of a tree overlooking a river that you would expect to see people fly fishing in – shallow, wide and gently flowing.? Shortly after that we saw some buffalo followed by another buffalo or two, then a herd of buffalo, and some more buffalo scattered out among the flat areas before we saw the larger herd of buffalo. ? Did I mention seeing buffalo too?

There were several basins, springs, geysers, and mud pots, heading to our primary site of seeing Old Faithful.?? The NP is well marked with street signs and arrows pointing you in the right direction, but it does help to have one of their printed maps that we picked up at the campground.? There are also a few scattered gas stations and facility rooms around the park.? When we arrived at Old-Faithful we found a gift shop, restaurant, lodge, visitor center, and a bit of parking lot construction going on.? It was laid out and organized fairly well, but I don’t recommend driving the bit rig in, as it wasn’t THAT roomy.?? The Visitor Center and gift shops posted when the next expected eruption was to take place and it was accurate to within a minute.

ONLINE-Old-Faithful-WebCamWhile we waited for the next eruption, I spotted the camera that the park uses for their live streaming web-cam of old-faithful. So as cheesy as it sounds, I called my friends back home to let them see that we were actually here safe and sound via their web browser.

Please enjoy these photos? of our tour in Yellowstone that we have enjoyed so much.?? We have driven 681 miles in two days.? This covers both the North and South loops and Lamar Valley where we saw most of the wildlife.? We did get out for some short hikes, but mostly just site seeing, and taking hundreds (maybe thousands) of photos.
[slideshow_deploy id=’763′]

[dfads params=’groups=-1&limit=1&orderby=random&container_html=center&return_javascript=0‘]