07.29.15 Boondocking in Gros Ventre and Canyon Campgrounds

11017349_10153457838204939_963602649114849117_n Boondocking in Gros Ventre and in Canyon Campground – July 17 – July 27th.  Eight of the ten nights the temperatures fell into the 50s and it was breezy.  This helped us to sleep really well without any air conditioning and we woke up to cool temperatures making for a great start to each day.  The last two nights were not breezy and the temperatures were in the high 70s which made it more difficult to fall asleep those nights.

We successfully made it ten days only filling up the fresh water tank once.  The tenth day there was only a sputter of20150726_190250 water out of the faucet.   The 8 gallon jugs of water and the water spray bottle we brought with us helped to stretch the 85 gallon water tank.

There was no clothes washing ,so clothes were aired out over night and worn a little longer than we normally do. Now there are huge stacks of clothing waiting to be washed and dried.

20150724_133414We planned our meals for this time period so that little cooking was done.  Lots of sandwiches, hot dogs, ham steak and pulled pork fed us through this time.  Also a lot of fruit was eaten, especially watermelon!  I found we just didn’t eat as much while boondocking.  Definitely not a really bad thing!

Because of the bear alert we didn’t cook outside or sit outside a whole lot like we usually do.  No bear sightings 20150726_135516for us though!

Some RV parks are crowded and cramped and we don’t care for that.  While boondocking, we were not crowded and got to enjoy the natural beauty of our surroundings.

We could, but we didn’t watch very much television since our Satellite reception for shows we like was almost non-existent.  Also watching TV causes the generator to run more often.  That means today was the first day I watched Young and the Restless in 11 days!  A lot changed on that show and I missed it!  We also saw no news and very little facebook.

20150726_135619Costs while boondocking:

While boondocking, the refrigerator runs on propane so we used some propane.  This cost was less than $10.

We also used half a tank of diesel running the generator to recharge the house batteries.  We run off the house batteries for lights and small things while boondocking.   Roy has ordered something to check the batteries because it seemed the generator ran more than it should have.  The cost of this diesel was over $100.

Gros Ventre was $12 per night, total of $4820150726_190231

Canyon Campground was $3.50 per night, total of $21

I believe I’m safe in saying that we could have stayed in a park with full hookups for 10 days for close to the $180 that boondocking cost.  If  you also throw in the Automatic Generator Starter we recently purchased to use while boondocking which cost over $600, it is really too much!

Even thought it didn’t cost less we really saw a lot and learned about other campers while boondocking that we wouldn’t have learned in a regular RV park.

20150724_133319– Lots and lots of people sleep in tents in these places, taking their showers and using the potty in the buildings provided.

  • You can hear lots of laughter and giggles from those who basically live outdoors until they go in their tents to sleep.

  • You can smell their outdoor cooking.

  • While camping outdoors people tend to walk around the park more and we got to enjoy seeing whole families taking daily walks at Gros Ventre and Canyon Campground.

  • Roy surprised a young couple with two daughters with ice cream cones one night and they were thrilled!11025201_10152873790342851_1565006033479973164_n

  • Our life, living in a Class A motor home, is so full of modern conveniences. When you’re without them you realize how nice it is to have them.  We do take things for granted!

  • Once you figure out how to find the information it is not that difficult to find National Parks campgrounds at little cost and Forest Service campgrounds even cheaper.

As we are now back to normal living I appreciate the little things more:  taking a full length shower – every day!!, washing dishes with plenty of hot water, heating a cup of water or blowing my hair dry without turning the generator on,  vacuuming (it was nice not to have to do that!) flushing the toilet without picking up a water jug and adding water.  It may take me three days to catch up on the laundry but when that’s done we’ll have a lot of clean clothes!!

11038689_619005011562806_4429873198491187422_nI think that’s about all I wanted to share about boondocking.  We will of course continue to do that when we choose to stay at Walmart, but for an extended time like 10 days I’m not sure we’ll do that again!

