Saturday, June 27, 2009

Yellowstone: Day five (Friday)

I woke up when my alarm went off (since we had to drive through the rest of the park, and make it back down to the car rental place by 1145, we didn't want to oversleep).

Antler Arches. There is an arch like this at all corners of the town square. The antlers are collected by boy scouts at the Elk National Refuge just north of Jackson Hole.

We wiped down the tent and packed up the gear and hit the road. The drive was uneventful and so we got to Jackson Hole pretty quickly, we parked the car in front of a large outdoors store and then started doing some window shopping. I ended up buying myself a shirt from one of the many T-shirt shops (I've started this new rule that every time we go somewhere for vacation we need to buy a Christmas ornament--something my mom does, and that I have to buy something to wear--I originally wanted it to be all t-shirts, but when we went to Vermont last year I had to buy a strapless bra, and since that was so expensive I couldn't justify spending more on a t-shirt, so now it's really more like 'buy a clothing based item').

We went to a little restaurant called The Bunnery for an actual decent breakfast, and while it was a very healthfood-type-breakfast place, the food was mighty tasty.

We made it back to the rental place right at 1145 and then headed off to the airport. We made it through security mighty quickly (what do you expect when there are only like 6 gates?) and then settled in for the long wait.

When it was finally time to board the plane, they had us walk out the door and down to the other end of the airport on the tarmac. That was fun. The flight was fine, and we landed in Denver 10 minutes early. Then we had to wait for our connecting flight which was 3 hours later. I finished the first Twilight book, so I went and bought the second, and had to convince Shawn to go buy a book for him to read. So we waited, and read. We flight got down to Austin at about midnight and then, officially, our vacation was over.

Of course, since we came back on Friday, and therefore had the rest of the weekend, I went ahead and finished off the second Twilight book, and then moped about all day Sunday about how it was going to take forever for me to get the third book through the library.

All in all, the trip was fun, and I wouldn't mind doing it again...though I probably would only take 2 pairs of pants instead of 3, and one extra shirt instead of 2...and I'd bring at least one more pair of underwear. Yeah. Definitely. I'd also want to spend more time in the Tetons, and in the Lamar Valley...but that's what next time is for. :)

Yellowstone: Day four (Thursday)

We woke up and killed some time around camp, but we did put our sleeping bags and pads away pretty quickly. We almost had a breakdown over the tent--Shawn kept insisting I was folding it wrong when I was folding it the exact same way I'd been folding it ever since we got it. That was not one of our shining moments, though we managed to get through with just hissing at each other under our breath. I might have thought about smacking him with the tent pole, but I didn't because he had gone and somehow managed to slam the car door into his hip. hard. I don't know how he did it...skill and finesse I guess because I sure can't figure out how you can put a ton of force into slamming a car door when you're standing between the door and the car...but what can I say, the man must have skillz.

Anyhoo...we eat, we pack, we start driving south and then proceed to stop at every geologically marked feature we come across. The Paint Pots, the lower, mid, and upper geyser basins, etc. We get to the Old Faithful area around 430 and go into their general store to look for some oatmeal (which they were selling for $8 a box), and to pick up all the other stuff we needed to get--magnets, huckleberry syrup, Christmas tree ornament, etc. We leave the store and walk over to the most well known geyser in Yellowstone about 10 minutes before it's supposed to erupt, so talk about good timing. Though honestly I was a little sad, if only because if we had gotten there right after an eruption, then we would have walked the geyser loop, but because we hit it just right, Shawn said he didn't care to walk the loop and we'd just watch Old Faithful and then be on our way. I guess I was okay with the decision to not walk around because I had managed to get 2 big blisters on my ring toes. I don't know how I did that...I mean the ring toes, what random toes to get blisters on.

Well, that and the fact that I had managed to hike 12 miles without any problems, and then we get to the day that we're driving around and only doing a half mile there, a quarter mile here and I get blisters. Weird--but I did moleskin them right up and I was good as new. So instead we went and waited for the geyser.

It erupted.

It was geyser-like.

