Cross-country Road Trip Vol II ~ The Road to Yellowstone June 2013

An early afternoon start out of Seattle afforded us the time to stop a little along the way to see the changing landscape. Once outside Seattle, clear streams and mountain views were to be had. We pulled off for a quick doggie break and pictures.

Light Rays on the Cascades

Light Rays on the Cascades

The drive through the Cascades was clear (shockingly so) and the clouds were doing all sorts of strange formations.

Evergreen Hills & Strange clouds

Evergreen Hills & Strange clouds

The higher peaks still had plenty of snow and the air was crisp.

A Peak

A Peak

Narrow waterfalls lined the mountains with snow-melt coursing down.

Snow Melt Waterfalls

Snow Melt Waterfalls

River and Rosie were pretty excited at first, wanting to be up front, on our laps and ready to spring out if we stopped, but they were banished to the back to ‘their spot’ on all my crap we’d stuffed the Black Dragon with. All in all, the girls had a good deal, with a comfy bed and blankets stacked to window-viewing level (this is highly important as any Doxie owner can attest to…). It took them a few hours to realize their good fortune.

The Girls resigned to their back-seat fate

The Girls resigned to their back-seat fate

Weaving through the mountains, I noticed odd-shaped cloud-like things in the distance. Closer inspection revealed it was indeed an actual cloud but looked more like a UFO. I can see how the flying saucer theme is easily run wild with.

UFO Cloud

UFO Cloud

I believe this is Easton Lake in Washington along Rt 90. The other possibility would be Keechelus Lake, which is near Lake Easton and on the same side of the highway, but bigger.

Easton Lake, WA

Easton Lake, WA

The blues and greens were incredible in the sunlight. The Tough Camera captured it very well.

Mountains over the lake

Mountains over the lake

Once out of the mountains, Jackie took over driving and I caught up on some much-needed sleep. The result was no pictures except this one of Eastern Washington – which is noticeably different from Western Washington. Due to our late spring departure, things were still a nice green even in the drier side of the state.

Eastern WA

Eastern WA

We entered Idaho as the Sun set, driving through mountains almost entirely made up of Sempervirens (evergreen) trees. It was only within two hours that Montana was on the horizon since the part of Idaho we drove through was the northern, narrow part of the state.

Entering Idaho

Entering Idaho

Last of the setting Sun as we cruised down the mountains into Montana.

Sunset in Idaho

Sunset in Idaho

A rather poor quality picture as we entered into Montana, with the low light and high speed of the car – but Jackie was simply so excited to be back in Montana again, he needed a picture!

 Montana in the last light

Montana in the last light

We drove until it was fully dark, found dinner at a random diner along the way and made camp at a pull-off on the highway. The plan was to get a few hours of shuteye and start as early as we could so as to make the most of the daylight. As everyone knows, I am not a morning person. But strangely enough, I sometimes can get moving before 7am when on road trips (still not a guarantee though). The car being packed meant shuffling around some stuff just to squeeze myself into the back seat; Jackie took the front passenger seat which reclines fairly well. Both girls had to vie for space and one ended up sleeping perched above dashboard level on a crate of books. Jackie ignored my ‘you’ll be cold’ warnings and forewent the sleeping bag. He was cold, and barely slept…

River and I were horribly cramped, but warm. Other than my left leg going numb from sciatic pain after driving in a car all day and my back doing its own form of bone jarring pain (remember, I’ve major back & hips problems), I slept well. 

Snow Capped Mountains that are the iconic sight of Montana made waking up – stiff from sleeping in the Black Dragon (Subaru), without any coffee – worth the early hour. Jackie was a tad grumpy to start from the uncomfortable seat and cold, but cheered up when food and coffee was on the horizon.

Montana Morning

Montana Morning

We had breakfast somewhere in Montana at a quaint town with a tasty and cheap diner. Jackie was ready to stay. My encouraging descriptions of what Yellowstone would be like helped move him along.

