Thursday, September 8, 2016

Yellowstone, the New Area 51?

Computer problems prevented me from posting this blog sooner. Mysterious things are happening in Yellowstone, forces that seem unworldly, forces that can make a computer from being perfectly fine one minute to having colored squiggly lines shoot across your screen and then go totally blank, flatlined never to recover again……  
Think about it for a second, if aliens were really to invade the earth, would they pick the remote desert like Area 51? Or would they pick probably the most unique and diverse area in the country, maybe the world…..Yellowstone National Park!  From it’s mountains, meadows, wildlife and unique thermal features. You have to wonder what the first people into this area thought as they traveled through these strange and unique lands.

This is our first visit to Yellowstone since being on the road so we thought we would stick to the basics and hit the primary tourist attractions; Old Faithful, Geyser Basin, Upper Falls, Lower Falls, Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and Grand Prismatic to name a few. It was crowded but not crazy crowded like some of the other National Parks we visited recently. I hear tell that many of the schools have started so I am guessing that made a big difference.

Grand Prismatic Hot Springs

Old Faithful

Crowds but not too bad

Upper Falls

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
We stayed at Tower Falls Campground a small and quiet park with deer wandering through in the early mornings and evenings.

We saw animals on almost every outing; buffalos, antelope, sheep, swans.

We also went on a couple of really cool hikes out of the Yellowstone Picnic Area. The trail ascended a hill and followed along the Yellowstone River about 1000’ below. Smoke from local fires hampered the views a little bit but they were still incredible!

At one point I was standing on the edge of the cliff taking the picture below and Barb says to me “You remember that guy who fell off the cliff and they could never figure out if he fell or his wife pushed him?” Talk about pucker factor!

I slowly backed away from the cliff before I turned around and asked her what made her think of that? “Oh nothing” she says and started walking off down the trail. After that I started taking pictures from a little further back from the cliffs……
But all of that is not the main reason we came to Yellowstone. Our main reason was to see our friends Dino and Lisa who were working at the Tower Falls General Store. They worked the first two days we were there but we were able to spend our last two days with them.
Speaking of Dino and Lisa….I have some good news and some bad news…… You know in the fulltime lifestyle we live by the creed “One In One Out” meaning there is only so much room for things. If you buy a new shirt, you have to get rid of an old one, well…..the good news is that we have room for two new friends! The bad news is that we had to get rid of two existing friends. Dino and Lisa had been good friends of ours since we met them in Florida in the spring of 2015. We have met up a couple times in the past year and a half but this time it became apparent something was wrong….very, very wrong. At first they seemed like the same old Dino and Lisa but then we started noticing small changes…like Dino always had a beer in his hand and that Lisa was always smiling and perky. No wait, those are not changes.
But when we walked into their new rig that we feared the worst….. they were abducted by aliens who are now living in their bodies! I won’t go into details for fear of retribution by these alien life forms. (After all, their super powers already crashed our computer) I will let the following pictures of what we saw when we walked into their rig speak for themselves.

Looks normal enough on the outside....

Adding to this was the fact that they made their cats and Daisy wear these weird foil hats on their heads when they were in the trailer. In fact we saw foil hats that they wear as well. I don’t know if it was some kind of mind control thing or what!

Coneheads perhaps?
They claim that they covered everything in their rig in aluminum foil to protect the window treatments and leather furniture from the cat’s claws. They claim that this is temporary until they can get the cats declawed and they claim that they are the same old Dino and Lisa we always knew. Barb and I, in fear for our safety played along and just nodded our heads but deep down we both knew better, the real Dino and Lisa were on the Mother Ship being probed and studied while these replacements were assuming their life forms here on Earth.

During their two days off that we were with them we had to play along like they were “normal”. The first day we hiked Mount Washburn, our first hike over 10,000 feet! There are conflicting signs on exactly how high it is, one said 10,219 while another said 10,243. Either way, it is the highest we have climbed. There are also two trails to get to the top, the first goes up Chittenden Road to a parking area to the trailhead then 2 ½ miles up the trail to the top. The other trail starts at Dunraven Pass and 3 miles to the top. Both are rated as strenuous but they did not seem as bad as some of the hikes we took recently that were rated moderate. We brought two vehicles and dropped one off at the parking lot for the far trailhead so we could hike up one side and down the other.

