Author Archives: Ken and Jodi Himes

About Ken and Jodi Himes

We are new full-time RV'ers, working our way across America, in search of a new place to call home.

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone – Part #1

(Ken) May 31, 2013.  For our travels on the second day in Yellowstone National Park, we decided to head northeast on the loop road rather than cover ground we already did.

Our goal for the day was to enter the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and see the upper and lower falls of the Yellowstone River.  It was a farther drive than to Old Faithful, so we decided not to stop at every turnout on the way!

We managed to cover the 40 or so miles in a little over an hour by not stopping as much.  We figured we had to go back from whence we came, so we could stop on our way back and spend more time in the canyon.

We did make a stop at the Mud Volcano, Dragons Mouth and Sulfur Caldron which are all in one basic location.  The walk between the two locations was short so the cold wind didn’t have time to cut to the bone.

It was a good choice, because the weather was not as forgiving as it was the day before and the forecast wasn’t too promising (snow), gave us plenty of time to see what we wanted to see the most – the Grand Canyon!

Arriving at the upper falls first, we watched in awe as the Yellowstone River entered the canyon by firstly taking a 109 foot free fall before roaring through the narrow canyon passage.  Simply amazing!

Since the lower falls were only a quarter of a mile down stream, we decided to make the hike along the canyon rim.  However, the quarter mile was measured ‘as the crow flies’ and I think we all know a river does not flow as a crow flies..

The rim trail provided excellent views of the canyon, but made the quarter mile hike much longer.  I think it took us about an hour to hike to the lower falls access trail and staircase – yes, staircase.

End of Part 1………….Until Next Time……………..Cheers.

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License Plate Game

(Ken) May 30 – May 31, 2013.  While driving the many highways and byways of this great country for long periods of time we found ourselves trying to occupy your mind from merely reading mile markers.

So I have to hand it to Jodi, she has come up with some wonderful ways to pass the time; audio books, trivia books, and travel guides of areas we pass through.

Unfortunately, the distance we have driven and the number of states we’ve visited has eliminated the thrill of the license plate game.  It would only take a few days before we identified all 50 states and then some.

But, as we entered the parking lot at the Upper Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park to see Old Faithful Geyser, I made the comment of all the different license plates.  We looked at each other smiling and the light bulb went on above both of our heads at the same time!

Jodi grabbed the camera and the game was on.  We managed to shoot pictures of license plates from 40 states, 3 different countries, 3 Canadian Provinces, and 1 U.S. Government Issue plate in a little over 30 minutes!

Not bad for a single parking lot in the northwest corner of Wyoming!  Which, oddly enough, wasn’t the easiest plate to find in Yellowstone.  We did get a few inquiring looks; but we have Ohio plates on our car, so we just continued to act like the tourists we were at the time.

Just to keep the record straight; we did not take a picture of our own license plate, that just wouldn’t be fair!  Of all the license plates we photographed there are 10 we didn’t get: Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia.

Maybe, while we are here over the summer, we can add to the list as we come across them………..until next time though……………….Cheers.

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A Day at Old Faithful

(Ken) May 30, 2013.  If you look at the park map, the Old Faithful Geyser Basin was only 29 miles away from our Bridge Bay camp site, so we would be able to pack in a full day of sightseeing after we finished there.

We headed out shortly after the sun rose hoping to see more wildlife along the way.  The bison that bedded down in the camp ground had already departed for the day, so we were hopeful that other animals would be on the move also.

Prior to arriving, we had absolutely no idea what a ‘turnout’ was but we were soon to find out.  For those who may not know either; a turnout is a pull off on the side of the road or a small parking lot to park and see the beauty of the park.

Well, we didn’t realize they were every 100 yards (or so it seemed) and we were not going to miss a single item of interest!  However, if you stop every few feet on a 29 mile drive, how long do you think it will take you?

Along the way, we came across the West Thumb Geyser Basin and made the stop.  Right on the shores of Yellowstone Lake, this basin was chock full of just about everything: geysers, paint pots, mud pots, mud springs, hot springs and fumaroles (vents).  Spectacular in its own right, we would find that it paled in comparison to what was to come!

Somewhere around 11:00 or 12:00, we finally made it to Old Faithful and the Upper Geyser Basin!  By the time we arrived, the parking lot was near capacity.  By chance, we noticed they had ‘Fuel Efficient Automobile Only’ parking spaces.  This is where a Honda Fit comes in handy – front row parking.

We made the short walk to the Visitor Center and obtained a map of the basin and checked times of all the eruptions and headed for the boardwalk!  Yes, boardwalk; because over the past 150 years there have been too many people either try to swim, fall or fall through the fragile ground into 175+ degree waters and boil themselves!

I don’t know why, but I always had the impression that Old Faithful was a single geyser in the middle of a field.  Quite the contrary, it is just one of hundreds in the Upper Geyser basin.

The basin, approximately two square miles in area, contains the largest concentration and nearly one-quarter of all of the geysers in the world. A variety of spouting geysers, colorful hot springs, and steaming fumaroles.

