Wednesday, September 12, 2018

'18/#24 Ho Hum It's The RV Life For Me

I have been negligent in my blogging but sometimes there really isn't much to blog about. Time and time again I have said that this is not a vacation but a lifestyle with all the trappings of everyday life. There is cooking and cleaning and laundry and everything that goes along with taking care of a household. We also have to deal with the joys of living in a vacation area.

The past couple of weeks have marked the ending of family tourist season. School is back in session in most of the country and the families visiting the area have dwindled. We now are getting the empty nesters and retirees who are taking advantage of the "shoulder" season when there are less tourists on the road. It doesn't make it any less busy here, just a different clientele. Labor Day weekend was crazy here and in the park. We really haven't gone into the park much after Memorial Day and will start going back in now that Labor Day is past. It sounds a lot like "Snowbird" season in Florida when the locals just stay away from beaches and restaurants until the tourists head back north.

During this time we were able to take care of a number of things I wanted to fix around our home. Like I said we are home owners and have to maintain our home. Last month I replaced the fresh water pump. These past couple of weeks I had a list of things that I wanted to do before it got too cold. We had to swap out our spare tire from our trip north and replace  a center hub on the wheel. One of the shock absorbers had broken during the trip and was replaced. We also found a couple of lug nuts that had frozen in place and will take care of that soon. And finally the macerator needed replacing. If you have followed us from the beginning you know that I installed a macerator in July of 2009 and have affectionately called it "The Poop Shooter". After 9 years the pump failed and this was as good a time to fix it as any.

Well that is the excitement here in our neck of the woods. We are planning some excursions into the park now that the crowds have thinned and Mary will post more pictures. We have just 5 1/2 more weeks before we head south and I'm sure there will be more to do around our home here in West Yellowstone because....

Home is where we park it,
Frank and Mary

Monday, August 20, 2018

'18/#23 We Can't Hide, And That's A Good Thing

We just got back from our two days off and are exhausted. The daily routine of work will let us catch our breath. Now I am not complaining because we had a great time the past two days. On our days off we normally make the trek to Bozeman to do the bulk of our shopping. We love where we are but there is no place to grocery shop in West Yellowstone. We make the 1 1/2 hour drive to Bozeman and make a day of it. We take our time, go out to eat, and just make it a relaxing day. This time was a little different.

On Monday friends that we worked with in Zephyrhills had made it to Teton National Park which is a little over an hour away from us. Well, when you travel thousands of miles to get someplace and then 50 or 100 or even 150 miles separate you from friends......well that is what we consider in the neighborhood. Wendy and Charlie agreed to meet us at Old Faithful for lunch so we could catch up. Little did we know that most of the caravan they were traveling with had decided to tag along. It was great to see Wendy and Charlie and it was fun to meet some of their travel friends.

After a good time with everyone and promises to keep in touch we did a little sight seeing before we went home. It took us over an hour to travel the 30 or so miles each way with the "animal jams" stopping traffic. This is when a buffalo or elk or bear or eagle is spotted and everyone stops in the middle of the road to see and take pictures. The thought of pulling off the road never seems to cross their minds but that is what we have to deal with during the height of tourist season.

The next day we got up way to early, for a day off, to go to Bozeman but with good reason. More friends just happened to be passing through our area and we couldn't pass up the opportunity to see them. It had been a number of years since we were neighbors in Florida. With us hitting the road and them moving to Georgia social media was our main connection so an in person meeting just had to happen. Scott and Peggy met us in Yellowstone with their 5 kids ( 3 of whom we have never met) and spent almost 2 hours just reminiscing and catching up on what was new in everyone's life. They were in the middle of an adventure of their own, moving from Georgia to Alaska to start a new life. They were all excited and doing well and we couldn't wish any more for them but to be happy with everything the future holds for them. Of course they want us to come see them in Alaska and who knows?

Back home after another "critter jam" it was dinner time. We were too tired to cook so we snacked and wound down and called it a day. Tomorrow we would go to work and slow things down and maybe get around to putting the rest of our groceries away in our home in West Yellowstone because......

Home is where we park it,
Frank and Mary

Monday, August 13, 2018

'18/#22 It's Nice To Get Back Home

Since the last blog we did head home from Cody Wyoming and we did come through Cooke City. Cooke City is the North East Entrance to Yellowstone. That means that this summer we have gone through all 5 entrances to Yellowstone. The west gate is right where we are staying so that is home base. The north gate is through Gardiner and was very disappointing. The south gate was coming up through Teton National Park and if you saw the photos you know that the mountains are picture post card ready. Going out the east gate was muddled by the construction at Fishing Bridge but it meant we were going to Cody so that was OK. And finally Cooke City at the north east gate drops us into my favorite part of the park, Lamar Valley.

