Winter Wonderland

Trip Start Feb 07, 2010
Trip End Feb 25, 2010

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Flag of United States  , Montana
Thursday, February 18, 2010

I must apologise for not updating for three days and so now is a good time to go grab a coffee and get comfortable because here comes a mega awesome triple blog!

It all starts about 3:45am three mornings ago, when we were forced out of our bed at the Super 8 LAX hotel and into a shuttle bus. We got through the airport quite quickly (no wonder it was bloody early!) and waited until Maccas opened for breakfast. Eventually we got on a plane to Salt Lake City, where my window seat got stolen by a strange Mexican man. His English was poor, and we were all a bit sleepy (6am by now) so I just sat in the aisle and napped. We switched planes in Salt lake to go to Bozeman, it was a really short connection but we made it in easy time! All that stress for nothing... Of course, the plane was late to take off because one poor woman somehow got on the wrong plane and only realised it during the air hostess safety talk when she said we'd probably land in Bozeman, but there was a an off-chance weather would force us down in Billings... Anyway we found Bozeman quite uneventfully. A really pretty little airport, too!

We hired us a sweet red Toyota Corolla and hit the road to West Yellowstone (90 miles). It was fun trying to figure out which way to turn and what side of the road to drive on (not) and how to operate the vehicle! The stress was a bit much for us to explore Bozeman at all, although I would have liked to find where Vulcans met human people haha.

We luncheoned at Big Sky, at a brewhouse called lone peak or something. Got me a bison bratwurst which was tasty as (but resulted in unfortunate bowel movements that afternoon) and a few local beers, a very enjoyable lunch.

We then drove straight to West Yellowstone through some beautiful mountains along the Gallatin River and into town to our 'Moose cabin’. We met Cynthia and said hi, got comfortable, washed some clothes, and had good ol’ American dinner at Bullwinkles.

We got up bright and early yesterday morning to head on down to Yellowstone Vacations and onto a ‘Snow Yacht’, or really a bus with tracks so it can go over snow! This went into the Yellowstone National Park with a guide to tell us every little story we wanted to know, and plenty we didn’t care to ever hear again (particularly his terrible puns, lol). Yellowstone is larger and stranger than the previous parks we’ve visited, but a little less impressive on the eyes. Our group was quite fortunate in seeing several geysers go off which aren’t predictable, and can take 24-36 hours to go off again. Old Faithful, the primary focus of the tour, was of course very predictable and we got to see it go off twice. These geysers are quite amazing, caused by a buildup of hot water and steam in the ryalite rock below until it got forced through a small (8cm wide) silica-lined hole to spurt up in the air. The cold weather (and my god it was cold) made everything all steamy and hard to see, but what we did see was worth every second. The hot springs were also interesting, the different colours due to light refraction, bacteria, or minerals (such as sulphur) were spectacular. There was some walking around on trails (I was puffed easily, I am going to blame altitude rather than fitness or continuing recov ery from Grand Canyon), snow-covered though they were (Matt’s arse had a nice meeting with some icy snow bits lol), but mostly the time was spent in the snowcoach where it was relatively warm. The biggest difference in this park was that, due to the thermal waters, a couple of rivers never freeze for winter – this meant that there was plenty of wildlife which did not migrate away in order to live! We saw tonnes of bison, some elk, a coyote, many ravens, and even a couple of bald eagles! I would’ve loved to have seen some wolves, but they were way too human shy (we may have vaguely heard some at one point!) a big ol’ moose woulda made my day too but of course they migrate into higher, colder altitudes for winter away from predation because they are crazy. Bears were all hibernating so no chances of seeing them either. There were other water fowl, and a few small mammals caught out of the corner of an eye, also. It really made my day to see all the animals, especially as the other parks were bare of them. At the end of a long tiring cold day, we retired to our cabin to enjoy some delivered pizza and burger, which was delicious and comfortable.

This morning, we got up early yet again (when will I be able to sleep in?? Boohoo) and went back to the Yellowstone Vacation place to rent a couple of snowmobiles. These devices are somewhat like jetskis... on crack. Icy snowy crack. Fortunately they also rented out clothes for these vehicles, because as if 1C isn’t cold enough, imaging it being whipped around you over 30 km/h. Brrr!

After a brief orientation, I pulled out on the wrong side of the road (too many things to concentrate on at once) straight up! That wasn’t a big deal though. We got out to the trails, and started climbing up the nice smooth trails. Wait did I say nice and smooth? I meant cut up by the billions of other snowmobiles! Damn things caused ruts which wrenched all controls from your hands. Well some of the trails were a lot nicer, in the areas were people hadn’t been yet. We visited ‘Big Springs’ (not as big as I expected) and Meadow Creek Lodge, which is a ranch house only accessible by snowmobile during winter. But don’t you worry; they make plenty of cash as there is nowhere else to go for food but back into town! The prices weren’t bad, the food wasn’t great, but the hot spiced apple drink was delicious and warming. We hit the trails some more, and ocne we got used to the crazy vehicles were had some fun going over bumps and hills, going off track a bit, and generally having fun. All in all it was a great entertaining fun fun fun day!!

We were almost back in town by 1:30pm, and thought well this is silly we have them rented until 5pm, why not just ride around the flats some more? I got more and more confident, until I was speeding through the trees off the groomed tracks close to the speed limited of 45 mph (72 kph)! This is around about when I discovered that sometimes it is slippery and the bugger won’t turn. I got up close and personal with a pine tree, then became quite stuck in about a metre deep of snow. At first Matt thought it was hilarious, until we had to fight through the snow to help me and discovered it to be really tiring! About 15 minutes and much revving, reversing, digging, pushing, and generally exerting ourselves later we got it free without any damage! Well not to the snowmobile anyway...

Getting after 2pm, and so tired it wasn’t fun anymore, we returned the rentals heaps early and visited the Grizzly Bear and Wolf Discovery Centre. Here we got to check out some grizzly bears who weren’t hibernating, and some gooooorgeous grey wolves! We only got about an hour and a half here, but that was more than enough to read about grizzlies and black bears a lot, learn some interesting facts, and get some awesome photos. I spent a lot of money at the gift shop (hey, it’s for a good cause) and then we simply had to collapse at the cabin for a while. Sometime later, after some recovery, we found some headache tablets in the supermarket and then went to Three Bears for another all American dinner, where Matt had New York cut steak and I had Bison Swiss Steak. Delicious.

Now we are kicking back with some beers, trying not to use any of our core muscles or those which were gripping/controlling the snowmobiles, listening to 70’s music from satellite TV. We’re still having a really awesome wonderful time, playing in the snow and retiring before the fireplace afterwards. They’re telling us this winter is really mild, and normally they’d have a good 40% more snow than this. I’m sorry it was like up to Matt’s chest nearly in one deep bit, how the hell would we have gotten out of my bogged situation if it was any freaking deeper?!?!

Anyway, I’m a bit sad we’ll be leaving this cabin tomorrow, but I’m also eager to see more beautiful countryside from the comfort of a nice red car. So, until next time, have a great day!

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nailajane on

sounds like you're having SO much fun! great photos too! very very envious of you both. hope you're getting plenty of R&R when you can. enjoy every moment! *hugs* love you lots xxo

noni_matt on

R&R? whassat??? :P
*falls over tired*

Having a great time ^_^

noni_matt on

So..tired...... omg conference from 7:30am - 9:30pm tmw, when will I get the energy to write it?! Bettter do it now lol

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