We went to the diner and had dinner there instead of having our last backpacking meal. Then we drove south without stopping until we reached Colter Bay in the Grand Tetons again. We got our camp assignment at loop F and so we went and set up the tent just as it started sprinkling. I decided that I should go wash my unmentionables because after three days straight of wearing the same pair of underwear, they start to feel really grimy and icky, and since we weren't going to be taking showers before getting on the planes, I wanted to try to clean up some. Unfortunately, I forgot that the Grand Teton Park bathrooms do not have the hot air blowers like the Yellowstone Park does. Cold, wet that's a hoot.

We tried to burn through the rest of our fuel by having hot chocolate and hot tea, and even once just burning the fuel to warm our fingers. We still ended up with about 3 ounces left afterwards. We went to bed around sundown, and I found out that I must have been acclimating to the cold because I was too hot wearing my normal clothes and being in the sleeping bag, so it was the first and last night that I slept with the zipper open and no cinching.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Yellowstone: Day Three (Wednesday)

At some point during the night, I wake up to Shawn pulling my sleeping bag toward him, and then reaching under me to my sleeping pad and doing the same, so I figure that it must be raining, and I somehow slid to the side of the tent. So I, in my sleep stupor, try my best to assist. Then he kinda laughs a little. I ask what he's laughing about and he says "Oh, there was a mouse under your sleeping bag. But I think he ran out. He was just looking for a dry place out of the rain probably." And my retort back is "whatever, it's a mouse. I can handle a mouse." and then I go back to sleep.

The next morning it's bright and sunny, but it looks like some rain clouds are moving in again so we get out of the tent and go have a breakfast of more Nutrigrain bars and hot tea. We head back to the tent and start wiping it down again (as mentioned before, tents, when packed wet, end up smelling like vomit). We pack up all our gear, don our packs and head out.

After hiking for about 30 minutes we start to shed our clothes (I was wearing the long john bottoms, the long john top, pants, a long sleeved shirt, a wool sweater, my rain coat, and my winter hat). We stop to take a picture of one of the mostly whole elk bones that we passed on our way in and I notice that it's kinda spread out (which is to be expected), and postulate that the head back at our camp possibly came from this animal, as well as the leg we found on our day hike. We keep hiking. Shawn stops and stares at the ground. I come around and he points out a footprint in the wet mud. It's a large canid or feline paw print. Probably about 3" all the way around. And we know these prints weren't here when we came by two days earlier. So, um, yay, we weren't eaten by the Wolf or Cougar? There are a few more bear prints (black bear), and more deer/elk prints, with a smaller set (probably a baby).

We make it to the point where we turn onto the main trail (by 2H6), and pause to look at the scenery, eat some food, and look at the lake. I notice there's an antelope, so I get out my camera to take a few shots. It was a good thing I did because the antelope goes from grazing to trotting away from something like it's being harassed, but not actually chased. So I zoom in on whatever was chasing it. And it looks like another marmot...only gray...with a black and white face. HOLY SHIT, IT'S A BADGER!!! We take pictures of it until it runs off over the hill toward the river.

As we enter the forest area again, Shawn's trudging along talking back to me when I tell him to stop, and he's like "We just took a break, we should keep moving." and I retort "We can't go on. Not unless you want to get gored by the three deer over there." And then he's all like "okay, very slowly turn around so I can get your camera..." and then he takes some photos of the deer. And when they move off, but not far enough from the trail for us to continue on without passing within 30 yards of them, he turns his attention to the chipmunks...and takes like 50 bazillion fuzzy photos of them. Finally the deer go over the ridge and you'd never know they were there (which makes me a little worried about what other animals were that close to us that we never knew about...).
Non-Fuzzy picture of Chipmunk.

We get back to our car at about 230 or so and head back towards Mammoth Springs. We get there and decide that since we haven't had real food in a while, that perhaps we should eat at the diner. While eating our food we watch the dumb idiots of the human race go and box in an elk that was close to the general store. Yes, that elk is running at you and acting crazy because you've gone and cornered him. If you want him to act normal, you need to give him an out. Idiots. It's no wonder more people are gored by the vegetarian animals than by the predators every year. We go look at the hot springs (I seem to remember them actually flowing when I went as a kid...).

