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Monday, June 20, 2011

Yellowstone & Grand Tetons: Life on the Road

Deciding to go to Yellowstone alone a week before I left was a spur of the moment decision for sure. I had just suffered a second miscarriage and felt myself starting to crack. The walls were closing in, the words from loved ones were not helping, the doctors were hopefully going to get me some answers but I had to wait two weeks for the test results and the last thing I wanted to do was sit in my empty house, think and wait. Going on this trip was a fantastic decision; of course I did make some compromises.

After pressure from both my husband and my father I agreed to stay in lodges or cabins rather than the campgrounds like I had originally planned. On hindsight they were right, it was COLD at night and oh so nice to not have to deal with lugging around camping equipment and supplies. I ended up staying at six different places moving every other day or so to a new location in the park. I did this to minimize the driving and optimize the exposure to different areas. One of my favourites was the Old Faithful Lodge.

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THE OLD FAITHFUL LODGE – THE ARCHITECH WANTED TO DESIGN A SPACE THAT WAS RUSTIC AND THAT REFLECTED THE CHAOS OF NATURE

A large incredibly imposing rustic type cabin. The main lobby of the hotel has a 65 foot ceiling and was really incredible. I loved how the space can be experienced from many different places it was a nice place to people watch, to rest and look at photos after a long day outdoors. Extensive seating was provided all around so people could enjoy the space.

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FANTASTIC MAIN LOBBY OF THE HOTEL

The prime seats of course were next to the biggest fireplace I had ever seen. Generally these seats were full and I would choose to sit in one of the other levels couches but luckily one day I did snag a chair.

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NICE AND COZY BY THE FIRE

Of course with a lodge this old, it was built in 1903, there were some things that were NOT so convenient... like the fact that the bathroom/showers were down the hall. SO NOT FANTASTIC. I think the most convenient part of this lodge, other than the cool building, was the fact that it was right next to some of the best geysers... Old Faithful could be seen just as you walk out the door.

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OLD FAITHFUL GOING OFF JUST OUTSIDE THE FRONT DOOR OF THE LODGE

I also really liked the newer, more modern, hotel of mammoth where I had my own bathroom... ahhh the luxuries. Mammoth is nestled in a small little valley between towering hills. Right next to the Yellowstone terrace’s and convenient to tons of wildlife I really enjoyed my stay here.

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MAMMOTH INN VIEW FROM THE YELLOWSTONE TERRACE HIGH ABOVE

The days were incredibly long... SOOO SOOOOO SOOOOOOOOO LONG. I am not a very good morning person but to see the most amount of wildlife I would need to be up before dawn. I would get everything ready the night before, wake up, eat my oatmeal (I brought an electric tea kettle and instant oatmeal for my breakfast every morning), grab my hot cocoa and hit the road. Getting to my location the sun would just be lighting up the sky and as I stifled a yawn and huddled with the other photographers something interesting would almost ALWAYS happen. By the time the masses arrived after they woke up at 8, had breakfast and drove out it would be 9:30 and most of the good stuff had already happened. Sure things could happen during the day too for sure but dawn and dusk is where it is at.

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AHHH WHO KNEW DAWN COULD BE SO MARVOLOUS DARLING

After about 10 I would pack up and drive to a few other locations, stopping where I saw parked cars or if I saw something interesting. Lunch would be peanut butter and jelly sandwiches made out of the back of my car. I had a cooler of drinks and a pile of snacks on the ready so I could stay out all day without interruption.

I had my camera equipment at the ready on the passenger seat of the car. Many times I would see something, stop on the road, grab the camera and start shooting. Wildlife moves fast and it was helpful to be ready.

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THE GEAR ON TEH PASSENGER SEAT OF THE CAR

I would be moving for most of the day until an hour or so before dusk where I would again choose a location and set up to wait for the wolves/bears; generally in Lamar Valley. Three hours later, hopefully with some good sightings and some awesome photos, the light would disappear and it would be time to return to the hotel.

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WHEN THE MOON RAISES IT WAS TIME TO GO GET DINNER

I either grabbed dinner in the cafeteria or a restaurant and would always order meat. Since I was surviving on carbs and fruit during the day I would be STARVING for some protein. Since I wasn’t dining with anyone I used my time during dinner to download all my photos from the day onto the laptop. Funny enough most often than not people nearby seeing my photos would start a conversation and I would say about half the time I would get guest at my table.

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DINNER INCLUDED A HUGE STEAK AND A DOWNLOAD OF THE DAYS PHOTOS

I had so many great conversations with new people and had fun meeting new friends. Some of us would band together and go out hiking or taking photos. I even received a super nice gift from someone I met and spent the day with. I am too outgoing to be lonely even when traveling alone.

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A DOCUMENTARY ABOUT WOLVES – WHAT A NICE GIFT

1 comment:

lilmansworld said...

you know, that doesn't sound half bad! The lodge was such a neat looking building! PBJ or a cooler of goat cheese is an excellent lunch I feel.....I wonder if the goats agree though!

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