The Wild West

20 10 2009

Having left the desert we drove North for what seemed like weeks, but was actually only 2 days, boring! To be fair there was some grass in Idaho which was a nice change of scenery even if it was all dead. Zoë had developed a sore throat but we assumed this was because she’d crammed so much food down it in Vegas. The sniffles soon followed though and then full on bird / pig / human Flu-like symptoms as we arrived in West Yellowstone. As it was also snowing when we arrived we shelved any ideas of camping and booked ourselves into a motel for a few days.

Zoë phoned in sick on our first day at the park so had a duvet day while I went exploring, free to spend hours taking pictures and getting too close to big animals!

The snow clouds had vanished and any remains were thin on the ground due to the under-floor heating spread all over the park. The west section of the park is mainly spitting geysers and bubbling hot springs, made colourful by the resident bacteria feeding off the dissolved minerals. You really get an idea of how massive the pool of fire below must be – for miles in every direction there’s steaming vents and pools of superheated water bubbling out of the ground! Unverified tourist fact of the day: The biggest Yellowstone eruption spat out about 545 cubic miles of lava and ash. In comparison Krakatoa, the largest eruption in the last couple of centuries, dished out around 12!

The 'Nice One Geyser', Yellowstone N.P

So anyway, I spent the day exploring the wilderness, getting off the tourist boardwalks where I could, sneaking up on massive Bison and getting stuck in boggy meadows, ending the day at Old Faithful as the sun went down.

Zoë had benefitted from her day in bed so joined me for a similar route the next day, more geysers and hot springs as well as a couple of very close encounters with 2-ton bison!

Zoe enjoying the Herd of Bison

Having had our fill of Geysers we drove through the park to Mammoth hot springs at the North entrance. There was a brief moment of panic when Zoë thought she was having an altitude induced brain aneurysm – turned out to be a trapped sneeze though, phew.

It was even colder up here, minus 12°C at night! So no more hikes for us, our last day at Yellowstone was spent in the car, driving through the Lamar valley looking for animals. We managed to add something new to our spotters list – Pronghorn, 5 of the 250 in the park! There were lots of other black blobs in the distance too, probably herds of wolf, mountain lions and bears although they were too far away for us to prove it with photos unfortunately.

Marche ou crève

We left Yellowstone the next day and drove down to Jackson, a nice Ski town on the outskirts of neighbouring Grand Teton National Park. All ski towns seem pretty nice so far, good art and photo galleries, coffee and cake dealers, taxidermy shops etc.. this one had a polar bear for $35K but it wouldn’t have fit in the car. Zoë considered getting the Jackalope until I told her it wasn’t a real animal – they’d just stuck horns on a rabbit, mental.

The live animal of choice here was Moose, and we managed to spot 3 on our first day near the river.

We saw several more in the next couple of days, as well as Osprey, cartoon Bluebirds from Bambi, and the highlight for me – a Bear and two cubs while out on one of my pre-dawn rally drives / photo shoots!

Bears!

Having tired of sub zero temperatures and nice scenery, we returned South in search of warmer climes and some nice desert. We popped into Salt Lake City en route as we wanted to check out the big Mormon temple we were shown pictures of when we were accosted in Hawaii a couple of years ago. However on finding it we were a bit disappointed, with Zoë exclaiming ‘is that it’ in front of all the disciples milling around! It was an educational experience for me too, I found out Mormons aren’t actually from Space, a fact Zoë claimed to know all along.

We continued South and arrived in Moab the next day and headed straight for Arches National Park.

Delicate Arch at Sunset, Arches N.PZoë joined me for the crowded hike up to Delicate arch in time for sunset, arriving to find about 60 other photographers all lined up with their tripods precariously balanced on the narrow ledge at the edge of the chasm. I found myself a perch and set up, glad of the company as our strength in numbers helped us heckle tourists out of the way! Inevitably several things got knocked down the 100ft cliff while we were sat there, bottles of water, lens caps and one guy’s iPhone! Hikers at the bottom retrieved it for him though and unbelievably it still worked!

 

We’ve done a little more hiking today after nearly 2 weeks off, a 6 mile trip through the desert in the midday heat to throw us back in the deep end! We saw a few more of the arches in the park and got some good views over the valleys with more of the same tomorrow in Canyonlands N.P.

 

Apologies for the delay in posting our news, the warm motels have developed a comfortable laziness in both of us!

To keep you thinking until our next edition consider a recent question Zoë posed:

Do English cats and Spanish cats speak the same cat language?

Who needs Karl Pilkington!

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