And then we head down toward Norris to the campground for the night. And of course have to pull over when we see 20 people on the side of the road, all with binoculars. Mostly because when there are a bunch of people, and all of them have binoculars, it means "Bear." And sure enough, there was a bear. Of course I never even saw it through the lens, but there is a picture so that means Shawn at least saw it.

We got in before sunset and went to the "walk in" sites which really mean "park your car here, walk 30 yards to your campsite there." We set up the tent and and I headed down to the river to take some pictures, plus there was a buffalo in camp that was very entrancing.

We made dinner and oogled the ginormous tent that was set up in the site next to ours (the sites, by the way were very close together--it really was 'pad' (aka 12' x 12' sanded area for your tents), picnic table, 'pad', etc. so you could hear the neighbors talking). We also thought the lady on the other side was crazy setting her tent up in front of the bear locker. And then there were the kids who went down to the buffalo and started throwing pine cones at him. Then the tent-people came back and they brought an entire grocery store with them. They had so much food that they ended up keeping some of it sitting outside their tent because they ran out of space in the bear locker that was meant for them to share with the other camp site (admittedly no one stayed in the other camp site, but still, the point is that the bear locker can hold 2 large coolers plus have space left over and they had that thing totally packed). Besides, I don't know if it did much good to put most of their stuff in the bear locker when they obviously ended up keeping a couple bags of food just outside their tent (like open cans of soda, and bread).

And then the girl who set up her tent in front of the locker decided to keep food in the locker. Which would mean that in order for the bear to get to the locker, it would have to go through her tent.

And then we noticed one of the campers pulling branches laden with green pine needles off a tree close by and we asked what he was doing. "Gathering firewood" was the answer.

Additionally, the group of people (the ones that set up one of their tents in front of the bear locker), had bought a fire starter kit that the general stores all sold--it had pieces of wood (maybe about 1x1x8 and smaller), a lighter, some paper, and the cardboard box it came in. They tried to light it but failed miserably, mostly because they laid all the pieces of wood flat, laid the paper and cardboard pieces on top, and lit the paper.

And that's about the time that I started questioning what would happen if we had a world-wide catastrophe that made it so everyone had to live like it was 1770 again...well, it would probably thin out the gene pool...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Yellowstone: Day two (Tuesday)

The Artwork by the previous tenants. They had also made a large river rock and antler thing down by the river. That's where I got the antler mentioned later.

I woke up the first time with sun streaming into the tent, so I grabbed my handy dandy hat and pulled it low over my eyes and went back to sleep.

Then I woke up later and woke Shawn up so we could have breakfast. We had oatmeal. And hot tea. Shawn went off to the bathroom and I was accosted by a yellow bellied marmot. Only at the time I didnt' know what it was, so I thought it was some crazy sort of land beaver (it looks like a beaver, but with a squirrel tail instead of a beaver tail).

Our shoes and socks were still wet from the hike in the day before so we set everything out in the sun, went and got some water (and treated it with the Miox) , grabbed our sun hats and cameras, donned our watershoes and went for a couple hour hike toward the boundary of Yellowstone Park.

We stopped every once in a while to look across the river, and we did see a deer and an elk, but never got any pictures of them. I made Shawn walk in front with the bear spray, and then reprimanded him every time he didn't call out around blind corners. Dude, I did not want to be lunch for some bear.

We headed back toward camp around 1 pm and then lazed about in the sun, soaking up the rays, because it was finally nice. We went and got more water to treat (and I saw some snakes, and didn't totally run the other way screaming). Around 4, Shawn suggested that we should start looking for dry wood to make a camp fire. HAHA, dry wood, like we were going to find that. We each brought some pieces back and Shawn started building a fire...or attempting to. After an hour of trying (at least it seemed like an hour), the fire finally caught and then we had to run around looking for larger pieces of wood to burn. We sat by the fire and ate dinner (vegetarian backpackers' lasagna), the dinner wasn't very good because I didn't stir it well enough when Shawn poured the hot water in, so all the seasonings were at the bottom of the bag and some of the noodles were crunchy.

