WEEK TWENTY-ONE: WONDERFUL WYOMING

CONTENTS
Rearview Mirror - Summary of the past week: Wyoming Badlands, Rocky Mountains
Pups Across America! - Mitzy Profile
Favorite Photograph - Winter is Coming
Camper’s Corner - Flagg Ranch Campground, Yellowstone National Park, WY
Headlights - Our schedule as to where we will be heading: Rocky Mountain National Park, and then on to Michigan



REARVIEW MIRROR
Start: Flagg Ranch Campground, Yellowstone National Park, WY
Stop: Deer Haven RV Park, Saratoga, WY
Stop: Estes Campground at Mary Lake, Estes Park, CO

Sunday
I was up early finishing last week’s blog, and then in the still pre-dawn I walked the Pups down to the Snake River. It was cold! My blue boating jacket wasn’t really enough to counter the chill of the low 40s. Within 50 yards of our coach the Pups bolted for the door and stood there shivering as they waited for me to open it.

Jackson Lake Lodge
I drove the 20 miles into Grand Teton National Park through the mist to the Jackson Lake Lodge, where I uploaded blog pictures and did my e-mail. I left the Little Ones in the car with their jackets on as I got my business done.

Jackson Lake

Esta and Brian
Our friends, Esta and Brian, were heading for Grizzly Bear Park in West Yellowstone, and stopped to have brunch with us in our coach at Flagg Ranch. We had a really nice time and made some initial plans to get together this winter in Florida.

Afternoon Cruise
Mid-afternoon we got in the car and drove west on Grassy Lake Road, stopping at where we saw Bad Brad. No luck today. We turned around and took the main road into Yellowstone where we pulled off near Lewis Falls about ten miles into the park. After a few minutes of admiring the falls, we turned back and drove between the on again, off again rain back to camp. Jan made a nice fire and we huddled close as the evening grew chilly. It was pleasant even with the occasional drizzle of rain, but when it started to hail, it was time to go in.

Monday
The day started in low 40s, cold enough that I had to coax the almost-always-can’t-wait-to-get-out-the-door Pups down the steps. As soon as we returned, we prepared for a day of travel. Soon we were headed south on Highway 89. Just past the south entrance of Grand Teton National Park at Moran Junction, we turned east on Highway 26 driving into occasional showers or rain and, every now and then, drops of slush. This section of the highway was a scenic byway, so we twisted and turned at 10,000 feet of elevation our way through the Bridger-Teton and then the Shoshone National Forests. The highway started off flat and smooth, switched to patchy and rough, then turned into eight miles of dirt and mud as a pilot car led us through some heavy construction. The only good news was that the rain kept down the dust. As soon as the pilot car pulled over and waved us on we were on a brand new pavement, wide, flat, and smooth.

Distant Tetons The Bus Driver

San Diego Workshop
When we reached the tasteful cowboy town of Dubois we pulled over for my Monday marketing call. Our main topic was preparing and promoting the one-day workshop on developing trusted advisors that I’ll be doing in San Diego on October 25 as part of the Service Strategies conference.

Wyoming Badlands
To our left as we headed east out of Dubois, the landscape looked exactly like the Badlands of South Dakota. In addition to red and green natural structures, a creek ran alongside the road and snow-capped mountains stood tall behind the colorful hills. On second thought, this area is prettier than the Badlands. Smooth road, light traffic, nice sunny day—couldn’t beat it.

Wonderful Wyoming

Duct Tape and Bungee Cords
Soon we entered the Wind River Indian Reservation and drove through the tiny town of Crowheart. Fourteen miles further, we turned southeast on highway 287 following the Chief Washakie Trail. After getting fuel at Ft. Washakie, we continued south. A sign along the road confirmed what we already knew “High Winds.” I slowed the rig down as we were hit by some very heavy gusts. Checking the rearview mirror on the passenger side, I saw something I didn’t want to see: one of the posts on the big awning appeared to be loose. We pulled alongside the road and got out to check. For whatever reason, the awning was not secured in place. Therefore, two remedial steps were taken:

    Driving at 35 to 40 mph, we continued on our way through the picturesque countryside, passing by Lander, Sweetwater Station, Jeffrey City, Lamont, and Rawlins. There we turned onto I-80 east until heading south on Highway 130. Just before reaching Saratoga we pulled into our resting place for the evening in late afternoon light. Exciting day!

