Roosevelt Arch Entrance

Woke up this morning before the alarm went off. It was 6:30am, 5:30am pacific. I have no idea how I will sleep when I’m camping. It will be at least four nights until my ass hits a mattress again. I like the early rising. We’ve already made our grocery stop, loaded the ice chest and are on our way to the park entrance. It’s before 10am. We hope to get there in an hour and a half. We might stop at the Mammoth hot springs before making our way to the campground. Lets hope setup is easy and that our tent fits.
“Gusty crosswinds”. Passed a sign on I-90 and thought of a really old stripper.
We arrived in Yellowstone, and it’s spectacular, even if the light is disappointing.
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No Room For Desert

We woke up to news of the DOMA and Proposition 8 Supreme Court decisions. We were having breakfast in the Days Inn, located in Brigham City Utah. We were notified by the Fox News reporter while we noshed on bagels, waffles and cereal. The continental breakfast was pretty good for a side of the interstate. I’m thinking our luck tomorrow morning won’t be as good.

This trip was hopefully going to check off some items on my bucket list. Traveling with two people who know me very well, I felt ok trying to suggest things that might be a little out of the way, but worth their weight in experience points.
My art history classes in college were hit and miss. There are tons of names and dates and ideas that I can rattle off, but not much that really sticks with me a long time. One of the things that had an effect on me was Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty.
IMG_2166It’s located on the Great Salt Lake, about 40 miles away from Brigham City. The idea of public art that is made out of something natural strikes me in a way that paintings and photographs don’t. In my research of the Spiral Jetty, I found that the Golden Spike National Historic Site is on the road to the Spiral Jetty. Nerd-Do-Well Ashley is fascinated by trivial history as well as historic sites.
Jessica drove out to the Golden Spike National Historic Site first. We crossed over some railroad tracks, but I wasn’t expecting much other than a general marker and a visitors center. Doing research I found they were one of the places that sold the Interagency National Park passes ($80, a year of National Parks, Forests, State Parks, etc). When we got inside the visitor center we met a really nice ranger that upsold me to the park pass which I was already going to buy. He was super nice and laughed at my Sheldon Cooper joke. Why do you ask I made a Sheldon Cooper joke at a National Historic Site? Because the trains were on their way! He told us that we were on time to see the arrival of the 119 Steam Engine, a replica of the engine that was there at the finishing of the transcontinental railroad. We looked at an exhibit while we waited for the train to arrive.
IMG_2135There was a nice selection of photographic memorabilia on the wet plate process. The train arrived at about 10:15, and we were able to see it in motion as well as when they parked it, we got to see it up close.
We bought some postcards and played with some stamps before making way to the spiral jetty. (This was before Dale and I decided to get Betty her passport, and before we realized that cancellations at all the National Parks were something we would love).
There’s about 17 miles between the GSNHS and the Spiral Jetty. We passed some horses and some dead cows on the side of the road. When we got out there, after all we passed was the dead cows and the broken concrete that said “aliens” we actually met some rangers out there. They were from the BLM and they said that even though this was included in the land they cover, they had never been out there. We discovered a guest book under a rock that said guest book, and climbed down the rocks to the waters edge.
IMG_2164 I wanted to walk all the way out, but the rocks have broken up since it was created and there weren’t enough spaced close enough for me to not fall in the salty pink water.
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From there we got back onto I-15 North, passing a gigantic NASA rocket and a fireworks manufacturer. We drove through Utah into Idaho and stopped to have lunch in Malad. Nothing hits the spot better than a $5 footlong from Subway. We kept on going all the way through Idaho Falls (still no clue if there are waterfalls there) to West Yellowstone. We dipped into Montana and then into Wyoming and the corner of Yellowstone before following the Gallatin River up into Montana again to get to Bozeman.
West Yellowstone looks like a great place to fly into in the winter time. I’ll have to put that on my list. I’m still a good 15 hours away from seeing any other parts of Yellowstone, but I’m sure it’s even better in winter time. The Gallatin river was picturesque. The rivers here are flat and mild. You can see the river rocks that go into so many chimneys here.
We ended up at the TLC in in Bozeman. It’s a little janky, but I think it will do. We’re going to a tapas place for dinner tonight. We’re going to hit the grocery store tomorrow morning before we head out, and try to get to our campsite while there’s plenty of time to see other stuff in the late afternoon. I’m still crossing my fingers that our huge tent fits on whatever site they give us.
(Post Dinner Post)
Just got back from dinner at Over the Tapas. We had a fantastic meal prior to starting our four days of camping. There were more than a couple beers on tap with a substantial wine list. We ate curried lamb empanadas, steak and manchego cheese with chimichurri sauce, morrel mushroom croquettes, vegetable tangine, patatas bravas, fried plantains, lamb sliders and crab cakes.  Even though we would probably fall into bed from the 1200 miles we’ve driven in two days, the food will definitely make us sleep well.

Hands at Two and Ten

We set out on a Tuesday morning after squishing all of our equipment into the car. The foggy San Francisco June morning had starting releasing its moisture and the mist had turned into rain.

This isn’t what we planned. We also hadn’t really planned on this much stuff. There were a few things left behind such as Mr. Fuzzy (Dale’s faux fur Burning Man blanket) and my REI folding seat. We still had all of Jessica’s stuff to cram into Betty, and we didn’t want to be totally overloaded. Dale is the only one tall enough to get all the things into the roof rack holder and close it. I appreciate having a little extra space to expand into, like an empty shelf or drawer, or in the case of Betty, a place to put my feet. We armed ourselves with the final dredges of coffee and set out from Benicia.

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I drove to Winnemucca, where we stopped on Potato Road. I was finally able to play with my phone and take some pictures.

IMG_2100IMG_2104After dinner in Elko, Nevada, I squeezed into the backseat so I could poke at Jessica should she fall asleep driving through the Bonneville Salt Flats.

IMG_2128I kept awake with Car Bingo, but when you’re in the middle of a salt flat, there’s not many things you can check off.

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We rolled into our hotel an hour later than thought (thanks, Mountain Time) and I fell asleep to an old episode of Friends.

Please Don’t Break Down

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This is Betty White. This is not the person Betty White. If it was, I’m sure she’d crack a joke about us riding her. My dear old nearly dead 1989 Toyota Corolla that I drove since the day I got my license was just not cutting it anymore. If my boyfriend and I wanted to travel longer than two hours away, we’d have to seriously think about the possibility of treking to a service station as well as planning a stop or two so he could get out and stretch. So the old Toyota (I sadly never named her, but I think it’s a she as she was shy about looking under her hood) reunited with Mom as her work car, and we adopted Betty into our lives. She had lived a pretty quiet life since we got her, going to Sonora and back a few times and tripping to Point Reyes National Seashore.

My biggest break from work landed in the end of June this year, and we prepared for a long road trip to Yellowstone National Park. She needed to stretch her legs, and I needed to stretch mine. I love a good road trip, and being able to do it without the high probability of getting stranded on the side of the road was a new feeling. Leaving a little bit to chance and planning a hell of a lot, we set out.