The ride from Cody to West Yellowstone via Cooke City is a roundabout way to go but for scenic views it shouldn't be missed. The Chief Joseph Highway crosses the Shoshone National forest through the Absaroka Mountains and is an engineering marvel. Steep climbs, hair-pin turns, and dangerous drop offs keep you on your toes as you try to safely enjoy the views.

Cooke City is a little town in Montana that thrives off Yellowstone tourists in the summer and snowmobiling in the winter and has that small western town feel. The usual gift shops, and food establishments many with wooden walkways out front add to that feel. Most important is it is the last stop before entering Yellowstone after almost 2 hours of driving from Cody.

Entering the north east gate we drove through forests with creeks and rivers keeping us company. And then the forest opens up and there is Lamar Valley. I get goose bumps because the valley looks like it must have hundreds of years ago. Thousands of acres dotted with thousands of bison, it is just awe inspiring. We stopped several times to take pictures. Then we found a large and active herd of bison. We are into the "rutting" season when the buffalo start their mating rituals. We parked the truck and just sat there for almost and hour just watching. We finally decided to move on just as the National Geographic film crew showed up to start filming for the 4 night Yellowstone "Live" that had started the day before on the Nat Geo channel. We were recording it at home so we just moved on.

After 6 hours of relaxed driving and wild life sight seeing we made it home. It was a good couple of days seeing friends and getting to see some more of this wonderful country. For now we are just glad to be in our own bed in our home in West Yellowstone because....

Home is where we park it,
Frank and Mary

Monday, August 6, 2018

'18/#21 Since We Were In The Neighborhood...

In this RV lifestyle that we live we travel thousands of miles at a time. Often we settle in places where shopping is 50, 75, or 100 miles away. So when we are less than 150 miles from friends we haven't seen in a while we take the opportunity to see them. Just 101 miles and 3 hours through Yellowstone National Park and we have returned to what I like to refer to as "the scene of the crime". Back in Cody Wyoming, after 6 years of travel, we came to see some of the people we worked with back then.

In the morning we stopped by the business office and caught up with Shandi and Angela. They were at work so it was a brief visit. We still got to catch up and reminisce a little. We found out that our boss, Judy, was not in town so hopefully we can catch up with her another time. Never the less it was good to see the girls.

Later we had dinner plans with Pernille and her family. We worked with her and saw her son a number of times at work with her. Her husband we only met once or twice and her youngest wasn't even born yet. Still we had a great time and wound up just sitting and talking for 3 hours. Again it was good to catch up.

Now, how do we cap off such a wonderful day? Why not a trip to Libations? What is Libations you ask? Well it might be the best liquor store ever. In addition to a large assortment of beer, wine, and alcohol they have booze based slush drinks. Think Slurpees for adults. Tonight we chose strawberry daiquiri and "pain-killer". Mary says the strawberry daiquiri tasted great and .... well the rum based pain-killer lived up to it's name. Two more features of Libations is a classy sitting area to enjoy your adult beverage and a drive through for your beverage on the go. Who new such a place existed?

Tomorrow we will hit the Walmart here in town for a few groceries and head on back to West Yellowstone. We will take the scenic Chief Joseph Highway and avoid the construction at Fishing Bridge in Yellowstone. It is a longer trip but it is such an awe inspiring drive.

Tomorrow it is back to the old workcamping grind in West Yellowstone. It will be good to be back in our own beds in our rig in Montana because....

Home is where we park it,
Frank and Mary

Monday, July 30, 2018

'18/#20 Just Another Day In Yellowstone

Today was the day we decided to fix our RV water pump issue. The new pump was delivered last week and it was time to install it. Anyone who has owned an RV knows that everything is not necessarily readily accessible. The pump was no exception. It is located in the lower storage compartment, behind the water heater, and blocked by the shower "P" trap. After emptying the basement storage I contorted myself into the space with assorted length phillips head screw drivers. The whole thing is held in place by four screws, only one of which was both easy to reach with a regular length screw driver and visible. The others either required a "stubby" phillips head screw driver or was reached blindly around and behind assorted obstacles. Finally the old pump was out and I was freed from the basement... for now.

Next the new pump was prepped with a clean strainer, new electrical connectors, and teflon tape. Then it was back into the basement or should I say dungeon? I made  the water connections first so they would help hold the pump in place. Then I had to get all those screws back into their original holes. The first one was relatively easy since I could see what I was doing but the rest....well my mumblings were not PG13. Eventually the job was complete and the pump works great. Good water flow and minimal noise which is saying a lot for an RV water pump.

