Buffalo Crossing RV Park
Ellen and I both thought Buffalo Crossing was less appealing than Pony Express! With snow melting, Buffalo’s roads were muddy. It was difficult not to bring sandy mud into Li’l Beast. They did have water available during the day. We topped up our drinking water and flushed & cleaned our waste tanks. Funny, the black tank didn’t flow right away. On went the tank heater and the icy log jam broke. Love that tank heater.
I called Pony Express early in the morning to reserve site 5 tonight. Pony Express isn’t much to look at. Everything works very well, there’s plenty of heat and hot water in the showers. That’s a huge plus in sub freezing weather.
Today’s Low Temperature
Today’s High Temperature
About the weather… Today we saw an enormous temperature swing. The overnight low was 10 F. The high hit 76 F. No kidding, I was comfortably walking around at Canyon Village in a shirt over a T.
We left Buffalo at checkout around 11:04. We’ve been moving slowly in the morning. Lots of cappuccino and some CNN.
To get to Hayden Valley from West Yellowstone, we drove to Madison Junction, turned left toward Mammoth Hot Springs, then turned right toward Canyon Village. We hit some icy spots in the pass headed to Canyon village. Dropping into a valley over the pass there were cars parked in the road looking to the right. Cool, wildlife. I pulled off the road as much as I could (not much) and stopped. Ellen grabbed the binoculars, but didn’t need them to see “them”. THEM. Now that we know relative size, it was clear what “they” were. Not foxes, “they” were too big. Not wolves, “they” were too small. Coyote! We watched two coyote hunt. Ellen watched as I checked traffic to ensure there was room for cars to get by. Traffic was low, we were good for a while.
Coyote are solitary animals. It’s unusual to see two of them together. We took a number of shots.
At some point traffic was coming both directions. Clearly we had to move and we did. We drove on to Canyon Village. Neither of us remembered stopping here for anything more than diesel last year. As we walked into the General Store, we knew we had eaten here last year. It was memorable for how good it wasn’t. My “burger” was all onion and lettuce (good), but the meat and bun? We both remembered, “overpriced and poor quality”. We walked around, looking at the memorabilia and walked out. If you are looking for Yellowstone Memorabilia, go to the IMAX theater in West Yellowstone. We left.
At the visitors center we went separate ways. I chatted up the Yellowstone Forever register gal. Ellen headed to the rangers manning the entrance fee register. I learned a bit about wolves and found an academic text about wildlife in the park. Ellen learned that the migration was happening and that the bison had left Hayden Valley. Most wildlife was headed up 89 to the north, leaving the high country! I got my book, Ellen suggested we head more north, even out of the park. We both had heard about Grizzly at “Tom Minor”. Where the hell is Tom Minor?
On the Road to Tom Minor Campground
OK, we’ll not drop into Hayden Valley if the wildlife has gone lower. “Let’s go to Tom Minor. It’s north of Yellowstone.” I agreed and we drove off to Mammoth Hot Springs. This took us west and north some 40 miles. At Mammoth, I took a bathroom break. I found Ellen talking to a knowledgeable ranger who know Tom Minor well. He runs there. He also suggested Old Yellowstone Road as something we should visit. Both are packed dirt roads. The ranger mentioned going over the Yellowstone bridge at tom Minor. River runner busses drive Old Yellowstone Road in-season. The road is wash-burn in many places. Neither road should be a problem for you. Cool. With an assurance that there were no cliffs on Tom Minor road, we left the park and headed toward Livingston looking for the Tom Minor turn-off after the bridge over the Yellowstone River.
Well, no! Ellen pointed out a big sign, “Tom Minor” on the left. What? No Bridge? I U-turned (I’ve regained my mastery of the U-turn) and went back. Sure enough a dirt road wound off to the right. No Bridge? Oh, there’s a bridge AFTER the turnoff. It’s an old rusted one-lane steel bridge. Two signs announce loudly “6 Tons Maximum”. Li’l Beast is just under 6 Tons or just OVER 6 Toms depending on water and waste tank loads. “I’m sure we’re under 6 tons”, said I, hoping I was right. With some misgiving, we drove across the bridge. A bit further on we crossed another smaller cement bridge with no load limit and continued up a steep slope past some large log cabins, a few massive stone custom homes, and some ranch entrances. To the left there were distant groves of aspen, stunned into drab brown by the sudden freeze. Fall colors are all gone to grays and browns. We scanned the tree line for motion and found none.
We didn’t drive to Tom Minor Campground at the road’s end. We turned around in a driveway with two dogs who oversaw our manoeuver. We didn’t see Grizzly this trip. “Next Time” We’ll revisit Tom Minor’s around dusk the next time we stay at Gardiner.
The drive back through Gardiner, Mammoth, Madison Crossing to West Yellowstone was uneventful. We saw elk as we descended toward West Yellowstone. The drive is wonderful. It rises through Douglas Fir and Lodge Poll Pines, along rivers, and through gorges.
Pony Express RV Park
We arrived “home” at site 5 around dusk. Temperature was dropping. We work like a well oiled machine setting “camp”. We can be setup or ready to leave in a matter of minutes.
Now at 8:30 and 31 F, Ellen has cooked a stir-fry with noodles that was excellent. She has showered. We’re watching CNN’s review of how Trump’s unfounded Ukraine conspiracy came to be. We’ll watch “Last Week Tonight” a bit later.
We’ll drive south to Grand Teton tomorrow. We could go north and east to Canyon Village through Hayden Valley then back south of Old Faithful, or we could go directly south past Old Faithful. That depends on how we feel tomorrow. I think Ellen would like to mark Hayden Valley mentally “for next time”. We’ll figure out where we’ll stay once we’re close to Jackson. I’ve been told there are three massive bull moose in the south Tetons. Moose grow huge. They would be something to see. I loved the Tetons when I first saw them.