Layered Hills

Layered Hills

The sun was bright and quickly warming the day. Jackie perked up after enough coffee to kill a horse (or at least a dog). The low haze from the dew/frost cleared and every song and quote of ‘God’s Country’ came to mind.

Montana - God's Country

Montana – God’s Country

Old barbed wire, cattle gates and never-ending pastures.

The Range

The Range

Lowland scrub brush, I believe Sage is in there too, dotting the hills.

Lowland Brush

Lowland Brush

The layered land and brilliantly blue sky was perfection as only nature can do.

Layers of Perfection

Layers of Perfection

By this point we were off the main highway and on a much smaller, no-quick-stop type road. Below are snow drift fences for winter winds.

Getting further off the beaten path

Getting further off the beaten path

The girls had settled into comfortable contentment of the drive. Rosie in particular was in her own idea of Heaven with her favorite bed at window level and direct sunlight.

Rosie Lounging in the Sun

Rosie lounging in the Sun

We stopped off an unmarked road to get some fresh air (of course potty break for the dogs) and snap some pictures. The Sun was almost blinding, the air still had a hint of the morning chill.

Unmarked Road
Unmarked Road

Jackie looking particularly bright with his pink shirt ♡

Jackie in Montana

Jackie in Montana

One of my favorite pictures of my handsome brother!

Jackie looking epic

Jackie looking epic

Jackie took a great photo of me with the new Tough Camera, if he can use it like this, its a good camera!

Joannie in MT

Joannie in MT

Staring off into the mountains, with no power lines, roads or fences marring the view. You could believe it was hundreds of years ago – no people, just the land as it used to be…

The Lost Country

The Lost Country

Approaching a lake, I noticed some level of scarring on the mountainside, I pointed it out to Jackie and we contemplated what may have caused it; landslide? Avalanche? Erosion from logging? Blasting for rock? Maybe even an Earthquake?!

We pulled off to investigate (and dog potty break). There were a few signs describing what had happened here. Earthquake it was indeed!

Earthquake Lake

Quake Lake

We walked around, noticing how far out the trees went into the lake and how recent everything felt from this Earthquake. I began to think that maybe even the Lake itself was made in the Earthquake. One of the info signs had the answers – the lake was where a valley used to be, an 80-million ton landslide caused a dam on the Madison River. The Earthquake happen in 1959 in the summer camping season, killing 28 people and causing exorbitant amounts of damage to surrounding areas. At 7.3 (USGS) it is the largest quake to hit Montana in recorded history.

Tree Root Skeleton

Tree Root Skeleton

The water was a clear green, trees practically growing out of the water on some banks.

Earthquake Lake

Earthquake Lake’s Sparkling Waters

While it was born out of destruction, the lake today is beautiful; but I think, also a stark reminder of how quickly things can change and how quick death can come.

Beauty out of Destruction

Beauty out of Destruction

Everywhere the eye could see was picturesque.  We continued on through the valleys towards Yellowstone’s West entrance. The plan was to be at the Grand Tetons, south of Yellowstone Park where my amazing friend Kathy had gotten us a cabin for 2 nights! After the Tetons, we would drive back up to Yellowstone and continue the loop. That way we would cover as many sights as possible.

More of Montana

More of Montana

I was napping as Jackie neared Yellowstone, the girls sleeping, Jackie’s music playing in the background – everything was quiet and peaceful. When suddenly, I hear”oh OH SHIT!” and the Black Dragon jerks to the left than to the right, tires squeal, dogs go flying, stuff in the back comes forward. I jump up with the faint thought of ‘if this hadn’t been a low center of gravity car – we’d be rolled!’. Yelling “WTF JACKIE!!!!” Fully expecting that we had just dodged a runway Semi Truck or a herd of Elk had dashed across the road, barely hitting our bumper or at the very least, a wolf. I turned to my insane-driving brother as he slammed the brakes to demand what the hell was happening. He whipped the car around and swerved back the way we had came. Folks, he sighted a Buffalo.. And no, it didn’t even cross the damn road. Thankfully no one was around to witness that, ah… episode.