It was still early enough in the day so we decided to take a little drive into the park. As soon as we entered the park, traffic was backed up for almost a mile. The ranger warned us there was a buffalo jam so we were prepared. What we weren't prepared for was a lone buffalo laying in the weeds taking a nap. Usually a buffy jam is caused by several buffalo in the roadway. This was just a ridiculous amount of rubber-necking.

Once past the "jam" we drove up to see the Virginia Cascades. The road is narrow, winding, and in need of some serious repair but once we got there the view was worth it. After taking enough pictures we headed home.

On the way out of the park there were a bunch of cars pulled over and people looking across the river with binoculars and cameras. We figured another buffalo or maybe an elk. We were glad we stopped because there on the far shore was a bald eagle just chillin' and having a snack he probably caught in the river. I was sorry I didn't have my good camera with me but still got a good shot of our national bird.

We arrived home and we will have some dinner. Maybe we will go to the movies tonight or maybe just an early night in our home in Montana because....

Home is where we park it,
Frank and Mary

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

'18/#19 Just Keeping In Touch

It has been a while since my last blog, but there has been very little to talk about. Mary is finally getting over the crud that has been tormenting her the past month. My post illness cough is easing up enough that I can say complete sentences without coughing my brains out. Now I just wish the pain in my rib cage from coughing so much would go away. Mary keeps saying we are allergic to Yellowstone but we know that can't be true. There are a lot of things blooming that might not be helping though.

Now that we are feeling better we are going to get out some. The other day we headed out to find Mesa Falls in Idaho. It was a beautiful day and a nice drive just 45 minutes from our location. The falls were well worth the trip. At 114' high and with access right up to the edge it was quite impressive. On top of that the sun was shining and creating rainbows in the mist from the falls. It was another one of Mother Natures masterpieces.

Now you see a rainbow...

                                                            and now you don't!

Since we were out that way we drove another 40 minutes to Rexburg to do some shopping. The Walmart there is so much nicer. There are people working there and merchandise on the shelves. Any decent shopping is 1 1/2 hours away from West Yellowstone so when the opportunity presented itself we took advantage.

On another topic, I had to do some work on our trailer. Like I have said in the past this a lifestyle not just a vacation and just like in real life things break and need to be fixed. Our water pump for the fresh water in the trailer died on us and I wanted to get it replaced before the cold weather comes back. When the temperature drops below freezing, and it will, we have to disconnect our water hose so it doesn't burst or do damage to the parks water system. The fresh water holding tank is enclosed in the floor of the trailer so it won't freeze and we just turn on the pump to get water to all our faucets. It also comes in handy on the road when we stop to eat or use the bathroom.

On top of that our ice machine decided to give up the ghost. These portable counter top ice machines are great but they don't seem to last more than a few years with constant use. Freezers in RV refrigerators are small enough as it is, so there is no room for ice cube trays. We have resigned ourselves to the fact that the ice machine will have to be replaced every so often.

Well that should bring everyone up to date. A few more days of work and then we will be off again. Soon we will be heading over to Cody Wyoming to see some friends that we worked with about 6 years ago. So until the next blog, so long from our home in Montana because...

Home is where we park it,
Frank and Mary

Saturday, June 30, 2018

"18/#18 A Finish To The Last Blog

OK, where was I on the last blog. Oh yeah, we had left Fishing Bridge and went over to the West Thumb Geyser field and Lake Yellowstone. It had been a long day so far. Remember we started out at 5am and it was now close to 2 pm. We were tired and hungry and in need of a pit stop ( wink,wink).

Our next destination is the one thing that visitors to Yellowstone look forward to seeing more than anything else. You guessed it, Old Faithful. The most famous geyser in the world. It may not be the largest geyser in the world but it is the most regular. No it does not erupt every hour on the hour like some myths would have you believe, but the rangers can predict the eruptions for the next 24 hours to plus or minus 15 minutes. We arrived at the Old Faithful Visitors Center and realized the next eruption was only 20 minutes away. We went out to the truck, made ourselves some sandwiches and headed back to the viewing area for a picnic lunch.

True to form Old Faithful started to erupt 2 minutes earlier then predicted and finished 4 minutes later. Not perfect but there are some airlines that could take lessons from Mother Nature as far as on time performance. We walked down to the gift shop near Old Faithful Inn and treated each other to an ice cream cone before heading back to West Yellowstone.

It had been a long but wonderful day and we were tired so we headed back to our home in West Yellowstone Montana because...

Home is where we park it,
Frank and Mary