For now we are enjoying have all the electricity and water we want!!  We’re happy to be back in the land of civilization.  Oddly enough we have all the windows open and the a/c is turned off right now!!!  Yesterday was rainy, today is breezy but clear and tomorrow will be perfect.  We plan to get out and see as much as we can of this part of Montana!

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07.27.15 – Day Two in Yellowstone National Park on 07.24.15

1922432_635178163198260_1458712053_nDay Two in Yellowstone National Park on July 24, 2015 – Back down the west side of the upper loop in Yellowstone we went to get to the lower loop (the bigger one).

The Norris Geyer Basin was our first stop on the lower loop. A world of heat and gasses, where microorganisms live in such numbers they change the color of the landscape. This strange and beautiful place is on the edge of a volcano, the Yellowstone Volcano, one of the largest on earth. Boardwalks are seen all over the placed because walking on the ground is dangerous.

b3 b20 b19 b18 b17 b16 b15 b14 b13This is the Colloidal Pool

b12  This is the Hurricane Vent b8 b7 b6 b4As you walk through Norris Geyser Basin you feel as if you’ve landed in a different world. In the basin water accumulates underground, heated by the Yellowstone volcano. The water travels upwards to erupt from acidic geysers, rise from steaming fumaroles, and simmer in pools.

b23 b24 b25 b27 b28 b31 b34 b35 b36We were smarter planners today knowing how infrequent eating places are. We packed a nice picnic lunch and ate as we went along so we weren’t starving by the end of the journey.

In this whole Yellowstone adventure, the stop Roy has been looking forward to the most was Old Faithful Geyser which is in the southwestern corner of the lower loop. This in itself is a major attraction with lodges, gift stores, dining facilities, and groceries. An enormous seating area surrounds the spot where Old Faith erupts every hour or so each day. We waited 45 minutes for her to erupt this day and it was truly a sight to behold!You are looking

b37 You are looking at the people’s backs a they sit waiting for Old Faithful to errupt.  We worked our way to the front of the people to sit right in front of the geyser.  My hubby is good like this at finding great spots! b40

This is what it does when it’s not erupting.  Steam comes out and people get all excited anticipating the big event!b42

Looking at the circle of people from the front!b44

The initial signs of eruption occurring!b45 b46

The sounds of awed people when the eruption was in full force was goose bump material!b47 b47b

Two old geysers, Roy and Old Faithful!!!b48Several other geysers were seen along the way. Yellowstone information states there are over 10,000 geysers in the area.  We were constantly reminded that we were traveling atop a volcano which is difficult to get our mind wrapped around. God’s creations always amaze and humble us.  He is so great and we are mere mortals living in His world.

We stopped at the Mud Hole where mud comes bubbling out of the grown.  The Dragon’s Mouth Spring is interesting to see and hear the sounds like a dragon breathing!  The signs by each spot give so much good information about what you are seeing that I’ve included some.b51b50

b58  b55 b54 b53 b52Roy especially enjoyed seeing the mud bubbling up.  Guess it’s a male thing to like playing in mud!  And then on to the Sulphur Cauldron.

b562832_461_Sulphur_Caldron_Yellowstone_Park_mdLots of other Yellowstone beauty wrapped up today’s adventure. The first is a geyser right by the side of the road.

bgeyser along roadb70 b79 b76 b75 b74 b73 b72 b71 b70 gysers from a distance b69 b68 b66 b64 b63 b62 b60 Our last stop was at the Tower/Roosevelt area where we splurged and each got a double scoop ice cream cone! Perfect way to top off a perfect day in Yellowstone!

Even though we started out at 9 am today, we returned home again at 8:30 pm. Friday became our day of rest. There is so much to see and so many stops to make.  We certainly got a lot of walking exercise in these last two days.