After dinner, we lazed about until the fire went out. I finally changed my underwear (yes, i had been wearing the exact same outfit since Sunday morning, is that strange to you? Just so you know now, I ended up wearing the same shirt and pants for the entire trip, and I never washed them the entire time...yeah, we were in dire need of a shower when we came back), and we went to bed. After I got in the sleeping bag, I bothered to look at my watch (it was still somewhat light out). It was only 8:45. And the sun doesn't set up there until about 9:15. That's right, we were in bed before the sun set. I told Shawn we were pulling a "Beachy", as one of my coworkers comes in bragging every time he goes to bed before sunset, or every time he eats dinner before 5pm. It's like he's a 70-year-old man in a 30-year-old's body.

Yeah, relatively boring, but considering how sore we were from hiking in the day before, it was a welcome respite. I never took a picture of it, but the 'branch' I used to help push the bag full of food and other smelly stuff into the air was actually a 4' elk antler. Yeah, it was awesome.

View from right in front of the camp fire.

Super Size Me

Just finished watching "Super Size Me" on Hulu. Now I think I need to get up early tomorrow to go for a long jog and I need to go to the store to buy some salad makings.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Lo Siento

I'm sorry about the lack of blogging about Yellowstone. Especially after I said I would blog. To be honest, I'm working on the second blog right now (uploading photos as I speak). But I feel I must get something off my chest.

I think I've become a little obsessed.

With vampires. And werewolves.

Yes, that's right. I'm reading the Twilight series. I read the first two books while on vacation in Yellowstone (oddly, only at the airports and on airplanes), and I read the third book over the last couple of days. I'm now waiting my turn for the fourth book (it's at the library, and I'm pretty sure it's just waiting for me to pick it up).

But of course, the thing that always happens with me and the books that I know are made into movies--I start critiquing the choice of actors, even though I haven't seen the movie.

Edward and Bella and Jacob, whatever, those actors can stay, they're unimportant. But Jasper and Alice. Oh god no. I would have chosen the guy that plays Jax on Sons of Anarchy and Kristin Bell from Veronica Mars/Heroes (but her hair would be brown, and it would be done the same way the actress has it in the movie). I don't know who else I would choose for the other characters though. Obviously they dont' matter either.

Alright, I'll get my 13-year-old fangirl obsession under control now. And finish blogging about our 1st full day in Yellowstone.

Update: Okay, so I watched the movie and it really wasn't very good. At all. I know Jackson Rathbone (Jasper) is a good actor (just watch his portrayal of a MPD psycho killer in Criminal Minds), but for most of the movie he just looked constipated. And I haven't seen anything else that Robert Pattinson is in (except for Harry Potter, of course), but he almost played Edward like he was mildly retarded instead of smooth and debonair. But I ended up liking the actors, except, oddly, the girl that played Rosalie. I don't know, she just grates. Kristin Stewart was awesome though--totally the best out of everyone. Today though, I decided that I think Matthew Morrison (Mr. Schuster from Glee) would make a great Carlisle.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Yellowstone: Day one (Monday)

All three of my readers are getting restless about not having any Yellowstone Updates/Photos...

We wake up and get everything packed back into the car, while munching on some Nutrigrain bars. And then we head north. The weather holds steady in a drizzly state and we play around with the Prius climate controls. We exit out of the Grand Teton National Park without ever having seen the Tetons because of the low hanging clouds.

Grand Teton Buffalo

There's work being done on the Rockefeller Memorial Parkway and so we have to stop and wait for them to waive us through. So we wait, and we wait a little longer. And Shawn turns off the car because while the car is a hybrid, it still uses some of our planets' finite resources. The construction crew waives us through and the cars in front of us start to move.

