Saturday, September 5, 2015

September 4, 2015....a year to the day review....

I was so disappointed with our route to get to Yellowstone National Park.
Finishing up our drive through South Dakota we entered Wyoming.....and suddenly there was the Bighorn Mountain Range.  The route took us through those mountains to Yellowstone.  The route was very curved and no guard rails....what is it with the people out west who do not put guard rails up for us flatland Midwesterners?  It was a beautiful sunny day.  There were places to pull over and appreciate the vista....and we did that several times and took photographs. 



Note the pinkish highlighted area....that is the Bighorn Mountain Range before you get to the Rocky Mountains.   Courtesy of Wikipedia maps.


The drive through Bighorn transitions to Yellowstone.  We entered Yellowstone at the east entrance.

If you want to see beautiful Yellowstone...do not use the east entrance!   There were miles and miles and acres and acres of pine trees that had been destroyed either by fire or the pine beetle.  It was so very sad and we felt so remote from everything and civilization......at this time of the day it was late afternoon and feeling like dusk.  The sun is behind the mountains, so, it becomes darker more quickly it seems.  We did not want to drive in the mountains at night, but, we got "caught" by darkness on this day.  The signage was VERY POOR for our destination spot, which was 'Yellowstone Lodge.'  
The road we were to take was closed due to repairs....so, we turned around and went back to an area that had park services.  Phil spoke with a ranger for directions.  The ranger told us we were at least an hour from the Lodge at this point.  .......it was getting darker and he warned us to watch for buffalo on the highway.....yay.....
There were very few cars out and about.....there was a full moon....and, I kept on the look out for buffalo and signs....while Phil drove....and drove....and drove some more....
It was a little reassuring to have an occasional car pass us or to have a car follow us for a distance....but, still no signage!!
When we finally arrived at the Lodge area....it was dark....no people, no cars in the parking lot...where was everybody?  (It is 9:00 p.m. Mountain time). It was crazy....
I felt like we were a part of the 'Twilight Zone!'  Phil said, he would try and find a way to get inside and locate some help with directions.  (I am making this statement subdued....if you catch my drift?) 
We did have reservations which we had made a year ahead, because the lodges and cabins fill up quickly....and, we had confirmation.....so...somebody was gonna get it (with tact) Good ole Phil! .....my knight in shining armor!  
The lady inside told us how to turn around and go back to a certain point....GO BACK!!!!???.
Understand, there were no parking lot lights or lights on around the facility....that ended up not being the Lodge.....but, some type of facility for overnight accommodations....
Phil "kindly" suggested that we follow someone....like a security guy or ranger guide or Boy Scout or someone to our destination that only ended up being 3 minutes away....
We were accommodated and checked in to our room, only to discover that we probably had the smallest room, the smallest bathroom, everything was tired and dingy...no TV (which we understood) 
...and no wi-fi signal....we were doomed....we were disgruntled....what else can I say?  Our first stay at a National Park....I / we were not impressed! .....with the accommodations and the route!
P.S.  We did not see any buffalo on the road that night.....

We woke up feeling optimistic.  We had a tour scheduled with a guide who was driving.  I recommend this way of touring instead of going on your own.  Yellowstone and Glacier National are HUGE and we allotted only so much time to be in each National Park
We had a great guide and friendly fellow passengers....and, we got to see almost everything we wanted to see except a Yellowstone bear and moose on the range....
but, we did see plenty of 'day light' buffalo!

When we went for a bite of breakfast....hundreds of people milling about.....a line of tour busses filling the drive in front of the Lodge....where were all these people last night??  Weird for sure!

That evening we ate in the Lodge Dining Room and had a wonderful dinner.  We had edamame and a salad....just for the experience of eating in a National Park Lodge....

Headed to Glacier National Park the next day.....

Journey Mercies.