I slept till 10:30 on Friday and worked on the blog and sorting out pictures all day. We took over 500 pictures in 11755753_10101594553244814_5225846400486456906_nYellowstone and it took quite a lot to get it down to 40 pictures of day one and 80 pictures of day two. That’s not including the videos I want you to see.

Saturday and Sunday were work days for me but we did go out Saturday afternoon to visit Gardiner, MT which is a really unique western town.  We stopped at the Buffalo Burger restaurant on our way home and Roy got a buffalo burger while I got a regular beef burger.  He loved it so much we went back on Sunday for him to get an Elk burger.  We were told by a friend, Al O’Connor to try Huckleberry Soda and this is one of the types we found.  I’m now a big Huckleberry Soda fan!

11755180_1104875829527108_5610528709934304113_nWe both bought cowboy hats on Saturday and are enjoying our new western gear!! Roy rarely wears tshirts so we finally found him a Yellowstone polo type shirt!  Cool cowboy dude!!

11745751_10101594497262004_4633191480468470521_n11755883_1104313162916708_3748508710849683891_nYa’ll come back now, ya’ hear!
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07.26.15 – Day one in Yellowstone National Park on 7.23.15

yellowstone figure 8 loopBefore we came here I only knew that Yellowstone had mountains and was beautiful.  I knew nothing of what it really is so I want to share some of what we learned with you! First a little information about Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone is 2.2 million acres in size. Shaped like a figure eight (see picture to the left), the upper loop and lower loop combined are approximately 142 miles long with the average speed limit of 45 mph.  I doubt we drove over 25 mph most of the time. They are anticipating over 4 million tourists in Yellowstone this year.

Yellowstone is way larger than Grand Teton and is very different in many ways.  In Grand Teton it was all about the big mountains and driving around to get different views of them.  In Yellowstone it is about the amazing things around every curve in your journey through the park.

Dora, Boots, Roy and I are staying in Canyon Campground (part of Gallatin National Forest which connects to Yellowstone National Park.  It is about 20 miles north of Yellowstone’s upper loop (just a little north of the top of the circle around the figure 8 loop.) Our journey to Canyon Campground took us through the entire east side of both loops. We entered at the South Entrance and exited at the North Entrance to get to our campground.

After such a stressful, draining drive yesterday we slept in and left to explore the park at 11 am. We planned to take it easy and just see a bit of the area around Mammoth Hot Springs which is at the north part of the top loop. There are roads out from Mammoth called the Upper and Lower Terrace roads. We set out in Boots our truck first to see that area and four hours later we’d seen all of the Terrace Road and boardwalks!  Before we got to the terrace roads we saw all this. First two are called Liberty Cap, a dormant hot springs cone

1 liberty cap a dormant hot springs cone34 (2)4Maps of the Upper and Lower Terrace roads and boardwalks. It was quite a long trek!

2221These Dangerous Ground signs are at each stop. B1These pictures and others are of fumaroles. A fumarole (ultimately from the Latin fumus,” smoke”) is an opening in a planet’s crust, often in the neighborhood of volcanoes, which emits steam and gases such as carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen chloride, and hydrogen sulfide. The steam forms when superheated water turns to steam as its pressure drops when it emerges from the ground.  This is a world of heat loving miroorganisms called thermophiles. Billions of them live, die and are buried in Mammoth Hot Springs.

20 19 5 6 7 (2) 7 From there we drove around the entire upper loop. While you can just drive the loop without stopping and getting out, you will not see but maybe 10 percent of the beautiful sights. Time after time, what looked okay from the road took our breath away when we got out of the car and saw it in its entirety.