The peak is over Barb's right shoulder
The views along the way were good but were hampered by the smoke that still hung in the air from the wildfires. We stopped every so often to catch our breath and take pictures of our progress.

We are headed to the peak dead center of the picture

A look back down the mountain

The peak is dead center, a long ways off

Marmot on the hillside

Switchbacks along the way

Slowly but surly the peak is getting closer

One more switchback and we are there!

We made it to the top in about 2 hours and enjoyed lunch inside the Ranger Station on top.

The trail back down
One of things we were hoping to see on this hike was some Bighorn Sheep. We saw some briefly on the road but this hike is said to be one that you frequently see sheep on. And sure enough about ½ down the back side we came across a herd of ewes and lambs, about 15-20 in total.

We watched and took pictures as they fed up the hillside towards us and soon they were right on the edge of the trail. Then one jumped up on the trail and walked within feet of Lisa and Barb without a care in the world! They must see their fair share of hikers as they did not seem concerned at all.

After getting to the bottom and retrieving the other vehicle we all headed to the Tower Falls General Store for ice cream! Barb and I conveniently forgot our money so Dino bought. This is where we found another clue that Dino was abducted, he doesn’t like ice cream. I mean, who doesn’t like ice cream?!?! (An alien, that’s who!).

Upon returning to the campground we were all pretty beat so after a quick dinner we headed back to our camper for some much needed rest.
The next days adventure was much more laid back, just what we needed. We drove to Mammoth Hot Springs to mail a package and then on to Gardiner where Lisa wanted to try a Huckleberry Margarita at the Iron Horse Bar & Grill right on the river. Barb, Lisa and Dino all had one while I opted for a Lounger. Let me tell you, all of them were tasty and must have had 3 shots of booze in each. After that we decided we better get some lunch and headed over to K Bar for some of their famous pizza. We were told that they had the best pizza in town and they did not disappoint!
That night all four of us relaxed by the fire and talked about our plans for the next few months. Dino and Lisa are headed to Minnesota then on to Kentucky and Florida for the winter. Unless something changes our paths will not cross for the next 18 months or so.
By the time I got our new computer and posted this, Dino and Lisa had finished their job assignments in Yellowstone and are traveling across the country so if you run into them……remain calm, act like nothing is different, act as though having aluminum foil covering every surface of your rig is perfectly normal but most of all have fun, these two crazy aliens are a lot of fun! In fact, we may keep these aliens as friends afterall....


  1. Interesting. Explains a lot. What a fun time, foil or not! I'm still laughing over the signs.

    1. Doesn't it though? We probably won't see them for a while now so we will have to see what they are like next time we meet up!

  2. We also enjoyed the hike up above the Yellowstone River, some great views up there. Glad to see the crowds were somewhat less than what we encountered. Sounds like some interesting friends you have.

    1. I would recommend that hike to anyone going to the park, not too long, not too strenuous and great views!

  3. Too funny. Maybe we like being probed. It was fun having you visit. Thanks for keeping us as friends. We don't want to go through that process of finding new ones again.

    1. I know, the application, the interview process and all getting all those references are really a pain!

    2. I think you owe us for a roll of foil. The hats have really helped a lot.

    3. We will bring you a roll when you meet you in Florida this winter!

  4. That was quite strange to see the foil over all the window treatments! Cat claws can really damage though, but it was very funny looking!! Great writing, Jim! Enjoyed the laugh:) Yellowstone is my all time favorite park! There is wildlife everywhere! You saw an terrific array. Love those little lambs on Mt Washburn hike:) The variety of sights in the park is amazing. We usually stay in Gardiner. Yes, great pizza at K Bar!!

    1. With material like this, the blog really writes itself! The lambs were really cute climbing all over the logs and jumping off them.

  5. The pictures are gorgeous but OMG the tin foil story and pics are hysterical!
    The Rat needs to change his underwear because he peed himself.

    Great to see all is well,
    Safe travels!

    Les, Sue and Popo

  6. Great photos! That was a whirlwind visit in Yellowstone, hope you get back some day to visit in depth! On your way to Idaho Falls, you were about 18 miles from our Idaho property in Tetonia. It's our favorite area! Safe travels!

    1. I am guessing your property is stunning as there are so many great views in that area!

  7. Great pictures! I love you and Jim's sense of humor! Makes me smile.😊