'The Buffalo"

‘The Buffalo”

The Buffalo did have a little cute calf with her. Even so, I was a second away from a heart attack and trying not to yell. The girls were growling (clearly something was out there) and Jackie was scrambling for the camera like a mad man. I calmly said “there will be more Buffalo…”. But we went bouncing along (not on) the road  and after the Buffalo. I managed a few shots to appease my possessed brother and took over driving so he could ‘look’ for the animals… I seriously thought we were about to die for a second.

Entering Yellowstone

Entering Yellowstone

After a quick stop for more batteries, some water and coffee in the little town before the park, we entered Yellowstone! I thought Jackie was excited to see Montana, Yellowstone was a whole new creature. Practically on the edge of his seat, snapping pictures with the Tough Camera as his smartphone was acting up, and exclaiming in barely contained glee at the sights.

Flat Mountain

Flat Mountain

Not too far into the park proper, in the near distance we saw:

Buffalo

Buffalo

Yep. You guessed it. More Buffalo. The exact same thing (only a lot more of them) that I had almost died for about 20 miles back… The cars lined the road. The Buffalo were about 1/2 a mile out across the river. Jackie was so hyped I couldn’t really say no to walking over to the river’s edge. ‘Course we had to take the Dachshunds since they were barking at all the people and weird cows around them.

Jackie & Rosie Shooting Buffalo

Jackie & Rosie Shooting Buffalo

Rosie being patient as Jackie shoots.

Sleeping by the River

Sleeping by the River

With the river in-between to give us a safety net, we cruised up and down the banks to get the best shots.

Mom & Calf

Mom & Calf

Early June meant quite a few young calves out with the herd.

Geese Family

Geese Family

Along with Geese and other critters. Rosie was quite interested in the goslings…

By the River

By the River

The calves frolicked about, the young bulls butting and chasing one another.

Cooling off

Cooling off

A few stepped into the river, eyed our little dogs. One even rolled in the mud. The Buffalo clearly owned the place. We were the guests.

The Sun was hot, even for June. The girls were happy to splash in the river. After taking numerous pictures, we got back on the road. Only a few miles into the drive, and oh look – more buffalo!

More Buffalo

More Buffalo

And even more Buffalo towards the Hot Springs in the distance.

Buffalo & Hot Springs

Buffalo & Hot Springs

Up ahead. What’s this? Even MORE Buffalo. On the ROAD. The only sort of traffic I’ve ever experienced in Wyoming has been animals…

Yellowstone Traffica Jam

Yellowstone Traffic Jam

It was at this point, being so close we could practically touch them, that Jackie finally understood what I meant by ‘there will be more Buffalo’.

Closeup

Closeup

The little calves were particularly cute.

Little Guy

Little Guy

We drove the Fire Hole Canyon road as we made our way to the Hot Springs in the southern part of the park.

Fire Hole Canyon

Fire Hole Canyon

Next up is the various Hot Springs on the way to the South entrance – to see the Grand Tetons.

This post got long quick with the pictures, so the Hot Springs will be in the next installment. We took hundreds of pictures during just this one day, the photos posted I feel reflect what we saw and liked best.

A lifetime’s worth of memories in only a few days thus far- back on the road we go. Hopefully stay on the road this time (Jackie).

~ J

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2 thoughts on “Cross-country Road Trip Vol II ~ The Road to Yellowstone June 2013

  1. Joannie,
    Beautiful pictures. I want to go back to Yellowstone. Can’t wait to see your Tetons pictures. Oh, the strange clouds you were seeing are called “Lenticular”. They form when a strong wind is blowing perpendicular to the mountain ridge. Love you, your family meteorologist.

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