Shawn tries to start the car by hitting the power button (yes, it's like a giant iPod). It beeps at us twice and then all the idiot lights turn on. Turn off the power, remove the key. Turn on the power again with the same results. This goes on for a few more minutes and finally the people behind us just go around. At one point, a guy pulls up beside us and his wife rolls down the window. She gives us a dumbfounded look as they roll on by. We sit in the middle of the road like dumb-dumbs because at this point we can't even figure out where the emergency flashers are (a few minutes later we find it--a large button on the middle console--in the same place it is in both my car and Shawn's truck). Finally the construction crew waves for us to halt moving--haha, that's funny! like we were moving. ha! We continue to try to figure out what is wrong with the car--you'd think with this ginormous LCD they have on the middle console that tells you when your car is using battery power and when it's using gasoline, that it would tell you what is wrong with your car, or perhaps maybe that the problem you're having right now is directly related to the fact that your foot is not pressed firmly on the brake pedal when you hit the power button. But no, that would be too easy. You may ask yourself why we didn't look at the users manual, and the answer is "because there wasn't one." The bigger question really is how Shawn managed to start the car at least 2 times prior to this point without any glitches.

Anyhoo, so we move on, and into Yellowstone. Where we proceed to stop at every 'town' we come to to see if they have the Yellow Heet (menthol alcohol) for the camp stove because the Red Heet (isopropyl alcohol) really sucks. We drive through the snow, the rain, the sleet, the sun, the clouds, and the snow again. We never find the Yellow Heet, in Yellowstone at least. As we're driving along we come across our first Bison Jam. That is, Bison on the roadway so you can't drive. We take some pictures, and Shawn seems pretty excited about the buffalo on the road. Because we're at the Mud Volcano location, we decide we might as well stop and see something that everyone who goes to Yellowstone sees.

When we're finished with the mud volcanos, we notice that the buffalo have now moved to the near side of the road, so we walk to the end of the parking lot to get some photos (still more than 30 yards away). Then the buffalo start moving toward us. I start backing up and Shawn tells me to just watch the other two and warn him if they get too close. We were probably much closer than we ever should have been, and the only thing we had going for us was that we didn't move, the buffaloes did...not that that would prevent them from charging and goring you...

Not zoomed in.

We decide we might as well stop at some of the other sites along the way since we probably won't go past the same places.
Lower Falls of Yellowstone Canyon

Around 3 pm we get into Mamoth Hotsprings. A place that Shawn thought we were going to get to by 10 in the morning. We check in with the Backcountry Office, where Shawn tells the guy that we'd like to do no more than 6 miles. The guy looks at the list of primitive sites available and tells us that he'd like to suggest this one trail, but we can't do that one because there's a carcass a couple hundred yards from the site so they've closed off the trail. Instead we should stay at one of these other sites, and of those, only this one allows campfires, and seeing as how it's cold out, we should probably go with that option. Shawn signs everything while the guy makes me watch the "what to do if you run into a grizzly" video. Shawn asks if he knows where we could pick up some denatured alcohol, and the ranger recommends that we drive into Gardiner, MT to The Flying Pig outdoor shop. The Flying Pig doesn't have any fuel of any sort according to the girl working the counter, and she recommends that we walk a couple blocks down to the grocery store for the alcohol (I don't think she knew what Shawn meant by de-natured, and thus thought we were looking for Everclear). Luckily, the grocery store had an automotive section that did have the Yellow Heet so all was good.

We head back into the park and practically run over a small herd of elk. After that thankfully avoided fiasco, we drive out to the trail head for the backpacking. And it starts to rain as we pack up our packs. We check in at the trail head--you have to check in and out at the trail head register, otherwise they will come looking for you. We start our journey and the sun comes out, but everything is still mud. We hike for a while, the clouds start rolling in again. We turn at the fork and continue walking. About an hour or so into this, I ask why we're not following the river anymore...of course this was AFTER seeing the black and grizzly bear prints, and the mostly intact bleached bones of an elk. Shawn pulls out the map, and that's when we realize we're on the wrong trail. And it's going to rain. And there's an antelope with a baby watching us like we're going to get her. Admittedly, we went off trail at that point and started heading for the river. Just as we hit the trail we were supposed to be on, it started raining. And it proceeded to rain all the way to our actual camp.