This is Orange Spring Mound where water and minerals from underground bubble up and when pouring out causes the mound to continue to grow bigger.  24 25

One of those times we almost passed up because we couldn’t see anything from the road turned out to be a magnificent water fall!26 27 28

Further along the ride the mountains took front stage.  Seeing so many of them stretching out into forever was amazing!29

I wanted a bouquet of these purple beauties but I had to settle for a photo!  They were everywhere throughout Yellowstone.  30

This is the petrified tree.  Not too impressive to look at but the fact that it was wood and turned into stone is kinda cool!31

Roy enjoying the magnificence of this spot and the rushing river below32 34 35

Another fumarole (one of the hundreds) alongside the road.  You could walk up to it if you were crazy or hadn’t read the Dangerous Ground signs everywhere!36

Another amazing roadside waterfall.  Roy climbed out to it for the second shot!37 38Further along the road were these amazing sights!     We were given a very helpful paper map when entering the park. We used that along with our phone’s map to guide39 us along.   The paper map showed most all the important spots that are must see locations along the journey. The phone’s map helped us see up ahead what was coming. There are probably 20 must see locations in the upper loop and 30 must see locations in the lower loop.

Some of the sights were quick to see and some took us down almost 2 mile boardwalks or on hikes through the area to the sight. Everyone was worth the effort, even for us two old folks! We walked A LOT today!

We met a lovely couple with a child from London along the way. They rented a Class C RV for their visit to this area. I loved their accents and we enjoyed talking to them.

Around 5 pm we arrived at Canyon Village where they offer fine dining, cafeteria dining and burgers. We chose the 40cafeteria dining. Oh my goodness were we shocked at the cost. It was very good food and we were starving by the time we stopped there (didn’t take any food with us on the trip) and our eyes picked out everything possible to eat. The total was almost $50 for two people at a cafeteria!   This was the only restaurant area in the entire upper loop so there were hundreds of people there and I guess they can name their price. We ate very well and left quite content with our full tummies, but empty pockets!

We saw several sights along the remainder of the upper loop. A lot of the drive back was on a road under 44construction so what should have taken us 30 minutes to return took 2 hours! We appreciate their desire to keep the roads nice but wish they had done it some other time!! We arrived home at 8:30 pm which made for another long day at 9 ½ hours! Roy did say this drive in Boots was much less stressful than the one the day before in Dora.

One thing I’d like to tell you about now is that we took over 40 videos this day and are working on a way to share them with you. So much of what we saw is moving (like the waterfalls, steam and minerals coming up from the travertine areas, bison, rivers flowing over the rocks, etc. so I want you to see them that way also!

An observation I have to make here is that a lot of the time we felt like we must actually be in Japan or China 45instead of the USA because there were so many Japanese/Chinese people touring the place and working here. Probably 3 out of every 5 tourist was Asian there were that many.   You will hear them chatter in most all of the videos when I share them.

I believe that a lot of Americans, just like us, have never taken the time to explore America outside of our own area. We’ve always gone to either Disney or Atlanta on vacations and no where else. How very much we now regret not having taken our sons this this amazing part of our country when they were growing up.

Yellowstone and Grand Tetons are wonderfully exciting and educational vacations for families. The kids are as amazed as the wonderful beauty as their parents were.   I’d urge families to plan their vacations outside your usual spots and see this beautiful area. Don’t wait until it’s harder to get around to do this. The amazing beauty of this country that God created for us needs to be seen and appreciated.

Wednesday we again traveled over the west side of the top loop to get to the bottom loop which is larger.  We explored the entire lower loop which brought even more amazing wonders!  Then we traveled over the east side of the top loop to get back to Dora. Old Faithful is there amongst lots of other wonders of nature.

Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear!

Psalm 46 10

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07.24.15 Our journey to Yellowstone National Park on 7.21.15

26ba7_2df2We woke up early Tuesday, July 21st and planned to leave the park around 8 am. We stopped at the dump station to empty our tanks and to the water station to fill up our fresh water tank.   This was an opportunity we didn’t know we’d have when we planned to boondock so we gladly took advantage of it.  Unfortunately Roy filled the fresh water tank up with the water you’re supposed to use just to clean out your gray and lack tanks. This is considered contaminated water and not fit for human consumption. Oooops! He seldom make errors and  this one only cost us an hour of our time since he had to dump all that water and flush out the fresh water tank with clear good water and then fill it up.

