Osens RV Campground, Livingston Mt
Temp last night was a solid 38 F. There was little threat of freezing. Even so, Ellen very surprised said, “There’s no water!”. “Paul must have disconnected the hose.” Around 10 PM Paul goes around in a golf cart and does that to prevent frozen lines. I stowed our hose and filter and switched our pump on.
Ellen awoke early in the morning , “I think that’s the little dipper. No it’s the big dipper. I can see the stars for the first time. They’re bright. Oh there’s a satellite.” Li’l Beast was gently rocking in the wind gusts as some sort of a front worked its way through Livingston. I went back to sleep easily.
NPR is playing on my phone this morning as Ellen sleeps in. No need to wake sleepy head. Our Max/Min weather station shows a min of 37 and a max of 38 overnight.
Impeachment is the news of the day with The Orange One claiming treason, the buffoon.
“Happy Birthday” was the first thing Ellen said as I rolled our of bed. She rolled over and went back to sleep. Today is my 70th birthday. I’ve never thought much of birthdays. To me they’re just another day. Turning 40 or 50 didn’t phase me. 60 was a surprise. “Don’t trust anyone over 30” or so the mantra went in my 20’s. But 70? This is serious. It’s fitting we saw the dinosaur museum yesterday. I’m becoming one.
Are you going to do something special on your birthday? How often is that asked? Today we’ll visit Old Faithful and have lunch in the old lodge there. We’ll find a place to overnight either near Gardiner or at Mammoth. There’s a campground that looks to be situated in a river valley with a cotton wood grove. If true, we’ll check that out on the way. We’ll also visit a photographer’s shop in Gardiner. Last year we chatted with him for quite some time. We spoke about wildlife, the park, the cottonwoods along the snake river, living in Gardiner, travel, his photographs, and what it takes to get “just that shot” in the wild. I look forward to visiting with him.
“Something Special?”, Yellowstone is perhaps the most exotic monument in all of the New World. It is fascinating. From the primordial beds of thermophilic bacteria in and around the steaming colorful pools to the herds of buffalo and scattered wolves, it is a marvel and a treat to behold. And that’s not even considering the profound geology of the area. Yup, Happy Birthday.
It’s nearly impossible to talk of Yellowstone this year without dropping into a conversation about human stupidity. First up was the drunken fellow bullfighting a buffalo. Luckily for him, the buffalo was unimpressed with his taunts. A video of the idiot went viral. He was located and fined.
There was the case of a German family who rescued a baby buffalo. The found the animal wandering around, put it in their car, and drove to a ranger station. “Here’s one that got loose.”
The manager at Osens’ was once asked, “When do they let the animals out”. The woman seriously thought that Yellowstone rounded up their animals and housed them overnight like any good zoo would.
Last week two guys walked off the boardwalk around Old Faithful and went up to the geyser’s spout and looked in. Photos of them also went viral. Last I heard they could be fined for damaging the geyser as well for going off the boardwalk.
Just a few days ago, some drunken bozo arrived at a clinic with severe burns over a large portion of his body. The next morning at Old Faithful,, rangers found a beer can, and evidence of someone falling into a hot pool. He will also be fined once (if) he recovers.
Then there are the moms and dads who think it’s cute to take a photo of their toddler riding a buffalo. Right, walk up to a wild animal and put your child atop. Facebook likes outweighs their child’s safety?
I’ve had the benefit of many years of hiking in wildernesses in the U.S. “There’s bears in them hills, you got a gun?” “No.”. I had that chat beside a log cabin in Appalachia with a fellow who’d watch my car. He was maybe 38 and had few teeth. I’ve both seen and had close encounters with bear. They are not to be messed with. I’ve also walked past a yearling eating grubs from a fallen tree. I was literally within a foot of him as I passed. Risky? You bet. Though the way that bear was focused on eating, I felt safe. I think most people are out of touch with the violence inherent in the wilderness. Apex predators are very real and very dangerous.
I have not personally experienced this level of D’oh behavior (walking past a yearling aside). It’s out there. I hope we see grizzlies and wolves in the park, but at a very safe distance. “Let’s go feed the bear” may cross my mind, but as a joke. I would prefer not to become dinner.
Gauging LP use is tricky. When filled the tank will never go full. We could have a fill then then next morning it will read 2/3. OF course the tank will read 2/3 when the gauge just drops below Full. It’ll read 1/2 when just below 2/3.
We filled our tank when we left Coeur D’Alene on 9/30. Today our tank reads 1/4, though yesterday it read 1/4 as well. We will fill today and divide the gallon fill by three to figure daily usage in cold weather.