Antelope, on our way to the trail head.

We got into camp, got ready for bed and bear bagged all of our food and what-have-you. Shawn started pacing off 100-yards (the distance you're supposed to be from your food), and then I hear cussing. The previous jerkwad that stayed at the camp (likely the same one that made the 'artwork'--see Day 2 for pictures of said 'artwork') decided to take a dump in the middle of the area where you're supposed to set up your tent. So we had to walk another 50-yards or so and set up our tent in the middle of the field. We set up our tent in the rain and then pretty much went off to the bathroom and then crawled into bed. Probably at about 930 or so. I do remember praying to the dear lord that we not be eaten by bears (we had passed another set of undulate bones on the way into camp). I also remember having a dream that night...a nightmare really--we were on the airplane flying from Jackson Hole back to Denver when I turned to Shawn and yelled, "We forgot the huckleberry syrup!!!"

Because we all know that's the most important thing when you're out backpacking in grizzly country* --not forgetting to buy commemorative huckleberry syrup.

*and not just grizzly country, we were staying in an area known to be densely populated with predators in Yellowstone.

**pictures that didn't make it to the blog are on my Picasa page

***Because some of you (okay, only one of you) may be interested in WHERE we stayed while backpacking, you can find the Yellowstone Backcountry Trip Planner here: On the top of page 9, there's a close up map of the area we stayed. We stayed at campsite 2H9, and we were on our way to hiking to 2C1 when we figured out we were on the wrong trail. We started at the Hellroaring Trail Head. The campsites that were closed down were the 1A1, 1Y6 and 1Y8 because of the carcass.

****The official park map of Yellowstone can be found here: For whatever reason, the whole park map is the last PDF on the page, so look at the bottom of the webpage for the correct link. We came in from the south and did a 6 loop (we couldn't take the road between Canyon and Tower because Dunraven Pass was covered in snow.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Yellowstone: Day zero (Sunday)

I've decided I will blog about Yellowstone, one day at a time. Perhaps then I'll get my butt in gear and deal with the copious amount of pictures. It's obscene, really.


Day zero.

We still haven't finished packing. But it's okay, the flight is at 2 pm. So, we just need to leave the house by noon and everything will be fine. Since the cats wanted out at 930 am, we let them out. I mean they rarely ever stay out for more than 2 hours at a time on Sundays.

After cleaning for a while and getting everything ready and making sure all our batteries are charged and whatnot, it's time to seriously finish packing and get everything in the car. At 1130 I go outside and call the cats.

IV immediately comes home.

Quazi does not. We are not surprised. But he usually comes home within 15, 20 minutes, so we don't worry about it.

At 1145 I go back outside and call Quazi again. Shawn tells me to go around the block looking for him and he'll get everything in the car.

I go around the one block. I go around the other block. The damn cat is nowhere to be found.

At noon, Shawn starts helping me look for the cat.

And we look. And look. And look and shout and call some more. The cat STILL refuses to come home.

At 1230 I finally think that maybe, just maybe, he's sleeping under the neighbor's shed and so he won't come home because he's comfy. So I throw a rock at the shed. Sure enough he walks out from underneath it and looks and me and says, "Meow." And then has the audacity to lay down and roll over on his back.

I run and get Shawn. Since it's now 1245 and we REALLY need to get going, Shawn jumps over the fence into the neighbor's yard. Quazi immediately knows something is up because we NEVER jump the fence to get him. So he starts heading back toward the shed. Shawn mutters something to the cat about killing him when he's caught, and takes a step and the cat bolts. Stupid cat.

We ultimately left the house at 1253 sans having caught cat (I called the lady who was watching them and told her Quazi was outside, but he should be sitting by the back door by 5pm and he'd probably be pretty hungry) to catch our 208 flight and the airport is about 30 minutes away. Yeah, talk about cutting it close.

