Wild, Wonderful, Maskless Wyoming!

I met up with Julie & Brad in Laramie September 6th, just in time for the season’s first cold front and snowfall. The 18 inches forecast didn’t happen but about 3-4 inches accumulated. It was nice. The day after the snow we drove around the Snowy Range south of Laramie looking at properties, mainly to get a feel for different regions within Wyoming. Why? In case the country makes a horrible mistake in November by electing democrats to the White House and Senate. That would certainly F America. Take a look at any of the democrat-run cities and states to see how well their loony policies work out.

We liked a couple areas, namely Ryan Park and the Mortenson Lake Wildlife Refuge area south of Laramie but no particular properties lit us up. On to Casper…

The drive north to Casper was beautiful with snow covering the hills and fields. Casper is a cool town along the North Platt River. One of its most attractive areas is Casper Mountain. The mountain is a quick 10-15 minutes from town and the day before we got there had received up to two feet of snow. Many of the roads are private which kept us from seeing the specific properties Julie had researched. It’s one thing to explain that you’re on a private road looking at potential properties to buy; it’s another to ask for a tow. We opted for discretion over valor… Plus, we were in Brad’s Ram truck and I was concerned it’d get stuck (it’s simply not a Ford!) 😂 Anyway, we spent the afternoon checking out Casper’s breweries and then in the morning we were on to Greybull, east of Yellowstone.

Greybull, well, you can keep it. It’s pretty enough but just too small. There’s really nothing there to compel a 365 day-a-year commitment. The drive to Lovell and through the Bighorn National Forest was pretty but no particular places hit us as investment worthy. We enjoyed a simple lunch in Shell after viewing Shell Falls. But it was time to head on through Cody & Yellowstone to Dubois.

I’m very glad I’d visited Yellowstone last year because it was so smoky from fires dues to California’s forest mismanagement; it was hard to even see across the lake. We did see a couple elk fighting it out for mating rights. Very cool. We might’ve done the southeast section of Yellowstone in record time, just rolling through. With the rigs in tow pulling off to see sights we’d visited just last year didn’t make sense. We continued on toward Dubois.

Dubois is a nice small town but, like Greybull, not too much there for year-round living. Did see some nice lots and homes up on the hill, but the Dubois/Lander region wasn’t quite cutting it either. While in Dubois for the three nights we made ourselves regulars at the Rustic Pine Tavern. Cool 100+ year old joint with a cool and pretty bartender. Played lots of dominoes. From Dubois… back to Casper to meet with a realtor for access to some of Casper Mountain’s properties.

About 100 people live full-time on the mountain and there are a couple vacant lots we liked but they had water access challenges—like about 500 feet of drilling challenges. Just not sure I’m willing to throw $40K at a water source… Other lots did not have year-round access. Gonna keep Casper Mountain on the short list but I’m not convinced just yet.

Julie & Brad headed back to Frisco and I headed to Saratoga for the night and then into Beaver Creek for a couple/few weeks. Frankly, I was a little tired of driving and my truck had developed a steady oil leak that I needed to get fixed. So, as I post this I’m hanging at friends’ awesome condo in Beaver Creek just chilling, hiking and watching football and hockey. Mid-October I’m heading back to G’Vine for the fall and winter so unless something exciting happens I’ll post a trip summary then, which will be it for a while. Until the road beckons once again… (And I gotta say, I already miss maskless Wyoming. Hopefully the rest of the country soon finds its senses on the stupid mask charade.)

Geyser Basin, YNP

Wednesday was a great geyser day! These active creatures—they certainly have moods and personalities—are hard to wrap your head around. I’m not gonna try, other than to spew a few adjectives…

  Stunning   Incredible   Awesome   Moody   Powerful   Stark   Subtle   Scary   Reflective   Deep   Clear   Murky   Bright   Dull   Colorful   Prismatic   Mind-blowing   Strong   Smelly   Creative   Old   Enduring   Refreshing   Renewing   Variable   Predictable   Unpredictable   Inspiring   Threatening   Solid   Humbling   Wellyougettheidea

My novice pics in the slideshow and the videos hopefully convey some sense of how wonderfully God created this place. Thursday we’re off to the Lamar River Valley and Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone…

 Geyser Basin Videos

Flower Paint Pot Area Bubbling
Flower Paint Pot Area Steaming
Flower Paint Pot Area Erupting 
Biscuit Basin Seashell Comes Alive
Old Faithful #1
Old Faithful #2
Midway Geyser Area – 4,000 Gallons a Minute
Midway Geyser Area – Bacteria Mats
Firehole Lake Drive – The Spa Boils!

Lamar River Valley

We made an early morning departure (5:30) to head across the park to the Lamar River Valley for some wildlife viewing. And accomplished our goal! Almost immediately into the wide valley we encountered a few solitary bison and then a buffalo jam a few miles down the road. So cool to wait and watch as these majestic beasts graze and roll and chase each other alongside (and on) the road.

Several times the animals were within a couple feet so we just continued rolling slowly along, trying to not disturb them. Great picture opps, great videos and sounds. So fortunate to have experienced so many bison in one place. Truly great!