    Tuesday
    Scenic Byway
    By a little after 7:00 a.m. our bus was heading south on 130 through the little town of Saratoga. In about seven miles, 130 made a left turn, and at this point became the Medicine Bow National Forest Scenic Byway. For over 40 miles we rolled along among the mountains, trees, streams, lakes, hawks, deer, pronghorn, and one yellow-bellied marmot. Jerry was especially excited when he saw critters—he stood on his hind feet atop the dashboard looking around walking back and forth and occasionally pirouetting like a ballerina. A beautiful drive certainly worth taking if you are in the area. In fact, after seeing all the camping locations, and the multiple trailheads, I made note to come back into this area in coming years for some dry camping. At a particularly scenic view, we pulled off at Libby Flats and walked to a small observatory point. It was worth the walk, but, man, was it cold. We were happy to be back in the warmth of BALY. At the town of Centennial (population 100) the scenic byway officially ended, and we continued east on 130, which was definitely not all that scenic. At Laramie we turned right on 287 south motoring through the prairie part Tie Siding completing the 22 miles into Colorado.

    Saratoga Sunrise

    Back to Colorado
    Once we crossed the Colorado border we stayed on 287 driving through Virginia Dale, and at Ft. Collins we took 14 east the short hop to I-25. Here we went south 12 miles to Loveland were we exited onto Highway 34 east. With the Big Thompson River flanking our moves, we twisted and turned our way the 30 miles into Estes Park and set up our rig at the Estes Park Campground at Mary’s Lake.

    Big Thompson River

    Into Rocky Mountain National Park
    After a nice lunch downtown and a quick car wash, we drove back to camp to pick up the Little Ones and head into Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP). The earlier threatening skies calmed down and we enjoyed our car trip under blue skies and temperatures in the 70s. Soon we were down in Moraine Park, watching a herd of elk slowly make their way across the meadow with the herd’s bull bugling every now and then to make his presence known and to attract females. After we had watched the herd graze, stroll, and play for about 20 minutes, the bull headed off by himself. He selected one particular tree and in an effort to “shed velvet” he nearly destroyed the tree by roughly rubbing his antlers on the branches and the trunk.

    Bugler Bugling Big Boy Elk Toothpick
    Come Here I Said Dad and Daughter Duel

    Can’t Sleep at Night
    A wonderful distraction here are the sounds of the night we heard last night—two owls hooting the latest news back and forth, a coyote singing/praying, wailing into the darkness, a bull elk loudly bugling to potential mates...tough on sleep, but sure worth the next-day blurry eyes.

    Wednesday
    Take a Hike
    By 6:50 in the morning, Jan and I were heading back into RMNP. We took the road to Bear Lake stopping at the Sprague Lake trailhead, as moose had been reported there the day before. This was a very easy half-mile trail that circled around Sprague Lake. We saw no moose, but viewed a couple deer foraging off of the bushes off the trail.

    From here we got back on Bear Lake Road and followed it to its end point, the Bear Lake Trailhead. Here we headed up 1.1 miles making our way through the trees and along the streams to Dream Lake. It was windy and chilly at this 10,000-foot elevation, but the views were just wonderful. We took the same trail down, got in our car at the trailhead, and made our way back to BALY.

    Thursday
    Up and at ‘Em
    By 6:30, just in time for sunrise, Jan and I were at the Fern Lake Trailhead in Moraine Park starting our hike on the Pool Trail. With the rising sun behind us, we walked up through the Aspens and Ponderosa Pines. The Big Thompson River gurgled on our left, and we stopped at several vistas directly at water’s edge.

    No Boston Janny

    Tribute to A Friend
    About halfway up the trail on a boulder by a pretty part of the river, Jan built a cairn made of stones and sticks she had gathered on the trail. It was a tribute to Frank, our neighbor and friend who passed away the day before. We’ll miss him.

