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.


Ross said...

I'm curious about day one and the sucky Prius, having just ridden in one for the first time recently. They hardly seem like cars, more like a giant Ipod that you ride in. Steve Jobs better not steal that idea.

bond said...

The turbulence warning would have made me really nervous. I wish they would just let it be a surprise. Anticipating death is worse than hitting some bumps!

Looking forward to more details!

The cat thing reminded me of david (the threatening death part).