Our LP tank is full. It took 5 gal. which seemed strange. At Blackwell we had a 7 gal fill. Still that’s about 1.66 gal LP consumed per cold day. Our tank holds 13 gal. Perhaps our gauge reads 1/4 once the tank drops below 1/2. Half of 13 is 6.5. Unless the gauge is inaccurate (possible) or there is a built in “reserve” (likely), there is no way our gauge should read 1/4 and only take 5 gal. Working backwards, if the tank were just below 1/2 full and took 5 gal it “should” read empty at 10 gal. That would leave a 3 gal reserve. Also possible the gauge is not linear. For most car fuel gauges, the gauge changes slowly from full and more quickly past 3/4. This would be the opposite of what I’m seeing. Oh Well.
Not a Cloud in the SKY
Yellowstone River West of Gardiner
Yellowstone RV Park, Mammoth Campground
Today started cool with strong winds in Livingston. The sky was clear for the first time since our bike ride in Coeur D’Alene. As the day developed, temperature soared reaching 77 F in the valleys. Snowy peaks sheltered from the sun probably stayed cold. Ellen wished me a wonderful sunrise and sunny warm day for my birthday. She must have an “in” with the gods of the weather. What a remarkable day today has been.
The drive from Livingston to Gardiner is along the Yellowstone River with some dramatic views over the river, across golden fields, to snow capped mountains. There are numerous fishing holes and outfitters on the river. Fishermen were everywhere. We stopped at Yellowstone RV Park just outside Gardiner. A dirt road drops down into a narrow canyon overlooking the Yellowstone river. With no expansive views, it’s an “ok” campground.
The office sits atop the road. It was closed. The manager’s 5th wheel was close by. I walked over, “Hello, anybody home?” with no answer I walked back to the office. There I found a note saying, “out to lunch be back soon”. I turned back and saw Ellen talking with the manager. Ellen had knocked. Site 7 was open. Ok we’ll look at it. We walked down the road and Tammy went back to her lunch. We decided #7 was ok, but couldn’t roust Tammy. Ok, we’ll check out another site and call her back to make the reservation. Off we went.
Rocky Mountain RV Park & Cabins sits on a ridge above Gardiner. It could have expansive views, but we would not know. A sign announced FULL. We called Tammy and left a message that we’d take site 7, please call us back.
With two other vehicles entering the park, we had no wait getting in. With our Senior Pass, we paid nothing to enter. We stopped at Madison Campground, again there was no line. We chatted with Rickie about the park, weather, and campground. At 12:15 they had lots of open sites, though the ones high up were all taken. Only $14.46 a night for a site with no water, electricity, no sewer. In fact the only place in the park to dump waste was Madison and they closed it down last week. Temps dropped too low. Increasingly we thought to stay outside the park for a few days, particularly if rain and snow is due tomorrow. We drove the campground eying those sites that appealed to us for future use.
Yellowstone National Park
I drove on to Old Faithful to get a renewed feel for the park. We saw deer, elk, bison, and hare along the way. We never stopped to scan the tree line for wolves or bear. We recognized a few favorite places from last year’s trip. “We’ll be back.”
I wanted to visit Old Faithful for lunch on my birthday. Old Faithful is roughly 50 miles from Gardiner: No Problem. The drive took about two hours, with some delay for road work. My memory of the park was spot on in places and remarkably vapid in others. Mammoth was as I remembered. The drive from Mammoth to Gibbon Falls took far longer than I remembered. Gibbon Falls is much closer to Madison than I remembered, probably because we drove it behind a herd of buffalo at 5 mph. Past Madison 89 rises past to Firehole canyon. I remember walking this area looking for wolves last year. I love, love, love the golden fields past Firehole Canyon on either side of Firehole River. We saw several buffalo herds and elk harems in this area. Old Faithful is not much farther.
We saw steaming ponds and fumaroles, remembering those we visited last year. Often we were unsure that we had stopped. There is so much to explore in the park. We stopped for buffalo and elk a few times.
The Largest Log Hotel in the World
Old Faithful Inn
The town of Old Faithful has two inns. The modern snow lodge and the Old Faithful Inn. The snow lodge is modern, has wifi, and lacks the charm of the Old Faithful Inn (in my opinion). The Old Faithful Inn may be the largest log building in the world. It opened in the spring of 1904.
I had wanted to have late lunch in the Inn’s dining room. The dining room opens at 5PM. We could have waited, but wanted to get back “home” before sunset. That left us the Inn’s restaurant, with a choice of bison burger, chicken sandwich, hummus, or a salad.