A ways down valley several groups were lining the road, reportedly spying a wolf across the meadow. While we didn’t see one it was still kinda cool to know one was likely out there, as professional guides were camped out watching.

After reaching the northeast entrance to the park we retraced our tracks in Lamar Valley to take in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and Mud Volcano Area, which I cover here.

Lamar Valley Videos

Lamar Valley Bison
Lamar Valley Bison – Ah, Love!
Lamar Valley Bison – Dustin’ it Up!
Lamar Valley Bison – Owning the Road
Lamar Valley Bison  – Crossing without a Guard

Don’t forget to read on about the day’s afternoon sights!

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone & Mud Volcano

After visiting wildlife-filled Lamar Valley in the morning and then a mediocre lunch at the unexpected yet friendly grill in  Canyon Village we covered the short distance to first the North then the South Rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Beautiful canyon wall colors, lots of water in the Yellowstone River. More stunning beauty. Does not get old.

A short distance south from there is the Mud Volcano area. I’d also visited this area several years ago but it’s so cool (not literally!) I was excited to see it again. I’ll let the pics & vids speak for themselves. Very impressive area!

As we were closing down the day’s sightseeing, headed down alongside the Madison River toward West Yellowstone we came upon a herd of elk, grazing and relaxing on  an island in the mid of the river. Such beautiful animals. (Tasty chops, too!) We’ve been treated to bison, elk, deer, trumpeter swans, and myriad birds & ground crawlers. Still got eyes out for bear and moose!

Videos of the Afternoon’s Sites

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone – Lower Falls
Churning Caldron
Mud Volcano
Dragon’s Mouth Spring

Mammoth Springs, YNP

Rounding out our YNP experience we headed out late morning to Mammoth Springs at the northern edge of the park. On the way up we checked out Roaring Mountain. Lots of thermal vents of various kinds. Years ago when the mountain was more active the roar could be heard four miles away. That’s impressive.

Also impressive is Mammoth Hot Springs. The terracing created by flows of sulfuric stuff through the rhyolite is unusually pretty. It’s amazing how hot water and gas can create so many different variations. Extremely interesting and another glimpse into the handiwork of our creative, powerful God.

We had lunch—ice cream—at the grill in the village of MHS and then drove a backroad up to the north entrance of YNP. Good call because we saw elk and pronghorn grazing on the hillside. I think pronghorns are the coolest looking animals with their colorful markings and fluffy white butts. But that’s me…

Norris Geyser Basin (7758)
Norris Geyser Basin (7758)

On the return trip to West Yell we stopped into Norris Geyser Basin, which was slammed earlier in the day, and walked around the boardwalk to see its version of hot water coming up through the ground. I still wasn’t getting tired of the fumaroles, cauldrons and springs. But we forewent the loop around the back basin in favor of a beer back in camp.

The Madison River elk family greeted us again on the final leg into West Yell; this time they were just hanging on the far side of the river with the big boy looking over his harem. Yep, another great day in our great nation’s first and greatest national park! Next up: The Grand Tetons!

Mammoth Hot Springs & Norris Geyser Basin Videos

Roaring Mountain
Mammoth Hot Springs
Norris Geyser Basin – Little Bubblers
Norris Geyser Basin – Sizzling Ground
Norris Geyser Basin – Noisy Vents

Grand Tetons & Snake River

We set up base camp for a few days at Colter Bay in Grand Tetons National Park. The RV section is a cozy place among lodgepole pines with bear warning signs everywhere. After watching church on a weak and intermittent WiFi signal Sunday we checked out the town of Jackson, meeting up with my friend David for lunch at the Silver Dollar Saloon in the Wort Hotel. Good elk gyro!

Late afternoon brought on some rib smoking using my new A-MAZE-N smoke pellet device. Worked great on keeping a nice think line of blue smoke venting from my little portable smoker! I managed to overcook the ribs though, dammit. I kept the temp at about 220 and am now convinced the thermostat reads high. Maybe not having to open the smoker every twenty minutes to add wood chips contributed to higher overall cook temps. More trial and error!

Monday we had a blast white water rafting on the Snake River. The time flew by; we saw a river otter and mountain goat on the riverbank, and a huge osprey nest on a power line. Lots of wildlife here!

On the way back to camp we enjoyed pizza and a brew on Dornan’s deck looking out at the towering Tetons. Awesome place to hang for a while! Then we night-capped at the Blue Heron lounge at Jackson Lake Lodge, watching the sun set over the mountain peaks. WHY DON’T I LIVE HERE?

Julie flew home Tuesday to meet her new grandson; Brad left early Wednesday for the two long-days drive to Frisco; I left Thursday mid-morning, headed to Saratoga and then Beaver Creek to meet up with Shelley & Brett for a week. Was kinda sad leaving the Tetons, party because I recognized I was starting my slow roll back to Texas and partly because I can’t answer the question: WHY DON’T I LIVE HERE?

Tetons View from Jackson Lake Lodge Video