On the road to Yellowstone and beyond.

Trip Start May 05, 2010
Trip End Jul 20, 2011

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Flag of United States  , Wyoming
Thursday, July 1, 2010

Well whilst I sip on one of our home grown Aussie reds, the task of writing the blog falls to me again. All the grog shops here sell a good selection of Aussie wines that, I feel, are far superior to the local drop. Gael gets her jollies by recording her thoughts in her diary, and then reminding me of events that have happened as I set about putting a few words down here.

Firstly, to bring you up to speed with events of the night of 20th June, well they never found the bugger! Even after bringing in half of the Mounties in the state of Alberta and a heat seeking chopper that can pin point a steaming bear turd at a kilometer. So, one more illegal alien gets to live the good life in the US.

I can't begin to imagine how much the whole exercise cost the Canadian taxpayer. Two choppers, at least six park rangers and all those Mounties. And, you can’t put a price on the sleep we lost can you. I mean at our age you just can’t make it up.

Well you wouldn’t believe it. The next night we drive up to our chosen campsite to find the local Blackfoot Tribe having their annual get together. Our initial frustration gave way to excitement at being so close to the real deal with drums and chanting to be heard in the distance. We did lose a bit of the magic of the moment however when Gael, on a trip to the toilet, discovered the music and the chanting was coming from a car radio. A good time appeared to be had by all, and stumps were pulled by 8.30pm.

After another night or two on the road we arrived at Yellowstone National Park. The first thing that one notices after the other parks we have visited is the numbers of tourists. The second is the size of the tourists. Man some of these Americans are big!

Then there is the binocular factor. You can bring traffic to a standstill on any road in the park by simply pulling to the side of the road, getting out of the car and looking through your binoculars. You don’t have to be looking at anything in particular, the mere act of bringing them to eye level has people slamming on their brakes. The slamming on of brakes is not necessarily associated with pulling to the side of the road either, which can be interesting.

The other thing one notices is the fearlessness of the tourists. They will put on their "the wild animal can’t see me suit" and approach bison, and rutting elk, etc, without a care in the world.

Up until day two Gael was pretty unimpressed with the park. Compared to what we had seen previously it wasn’t living up to expectations. But now, after having spent four days here, we have seen some pretty amazing things. As a comparison, New Zealand just doesn’t have the geo thermal stuff on the same scale as here, and once you have paid your daily entry fee all the sights are included. I remember that in N.Z. everybody was in for their chop. The place does show the effects of so many tourists though, with everything looking a bit tired.

We finished the highlights of the park with the must see “Old Faithful” just before driving out the south entrance of the park. It blew or rather sputtered to life for a total of about 10 to 20 seconds and left the assembled crowd wondering whether the display was just a warm up for the main event. But no that was it! Over! The end! Lucky it was for free.

We also had our first run in with the law the other night in Yellowstone. It was getting late and all the camping grounds we passed were booked out. The traffic was like Flinders Street at peak hour, and I had had enough. Lacking in tolerance at the best of times it all became too much for me. After turning around because of a traffic jam we found a canyon drive that was one way traffic, and also had a clearing just off the road. Perfect campsite we thought!
It took them until eleven thirty pm to find us, but they did.

Bright lights, bang, bang, bang on the door. Ranger here sir, please show us some ID. Well how embarrassing! Me, guilty as charged, in my jocks and getting devoured by mozzies as rummaging around trying to find some ID in the cab of the truck so they would turn off the search lights. Gael, with a mouth full of humble pie is trying to tell them this is not something we normally do. LIKE HELL! Not since the night before! The big problem this time was that we were in the centre of Yellowstone Park and not in the surrounding parks where they don’t seem to care. Anyway the rangers were really great and said that they weren’t going to move us on because there was a storm on the way. And there was! They have fast moving and furious storms in the Rockies.

Most of the campsites, and it must be said there are plenty of them, are located close to the road.  This means that for us, as Australian bush campers, that they are terribly noisy. After 10pm at the latest the campers themselves have been great, but with up to 300 plus sites the movement of traffic late in the evening and from four in the morning drives us crazy. Gael thinks the US has about 220 million people, and it appears that they are all visiting the same campsites as us! And next week we have the 4th of July holiday long week end to look forward to. This particular weekend has the added bonus of fireworks. For joy, for joy!!!

One fruitcake the other night not only her pet dog on vacation with her, as do half the other locals in campsites that we have stayed. But this bird had a pet black swan, yes that’s right, a bloody great big Australian black swan. Try to imagine a fruitcake, a dog (husky), and a black swan all in the same three person tent. I mean black swans are enormous, and to my knowledge I don’t think one has ever been successfully toilet trained!

Due to the threat that our malfunctioning diesel glow plugs pose to the success of our trip, we are taking a detour to the east from Jackson, Wyoming over to Denver, Colorado a detour of a few hundred miles (for those who are old enough to remember they miles are bigger than the things we have now). As a result of a conversation with a local Landrover Defender owner (as scarce as kangaroo droppings over here) named David we now have the name of his mechanic. Now, whilst he may not be an expert in the make, he has at least laid a spanner on one before.

My concern is that if I try to do the job by the side of the road, I could leave part of a glow plug in the head. Whilst unlikely, it has been known to happen, and would require the head to be removed. Definitely something that would get the blood racing, possibly leading to cardiac arrest or at the very least a period of sustained spanner throwing. If nothing else the visit to Denver will give me a clear indication as to the real cause of the cold weather starting problems and what parts I will need, if any, to get sent over from OZ as it’s unlikely they will be found locally.

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