20140615 – Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks

Sunday – short rain shower start to the day, then warn with sun and clouds.


Lazy morning then a MTB ride around Round Valley. Did my usual route apart from a short variation to avoid Cammys hill. Whilst the 12 year BMX sage from the other day may have said “there’s no shame in walking up”. I wonder what he’d have thought about my walking down a section. It was that steep I even had trouble walking down, steeper than a black ski run – frightening. I don’t think even my brakes would have held me.

Anyway awesome ride and fitness must be improving, managed to clip 18 minutes off a 112 minute ride. Improved pace from 8.33 minutes per mile down to 7.29. Not that I’m getting obsessive.

Hal and Randy come round in the evening for dinner. Roast and veg of course – got to have 
 the 5 a week.

Monday – warm and sunny.

Pick up me Hertz mobile up. Fantastic free upgrade from the cheapest compact going to a Chrysler 300C AWD DSC04091luxury sedan, a real pleasure to drive, comfortable, massive and all the bells and whistles you can think of. But what’s happening to the country? Have car designers no shame? I took one look at it and thought yes, 15MPG, that’ll get me more points towards me green card. But bugger me if the dam thing doesn’t have Eco mode and manages mid 30s MPG. Mind you it will win the “Detroit Witless Design of the Year” award for hiding the petrol cap release button – unbelievable  stupidity.

Could definitely get to like this keyless ignition. Heated steering wheel and seats, that come on automatically when cold, very nice but drives you nuts. Even has cooled  / vented seats. I wonder if they come on automatically when very hot. Meanwhile the voice on the Hertz never lost sounds like some half witted reatard that sounds like a toothless Tennessee moonshiner’s moll. By the time we reach JacksonHole I’m ready to do a Van Gough and slit both me ears off. 


Takes us just 4 hours to get to Jackson Hole, one of my favourite Cowboy Towns. 

Check in at the Quality Inn and Suites 49’er at Jackson Hole. More on that place later.

Visit the National Park visitor centre to buy our annual park pass (only $80) and plan our Tuesday in the Grand Teton National Park. Then drive back down past Jackson Hole ski mountain resort. We skied there some years ago. Not one of my favourite ski resorts. See a majestic Great Grey Owl – see picture – and can certainly understand why it’s called Great, it was about 30” tall – awesome.

Stroll down to the town square for dinner. Just miss the town square shoot out. The place is DSC04149 infested with a plague of Japs. You can hardly move without having you’re eye taken out by a fast panning telescopic lens.

Have dinner at the famous Millionaire Cowboy Saloon. Elk and Bison mixed grill for dinner was delicious and well prepared and unusual for an American restaurant – quality and not excessive quantity. Aptly named place, expensive.

Pick up a bottle of wine on the way back to hotel.

Tuesday – cold, some sun and no snow despite it being forecast.

It’s colder than a brass toilet seat on the shady side of Grand Teton. Thankfully we had our ski gear with us so we survived and at least the forecast snow held off.

Mediocre breakfast then drive down to Jenny Lake. Catch the ferry across the lake and then take a “hike” up to the Hidden Waterfall and then bravely on to Inspiration Point. I say bravely because part of the path and the drop-DSC04169offs was way over my tolerance limit. But I made it without incident, even if coming down was a tad tortuous. No I hate heights – that scared you couldn’t drive a wet watermelon seed up me butt with a sledge hammer. Views from Inspiration Point were worth the hike.

Then we took a drive around the loop road. Calling off at most of the key stop off for photographs. Called in at Signal Mountain Lodge where Wendy managed to buy a colourful belt she’d been admiring but couldn’t find one big enough. Can you believe it Wendy had to get a Large belt to fit around her waist!

Had afternoon tea and coffee at the Jackson Lake Lodge. Very grand and dignified, even had a live pianist playing along with massive comfortable settees to sink into – very civilised.

Finish the loop drive. Pick up some wine at Albertsons. Wine’s more expensive here than in the religious, anti-DSC04199alcohol state of Utah. Then it’s a spicy Italian Sandwich for me and a Turkey Reubens for Wendy over at the Sandwich cafe. A great cheap meal. Mind you a Reubens really needs to have Pastrami on it.

Wednesday – cold and snowing. Thank the FSM it’s summer or else it cold be really cold.

Up early and check out of the 49’er Hotel.

Well what can I say abut the Quality Inn and Suites 49’er in Jackson:


On the good side the room was clean, comfortable and nicely furnished although a tad on the dark side. Staff were very friendly.

On the downside. Breakfast can best be described as mediocre and they’d run out of scramble eggs – supplier let them down. No USA Today – another supplier let them down. Is there a theme here. Of course management couldn’t figure out to nip down the street to a newsagent and buy some – too much lateral thinking to expect. Door to room was a nightmare to open, more badly designed than a soup sandwich. TV remote didn’t work. All minor annoyances but clearly demonstrates poor management, which is becoming a recurring feature with Choice Hotels these days. Perhaps it’s time for a change of brand loyalty after many years.

Anyway on check out I suppose if I hand over $300 instead of the $350 on the bill, management will have no problem with my lame brain excuse that my bank let me down with supplying dollars.

Drive up through Grand Tetons National Park into Yellowstone. At times there’s a raging snow blizzard blowing, DSC04371 ind it is 8,500 feet up, and it’s obvious they’ve had quite a bit of snow up there. Fortunately we have all of our ski gear so manage to survive the day.

Check in at the Grant Village Lodge for two nights.