We rush to the airport, wait in line, and finally check in. Yay, lucky us! it's Frontier Training day so all the counter workers are new and don't know what they're doing. We checked in with like 2 minutes to spare before the "deadline to check in" time.

We wait in the security line, which I'm not worried about because security is always a breeze. Except this time. I get up to the scanners and put my backpack on the conveyor belt. Everything goes through the conveyor. The backpack makes it through, then the TSA agent makes it back up, and forward, and back, and forward before she finally signals that someone needs to hand check my bag. LOVELY.

At least she told him what she wanted him to look for (there's something at the top, right here, that I don't know what it is). So he opens the lid of my pack, after asking if there is anything sharp that will poke him, and its all I can do not to laugh. I tell him no, and he opens the bag, grabs my headlamp, turns to the first security agent, points it at her, and says "headlamp" and turns it on. Then off. Then on again and says, again, "Headlamp". He then takes it over to some other little machine thingy and does something to the headlamp before ultimately giving it back to me.

I grab everything and then book it down to the end of the concourse to where our flight is, and we find out the flight has been delayed by 15 minutes. Which is perfectly fine. So now we're in a "hurry up and wait" situation. That's when we figure out that the ticketing agent gave Shawn both of his tickets (Austin to Denver, Denver to Jackson Hole), but only gave me one. So we have to ask the nice counter lady to print up a ticket for me. Thankfully it wasn't a problem.

Everything goes well with the plane and we end up making up some time and get to Denver when we're supposed to. Except, of course, to make our connecting flight we have to go to the other end of the concourse. And we haven't had any food for the day. We grab some Quizno's and speed walk to where the gate should be only to find out that there is no gate 60. Or rather, in order to get to gate 60 we have to go down the scary stairs, through some doors and find some random little room that has four gates coming off of it. That's right, we get to walk out on the tarmac in order to get on the next plane.

We also find out that this flight is delayed an hour, but they haven't updated the monitors yet. In fact, they didn't update the monitors until after the time when the plane was supposed to have left. So we eat dinner, and read our books. And finally get on the plane and take off. Now then, I didn't consider myself a claustrophobic person, but when you're sitting by the wings on a turbo prop, and you can't see anything out of the window because the landing gear is blocking your view, you might feel a twinge of the claustrophobia.

We take off in a thunder/lightning storm, and there are bumps. We get to cruising altitude and the stewardesses take our drink orders. About 5 minutes later, they announce that the captain has gotten warning of some severe turbulence on our flight path so they are suspending drink service. There wasn't any other turbulence for the rest of the flight.

We land over an hour late and take the shuttle bus to the Dollar Rent-a-car. They tell us that Yellowstone has been turning people back at the gate if they don't have a four wheel drive vehicle, and they're plumb out of four wheel drive vehicles. We say we'll take our chances and if we need to come back in the morning, then we come back in the morning. The guy asks if we'd like to upgrade our car to a Prius. Shawn says no. They give us a Prius anyways. We leave to go look for some denatured alcohol for our camp stove. Nothing is open after 7pm in Jackson Hole. We finally find a gas station and all they have is pure isopropyl alcohol, which will do in a pinch, but it's not ideal. So we buy it and then head north toward the Grand Tetons.

Our Car, the Prius. Stupid piece of crap car. Stay tuned for day one to find out why.

We drive in the dark through the park, after we pay (which the place where you pay is like 2/3 of the way through the park), the lady tells us that the campground we're coming up to is open and we can stay there for the night. We get to the campground, and set up our tent. It's like 40* out with 60% humidity (which means it feels even colder). We make our little heat-a-backpacking-meal, and then go to bed. I go to bed fully clothed (silk long underwear, long sleeved wool underwear shirt, wool socks, long sleeved shirt, wool sweater, nylon pants, and a hat...all inside my 0* sleeping bag...yes, I'm a freak, why do you ask?) because that's just how I roll when it's cold out. Besides it started raining, and like hell I was going to stand outside the tent to strip down to my skivvies.
The tent, the day after. Shawn's drying it off with our camp towel because tents smell like vomit if you pack them when wet.

