Sunday, October 16, 2011

October 14, Day 2 Girls Weekend, Wyoming

We started day two of our trip by sleeping in a little bit.  We realized that we forgot to "toss the states" the night before so made it one of the first things that we did.  Still quite a few states left!!  Kathi is hoping that Oklahoma goes out soon.  We both agree that Arizona is our top choice for next year.  We will see what happens!!!  

After tossing the states and catching up on e-mail, we showered, packed up, loaded the car up and went to breakfast.  Upon the suggestion of one of the shop owners in Jackson we went to a place called Nora's.  I had some yummy bacon and eggs and Kathi had bacon and eggs and a blueberry pancake.  All of the food was delicious and we felt energized and ready for the day.  We went back into Jackson to buy some things that we had spotted on our shopping outing the evening before.  We also discovered a chocolate and gelato shop called Coco Love where we walked away with some scrumptious hazelnut and chocolate gelato.   Mmmmm, mmmmmm.  Then back into the car and off we went toward Grand Teton National Park.  We stopped in at the local ranger station on our way out of town to get some maps and information about the "must see" places in the park and came away with a plan to go to Jenny Lake, which, we were told is an exceptionally beautiful place.   We also came away just a tad bit concerned about weather and/or the need for snow tires to travel on some of the roads  through the park.  It became clear to us that we really couldn't dilly dally too much on the drive to West Yellowstone (our ultimate destination for the day), because we wanted to be sure and get through the parks (both Grand Teton and Yellowstone) before the temperature dropped (meaning potential for snow)  and before it got dark.  We pulled over a few times to take pictures at exceptionally beautiful spots.

We also happened to miss the turn off to Jenny Lake   so we made the decision to just stay on the road and get to West Yellowstone.  This is unfortunate because it meant that we really did not have any time to explore Grand Teton National Park at all.  

I think we came to the realization this year, after our late start on this day,  that we really need to build time into our days for putzing on the computer.  Kathi and I both love our laptops.  We download our pictures on them, we check up on our e-mail and Facebook pages at least once daily and we believe that journaling our trips is important.  In fact, our friends and family have come to expect our daily updates of what we do on our trips. While we both enjoy writing these updates, they do take quite a bit of time to write and we are finding that, if we don't force ourselves to stop, we will spend almost an equal amount of time sitting in the room on our computers as we do going out and exploring and experiencing our location.  Hmmmm.... something to think about.

Kathi has been jotting down notes and observations in an effort to help us be more efficient in our daily journaling, as well as help us to remember what we have done throughout the day. One note she made was about how I am doing the driving this year and how this is a bit unusual.  She's right.  For the past several years when our destination has required a rental car, Kathi has been the one to make the rental car reservation and thus has been the driver.  This year I made the reservations for both of our airline tickets as well as the rental car, so I became the driver for this trip.  This is ok with me, because frankly, Kathi's driving sometimes scares the living daylights out of me!!  You see, Kathi likes to go real fast and use the cruise control.  I, on the other hand, having some control issues, try to observe posted speed limits and almost NEVER use the cruise control, because I want to be in control of the car.  So, when Kathi is our driver, I try really hard to keep my mouth shut, but my body know, clutching the door handle, stamping on the imaginary brake pedal on my side of the car, things like that........tell the story.  Fortunately, Kathi is very patient with me and puts up with this.  This year, however, I think it actually works out well that I am the driver because the speed limit in Yellowstone is never any faster than 45 mph due to the large amount of wildlife present in the park that can wander and roam freely.  It is quite possible to come around a curve and find a herd of bison or elk in the middle of the road, so you need to be alert and ready to slow down or stop at any time.  I imagine that my slow and cautious driving probably drives Kathi as crazy as her wild and fast driving does me, but hey, that's the kind of thing that keeps life interesting and teaches us patience, right?   

Once we entered Yellowstone and realized that we would be going right by Old Faithful, we decided that we wanted to stop and watch the famous geyser erupt.  As we approached Old Faithful we saw a plume of steam off in the distance and thought that maybe it was Old Faithful that was the cause of that steam.  We made the turn into the visitor center and discovered that we had, indeed, just missed the show and that it would be about an hour and a half before the next eruption.  We decided that we could kill some time walking around the area so that we could see the geyser do its thing.  We headed over to the geyser and were pleasantly surprised to see that a herd of bison were lounging close by, so we took the opportunity to get some photos of these impressive beasts.

Being the curious people that we are, watching the bison brought up the question, at least in our minds, about whether these animals were buffalo or bison and what, if any, difference is there anyway?  Of course, once in the room and at our computers we had to research this.  Turns out that these animals are bison.  There are only two actual species of buffalo in the world and neither are what we have here in America.  The two true buffalo species are the African Cape Buffalo and the Asian Water Buffalo. Somehow, here in America, the words bison and buffalo became interchangeable, but they are, scientifically speaking, bison.  There is the fun fact for the day!

As the time grew closer for Old Faithful to erupt (I think that's what you call it),  the bison started to get up and move away and more steam starting pouring out of the vent as well as some small gushes of water.  I set up my camera on my handy little tripod and pretty soon the show began.  What a weird, wonderful, powerful thing it is to witness.  I spent a lot of time setting up "the shot", but frankly, Kathi got the better pictures with her iPhone.

After witnessing this wonder of nature we hopped back into the car and drove the remaining 30 miles to West Yellowstone.  We did come across a herd of elk during this drive, but by this time it was fairly dark and the pictures that Kathi took didn't turn out well enough to keep and we figured we would have plenty of daytime opportunities to get better photos.

Another question that came to our curious minds while driving, in addition to the "are they buffalo or are they bison and is there a difference" question, is just what the heck is the Continental Divide? because we crossed it 5 times during our trek.  So, according to the American Heritage Dictionary, the Continental Divide is;  an extensive stretch of high ground from each side of which the river systems of a continent flow in opposite directions.  Yet another fun fact for those who might be interested.

We finally arrived at the West Yellowstone World Mark around 7:30pm and checked in.  We ordered pizza delivered to the room, watched a little TV and settled in to do our computer thing and journal our day only to find that we were both so tired that we could barely keep our eyes open.  So we decided that we would take a short "nap" then get to journaling.  Our "nap", of course, turned into a good night's sleep, explaining why I am sitting here journaling day 2 on day 4!!!!  We even forgot, AGAIN, to toss the states before turning in.  I think we must be getting older or something.

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