Saturday, July 14, 2012

Buffalo Adventure

What would a camping trip be without a little adventure?   We didn't have anything major happen on our trip, but we sure had a lot of little adventures along the way.

When we were in Idaho, we met some people who were doing essentially the same trip we were - but in the opposite direction.   They told us about some 'must see' things in the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone; one of them being Kelly Hot Springs, just outside Grand Tetons National Park.
So, after putting up our tent in the Tetons and having supper, we went off in search of Kelly Hot Springs.   First of all, it's not Hot Springs; it's Warm Springs - and even that is a stretch.   We were drawn to the fact that it was natural and it was free.   It took us a while to find the place, and by then it was starting to get dark.   Nonetheless, we waded in and the girls went swimming while I soaked my very sore feet in the warm water.    My brother Tim (who was with us the last part of our trip) was taking pictures.   Suddenly, he glanced over at our car, which was parked along the highway with the trunk open and said, "Umm - I'm not sure how we're going to get back to our car."    In the few minutes we'd been in the water, a herd of wild buffalo (probably 20-30 of them) had congregated around our car!   We had seen buffalo earlier in the day along the road, and they appeared to be quite tame - and very oblivious to humans.   Unlike deer, they just stand there and stare at you, claiming full ownership of the road.   Still, many of them had young calves in tow, and we weren't about to attempt to reclaim our car.   So we waited.

Outhouse refuge
After a few minutes, about half of the buffalo decided to walk down to the pool - the pool we were standing in!   I had no idea how the dogs would react to them (or vice versa) so we made a dash to the only safe place of shelter we could see - a very smelly outhouse!

There we took refuge, with occasional peeks out the door, until they all had sauntered away from the car and down to the water.   Tim bravely left the outhouse at that point, got in the car and backed it up to where the girls and I were waiting and we made our way back to the campground, humming "Oh give me a home ...where the buffalo roam...."

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Camping in the Western US

The girls and I just returned from a two week camping trip to the Goldrush area of southwestern Montana, the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho and, on the upswing, the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Parks.   Given the girls' ages (12 and 13) and the fact that I'm dealing with some health challenges, sixteen days of tenting might have been a little ambitious, but we took things slow and had a wonderful time.

Unlike the Midwest, where heat and humidity seem to go hand in hand, the dry air of the Western US affords warm, sunny days and cool nights.   We experienced daytime temperatures into the 90's, often falling into the mid-30's at night.   The girls aren't big fans of the heat, so I made sure they got a chance to swim every single day, although with the swift currents of the Yellowstone and Salmon Rivers, I didn't let them go in very deep.   One of our favorite swimming spots was Georgetown Lake, near Anaconda, MT.   We found a beautiful place to cool off and had it all to ourselves.

We left Yellowstone a little before noon on Saturday and drove the 800 miles straight home.   It was a long trip, but the girls were thrilled to finally get a long, uninterrupted nap.   They were quite happy to get home as was I, but we do miss those cool evenings.   It's been almost unbearably this week!