Summing up the last week; Exploring Big Sky Country & avoiding Big RV’s

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So, here I am in the final week of my cross country extravaganza.   I can’t believe it’s coming to a close.  Despite the raindrops falling outside I’m resolved to enjoy the final stretch.  And here’s the wrap-up of the past week.

After a jam-packed time in Washington state I made my way over to Idaho, into Montana and back into Idaho.  Montana truly is big sky country as they say.  Big sky, big mountains, big trucks with big dogs.  I’ve never felt so odd (wo)man out.  I was also completely exhausted from all the activity in Washington so I decided to chill with the ‘rents on their ranch somewhere in the middle of nowhere in Idaho.  I’d heard it was beautiful and I’d heard it was in the middle of nowhere.  Nowhere as in, no cell reception and directions that included mile markers and ‘look for the mail boxes on the left’.  In fact they did end up having to chase me down when I still couldn’t find it, but they found me. LOL!  “Put a city girl in the back country…” they joked.  It was exactly what I needed.  A warm cozy bed, hot showers, home cooked meals…  Hummingbirds the size of a bonbon buzzed around.  I saw a white-tail bunny rabbit and 2 cyotes running outside.  Nature au-natural for sure.  The Salmon river was just a few hundred yards away with fly-fishermen dotting the landscape.  The Sawtooth Mountains also framed the horizon.  Geez!  Who knew Idaho was such a gem!  Ssshh!!

After 2 days of much needed respite it was time to hit the road again and I headed off to Yellowstone Park.  I was SO excited to finally see ‘America’s National Park’.  And I have to say my experience there has left me perplexed.  For sure the wildlife was amazing!!  I saw more Bison than I can count.  Elk, Antelope & even a Grizzly Bear.  I also saw Old Faithful erupt.  Although after seeing geysers in New Zealand and Iceland…well sorry old lady, but you don’t quite rival their steam.  However the anticipation of waiting for her does.  How many times did I hear “What time is she scheduled to erupt?” or “Do you know how much longer?” or “What time was the last eruption”.  After hearing that over and over for half an hour….well you get the picture.  The funny thing is as she erupted the wind direction changed and we all got sprayed with steam and sulfur.  No the thing about Yellowstone that will stick with me is how stupid, obnoxious, annoying, etc….people can be!!  Honestly I’ve never seen such a concentration of stupid annoying people.  #1 I noticed; The max speed limit in Yellowstone is 45 mph.  Yet I saw countless people in BIG Diesel engine trucks and SUV’s speed around other vehicles.  HELLO! This is a nature reserve.  Wild animals live here and cross the street at any given time.  It’s not a free way. WTF?! #2; once again people, these are wild animals.  So why were people walking off the path, with their small children, to get up close & personal with the Bison. #3; There are people in this country that had NO BUSINESS driving RV’s!!!  I saw things that absolutely astounded me.  An RV, in the car section that had no business being there, side-swiped a car and then spend several minutes trying to dis-lodge the 2 vehicles.  In another parking lot an RV towing a car couldn’t quite fit it all in 3 parking spaces, so he just left the car hanging out in the middle of the lane.  Really?!?!  One of the gift shop guys made the assessment that to get a trucker’s license you have to take several tests and go thru an intensive training program.  But to get an RV all you need is $80,000!  And most of the drivers are over 60! #4; anyone that knows me well knows there are certain things I can’t keep my mouth shut about.  And not being nice to animals is one of them.  As sun was beginning to set the Elk were coming out to feed on the bank on the other side of the river.  I stopped to take pictures.  There was a family a few hundred yards down from me and a 10 yr. old girl took a big rock and threw it in the river just across from them.  I couldn’t believe it and after a long day being surrounded by stupid tourists it just jumped out of me…”Don’t be a jerk to the animals!!” I shouted.  Obviously everyone was taken by surprise at my outburst.  Then the mom responded “She wasn’t trying to hurt the animals”.  Well obviously not since they were not close enough to hit, but still.  “It’s just obnoxious!” I said. “Would you want someone throwing rocks at you while you were trying to eat?!?!”  Well no one had a response to that and the stalemate ended.  I continued taking pictures and not long after the baby started screeching and the Elk ran off.  I don’t blame them.

After that exhausting experience the next day I decided I couldn’t take another day of it and instead headed south to the Grand Tetons.  It wasn’t on my itinerary, but I’m so glad I went.  I got a much better campground, the weather was better, it was much less congested and there were lots of hiking trails.  All that driving made me anxious to get out and get moving.  The mountain range is absolutely stunning!  Over a course of 2 days I hiked two 5 hour hikes.  I really enjoyed this, but not the dozens of mosquito bites I received.  On my second hike, which I might add was pretty heavily trafficked, I was pretty shocked to see 30 yards in front of me a mama black bear and her 2 cubs.  I completely froze.  I know enough to know nothing is more dangerous than being close to a mama bear.  So I waited patiently until they made their way down the other side of the trail.  I spent the rest of the hike clapping my hands.  My only other wildlife encounter was a Marmont.  He came waddling around a rock and seemed as surprised to see me as I was him.  I waited for him to decide which way to go and moved on.  The day had started off picture perfect, but half way along the hike a torrential storm blew in.  Just as I was reaching the peak point high winds surged in, along with the largest raindrops I have ever seen!  What could I do?  I saw a lot of people crouching under trees and rocks for cover but my mantra is I’d just rather keep going and get to the end.  And when I did get to the end there was no sign of rain there.

2 days in the Tetons was amazing, even with all the itchy bites and an aggravated knee injury.  But like I said, now it’s the big push.  Yesterday was a long day of driving through Wyoming and into South Dakota.  I saw remnants of the Grand Canyon up here.  And then vast open spaces of nothing and all I could think was about those pioneers back from the days of Manifest Destiny.  Looking at these wide open spaces of nothing I wondered, who decided THIS was the place to stop?  If they had known what lay a few hundred miles ahead would they still have stopped there?  What a time that must’ve been.  I’m here in Spearfish, South Dakota ready to see Mt. Rushmore and explore the Badlands.  But there’s nothing but grey sky and raindrops outside…so instead I’m here with you, telling my tale and hoping when I’m back at home in NYC next week she will have recovered from Irene and I will have survived the next 1,000 miles!

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