Drive up to the Old Faithful Geyser and catch one of its 2 minute performances, one every 94 minutes. Fortunately by now the suns out and it has stopped snowing. I was pretty impressed but Wendy’s comment was, “well is that all there is to it”. Definitely under-awed by it.


Have afternoon tea and coffee in the Old Faithful Inn. A very impressive old natural wood hotel – awesome structure. Mind you can’t say much for the service.

Drive back and stop off at Kepler Cascade for more photos.

Back to our room for a coffee. They’ve one of these yuppie Keurig coffee machines. I’ve been dying to try one.  Dam thing wouldn’t work until I slammed the lid down, obviously likes being treated rough. Coffee was mediocre. If you have a tea after a coffee then the teas polluted with coffee grinds. Now thats clever. You spend fortune on a machine. They then have you by the short and curlies for buying overpriced, mediocre coffees with limited choice. Confirms my innate prejudice against such gimmicks – best avoided. 

Go for dinner at the Grant Village Dining Room. We had a starter each that was bigger than the main course. I had a delicious Elk steak. Wendy had ice cold Elk and Bison meat loaf along with ice cold potatoes, she sent it back. Then the 2nd one was just as cold. She told them to stuff it.

Thursday – sun and cloud. Warmed up by dinner time.


Up early and had breakfast at the General Store grill. Then it’s off for a drive around the loop road to see all the major sites in one day.

Yellowstone. Wilderness, no wifi. Can you believe that? How do people survive here? No cellular either. 
We’re sat on top of one of the Worlds biggest active volcanoes.

Bad news is it hasn’t erupted for 640,000 years, so could be due anytime.


Good news is that if it does kick off then we’re in the best place, with a quick hellfire death, rather than a lingering nuclear winter that such an eruption would cause.

Given the risk of an eruption I’m surprised the health and safety numbskulls haven’t surrounded all 2 million acres with “DO NOT ENTER” tape and declared it off limits to the public.

By the way it’s big, America of course it has to be, it’s awesome and it needs weeks to do it justice. 
Pictures may follow if we ever reach civilisation.

By the end of our exhausting 12 hour day, I think we’re geysered out. More geysers, thermal 
springs, mud pots, sulphur cauldrons and the like, than anywhere in the world.

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Also smelt the bubbling sulphur cauldron. If this is what Hell smells like then I definitely don’t want to go there. I’ll be really good from now on. I promise! Perhaps I’d better get religion. Pascal’s wager might be a safer bet than the Flying Spaghetti Monster, but it’s such a weaklings compromise. Mind you at least with the FSM there’s no hell. 

Highlight of Thursday had to be seeing a real live Black and a Grizzly bear. Wendy was orgasmic – much more impressed than she was of Old Faithful. Even if we did create a major traffic jam photographing them. But Mr Ranger Sir moved us on. They’re definitely about, bears that is. Evidenced by some fresh looking bear poo, but Wendy wasn’t for dipping her finger in to see if it DSC04476was still hot.

Just get back in time for a nice cool beer and a Reubens at the Lake house in Grant Village:


Staff very friendly well trained and motivated. Quick service but why they make such a dogs breakfast of delivering a beer. Another example of American job creation schemes and lack of common sense.  Pay, bar, beer hand it over – it’s oh so simple.


Sadly this place isn’t really too hot (pardon the sarcasm) on DSC04462 ood food and the menu distinctly lacks imagination. The cook / warmer upper even seemed to have problems toasting a Reubens without charcoalling it. Sadly we were so tired and hungry we’d have eat the fur off a fried grizzly.

When you watch Americans eat it’s a wonder table knife manufacturers haven’t gone out of business. 

Friday – warm and sunny.

Check out of the Grant Village Lodge:


The only place with availability when we booked 3 months ago. Cheapest place around. Quick check in. Clean and comfortable. Basic room with two double beds.


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A tad basic. Silly Keurig coffee machine. Main dislike was the cuddly black bear toy on the bed. People might think it was free. It wasn’t. Kids would fall in love with it and myther parents for it. Take it home and it was charged to your room at $16.99. What a despicable and devious ploy to sell stuff, especially  harsh on parents with young kids. Should be banned.

Up at the crack of sparrows and drive down to the Old Faithful Lodge for Breakfast:


A very reasonable all you can eat breakfast in great surroundings with a good choice.



Having to wait for a table when the restaurants half full. Typical American approach to service. “Oh we like to make sure their’s enough staff to serve you promptly”. Why then did we have to wait for our server?

Lovely hotel with oodles of charm and character. What a pity we couldn’t have stayed here. Probably have to book years in advance.

We were going to do some walks around the Old Faithful area, but by the time we’d had shopped for enough trivia to incur excess baggage charges, we decided to set off for the 6 hour drive home. Fortunately the weather by now was pleasant, after a few more photo opportunity stops as we drove through Grand Tetons, we had a pleasant and scenic drive back to PC. Then it’s straight to the supermarket for a giant weekly shop while we have  DSC04529the advantage of a car. For me it’s a trip to Chubasco’s for a take away smothered burrito and spicy sauces so hot me arse thinks it’s passing a flaming fireball the next day.

Whilst we loved Yellowstone and only wished we had more time there I have to say that in their eagerness to protect the environment etc., it seems their brains have clogged up, all common sense and enterprise has sunk in the hot mud springs. Mediocrity has seized their troubled minds. Nothing matters. Choice in oh so may ways is limited and lacks imagination. Just because there’s so many backpackers and campers, doesn’t mean that everyone wants to make do. No management. It’s as if the place is run by the French. No one gives a dam. 


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