Friday, May 31, 2013

About That Week in Anaconda, Montana (May 26 - June1)

Dear Family and Friends,

Hello from Anaconda, Montana! We are staying at the Fairmont RV Park, until we leave for Polson, Montana, on Saturday. The temps have been in the mid thirties at night and low sixties during the daytime. While many people are wearing shorts in other parts of the country, the Radcliffs are still in long sleeves, slacks and jackets.

Our trip from West Yellowstone took us north along Highway 191to Belgrade, where we spent several hours having the oil changed on the Tour. We were on the road again by three o'clock and several hours later arrived in Anaconda (off of I-90 near Butte, Montana).

 Our drive north was beautiful and it  took us along the Gallatin River on the right of the picture. Snow is still on the mountain tops in this part of the country.

Spring rains made the week a very soggy one. On Monday, we drove to Helena (the state capital). We enjoyed seeing the capitol building.

 The capitol building at Helena
The outline of Montana can be seen it the yet to be planted flower bed in front of the capitol building.

Beautiful lilacs were everywhere.

On our way back from the drive to Helena, we saw two bald eagles flying above the river. That was a thrill.

The rest of the week we spent trying to dodge the rain. We felt lucky to get in one bike ride! On Wednesday, we drove to Butte to see "The Great Gatsby." In addition, we have spent time reading and working on an online AARP driving course.

 Hopefully it is going to clear up for our trip to Polson on Saturday. Thank you for checking in with us this week. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

About That Final Week in West Yellowstone (May 19 - 25)

Dear Family and Friends,

Our final week in West Yellowstone was very wet. However, Montana does need the rain as they are already fighting forest fires in certain parts of the State, so I cannot complain. The first two weeks here were perfect and we were so glad that we took the time to see quite a lot of the park and the surrounding area. We did venture into the park several times this week and found it remarkable even with the cloudy, rainy weather.

On Saturday afternoon we decided to drive to Big Sky, Montana. It is about 60 miles to the ski area from our spot in West Yellowstone. The drive was beautiful, even in the rain. We paralleled the Gallatin River that was flowing high and fast due to the snow melt in the area. The river is located in the Gallatin Forest that is next to Yellowstone.

Big Sky has quite a bit of ski terrain but the cloud level was too low for pictures. We had fun exploring the area and then headed back to West Yellowstone. Suddenly along the way I yelled "Stop the car Roger, I think I see a bear." Right off of US 191 was a grizzly. This is why we are not hiking in the area. This particular grizzly found a carcass (elk?) and was not leaving it. What a thrill it was to see animals in the wild! These pictures were taken from about 250 yards away with a telephoto lens.

After spending a rainy Sunday in the coach, we knew we had to get out on Monday. We had been saving our favorite part of Yellowstone for last, mainly because roads to the canyon had been closed, until a week ago, because of snow. The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is one of the most beautiful places in the world. The actual name of the park comes from the yellow rock in the canyon walls. The pictures below show our magical day in the park.

 The ever present bison along the Madison River as we headed into the park.

 The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

 The Yellowstone River flowing from the Upper and Lower Falls.

 The Upper Falls

 At this time of year, the recent rain, and the snowpack (upper left of picture) make for a very powerful falls.

 The Lower Falls

At Inspiration Point, we found a nest on a very high rock spire in the Grand Canyon. You can see the white head of the Osprey sitting on her eggs. The parents take turns sitting on the nest.
 This Aerie has 360 degree views.

The rest of the week we spent dodging rainy weather. We were lucky to get in several mountain bike rides and walks with Bear. We leave Friday morning, heading north to Belgrade for an oil change. Our next stop, for a week, will be in Anaconda, Montana.

The stunning effects of the tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, left us speechless this week. The devastation was and will continue to be so very sad. Personally, Roger and I are grateful that our daughter-in-law's parents (Jim and Patty) and their family were spared in nearby Norman. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people in Oklahoma as they work their way through this horrific time.

Thank you for checking in with us!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

About That Teton National Park (May 12 - 18)

Dear Family and Friends,

Roger, Bear and I have completed our second week at West Yellowstone. We have loved having the opportunity to ride our mountain bikes in the Gallatin Forest and Yellowstone. The bikes are heavier than our road bikes so we do not go as far, but we did get a 20 miler in Yellowstone on Sunday. Thankfully the bison and elk were napping in the meadows and not on the main road.

Those mountain bikes get dirty!

Monday was a day trip to Teton National Park. We left West Yellowstone at 7 am in hopes of seeing animals in Yellowstone Park and then in Teton National Park. Our trip east and then south through Yellowstone rewarded us with lots of bison and elk. In fact we saw two male bison ramming each other with their horns.

On the way to the south entrance of West Yellowstone (part of this road was recently opened)

Yellowstone Lake
Ice is still visible on the lake.

Falls in Yellowstone

View of the Teton Mountains from Rockefeller Memorial Parkway

Hello Grand Teton National Park

Teton Lake
This national park is very dramatic in it's abrupt rise of jagged peaks from the Jackson Hole valley.

Pair of Pelicans

Hooray, we have a moose!

Jenny Lake (one of my favorite places in the U.S.)

Feeder stream into Jenny Lake (the water is crystal clear)

On the way back to West Yellowstone, we drove over Teton Pass. There were lots of hairpin turns and two 10% grades. Gorgeous views!

Our trip into Yellowstone on Wednesday was one that concentrated on seeing the sights of the southern  ring. We drove out to Old Faithful and had a great view of the geyser erupting.

It was fun to see a very large male bison very close to the Old Faithful Inn. This fellow is scratching his head on a tree. There are signs everywhere not to approach the wildlife. You can see in the second picture how close the bison is to the sign and Inn.

Our drive continued south to Yellowstone Lake. Parts of the lake were covered in ice, though the lake is warming.

We stopped to take a look at Kepler Cascade along the way back to West Yellowstone. With the snow melting, the falls in the park have quite a dramatic look.

 The other side of Keplar Cascade shows a steep drop off into the canyon.

What an incredible week at Yellowstone. Thank you for taking the time to read our blog. Although we have another six days in Yellowstone, the next blog will come from Anaconda, Montana. We are working our way North to Polson, MT for the month of June.