22.05.2010 - 22.05.2010 32 °F
Room2201, Trapper Inn, Jackson WY: 4.25pm, 1/6/10
Now back in Jackson pending our 6.55am flight to Boston via Salt Lake tomorrow morning. Apparently, though it's a tiny airport, security is "real slow" and we're supposed to check-in 2 hours before! Here's the continued musings from the lounge at Lake Yellowstone Hotel. Will catch up with the rest from Massachusetts (I challenge any one to spell that correctly unaided!).
"The Lounge", Lake Yellowstone Hotel, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. 5.17pm, 29/5/10
Will we get out of here? Snow is coming down again outside. One pass is closed (we were going to drive over Dunraven Pass to get back to the hotel from Mammoth Hot Springs this afternoon, but had to go back some of the way we'd come, in order to get back here. In places, snow was pitching on the road and we turned the knob to "4WD" to be on the safe side. The knob being a fitting on the black Nissan Armada we picked up from Alamo at Jackson Hole airport. Yes, Nissan, I'm afraid. But quite a beast and obviously built for the American market (no one else would be mad enough to buy one).
Jackson Hole is the Valley. Jackson is the town. Hole being the local term for valley. Jackson was a guy who had a hole named after him.
We woke up this morning (Saturday) to a full moon over the frozen trees and glistening snow-laden trees and the weather stayed clear for our early departure for Old Faithful where we were lucky enough to see the old fella blow his top, just for us.... plus around 200 Japanese, Indians (from Asia, not Oklahoma) and a few Americans. No English encountered at all. Indeed only in Nashville have we heard any English tones. And they were on a tour and never seemed to leave the hotel.
Whether it's a Hindi holiday or not we don't know (no Internet here, so typing this "offline"). But we are amazed at the number of Indians we see at every stop. Paul would think he was at work.
After Old Faithful, we stopped to watch various other old geezers blow off steam or gurgle their bellies. The snow, rain, hail, sun, cloud, fog, steam started then and for most of the day there has been some precipitation of some sort. Though, luckily, each time we have wanted to stop, it has only be light, if at all. Bob bought himself a big brown Stetson, (Indiana Jones style) and very practical these broad-brimmed hats are against these elements. Those cowboys weren't stupid. (Actually they were. But never mind).
We drove out of the Park at the Northern entrance to a town called Gardiner where we'd stayed on our previous visit here in 1990. We bought a coffee, filled up with gas (marginally cheaper than in the Park) then drove back South. Arthur, in his inimitable way, described it as a "dump".
Turning back well in time from the closed pass, in fact, we'd only gone 200 yds down the road before we realised the road was closed ahead due to a big sign saying so. Bob did go in to the visitor centre to confirm with the park ranger that it was closed as a sign this morning, which we had ignored, said the other pass was closed, but that one proved to be open.
On the way back down the park, there were cars parked in the verge and blocking much of the road. A sure sign that someone had spotted some wildlife. As we squeezed the car through, we looked over to an area of open tundra before some trees and, there they were, a big grizzly bear and cub. This is a first for us. If you went looking for a bear you'd never find one (like our great moose search before). These things happen when they and are best when unexpected, which makes them even more magical. Black bear sightings are fairly common but the big brown grizzlies are quite a rarity. Great!
Not our picture, we did not get time to take one, but this is what we saw:-
We then cut across back to the road we would have come down on from Dunraven Pass to take in two more steaming wonders. Sulphur Caldron, great pools of bubbling sulphuric acid with steam pouring off, giving off the most awful stench. And, down the road, it gets worse, Mud Volcano, bubbling pools of mud giving off a smell Arthur had been working to achieve with his chemistry set, and failed. He is going to bottle it and take it back for his cousin Marmaduke. The stench is still in our nostrils but we still have 21/2 hours before dinner to get them clear!
This is the most remarkable place. Paired with the high mountains of The Grand Tetons, Yellowstone is unique and would have to be on anyone's must-see list on a first visit to USA. Coming at a time to avoid masses of other tourists has to be difficult, but avoiding a holiday weekend would help!
Dinner last night was good. You saw the dishes we had in the previous blog... Another dish was a rather camp Thai(?) bus-boy whose elegance and panache when laying up a table kept us entertained for much of the meal.
There is a policy of employing a portion of retired people in National Parks and one elderly female Maitre d' also entertained us. She really was a bit beyond it and we think Julie Walters must have seen her when she dreamed up here "Two soups" character.
We got chatting to the "Maitre d'" tonight as it was her night off. She came to sit and give support to "Ruby" at the piano. She was a lady of great character. She had been a singer with various jazz/big bands, had a bar in New York for 20 years, has worked in many National Parks and is working the Summer here at Lake Yellowstone where she sleeps in a dorm and shares with two others. Some lady! We nicknamed her Cleo Laine. We were also taken under the wing of two couples, one from Maryland, on from Colorado. The two husbands were very proud they had spent time in the army in North Yorkshire. They were interested in our new life in Spain. We love it that Americans are so friendly towards us.
Finally, to pass the time last night whilst watching the snow fall, listening to Ruby on the piano and the hubbub of the other guests here, we bought the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. Here are extracts from their "Police Report":-
"A 51 year old woman was arrested for stealing a DVD and some crab meat from a store on Catron Street around 1.30pm.
"A woman said her friend had her wedding dress and would not give it back. The friend told police she did not have the garment.
"A woman said employees at a cell phone store were rude to her saying 'The door could hit her in the backside on the way out'.
"Someone dipped a woman's newspaper into something that left a brown residue on it".
Anyway, it's off to Cody tomorrow. If we make it over "Avalanche Pass". Otherwise it's a long drive round.
Dinner soon. Two soups? Or Thai Chicken?
PS Dinner was even better tonight though, as reported, it was "Two Soups" night off and she was in the lounge listening to the music and Thai waiter was also off though we sat at one of his beautifully-laid tables. Bob had the Halibut and John the Duck. They were both delicious and the meal was better than the night before. Instead of starters, we indulged in desserts: Bob the Huckleberry Ice cream and John the Creme Brulee Cheesecake. Mmm. We have been very good on this trip and had very few desserts. The "servers" simply bring the check after the main course and don't even ask if you want dessert. Anyway, they were both scrummmmmy.
PPS A note for Vivienne: we've seen critters (marmots?), deer (various), squirrels, a fox, an American eagle, grizzly & cub, moose (Bob says?) but no elephants. BUT we did just see a sign: "Elephant-Back Trail". Closest we could get.