    Bird Break
    We continued on, enjoying the coolness of the air and the blues, greens, and browns of our surroundings. At the Pool, we turned back the way we came. Jan was in front of me, and pretty soon I saw her look back at me giving me the “take-a-look-at-what-I am -pointing-at” signal as she pointed toward her feet. There were a pair of dusky quail going about their business. I walked up slowly, and they posed for several photos. We continued on, and finally after an hour and a half of hiking, we met another person coming up the trail. Wonderful hike.

    Dusky Grouse Dusky Grouse #2

    Little Man Express
    Next the four of us took the scenic route down to Parker, southeast of Denver, to pick up our grandson, Austin. We were back at our campground by 5:00, in time for a fire and smores.

    Little Man Young Photographer

    Friday
    Rocking
    Austie helped me walk the Pups in the 32-degree weather, but it was warming up quickly by our 8:30 car ride. We drove into RMNP up to West Horseshoe Park and around to Sheep Lakes, where we got out and watched a herd of elk. The big bull kept close watch of his herd, keeping the younger bulls in line as required. From there we headed west to the Alluvial Fan, and took a hike up by the falls and through the big rocks. Then for a couple of hours we sat by the stream as Austie and other kids threw stones into the water.

    Rock Thrower

    Cowboy
    With a new western wardrobe contributed by Grandma, Austin has become a cowboy. Check out the pictures and you’ll see a manly jaunt in his stride, and a solemn, far-off look in his eyes. As he correctly stated, “All I need is a horse.” Sounds like his mom and dad had better step up!

    Cowboy

    Playground and Dog Park
    After lunch we drove down to the playground where Jan and I rotated helping Austie swing/ride horses/slide/etc. and walk the Pups. From there we walked down to the dog park and let the Little Ones loose among other canines of various shapes and sizes. An ice cream on the drive home made this afternoon jaunt a success.

    More Elk
    Late afternoon the whole family drove back into RMNP and back to the meadow in Moraine Park. Here we spent close to an hour watching the herd cross the road, viewing the rival males in a short contest for supremacy, and the big bull get the girls in line.

    Who is Next Austie Elk Sighting

    Saturday
    Morning Shoot
    I was by the meadows of Moraine Park before dawn waiting for the light and looking for elk. I got in a couple sunrise shots before heading back to camp.

    Moraine Park Sunrise

    Art Fair
    After breakfast and chores, we left the Little Ones in the coach and drove to downtown Estes Park for their arts and craft fair. A highlight for Austie was that he got to meet a real-life cowboy. The remainder of the day was spent at the playground, swimming pool, and playing the Identify the Butt game back in the coach.

    Great week!

    PUPS ACROSS AMERICA!
    Take a look at Mitzy’s profile.

    Mitzy Profile

    Pass the Word
    Know other Pup Parents who might enjoy this blog? Please spread the word.

    FAVORITE PHOTOGRAPH
    My favorite this week is “Winter is Coming.” The little squirrel served as a reminder that the snow and cold would soon be arriving.

    Winter is Coming

    CAMPER’S CORNER: Flagg Ranch Campground, Yellowstone National Park, WY.
    This park is strategically placed, directly between two great national parks. Lots of shade, fire rings, and full hookups (although only 20 amp electrical). The sites and the road are gravel, but when we were there occupancy was low, and there was rain most days so dust wasn’t a problem. Great place to walk the Pups. Recommended.

    HEADLIGHTS
    September 5 & 6
    Mary’s Campground at Estes Park, CO

    September 7 to 11
    Heading toward Michigan

    September 12 thru September 25
    Kalamazoo, MI

    September 26 to 27
    Cincinnati, OH

    September 28 thru October 2
    Lexington, KY

    October 4 thru 6
    Asheville, NC?

    October 7 & 8
    Charleston, SC?

    October 10 & 11
    Savannah, GA

    October 12 thru 14
    Apopka, FL?

    October 15
    Return to Pine Island?

    Going to be near? Look us up. Have some suggestions concerning places to see? We are open.
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