Monthly Archives: July 2012

Day 15 – Of bed bugs and bain-maries

When one plans a yearlong camping trip, one should be prepared for bugs.  But I’m shocked at how many bugs end up in our bed!  Mostly we find moths, ants, and mosquitoes.  Today as I lay down for an afternoon siesta, I pushed my hair off my face and felt something crinkly.  Assuming it was a leaf, I extracted the crinkly thing from my hair, only to find myself holding a 2 inch long beetle!  Of course I shrieked like the brave adventurer I am, and dropped the beetle on my pillow.  Pillow in hand, I darted for the door and wrestled the giant beast to the ground.  I have NO idea where it came from, but I hope never to find any of his bretheren in my bed (or hair) again.

This morning we awoke to find our cooler humming along at 3 degrees Fahrenheit, just *slightly* below the 36 degree set point.  All of our food was frozen solid;  eggs, jam, cucumber salad, last night’s risotto.   Running this cold could quickly exhaust our batteries.  We unplugged the cooler, and attempted to call tech support.  Of course, everything is closed on Sunday.  When we returned to camp, we perfomed a last-ditch, drastic maneuver, and pulled out the instruction book.  We think we may have put our supply tubs too close to the condenser coils (due to bear country restrictions) and when we improved the air circulation the cooler returned to normal function.  Another disaster narrowly averted.

Of course, we still had a cooler full of frozen food.  At dinner time, I rigged up a bain-marie (bowl over a pot of boiling water), and attempted to thaw the rissotto-berg.  It took a while, but our efforts succeeded.  I realize that people survived just fine before microwaves, but I miss having one!

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Day 13 – Close encounters of the bison kind

We’ve spent the last few days exploring the wonders of Yellowstone National Park.  Words cannot describe the beauty and diversity of this place.  Every day feels like we’re visiting a new park.  We learned from our 6am campground hunt that the hordes descend on the most popular destinations at 11am.  So we’ve been dragging our behinds out of bed early to beat the rush, and we often have places to ourselves.  The past few days we’ve been exploring the geo-thermal attractions.  C is absolutely enthralled.  Yesterday we visited Old Faithful and spent a few hours hiking the surrounding area.  C and I peered into a hole in the ground about 10 feet off the boardwalk called Plume Geyser.  As we stood there speculating whether or not it was still active, it erupted at least 15 feet in the air!  We all felt like the spray would hit us, and C clutched my hand and dragged me backward.  Despite our nervousness, none of us could take our eyes off it.  Turn out it erupts about once an hour, and we just walked by at the right time.

Yesterday as we rolled into camp, we encountered a herd of bison just below our campground.  It was our first major wildlife sighting, and we were all excited!

Tiny bison in the field below our campsite

 

This morning we set the alarm for 5am so that we could make the trek to the Lamar Valley, arguably the best place in the park to spot wildlife.  Rangers told us that we had a chance to see wolves if we were there by 6:30 am, so we rolled out of bed and were on the road at 5:20.  At 6 am we rounded the corner a few miles from our destination and encountered this:

Road closed!

Foiled!  The road was closed until 7am, but no signs in the park warned us of the closure.  On the plus side, we had pole-position for an absolutely amazing sunrise.

Amazing sunrise

 

When the road finally opened, we journeyed onward.  As we started up the Lamar Valley, we encountered this lazy guy lounging only 50 feet from the road:

 

Sleeping Beauty

 

We stopped and admired him for a while and decided that the trip was worth it just to see a bison so close.  When we’d had our fill, we continued up the road, and less than a quarter mile later, we encountered this:

Bison everywhere!

The bison were so close that I was afraid to open the window!  We could hear their snuffling grunts, which C described as giant burps.  At times we were so close I thinke we could have touched them.  Made the previous day’s sighting seem less exciting.

During today’s drive we saw:

500+ bison in at least a dozen herds
6 pronghorn antelope
2 coyotes
3 fledgling kestrel (being carefully observed by a bunch of crazy birders)
1 grizzly bear (just a glimpse through binoculars)

Despite the crowds and general lunacy, we’re loving Yellowstone!

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New mail stop added!

Check out the ‘Contact Us’ page if you want to send snail mail!

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Robbie’s Random Trip Notes [1]

Robbie’s Random Trip Notes

  • Sun shirts > (better than) Sunscreen : no mess, better protection, creates shade so skin is cooler.  Love Exofficio
  • Great big industrial propane tank >> tiny butane pint cans for cooking.   Instant coffee instantly!
  • Cleaning dishes without running water nearby requires a great deal more skill.  Manage rinse water wisely!  Especially when the pump is almost a quarter mile away.
  • Our 7 year old loves pumping water.  This is a deal that works out well for all parties.
  • Mice are crafty.  They fit into the cracks around your tailgate more easily than you think.  They will even eat your fancy biodegradable soap.
  • Campsite showers are best followed by the use of towels.  Leaving one’s towel in the truck while showering is not a good plan.

And by the way, we got up yesterday at “oh dark thirty”, drove into the park and trolled until we got a site (at Norris campground).  A couple hours of pain for 5 days of gain, a pretty good trade.  We’ll do a bigger Yellowstone update soon.  Suffice it to say that despite the crowds, Yellowstone delivers.  And as it turns out, most tourists are lazy so we have minimal crowds all morning.

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Day 10 – Foiled!

Tonight we slumber in the bucolic hamlet of West Yellowstone.  By “bucolic” I mean “tacky” and by “hamlet” I mean “h&!!-hole.”  How did we end up here?  We decided to come to Yellowstone National Park in the middle of July!

We knew rolling into Yellowstone (the most popular national park) in the afternoon was risky, but the ranger just laughed at us when we inquired about campsite availability.  She advised us to arrive at the campgrounds no later than 7am tomorrow and hope for the best.  It’s at least an hour drive into the park from here, so we need to be leaving by 5:30am.

Our options for tonight:
A: Turn around and head back into the surrounding Forest Service land, but those sites could also still be full.
B: Camp at an RV park in town, but we’d have to be up at 4:30 in order to break down the trailer and be on the road.
C: Find an overpriced, stinky motel and spend the evening in this tourist trap of a town so that we can be on the road as early as possible.

We chose Option C.  Everyone cross your fingers!

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