So at 9:30 we pulled out of Gros Ventre Campground headed to Yellowstone and hopefully a great place to boondock for a few more days.

canyon campgrund signAt 6:00 pm (deliriously tired) we finally arrived at Canyon Campground (a National Forest Service park) where we’ll stay until Monday morning, July 27th. It is a beautiful campground with only 17 spots. We parked Dora right next to a huge mountain with beautiful tall mature pine trees and enormous boulders all around and of course sage bush.

The sign where we turned in says Rattlesnakes and Bears seen in this area. It is very beautiful here and very wilderness like yet has asphalt roads and is about 150 feet from a highway. I kind of think this is as wilderness as we’re going to get!

Our drive here was way longer than we anticipated since the roads through Yellowstone are narrow and extremely curvy. The beauty of the park is breathtaking.  However, poor Roy was so stressed the whole drive I don’t think he got to enjoy any of it, and I only enjoyed some of it. We are going back through the park (and it is a massive forest) in our truck and probably break the drive up into two days.

yellowstone entry signGetting into Yellowstone meant a brief wait in a line of cars.  It is $30 per vehicle for a seven day pass, but since we have a Senior Pass it was FREE!!!!!  Yay for being old!!!20150721_110526 (Small)

We saw close to a hundred bison in different places. You could tell where they were because dozens of cars were pulled off the side of the road to see them.   The first group of bison were not far from the road with some in the river. Across the river from the other but on our side of the road was one lonely bison and we got good pictures of him. You can see how large they are. To take the photo of the bison by himself we pulled up alongside him in the RV and I opened the door and snapped the photo.  Had I know about the lady that was just attacked this week by a bison when taking a selfie, I probably wouldn’t have been so brave!

20150721_132348 (Small)20150721_131809 (Small)20150721_132700 (Small)This is me somewhere along the ride!  I love waterfalls and when Roy said for me to get in the picture in front of the waterfalls I had to squint my eyes to see these tiny waterfalls!

20150721_113108 (Small)A lot of the ride that day was along Yellowstone Lake which is beautiful!20150721_121243 (Small)Several years ago a terrible forest fire killed a lot of the pines in Yellowstone.  They have since planted small ones that have grown a lot, but not enough to hide the dead ones.    Most of the park does not look like this but some parts do.20150721_141508 (Small)These are some of the sites that caused us to stop. We’ve since been back to each of the sights to enjoy them further.

20150721_141200 (Small)20150721_143223 (Small) 20150721_143236 (Small)20150721_152121 (Small)20150721_151813 (Small)We tried our best not to stop along the way since it was such a long drive but we got so overwhelmed with the sites we did stop a few times. In front of the beautiful old Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel were several mule deer (look like deer but larger) and they didn’t seem bothered at all by all the people passing by! They were there every time we passed by that hotel.

20150722_121611 (Small)20150722_121340 (Small) 20150722_121345 (Small) 20150722_121500 (Small)For RVers, if you look for Canyon Campground around Yellowstone there are two.  One is a National Parks Service (NPS) campground (like Gros Ventre was) where you pay to boondock and there are hundreds of spots.  The NPS campgrounds are inside Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and take reservations but we couldn’t get one.

The Canyon Campground we are in is a United States Forest Service campground which you only pay $3.50 a night if you have a Senior Pass (which I’ll explain another time but highly recommend you get if you are 62 or older.)  and you boondock here. There are only 17 spots and it is a first come first service park.  This one is in Montana in Gallatin National Forest, just across the state line.  It’ is 15 miles north of Gardiner, MT on Highway 89.

We’ve finally gotten some internet service here so I’ll post this one and hope it goes out!  In the next few posts I’ll share the beauty and wonder that is around ever curve in Yellowstone!  This is absolutely the most naturally beautiful place we’ve been to.  God really outdid himself here!

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