Half way through the night my back starts to hurt and the only thing that makes it feel better is to lay on my side curled in a tight ball (stretching my back). That and I keep waking up because I'm either too hot, or too cold, or my one shoulder is cold, but the other isn't. It's at this point in time I have to talk myself down from an anxiety attack because I kept getting my mummy-bag cords confused and so I ended up cinching myself in so tight I started to get claustrophobic and had to keep reminding myself that I was not going to die in my sleeping bag because the face part was a little small. I might die because of the grizzly bears, but I wouldn't die because of the freaking little cords keeping my sleeping bag shut. I finally fell asleep only to wake up at 6 in the morning because Shawn forgot about the hour time change. Thankfully he let me sleep longer while he went out and took pictures of the deer.

First animal either of us gets a picture of. I maintain that I saw an elk on the side of the road the night before. I did not, however see this deer.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Yellowstone: redux

Back from Yellowstone, everyone made it out okay. I was a bit disappointed by the lack of animal sightings (though Shawn seemed to think it was excessive), and the weather on the south end of the park did not want to cooperate so we didn't see the Tetons. At all. Pictures will be coming soon. Just because I didn't think we saw enough animals doesn't mean that we didn't take a ton of pictures--I took something like 300 and Shawn took slightly more than that I think. I do have to analyze them though because I think we saw a moose, Shawn thinks it was another elk. And there was something that was quite possibly a badger. As I said, have to analyze the pictures first.

We came home to find out that Shawn's immediate family will be going to Philly for the wedding, which is awesome. And that's coming up shortly. Man. So many vacations, so little time.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Boat Trip: Success!!

Three Hour Tour

"I just wanted to see how thing went today..."

Hallelujah! The much planned and anticipated boat thing was a success! When I booked the boat, I thought it was going to be pretty much a party barge, but no, it was an actual boat. with Air Conditioning, and 2 bathrooms, with a kitchen area. It was, as Shawn put it "High-falutin'" I over estimated on how much people would eat (which is better than under estimating), and everything went smoothly...once I got there. I had told everyone to be there at 445 because I didn't want people to be late, and then I ended up walking up at 515. And since I didn't make a sign in sheet, I didn't know who was there and who wasn't. And subsequently we almost left someone at the dock. But the important thing is that everyone who was on the boat at the beginning was on the boat at the end. No Open Water situations for us.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


Shawn has decided that he's going to put his mechatronics skills to use and is going to build himself a little mowing robot. He loving refers to it as Timmay! (yes, exclamation point included) In order to prep for the new robot, we obviously need it to have a friend. So Shawn bought a Roomba. It is currently charging. As Shawn tweeted (twitted?) the other day "[We] welcome our robot overlords."

Monday, June 01, 2009

Shoe Shopping

1. I am a girl.
2. I like to admire shoes.
3. I will not buy shoes unless I have to, or they're a really good deal.
4. Furthermore, I will buy shoes over the internet, but only if I check the sizes in person first (ala JCrew, Banana Republic, Etc).
5. My family has learned, and Shawn is starting to, that you do not bother me when I am shoe shopping. It is best to drop me off somewhere and say "see you in an hour" than subject yourself to the hell that is me looking for shoes. Nothing ever fits, I don't like the colors, and then I start to get snappy.
6. Once I discovered that I didn't have to wear girl shoes, I bought my shoes from the skate store by going in, looking at their clearance section and finding the first 6.5 size shoe available--as long as it didn't totally appall me, I bought them. This is how I have ended up with shoes with a skeleton foot on the bottom of them.
7. I bought my running shoes last time by going to the store and letting the sales lady tell me what I needed/wanted. "Here, these 3 pairs will work great for you. Now go run around the store in each pair, get the one that is most comfortable"
8. I am now on the search for both normal everyday shoes and running shoes.
9. Dammit. This is going to really suck.
10. Well, at least I bought some shoes for Yellowstone. Now I hope they just make it through the trip. And at $20 special from Academy, they just really need to make it through the trip for me to be happy.