dailybell: Three National Parks in One Week

Friday, October 31, 2008

Three National Parks in One Week

10/4/08 Yosemite

6:57 AM It was raining here this morning. A real raindrop kind of rain, not the drizzly suspended moisture in the air that passes for rain in San Francisco. We haven’t heard raindrops in quite a while so I took a little movie for the sound.

10/6/08 PM
San Francisco to Salt Lake City to Denver to Bozeman in 10 hours. There were also a variety of planes to sample as well. Now that’s getting your money’s worth for plane travel. The smallest plane was so small that we were not allowed to take off until 2 passengers voluntarily moved from the front of the plane to the back to redistribute the weight. In preparation for the sunset, I had figured out in advance where I should be for the sunset if everything ran on time. And it did. We were well into our descent into the Denver Airport when the sun was due to set. My seatmate in this very small plane was happy to take the picture out the window but not quite as excited about ringing a bell. So I offered him a bribe- if he rang the bell he could keep it. He did and he did.

10/7/08 PM Yellowstone Park

We had planned to leave at noon for the Grand Teton’s at noon so we could be there before dark. However, my teeth had other plans. While eating my cereal, a big piece of my molar broke off into my bowl. Fortunately my sister had a great dentist who just slapped some bondo material onto my huge existing filling and off we went. As a result of the late start, we were riding in the middle of Yellowstone Park when the sun set. It’s very common to see cars pulled over to the side of the road in the park. Wherever cars are clumped together, there is usually some large animal that people are looking at. As we were looking for someplace to pull over and ring some bells, we noticed a group of cars on the shoulder of the road up ahead. So we pulled off and saw a small herd of elk near the river in the distance. The largest was off by himself and had a set of antlers the size of a small rotary clothes rack. I couldn’t believe how graceful he was. I suppose he got used to it gradually as he and the antlers grew. His ease of balance and shifting of his weight into motion were as fluid and unconscious as a dancer. We stayed with the clump of other cars and silently watched him until we could no longer distinguish him as he joined the rest of his herd.

10/9/08 PM Grand Teton Park
Moose, WY.

We had pulled over to the side of the road next to a big pile of covered dirt to look at the Tetons. It was a great view, unobscured by trees which is why we stopped at that particular spot. There were still 40 minutes or so to go before the sunset, but we were on out way out of the park. Sadly we would be long gone by sunset. The sun was shining below the mountain peaks on the other side and was shooting a bright beam of light directly between two of the peaks. It was like a giant flashlight shooting towards the sky. It looked so amazing that I wanted to get some pictures of the mountains and ring the bells there even if it was early. So we hopped out of the car and took lots of pictures and made a little movie while we rang the bells. Because it was getting darker and colder by the minute, we had planned to jump in and out and had left our coats in the car. As soon as we finished our photo op and bell ringing, we ran back to the car to get warm. My sister got there first and before I reached my door I heard her say “Uh oh”. So there we were in the middle of freezing nowhere. Fortunately we weren’t alone. There was another car parked near us and they drove us to the park entrance and left us at the nearest building that we could get into. And that was the Moose Post Office. It was warm in there and there were lots of recycled catalogs to look at while we waited for the AAA man. The biggest bonus of all was that we got to be by the Tetons at sunset.

10/10/08 AM Jackson, WY
Last night was the first snow of the year. I went outside and rang the bells off the hotel balcony.

10/10/08 PM Emigrant, MT
We made it back to my sister’s house in time for sunset after driving through the first snowstorm in Yellowstone Park this season. I realized today that I have been in 3 national Parks in the last week. I have also gone from the warm sunny summer weather that characterizes San Francisco this time of year through the autumn of falling leaves and the rainy season in Yosemite to the snowy winter weather of Northern Wyoming and Southern Montana. In one week.

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