Seasons change: from autumn to winter and back. A journey from mild Washington State to Indian summer in the Yellowstone and Teton National Parks.
Butte, 2nd October
We’re in Tacoma. The very place we don’t want to stay. Prado is repaired, a quick tour to get some supplies – and off we are. In direction of Yellowstone National Park. Of course a destination we can’t reach today.
We drive eastwards. Around Mount Rainier. Today no beautiful vistas. Dark clouds, rain and fog are predominant.
We cross Chinook Pass. Famous for its marvellous views on Mount Rainier. Today another surprise: snow.
In the evening we arrive in Yakima. A nondescript town. Just ok to stay for a night.
Then further east. To Coeur d’Alene in Idaho State. A journey thru absolutely dry landscape; …
… easily we can imagine the numerous wildfires they still had a few weeks ago before they got some rain.
Another stopover. Even if tripadvisor is quite enthusiastic about Coeur d’Alene we couldn’t really understand this. Probably it’s simply end of the season, all tourists have left and everything has closed down. Whatever, ok for the night.
On, still eastwards. To Butte. On the way out of town we slowly start understanding why it’s sometimes difficult to find the correct direction in America. How the hell should we know which 1 2 take.
On the way a visit to famous Wallace. 1 of these historic boom towns. Formerly a wealthy center for silver mining; nowadays probably waiting for Uncle Don’s new policy of reinstalling merry old times.
Also a witness of a much more liberal epoch long-time before American puritanism invaded the poor sinner’s soul again.
Further to the east. Weather is not really too nice. The further we drive the colder it gets.
Late afternoon we finally reach Butte. Another town with an important mining history.
We’re finally admiring the atmospheric historic center in a bitterly-cold snowstorm.
West Yellowstone, 5th October
The next morning quite some work to free Prado from a solid cover of snow and ice. And even more efforts are necessary to start it. It seems in Uncle Don’s Own Country there’s no need for winter diesel.
Some search for a shop selling diesel additives for low temperatures, some frost proof cleaner for the windscreen and we’re off again. Now to reach West Yellowstone.
At the beginning a drive thru snow-covered landscapes, …
… later sun is back – and snow has gone.
A visit to Virginia City – just another old silver mining town. We know that tourist season is over. Nevertheless, we didn’t expect this to be so consequent.
We’re the only 1s admiring the old buildings, all shops closed, hotels, accommodation, inhabitants all hibernating. Whatever. Currently the place looks slightly depressing.
Then we arrive in West Yellowstone. A place uniquely built to serve the needs of all kind of visitors to the Yellowstone National Park. Therefore, just accommodation – mainly these container-like styled motels, eateries, watering holes, a few supermarkets and fuel stations. Definitely no candidate for a beauty contest. No idea where the poor locals scrape their living.
Time to visit the Yellowstone National Park. Forecast predicts sunny weather or snow, maybe just some clouds and definitely low temperatures. So all requirements met for a once in a life experience in the park. Nevertheless, quite a challenge to bring Prado to life. It’s simply too cold in the morning. Despite all additives in the diesel it takes a while to get it back from hibernation….
It’s a journey thru a geologically very fragile area causing multitudes of volcanic activities. Steam rising in many places from hot springs, …
… deep blue springs, some steaming impressively, …
… mud pots in different colors cooking and spitting continuously, …
… and places where mineralized water changes the character of the landscape.
Despite the end of the tourist season there are incredibly lots of tourists here.
Quickly we observe that knowing English is not really of great help. Therefore we recommend all visitors to make an intense introductory course to classic Mandarin before visiting Yellowstone. If not you’ll simply have no communication with anybody.
For all those not having this chance, here a small crash course. To any tourist you meet simply say the equivalent to the American Hi-guys-how-do-you-do-today-I’m-fine-what-a-perfect-weather-this-morning-have-a-wonderful-day. The Chinese expression is pronounced mi hau.
To remember it: it’s exactly the way your hungry cat sounds when you open the fridge to have a beer only. Preferably visit Yellowstone together with your hungry cat.
Of course there’re a great number of must-have-seen-sights. Nobody goes to Yellowstone without admiring the Old Faithful Geyser. Even if not the most impressive, it’s the most regular 1. So ideal for tour groups on their meticulously planned trip thru the national park. And definitely a great place to see a lot of tourists. Also here some basic knowledge of Chinese is highly useful.
A drive to the northern part of the park. The 1st attempt fails. A hefty snowstorm makes us return just before driving up to 3000m.
The next day we’re more successful. Now we can just admire the snow covered landscape on the pass – and our Chinese summer tyre we bought some time ago in Kashgar doesn’t need to plough thru snowy roads. Further on autumn comes back.
Then we arrive at the Mammoth Hot Springs with its awesome travertine terraces.
Tired of all this volcanic stuff? To change a bit there are the great Yellowstone River waterfalls, …
… and quite some wildlife.
Tired of everything in Yellowstone National Park? Let’s have an Amber Ale at Slippery Otter’s Pub in West Yellowstone.
Jackson, 6th October
We have to drive on. Weather forecast predicts blizzards, snow, frost in the next days. Definitely not the ideal weather with the non-winter-proof diesel Uncle Donny provides to his brave voters. So to avoid Arctic storms we head to Jackson. On the way, of course an intense visit to Teton National Park. As at most places at this time of the year only limited access to the different spots. Anyway, there’s such a cold wind nobody dares to go for an extended hike.
Whatever, still a fascinating look across Jackson Lake to the Tetons, …
… or across the plain, …
… the snow covered peaks in the clouds …
… and stormy Jenny Lake further south.
In the south of the national park, climate is visibly warmer – we’re back in the Indian summer.
An opportunity to follow the Snake River …
… and to observe some wildlife.
In the evening the short drive to Jackson. Another village just living of the odd tourists. Unfortunately the guys here are pretty self-confident on prize making. Especially on food. Whatever, with the pizza cook we’re lucky, he has not yet adapted to American standards.
And breakfast at McDonald’s is awful, but unavoidable under these circumstances.
And, that’s it for today. More of the ever same boring stuff, great adventures and the strange life of these guys in Uncle Don’s Own Country soon in our next post. Promised.