Sunday, September 18, 2016

Revisiting Yellowstone and Grand Teton, Bound for Helena

Yesterday I took this trip from Billings to Jackson.
And if you read yesterday's post, you know that it was a breathtaking drive and US-212 is now a contender for my favorite highway in the USA. Today, I decided to retrace much of that route, since I'm headed back up to Montana; specifically, Helena.

I didn't get to redo the Beartooth Pass. I went out the north entrance of Yellowstone instead of the northeast entrance that I used to enter yesterday.  But I did get to re-experience both Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.
I would have stopped at the great burger place I found yesterday in Jackson, if they opened early enough and had some sort of breakfast-y burger. But alas, they are closed Sundays and Mondays and Tuesdays, actually. It's nice to see that someone appreciates the value of time off and doesn't work around the clock, but I would also like to have a burger, so I was conflicted :)~

I found a place that makes a 'breakfast' burger, but they didn't open until 11:30 so River and I hung out on the Motel 6 property, inside and outside, for most of the morning.


It was threatening to rain all day. Off and on, we were pelted with a paltry amount of precipitation, but nothing worth getting all geared up over.
I stopped for a burger on my way out of Jackson and ate it in the Grand Teton visitor center parking lot.
While I waited for my burger to cook I kept staring at this painting of Spanish pigs. I was getting into telling the story of each pig. I thought I'd capture it since it had captivated me for so long.

Driving through the Teton National Forest and the Grand Teton National Park.
River wanted SO badly to eat the buds at the tips of those long strawlike shoots. I kept trying to distract him, but he wasn't easily dissuaded. When I say "OK" it gives him permission to do whatever he wants. He ran right back to the buds. Clearly, he wanted to eat them, but wasn't doing so because I had told him not to. 
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There is a surprise around every corner.
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At times it felt like it was a festival of colors. The blur of trees whizzing past, as I drove through the forest, washed by me in a blur of color. Mostly green, but often splashing into large, vibrant swatches of yellow or small hints of orange.
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Even the controlled burn remnant felt beautiful to me as the shape of the trees remained, but the color washed out in varying shades of brown and black. At times the colors completely vanished due to the fire damage, and what was left looked like I was driving through a black-and-white version of the forest. I didn't quite capture the full effect here, but maybe you can get a sense anyway.
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 I stopped at Lake Jackson and was playing with different exposure settings.



River was having nothing to do with today's selfie.
 My path today kept zig zagging back and forth across the Continental Divide. And I have passed over this line several times in my travels and I don't know what it is.
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This place is the quintessential park. I mean, come on! I drove over a lily pad covered pond! It has everything. I'm checking out this bison, and then I turn around and there's an odd, beautiful yellow landscape going on. Then I turn to the right and steam is rising from distant geysers. Bubbling steaming oozing geysers that turned into waterfalls create plumes of steam.
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I didn't stop to see those, but just added it to my long list of things I have to check out when I come back and allow the right amount of time to see this place.

I saw two different kinds of elk.
Sorry for the weird camera work:
In the first one, I guess I thought I was taking a photo.
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It was a small herd of elk in a field on the side of the road.  I saw lots of bison but not very much elk.

In this next one, the elk started to run away at the end, and I wanted to make sure River wasn't following, out the window. I didn't stop the video beforehand, hence the chaotic ending.
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There was more awe-inspiring scenery and driving ... too much to mention. I wish I could do it justice, but I just have to tell you to go see it for yourself. It is a wild place.

Grand Teton and Yellowstone Parks are adjacent and one admission price covers both parks for the day. I had planned to see one park each day, but it was also fun to see both parks on both days.
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After a full day of parking, we continued on to Bozeman, where we stopped to get some dog food, and then on to Helena to check into the motel for the night.




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