Not only is all of this going on, the Firehole River runs right through the middle of the basin.  Near ice-cold water flowing directly from the ice and snow melt of the surrounding mountains.  It allows for tree and some grass growth in an otherwise dead landscape.

Somewhere around 4:00 P.M., we finally made our way around the entire boardwalk.  Our timing was perfect to stand and watch Old Faithful erupt for a second time.  Just as awesome as the first; steaming water shooting 100 feet into the air.

We headed back to the car and back to the camp ground; tomorrow will have us hiking into the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, we needed our rest.

Until next time……………Cheers.

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Heading to Yellowstone National Park

(Ken) May 29, 2013.  Well rested and thoroughly relaxed, it was difficult to get out of bed after spending an afternoon and evening in the hot spring pools of Thermopolis.  But, we wouldn’t cover much ground by lounging in bed!

Merely looking at a map deciding which direction to travel does not depict anything you could encounter between point A and point B.  Luckily, we met a couple who had just come the way were planning to travel and they advised us of the construction, lane closures, delays and the mud!

They gave us an alternate route, which proved to be spectacular!  Route 20 out of Thermopolis has you travel along the Bighorn River and through the Owl Creek Mountain Gorge.  The light rain hindered some of the views, but it was gorgeous just the same.

The beauty only raised our anticipation and desire to get to and see Yellowstone.  Seeing things that we only ever saw in the movies or never dreamed of had us in complete awe.  A short stop in Cody, Wyoming for lunch and the Buffalo Bill Museum and we would be in Yellowstone!

The museum proved to be overly expensive and they offered no discounts (military or museum pass) so we opted for a longer lunch before we refueled and headed west.  We had all summer, we could come back to Cody when the weather was better to explore further.

We had our reservations at Bridge Bay campground within the park, so we would just get there earlier than expected and have extra time in the park.  Our only obstacle was Sylvan Pass, your initiation to the park just inside the East Gate!

Any person from the East would consider a drive on May 29th to be a nice warm drive.  But, when you factor in a cloudy day and an elevation of 8,525 feet things tend to change quite rapidly.  It had been raining lightly most of the day; but up in the mountains, rain usually turns into that white stuff!

BLIZZARD!  I had heard stories of freezing rain, ice and snow from other RV’ers climbing in a motorhome.  Oddly enough, my fear was not that I would slide down the hill once over the top; rather, losing traction on the way up and sliding backwards.  Plus taking out the string of cars that were following me up the hill at 10 – 15 miles per hour in the process!

Obviously, we made it through safely.  Slowly, but safely!  It took almost three days for the color to come back into my knuckles, and for Jodi to open here eyes; but the slow and steady process worked just fine.  I, however, do not want to experience that again any time soon!

Once down to lower elevations and safer ground, we did manage to see the beauty of the park and some of its noted wildlife.  A black bear on the side of the road, a wolf crossing ahead of us, and a bison in a field.  I guess if you survive the entry, the park lives up to its reputation.

Shortly after we were checked into the campground and getting ready for dinner, we had a couple of visitors.  A pair of bison meandered through and decided they wanted to bed down for the night.  You don’t realize how big they are until they decide to sleep on your door step.

We decided to stay in for the evening and head out early in the morning.  First adventure – Old Faithful.

Until next time………….Cheers.

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Checking out Thermopolis!

(Ken) May 28, 2013.  After a wonderful week of visiting and all the necessary maintenance completed, Jodi and I were ready to continue our trek through Wyoming.  Only one more week and we would arrive at Luton’s Teton Cabins for our first Work Camping gig!

We had been on the road for nearly 60 days at this point and we were really ready to get back to work.  We still 5 days to occupy our time and 400 miles left to travel.  There had to be something we could find between Cheyenne and Moran, Wyoming to occupy our time!

Our normal daily drive time is usually between 4 and 6 hours; and the town of Thermopolis, Wyoming was right at the 4-hour mark. The town claims the world’s largest mineral hot spring – Geothermal heated springs where the water averages 104 degrees.

The heated waters have a very high mineral content, containing everything from simple calcium to lithium, and even radium. Because of both the folklore and the claimed medical value some of these springs have, they are often popular tourist destinations & disability rehabilitation locations.

We decided to stay at a campground in town and spend the afternoon in the Hot Springs relaxing.  With the springs high mineral content; one of the more prevalent minerals is sulfur; thus, the Hot Spring houses and the surrounding area have a wonderful (and pungent) odor.

A long week of visiting, maintenance, hiking, rock climbing and kayaking takes it toll and the hot water eased all the aching muscles and relieved any and all tension therein.  Once we got past the strong sulfur smell of the water; the relaxing began!

We lounged in the indoor pool, the outdoor pool, the natural hot spring water slide, and the vent sauna until we were both well pruned.  It was like taking a long, hot bath where the water never got cold!

Once showered (…in naturally heated water) we took a short walk around the mineral terraces and a short drive through Hot Springs State Park before heading back to the campground for the evening.

Needless to say, we both slept like babies that night….(I woke up every 2-hours wanting fed and needing changed!)  We rose early and readied ourselves for the next leg and our next destination – Yellowstone National Park!

Until next time our friends………………Cheers

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